Nissan shows off pictures and releases details of its electric car, the Leaf, which will launch in 2010.
Wayne CunninghamManaging Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
This weekend Nissan released photos and details of the electric car it intends to put into production in 2010. The Nissan Leaf is a purpose-built, pure battery electric vehicle. Nissan previously let us test-drive the Leaf's power train using the Cube as a test model. The Nissan Leaf has its own distinct look; it's a more conventional car than the Cube, with four doors and a hatchback. Although it hasn't announced pricing, Nissan says the Leaf will be affordable, priced as a C-segment car. The company also notes that the Leaf will cost less to operate than a gasoline-powered car, both in energy and maintenance, as there are fewer moving parts. Also, many governments offer incentives in the form of tax credits or rebates to purchase an electric car.
The Leaf uses a laminate lithium ion battery pack with an output of over 90 kilowatts. The car's drive motor puts out 80 kilowatts of power, substantial enough to give it performance equivalent to a gas-powered car. Nissan claims the Leaf has a range of over 100 miles, fairly typical for electric car projects from other automakers. The Leaf uses regenerative braking, and has a recharge time of 30 minutes to get the battery pack up to 80 percent using a quick charger. From a 200-volt source, the Leaf takes 8 hours to recharge.
One of the more innovative elements of the car is its onboard computer. Along with typical functions such as charge level and range, this computer is connected to a data center that will receive diagnostic information from the car. It will also keep the driver informed of local recharge stations. Although not specifically mentioned, this onboard system could easily show navigation with traffic conditions. Nissan says the computer will also provide entertainment for passengers.
The Leaf will originally be built in Japan, and sold in Japan, the United States, and Europe. As demand dictates, Nissan will build additional units in its Smyrna, Tennessee plant.