Review 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car is a treat to drive USATODAY com

25 Май 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Review 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car is a treat to drive USATODAY com отключены
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

Rescue attempts over the years included battery models in the 1980s from General Motors. Ford Motor and Chrysler as they tried to create vehicles to meet California ‘s requirement for zero emissions.

Utility plants that make the juice for your electric do emit, but your car does not. (The cars are now said to have zero local emissions, or zero tailpipe emissions, because critics said emissions from utility generators were being ignored.)

GM ‘s EV1 is most famous. Conspiracy theorists say GM … the electric car or set back its development, at the very least when it refused to let customers who leased the two-seat, egg-shaped EV1s buy them when leases expired. GM destroyed the cars, saying they didn’t meet evolving safety standards.

They also were catching fire during recharging, and no fix could be found.

Now we’re battery-batty again. New battery technology promises a driving range of 100 miles or more, which begins to calm the range anxiety that automakers have identified as a disincentive.

Electrics play to public sentiment against petroleum BP’s epic underwater gusher from a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico being the poster image for Big, Bad Oil. And the economy seems to suggest an electric solution. Battery cars typically run a given distance on a lot less cash than gasoline vehicles do.

In fact, Nissan says, its battery-power 2011 Leaf, due in December, should cost you about $400 to run as far as you’d go on $1,800 worth of $3-per-gallon gas.

Nice, but the proof of any vehicle is how it drives. And there, Leaf’s a winner.

A preproduction, but close to final-specification, Leaf was available a few hours this week, and they were satisfying hours mostly.

On the plus side, Leaf was:

Roomy. It’s got nice space, front and back, for its overall tidy footprint. It’s about the size of a Toyota Prius.

And the seats were comfortable which remains rare enough in modern cars that it’s worth noting.

Most interior plastics are recycled water bottles and the like, which are costlier, but Nissan sees it as a marketing advantage for this car.

Quick in traffic. Electric motors are like that. They give you all they have the moment they start to turn.

No need to rev up as you must to get the most torque from a gasoline or diesel powerplant.

Quiet. Another admirable trait of electrics. But to satisfy concerns about blind pedestrians, the car whines audibly up to 18 mph.

You can shut that off (and you’ll want to if you drive with windows down), but it resets to on each time you restart. The car also beeps when in reverse.

Engagingly sophisticated. Though small, Leaf’s not basic. Features includes LED headlights, navigation system and, on the uplevel SL, a solar panel on the hatch to trickle-charge the conventional 12-volt battery, used to run accessories such as the radio.

The large main battery pack that runs the motor is under the seats and floor. When not plugged in, it gets a charge when you slow or use the brakes. That’s the same regen braking that’s on gas-electric hybrids.

Our favorite gee-whiz feature was driving range. Nervous about how far you can go? Push a button and a circle appears on the navi map screen.

You can drive straight to anywhere in the circle on the remaining juice. As you continue to drive, the circle shrinks.

You can trigger another switch and the navi will route you to the nearest public charging station. Not many now, but more in the next year or two. The system updates its list of sites every three months.

The spawn of a proper attitude. Nissan product planning director Mark Perry says the engineers behind Leaf had the supremely sensible notion that the driver should behave normally; it’s the car that saves energy. Drive like you always have and still go far.

Refreshing. Try that attitude at, say, Ford Motor’s house o’ hybrids and you’ll get a lecture on how much the driver is supposed to do (the car just helps), as well as a whack over the head with one of those leafy things that appear to grow or … on Ford dashboards, depending on your driving style.

Wrinkles in the otherwise smooth fabric of Leaf:

Ugggggly. We did manage to badger Nissan into providing a photo of a red one. and jazzed up thus it almost averts a gag reflex. Otherwise, stinko.

One nuance, neither good nor bad: The idea of tailfins has been carried forward. Nose fins atop the headlights direct airflow, cutting wind noise around the mirrors and reducing range-ruining air resistance.

Steering. Too slow. Turn the wheel a lot for a little reaction. You’ll run wide in corners unless you crank the steering wheel an unseemly amount.

And that is, Perry says, a Thing That Absolutely Nobody Else Has Mentioned. Running into TTANEHMs seems to be a Test Drive signature feature.

Tippy feel. Not a sporting device, Leaf leans a bit much in brisk corners, and the tires begin to vaguely howl as if they don’t like it one bit. Nothing about a battery car is inconsistent with better handling.

Nissan says Leaf is rated to go 100 miles in what’s called the LA4 test, a protocol that, if passed, allows a manufacturer to say that its battery buggy has a 100-mile range. But that’s not as good as it can get or as bad. Cold weather, heavy traffic: You won’t come close.

Spring weather, light traffic, moderate speed: You’ll blow right past 100 miles.

More troubling could be how long it takes to fill ‘er up if the batteries are about …: 20 tedious hours from a 110/120-volt circuit (the common household plug) or eight hours from a 220/240-volt charging circuit that most owners are expected to install and use.

Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

Neat car. Drives nicely. But American lives are filled with unexpected trips and emergencies, the kinds of unplanned events that could make 100 miles too little and eight hours too long.

Leaf and, we imagine, almost any other pure battery electric vehicle should be considered a second or third car for most folks.


What? Compact, four-door, front-drive, plug-in hatchback powered by an electric motor fed from lithium-ion battery pack.

When? On sale is several states in December; nationwide a year from now.

Why? Nissan’s decided to make a big bet on electric cars.

How much? Starts at $32,780 including shipping. Charger and installation average $2,200. Some taxpayers can get federal tax credit up to $7,500 on a car; up to $1,100 on a charger.

How many? 50,000 worldwide the first year, rising to 550,000 in 2014.

How powerful? Electric motor rated 107 horsepower, 206 pounds-feet of torque. Electrics make full torque from the moment they begin to turn; needn’t rev up as gasoline engines do to hit peak turning power.

How big? Similar to a Toyota Prius. Leaf is 175 inches long, 69.7 in. wide, 61 in. tall on a 106.3-in. wheelbase.

How far and fast? Rated to go 100 miles on a charge using the common LA4 test cycle. Nissan says 138 miles or so in optimal traffic and weather conditions, but as few as 62 miles in slow traffic on a very cold day.

Top speed is about 90 mph.

Time to fully charge depleted battery pack:

220/240-volt AC circuit most owners will use: 8 hours.

Normal residential 110/120-volt AC circuit: 20 hrs.

440/480-volt industrial direct-current circuit with fast-charger: 30 minutes for 80% charge.

Nissan says government aid programs will ensure there are at least 12,000 public charging stations in 19 states by end of 2011.

Overall: Generally sweet to drive, but still a second or third car for most Americans because of unexpected demands, unplanned trips that could exceed range.

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

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