Electric Car from Nissan – the “LEAF”
This month Nissan is proudly showcasing their proposed electric car, named the LEAF, which stands for “Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car”. While the name may be yet another annoying attempt to turn absolutely anything into an acronym, the car itself looks promising.
Planned to be released near the end of 2010, the LEAF is based on the existing Nissan Tiida, a small car designed with the Indian market in mind. The Tiida (Versa in the USA) has an unusually high roofline for a small car which was designed so that well-to-do Indian (Sikh) passengers could ride in comfort while keeping their Turbans from touching the roof. The Tiida’s engine was also designed to run well on lower quality fuel, such as that found in India.
But more about the LEAF… This new all-electric car will come with an 80 kW (110 hp) motor producing 280 Nm (210 lb-ft) of torque.
The LEAF is expected to sell for $25,000 US to $33,000 US which is cheap for an electric car.
The car’s expected range is less than impressive however at just 100 miles (160 km) per charge. While that might suit the majority of motorists, they could easily have done better – especially since you don’t have to pay for the batteries when you buy the car.
“Huh?” I hear you asking? Nissan plans to lease the battery pack to owners of the LEAF. According to BusinessWeek, the LEAF’s 24 kW/h battery costs approximately $10,000 per car and Nissan will always remain the owner of this pack which is only leased to the consumer for approximately $150 per month. Considering the average length of new vehicle ownership in the USA is around 6 years, the average motorist could expect to pay $10,800 during that period for the LEAF’s leased battery.
If the battery leasing idea appeals to you then the LEAF could be right up your alley. It comes with some pretty nifty features too such as a Global Data System which allows support, information & entertainment to drivers 24 hours a day (I have one of those already – it’s called a cellphone).
One impressive feature is the ability to turn on your car’s air conditioning or heater through your cellphone – even when the car is turned off. This means on those cold mornings this electric car will be warm and ready to go when you get in – without filling your garage with exhaust fumes.
I must come clean though: I’m wary of big auto manufacturers and the battery leasing idea.
Admittedly the price is good for this new, mass-produced electric car, but ultimately the car’s still at the mercy of Nissan. They’re within their rights to change pricing and/or recall battery packs as they please. This means your new LEAF could easily become the next EV1 – the only difference being that while your LEAF won’t be crushed, it’s battery certainly could be; leaving your shiny new electric car sitting dead on your driveway.