I’ve actually come out of writing retirement for the summer to bring you what I think is a pretty cool story: Nissan has finally given us some details about their upcoming “Leaf” full-electric vehicle (EV).
Unlike the Tesla roadster, this isn’t designed to be an expensive rocket on wheels, but what it does aim to do is to bring electrics into the mainstream market: Nissan is going to start making this car available in Japan, most European countries and the US around 10,000 – 15,000 Euro ($15,000 – $20,000 US), a common price point in the compact market.
The Leaf is powered by Lithium ion batteries using a custom chemistry developed by Nissan which are expected to give the car a 160 kilometer (100 mile) range and are designed to be charged to 80% in about 20 minutes using a quick-charging system. If charged via a standard 220V socket, expect your standard 8 hour recharge time and even longer from a standard North America wall socket.
The electric motor packs quite a punch at its rated 80kW/280Nm, (107-hp and 207 ft-lbs of torque) which should make it really quick off the line despite the electronically-limited 145 Km/h (90 mph). While electric motors tend provide huge amounts of torque across the entire RPM band, higher RPMs lead to higher power draw and thus less range.
“Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-sized, 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, the Leaf product manager.
The Leaf will begin production in Oppama, Japan, and will soon be expanded to Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant. The company also expects to launch two more EVs in the next 3 years, positioning itself as a strong contender in the electric market.
“The Nissan LEAF is a tremendous accomplishment – one in with all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan President 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.”
I’m really excited about this one, kids. This is a car that most people can actually afford and once governments start installing electric charging infrastructure, stopping for 20 minutes every 160 kilometers doesn’t sound so bad. Hopefully this can be used as a significant stepping stone to a world of quiet running, quick and practical electric cars with infrastructure to back them.