Nissan showcased it’s brand new global, mass-market electric vehicle. A production ready car that will be in showrooms, this zero emission vehicle will be the first serious all electric powered car to be launched by a big car maker.
The Leaf will go on sale in Japan and the US early next year, and Nissan hope to make a business case of the project with the help of government subsidies for zero emission vehicles. There is apparently no dearth of interested countries, but India is not among them as of now.
The car uses a unique set of Nissan designed batteries that use lithium ion as well as manganese for the +ve electrode, reducing costs. Also, the batteries don’t take up much space as on other electric or hybrid cars as they are sandwiched under the floor of the car. The range quoted is a very impressive 160 kilometers, with batteries expected to last in good condition for four to five years – a lot.
Power from the electric motors is 80 kw (the equivalent of 107bhp) and performance is very impressive and strong. We got to drive an early mule of the car, basically a Nissan Tiida with the electric motor system, and came away very impressed. As on all electrics, the throttle responses are instant, but crucially power does not tail off after that. Nissan has worked hard at providing power at a sustained rate and this makes for a much nicer to drive electric car. With wide 205 tyres and all the weight of the batteries between the wheels, handling and grip are also like no electric car before it; one of Nissan’s objectives. The brakes however had that typical spongy feel found on all regenerative system. The car easily tops 135 kph and 0-100 would be sub 12 seconds.
With it’s tight fitting bonnet, large rear and distinctive and very techy lights, the Leaf looks the part too. Owners want to be identified as driving something different, so Nissan has complied.
The significant bit about this car is that it is likely to the first commercially successful electric. A proper car in every way but the limited range. One that may herald an all new class of car.
· The Leaf is built on an all new platform and there will be two more models in the future as well. One of them is even likely to be a sports car.
· The battery pack for the Nissan Leaf will be leased by the end user for the equivalent of around 4000-5000 rupees; over and above the price of the car .
· A full charge takes eight hours which can be reduced to 30 mins with a three phase meter.