2010 Nissan Electric Car The future is quiet Car Review MarketWatch

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Can we have it quiet in here?

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — As I settled in the bucket seat and fastened the safety belt on the right-hand-drive vehicle, one question came to mind. Now what do I do? I asked the Nissan expert who had worked on this electric car for 15 years.

You put your foot on the brake, and shift into drive, and push down on the accelerator, he said. Well, duh! This is, after all, only the second all-electric car I have driven — a few more if you count golf carts.

NissanEV2_20090322

While all this would be familiar to any driver, what was different was the sound. There wasn’t any! The car just started moving, in complete silence, without even the whir of the electric motor. Outside of just a slight sound of the tires contacting the pavement, you heard nothing.

Yet the boxy prototype moved out smartly, emitting nothing into the air and burning no gasoline. Imagine shredding your gas company credit card!

Around we went a big city park across from Reagan National Airport. The accelerator action was no different from the car you drive now. The layout inside the prototype is the same as any boxy crossover, although Nissan insists that the electric car it will introduce in late 2010 will look nothing like this.

It will be a five-seat hatchback compact about the size of a Sentra.

And that was the goal. To make the electric car much the same as what you are accustomed to driving today.

There is absolutely a pent-up demand for this zero-emissions vehicle, said Mark Perry, director of product planning at Nissan North America.

With the 100 mile range, 98% of the population could use this vehicle every day, he added.

Perry said Nissan knows there is an audience that is waiting to trade in their hybrid car for an all-electric. The next goal is to convince the public at large that this car is the way to go.

We are talking about a behavior change here, when it comes to car buying, Perry said.

Putting a charge into it

If all goes according to plan, a Nissan dealer will initiate the installation of a charging unit in the customer’s home. It will require permits and the presence of an electrician to add to your home wiring. The process would be like your satellite TV installation, Perry said.

In a 110-volt system, the car will recharge in 14 hours. If you increase that to 220 volts, the time to recharge drops to 4 hours. Up that to 480 volts, and you will be able to get an 80% recharge in just 26 minutes, according to Nissan.


The carmaker envisions using that high-voltage system in quick-charge facilities along highway rest stops and even fast-food restaurants — thus, one could charge up the kids and the car.

The home charging station would cost about $1,000 but would quality the owner for an offsetting tax credit. The car itself would also get you a $7,500 tax credit upon purchase. Nissan claims auto maintenance costs will also be less.

Nissan is working with Seattle and other cities to set up a series of recharging stations and have them up and running by 2010. It anticipates rolling the car out in a dozen to 15 cities at launch and have it nationwide by 2012.

Nissan is not talking price until it gets closer to the introduction date, but indicated the mid to upper $20,000 range would not be out of the question. Nissan insists there will be no price premium.

Glimpse of the future

Officials said they are constantly striving to improve the battery life and the range of the vehicle. With engineers working on this around the world, it would be safe to bet that breakthroughs on both fronts will occur as time rolls along.

It is always fun to get a glimpse of what the future may look like. It is also possible to look still further ahead and see a child one day asking Dad about all those charging stations that were needed way back when.

Yet, if the electric car catches on as a commuting vehicle, it will be a much quieter and less polluting world for sure.

Vehicles tested in this column are on loan from the auto companies through local distributors.

Ron Amadon is an auto writer and morning news anchor on the MarketWatch Radio Network, based in Washington.

Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

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