Nissan Joins The Electric Car Parade

The Nissan LEAF electric car
The Nissan LEAF
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

Another new electric car is due to hit the market, with Nissan unveiling its Nissan LEAF which the company calls the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car. The LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that seats five adults.

As expected of a purely electric car, the LEAF’s power train has no tail pipe and thus produces no emissions of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. A combination of a regenerative braking system and innovative lithium-ion battery packs delivers a driving range of more than 160 km (100 miles) on one full charge. Nissan states that extensive consumer research demonstrates that this range satisfies the daily driving requirements of more than 70% of the world’s driving consumers.

The LEAF’s batteries generate power output of 90 kW, while its electric motor delivers 80 kW / 280 Nm. The result should be a responsive driving experience similar to what one would find in a traditional, gasoline-powered car. The batteries can be charged up to 80% of their full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. A full charge through a 200 volt outlet will take about eight hours.

The Nissan LEAF’s styling also contributes to its enhanced range. The sharp, upright V-shaped design includes long, up-slanting LED headlights that split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, reducing wind noise and drag while consuming about 50 percent of the electricity of conventional lamps.

Inside, the onboard computer system provides support and information, including a dash-mounted monitor displaying remaining power — or “reachable area” — in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations.

Speaking of charging stations, Nissan is working with public and private investors to create a comprehensive charging infrastructure in major markets.

The LEAF is scheduled for launch in late 2010 in Japan, the United States, and Europe, with prices to be announced closer to the start of sales. However, Nissan predicts the car will be priced competitively, in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle.

Additionally, many local, regional, and national governments already have tax breaks and other economic incentives in place to promote reduced-emission and zero-emission vehicles, for which the LEAF will qualify.

Further, the vehicle benefits from reduced mechanical complexity compared to typical gasoline-powered cars, which should make it easier and less expensive to maintain.

The first of Nissan’s electric vehicles will be manufactured at Oppama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for Smyrna, Tennessee, USA. The lithium-ion batteries are currently produced in Zama, Japan, but there are plans to extend that to the USA, the UK and Portugal.

Read Electric Vehicle Technology Explained from Amazon.