Nissan recently unveiled its new Leaf, which the Japanese carmaker claims is the world’s first affordable electric, zero-emission car.
It is designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis. The Nissan Leaf is a medium-size hatchback that it says comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 160 kms (or 100 miles ) to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.
A few weeks ago, I drove an earlier prototype that contained many segments of the recently unveiled Leaf, although in a different body-shell. Based on that experience, I can testify that in areas such as comfort, handling, and acceleration, it was very satisfying.
The Leaf is scheduled for launch in late 2010 in Japan, the United States, and Europe. The car is the embodiment of Nissan’s radical, transformative vision for the future and the culmination of decades of investment and research.
“Nissan Leaf is a tremendous accomplishment – one in which all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “We have been working tirelessly to make this day a reality – the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero – not simply reduced – emissions. It’s the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey for people all over the world, for Nissan, and for the industry.”
Key characteristics of the Leaf include: zero-emission power train and platform; promised affordable pricing; a distinctive design; minimum real-world range autonomy – 160km (100 miles ); and connected mobility with their advanced intelligent transportation (IT ) system.
Nissan says the Leaf name is a significant statement about the car itself. Just as leaves purify the air in nature, so Nissan Leaf purifies mobility by taking emissions out of the driving experience.
Pricing details will be announced closer to start of sales in late 2010, but the company expects it to be competitively priced in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle. Additionally, Nissan Leaf is expected to qualify for an array of significant local, regional, and national tax breaks and incentives in markets around the world. As an added benefit, because the vehicle has less mechanical complexity than a traditional gasoline-powered car, Nissan Leaf is designed to be friendly to the wallet as well as to the environment.
Unlike internal-combustion engine equipped vehicles, Nissan Leaf’s power train has no tail pipe, and thus no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. A combination of Nissan Leaf’s regenerative braking system and innovative lithium-ion battery packs enables the car to deliver a driving range of more than 160km (100 miles ) on one full charge.
Nissan tells us that extensive consumer research demonstrates that this range satisfies the daily driving requirements of more than 70 per cent of the world’s consumers who drive cars.
And Nissan’s approach makes charging easy and convenient. Nissan Leaf can be charged up to 80 per cent of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. Charging at home through a 200V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours – ample time to enable an overnight refresh for consumer and car alike.
The engineers and designers behind Nissan Leaf worked to create a competitively priced real-world car that would enable Nissan to lead mobility into the zero-emission era. To ensure comfort, spaciousness, and cargo capacity, Nissan Leaf employs a completely new chassis and body layout.
”Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only Nissan Leaf but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility,” said Masato Inoue, product chief designer.
Zero-emission mobility programmes under the banner of the Renault-Nissan Alliance include partnerships with countries such as the UK and Portugal, local governments in Japan and the USA, and other sectors, for a total of nearly 30 partnerships worldwide including the ESB in Ireland.
In these partnerships major efforts focus on three areas: development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure through public and private investment; incentives and subsidies from local, regional, and national governments; and public education on the individual and societal benefits of zero-emissions mobility.