Preview Nissan LEAF electric car Autos ca

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Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

November 24, 2009

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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Los Angeles, California Although development of electric vehicles began way back in the 19th century, it turns out that solving the riddle of battery-powered transportation is a 21st century challenge.

Unlike specialty electric vehicles (EVs), the LEAF is a five-passenger, four-door car of conventional design. Its range on a full charge is 160-kilometres, and it can be charged overnight in your driveway via a 220-volt outlet (the same type of outlet used by clothes dryers). According to consumer research conducted by Nissan, the 160-km daily range satisfies the requirements of 70 per cent of the world’s drivers.

Nissan LEAF. Click image to enlarge

The LEAF has plenty of passenger and cargo room, a complete array of occupant amenities and safety features, and performance that will keep up with, or exceed, most cars on the road (0 -100 km/h in less than 10 seconds; top speed of 140 km/h, for instance). Additionally, it is 99 per cent recyclable.

Mr. Ghosn is convinced that consumers will respond to the availability of a vehicle that uses no gasoline, is affordably priced, attractively designed and offers the same everyday practicalities as a conventionally fuelled car. The “zero emissions” produced by the LEAF is an “added bonus,” according to Mr. Ghosn. “There are no tailpipe emissions because there is no tailpipe,” he points out.

Nissan LEAF. Click image to enlarge

However, Nissan does not see the introduction of the LEAF in isolation from development of the infrastructure that produces electricity. Mr. Ghosn suggests that recharging EVs will mostly take place, during off-peak times, and that the initial production plans of 500,000 LEAFs globally in 2012 is a quantity that will barely impact existing infrastructures.

Although the LEAF is clearly an automotive breakthrough, some will question its restricted range and extended charging times, not to mention the safety and reliability of its battery. To this Mr. Ghosn replies that the LEAF represents a first step in mass EV transportation that will lead to further developments and advancements.

Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

Consequently, as the scale of the EV sector increases, the cost of components like the battery will fall (along with its size and weight) while output is expected to increase. Charging times, likewise, should get shorter over time.

Nissan LEAF. Click image to enlarge

Canadians will naturally be concerned about the effectiveness of the lithium-ion battery in winter, as conventional batteries lose their power when the temperature drops. Mark Perry, Nissan’s Director of Product Development, says that the LEAF battery doesn’t lose power until minus 20 degrees Celsius, and that even when temperatures fall below that point, the power loss is only a few per cent. However, the battery will be challenged in winter by extensive use of the heater, heated seats, heated mirrors and rear-defroster, all of which are typically not used during the warmer months (the air conditioner, in comparison, is more efficient than the heater, requiring less energy to operate).

In any event, range will be reduced in the winter, although it still may be sufficient for daily requirements without a supplementary charge.


Concerning the battery, consumers may wonder what happens if the battery in their LEAF is made obsolete by a better model. A wrinkle on LEAF ownership is that the battery will be leased to consumers, rather than owned by them. The plan is to enable owners to retrofit more advanced batteries as they become available, with the old batteries recycled.

Nissan LEAF. Click image to enlarge

Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

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