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Nissan Electric Cars

Nissan Electric CarsNissan has been manufacturing automobiles since 1914 but like most large auto manufacturers they are new to the electric car market. Currently they are testing a prototype electric vehicle that will be the basis of a company goal to sell 100,000 electric cars in the US by 2012. The protoype is known as the Leaf.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

Touted as the world's first affordable, medium-sized electric car that most motorists can afford, the Nissan LEAF is a four-door, 5-passenger car. Using regenerative braking and a 80 kW electric engine, this all-electric vehicle will provide a driving range of up to 100 miles per charge, a significant improvement over many EVs currently on the marketplace which tend to offer a per charge range between 40 and 80 miles.

Nissan is the first mass auto manufacturer to establish large volumes for their electric car. The LEAF will be produced in Japan with a starting volume of 50,000 units. The company specifically shied away from creating a futuristic vehicle look and, instead, used their currently selling (and popular) Versa model, as the beginning platform for the LEAF. The Nissan LEAF will be built on a dedicated platform not shared with any other vehicle that uses a 107 horsepower electric motor to produce 206 lb-ft of torque, plenty to keep the LEAF moving along with typical city traffic and highway driving.

Leaf Interior

Powered by Lithium Ion batteries, the chief designers designed the zero emission vehicle to optimize its aerodynamics and reduce wind noise and also considered the efficiency of many of the car's components. For instance, the front headlights are LEDs that use only 10 percent of the electrical power of conventional headlights. Nissan manufactures the battery pack in house which they say provides a cost savings over thier competitors but the battery pack is still reported to cost $10,000 or more. There is talk of a program where customers buy the car but lease the batteries. We feel this is a good idea since shelling out $10,000 for batteries, even every 5-8 years, is more than most consumers who buy a $20,000 car can handle.

Nissan Electric Car

Similar to the hybrid Honda Insight, the LEAF's driver control panel seems almost interactive. It indicates how efficiently the car is running and will indicate a selection of charging stations that are nearby. The LEAF also makes a leap forward because the owner will be able to wirelessly turn on/off the air conditioning and establish charging cycles. This will allow consumers to program the Leaf to charge during off peak hours and program the air conditioner or heater to come on while the car is still plugged in.

Leaf Interior

A typical charge is 8 hours off of a standard 110-volt plug and a few hours less for charging from a 220-volt. The Nissan LEAF starts at around $32,000 delivered but tax credits will bring it down to the mid 20's, the home charging station will cost around $2200 to install. The Leaf is first being test marketed in Japan (Note the Right Hand Drive in our interior photos) but will be released in limited markets in the US in 2010 with full mass production slated for 2012.

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