Today, Nissan has turned the automotive industry on its ear with the debut of the completely production-ready, all-electric, 2010 Nissan LEAF. Scheduled to hit the international market (including Japan, Europe, and the U.S.) in late 2010, the 4-door, 5-seat LEAF is being touted as the world’s first electric car designed for the real world. “Nissan LEAF is a tremendous accomplishment – one in which all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan President and CEO 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.”
Outwardly, the LEAF appears to be nothing more than a slick new hatch, but it was not designed purely for aesthetics. The sharp, upright V-shaped design was engineered to split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag. Using a blue internal reflective design, the LEAF’s LEDs provide all of the blinding irritation of HID’s, while only consuming 10% of the electricity used by conventional lamps. “Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, 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, Product Chief Designer.
Power generated by its laminated compact lithium-ion batteries rates somewhere just over 90kW and its electric motor produces 80kW/280Nm, meaning the total engine output is roughly equivalent to about 100 horsepower. Nissan neglected to mention how much the LEAF weighed, but since lithium-ion batteries are notorious for their bulk, we’re willing to bet that the total curb weight + lackluster power = nothing to write home about, performance-wise.
Despite the fact that we’re dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads and thus inclined to dismiss anything rated under 200 horsepower, we are capable of respecting the LEAF for what it is and are duly impressed by its capabilities. Unlike anything currently available in its segment, the Nissan LEAF features a range of 160km (100 miles) per charge which, according to Nissan, adequately meets the daily driving needs of 70% of the world’s driving population. As expected, charging time for the LEAF is a lengthy 8 hours via a standard 200V outlet, though an 80% recharge can be reached in just 30 minutes using Nissan’s “quick charge” system.
Inside, Nissan equipped the LEAF with an extremely advanced driver infotainment system, which includes a global data center that provides real-time support, information, and entertainment 24 hours a day. In addition, the heads-up display also tracks the LEAF’s remaining power (or “reachable area”) and automatically locates nearby charging stations. Even more impressive, the IT system also boasts the ability to use mobile phones to turn on air-conditioning and set charging functions – even when the vehicle is powered down – and the on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries. “The IT system is a critical advantage,” says Tooru ABE, Chief Product Specialist. “We wanted this vehicle to be a partner for the driver and an enhancement for the passengers. We also wanted this vehicle to help create a zero-emission community, and these IT features will help make that possible.”
Pricing for the 2010 Nissan LEAF has yet to be announced, but rumors and hefty tax breaks have many expecting the window sticker to read somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000.