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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finally Getting to Test-Drive a Nissan Leaf

From Gina at Sierra Club (who will be filming a show with us this month):  A great article of her spin with the new Nissan Leaf.  The article comes from Sierra's Compass Magazine.  Here's the link:

Here is some interesting data from her article:

"Though I have read or skimmed thousands of news articles about EVs, there is nothing like actually driving a car to get to know it better.  Here are some of the things that Abe shared with my tour group and then with me personally:
  • The Leaf is all-electric, which means it relies on electricity instead of gasoline to fuel it.  A fully charged Leaf goes between 70 and 130 miles per charge (depending on a range of factors).
  • It takes six to eight hours to fully charge a Leaf on a level 2 charger, which most consumers will either have installed at their homes or rely on at work or at public charging stations now being installed in many cities nationwide. 
    • The Leaf has an AC motor and one gear, which means it doesn't need to shift; there is just park, drive, reverse, eco-mode, and neutral.
    • Nissan does not officially state how fast the Leaf accelerates, but at least one web site claims it goes 0-60 in a speedy seven seconds. 
    • The optional eco-mode mode reduces air conditioning, increases regenerative braking, and could increase your range by up to 10%.

    • The car is 95% recyclyable, and many components are from recycled materials, such as seat fabric from recycled water bottles.
    • Without having to replace the whole battery pack, Nissan says it's easy to replace one of the lithium ion battery cells on the Leaf if it gets damaged.  There is an eight-year/100,000 mile warranty on the whole battery pack.
    • Unlike with a cell phone, partial charging won't deplete the battery.  However, according to the Nissan web site, "like any battery, usage and age will lead to a gradual loss of capacity and will impact your driving range" over time.
    • The Leaf has no spare tire, sun roof, or power seats –these are heavy and would drain the battery, and Nissan decided that drivers would rather have a battery with a longer life than these amenities.
    • An iPhone ap has come out that allows you to remotely turn charging on/off, check the state of charge, turn heat or air conditioning on, unlock the car, and determine where nearby public charging stations are.  Similar aps are coming are becoming available for other hand-held devices. 
    • Price:  The 2011 model is $32,700 or $25,280 after the maximum federal tax credit.  The 2012 standard model is $35,200 or $27,700 after the federal tax credit. Some states have additional state tax credits that further reduce the price.
    • The 2012 model includes new quick-charging capacity (if/when you can find a quick charger) and cold weather features that are not part of the 2011 model.   The cold weather package include a battery warmer (that increases range), heated steering wheel, and heated front and rear seats." 
    If you are from Nissan, we'd love to test drive the Leaf and talk about the car on a future show, as we did with the Volt.  

    And, if you own, lease or have driven the Leaf, or Volt, get in touch.  We'd like to publish your comments.  

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