Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson said that “The future is all about electric cars” and that the LEAF is the first mass produced and affordable EV in the world.
Electric Vehicles are not new to Nissan; they built their first EV, called the Tama in 1947 and then followed with the Prairie Joy in 1996 and the Altra in 1998.
Nissan’s last effort was in 1999 with a fleet of Hyper minis, which were in service across several Japanese cities from 2001.
Nissan’s idea of affordable means that the LEAF will cost no more than an equivalent size car, which is powered by an internal combustion engine.
With 80 Kilowatts of power and a not too shabby 280 Newton-metres of torque, the LEAF will be able to manage a top speed of 140km/h.
Electric Vehicles have almost always been hamstrung by their real world range but the LEAF isn’t so bad with full charge cruising range of over 160 kilometres, which is more than enough for most daily driving commitments.
The great news for drivers of the LEAF is that you may never need to visit a petrol station again. Just plug your car into a domestic 220~240V system and by morning your vehicle will be fully charged at a fraction of the cost of a petrol-powered car.
Of course the benefits to the environment are far greater than the saving in your wallet.
No tailpipe, means zero emissions, and zero emissions means a cleaner world, especially if the LEAF is mass-produced on a global scale as Nissan expects it will be.
Naturally, there are some emissions if the car is charged via electricity from coal fired sources, but if that charge is from Solar power cells mounted on your own roof, then you will have a 100 percent zero emissions car in your garage.
Even better, is the potential to plug in at night and supply any excess power back to the electricity grid, as is possible now with your own solar power.
And don’t think for one minute that you will be compromised in any way with your purchase of Nissan’s EV.
The LEAF will easily accommodate five adults in relative comfort and that includes sufficient leg and headroom for all passengers.
That’s because of some very clever design features, which include positioning the 48 laminated lithium ion battery modules (192 cells) under the floor of the vehicle.
The LEAF also uses regenerative braking which means energy under braking is sent directly to the battery, which tops up the charge.
But Nissan wants fast charging stations all over Sydney, where you’ll be able to get a complete charge in around 30 minutes or less. And that’s something that John Robertson (NSW Minister for Energy) and Lord Mayer of Sydney, Clover Moore dearly want to facilitate.
In fact, its not just Sydney that Nissan is working with, there are 13 other major cities that have signed up for the C40 Electric Vehicle Network.
The United States is leading the charge (pardon the pun) with around 5000 LEAF cars to go on trial across five states later this year.
There are plenty of very cool features on board too. You will be able to check the battery power level from your mobile phone as well as turn on the air conditioning or heating before you enter the car.
In fact, before I got into the LEAF today, I switched on the ignition via a TV-like remote control unit, which is incredibly convenient and simple.
The instrument panel and entertainment system are entirely digital with touch screens, which are very easy to read and to navigate through.
General sales of the LEAF will commence in the US this year and Nissan dealers in Australia will have cars on the showroom floor in 2012.