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Nissan LEAF to make an appearance in five test markets late next year

Just a few days ago, Nissan revealed the LEAF electric vehicle to the public. The 5-door hatchback looks relatively conventional and Nissan promises that the vehicle will be "affordable" when it hits the streets.

Yesterday, Nissan announced that the LEAF will be released in limited numbers next year in the United States. According to Nissan, 5,000 LEAFs will be spread evenly through five markets: Oregon, Phoenix/Tuscon, San Diego, Seattle, and Tennessee.

Nissan credits the recent announcement of $2.4B in federals grants for battery development for its relatively quick time-to-market plans for the LEAF. Nissan will be partnering with eTec, a company which provides charging stations for EVs, to help provide the infrastructure to support vehicles like the LEAF. ETec received nearly $100 million of the $2.4B grant.

"Nissan appreciates the support of the Department of Energy in helping jumpstart the electrification of the transportation sector," said Nissan of North America's Scott Becker. "This is a major step in promoting zero-emission mobility in the United States. Nissan is looking forward to partnering with eTec to help make electric cars a reality and to help establish the charging networks in key markets."

Nissan's LEAF can travel 100 miles on a single charge and reach a top speed of 87 mph thanks to its lithium-ion battery pack and electric motors.

The first 5,000 LEAF EVs to reach the American market late next year will be made in Japan. Nissan plans to start building the LEAF in its Tennessee plant in 2012.

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What about people who drive long distances?
By smackababy on 8/7/2009 9:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
I regularly (every 2-3 months) drive about a thousand miles across country. As much as I would love an electric vehicle, as I only drive maybe a mile a day on most days, I can't see the point in only being able to go on a trip for 400 miles before I need to recharge for 3 hours.

I like where the tech is going, except that car makers are morons when it comes to styling. Why can't they make a $15,000 car look like a $50,000 car? I'd bet the would sell twice as many.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By mdogs444 on 8/7/2009 9:34:15 AM , Rating: 2
Why can't they make a $15,000 car look like a $50,000 car?

Cmon man. They can't even make a $5,000 looking coffin on wheels profitable at $15,000 here with the LEAF. How do you expect to have the looks of a BMW M3 or similar for the price of a Kia?

Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By goku on 8/7/2009 9:46:14 AM , Rating: 3
naw, I think what he is looking for is soda. So he'd be happy with something like Sierra Mist at the price of $1.50 for a 2 litre. He doesn't want to be classy, he just wants it to look good.

By mdogs444 on 8/7/2009 9:52:00 AM , Rating: 2
He doesn't want to be classy, he just wants it to look good.

He asked for it to look like a $50,000 car, not a $25,000 Malibu.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By monomer on 8/7/2009 12:15:18 PM , Rating: 2
I know it really boils down to taste, but I think that Hyundai does a pretty decent job at making budget cars look, well, less budgety.

The Genesis (and the europeen version of the Tiburon... I believe its called the Tuscani) comes to mind.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By mdogs444 on 8/7/2009 12:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
I'm fairly certain that the new Genesis 2dr is just a re badged & upgraded Tiburon. I say this because the pricing and motor selection is not on par at all with the 4 door version.

The Genesis is nice, I'll give you that. But what is "budget" about a $40,000 car, besides its name of course?

If Kia had a $40,000 car, it would make no sense either. It's like Chevrolet coming out with a $55,000 Malibu GT or something, and people claiming it doesn't look like a low end Chevy anymore. Well duh!

By sweatshopking on 8/7/2009 12:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
the genesis coupe is a completely redone vehicle. it is the spiritual successor to the tiburon, but it is real wheel drive, with a new drive train and undercarriage. yes it looks similar, but that is a good thing. and for the record, the coupe is not 40k (the sedan is) it is 21000 CAD. so i imagine cheaper south of the border. and the sedan isnt a budget car. it compares nicely to a 55k lexus, in many tests.

By lightfoot on 8/7/2009 6:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
it is real wheel drive

That's good, because I hate those fake wheel drive cars. They just don't have the traction that I want.

Rear wheel drive can also be nice.

By Brandon Hill on 8/7/2009 2:02:22 PM , Rating: 3
I thought you were a car guy?

First of all, the Genesis Coupe starts at around $22,00 and tops out at $29,500 for a fully loaded V6 Track model (6-speed stick).

The Genesis Coupe has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Tiburon. It's actually based on a shortened Genesis sedan chassis and is a RWD, four-seater available with a 210 HP turbo-4 or a 306 HP (IIRC) 3.8-liter V6 engine.

Both engines are available with manual transmissions. The Genesis Coupe (in V6 form) is seen as an Infiniti G37 competitor for $10,000 - $12,000 less. Sure, its interior isn't as nice as the G37, but it has all the right moves/performance for relatively little dough.

I'm personally looking to buy one once my Mazda 3s is paid off. The mid-cycle refresh for the Genesis coupe is supposed to add direct injection for both engines (~250 HP for the turbo 4 and ~ 330+ HP for the V6) and the turbo-4 is gonna be made available with a dual-clutch transmission.

I'll take mine with a turbo-4 and dual-clutch :)

Also, the Hyundai Genesis Sedan starts at around $33,000 or so and reaches $40,000+ for the V8 version. Hyundai has been selling boatloads of 'em.

By Spuke on 8/7/2009 3:18:14 PM , Rating: 2
The mid-cycle refresh for the Genesis coupe is supposed to add direct injection for both engines (~250 HP for the turbo 4 and ~ 330+ HP for the V6) and the turbo-4 is gonna be made available with a dual-clutch transmission.
Oooooh!!!! Really? DI and a DCT? Oh Lordy!! I need to keep an eye out for this car!! Thanks much! Maybe this will convince BMW that DCT's are needed on their 1 and 3 series cars.

By monomer on 8/7/2009 5:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, I should have said the Genesis Coupe. The pricing is certainly lower than the Sedan, but it still looks like a fairly upscale vehicle, which is what the OP was asking for.

By Samus on 8/7/2009 7:34:08 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, Ford has, without a doubt, the best looking budget cars. It isn't until you spend $20,000 that you get fake chrome and girly curves (Ford Fusion) but the Focus and the Fiesta are both very good looking cars, inside and out.

By AlexWade on 8/7/2009 9:49:56 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, even some of the $50k cars are ugly too. The new Accuras have a front grill that looks like the car is smiling at you. Whenever I see the new Accuras, I think of this (this is best quality I could find), but in reverse.

It is also funny in this context.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By SiliconJon on 8/7/2009 10:00:05 AM , Rating: 3
A mile a day? I would say why do you bother starting the car, and instead hop on a bicycle, however my less than three mile (total) commute and broken cycle would make me a hypocrite.

As for occasional lengthy trips, if I had a new vehicle that was so incredibly cheap to drive I would no problems trading a family member vehicles for the trip - they would probably fight each other given the cost of some of their commutes. Though the fighting would do them no good, as I would choose one of the more efficient vehicles to trade.

By hduser on 8/8/2009 1:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
I agree 3 miles is bicycle distance or maybe scooter. Walking isn't out of the question on a nice day.

How can you loan an electric car to a family member if they can't charge it? From what I read about the Leaf, it has a charger that takes 220V. Seems like it's kinda limited in access to households. Who knows how big the charger is.

By mars2k on 8/7/2009 11:10:07 AM , Rating: 2
This car would look better with a Hydrogen fuel cell ;-). Maybe we'll see that in California first. Then you'lll get your long range elelectric. Check out the Honda FCX

By Aeonic on 8/7/2009 11:57:49 AM , Rating: 2
I understand what you mean about the 15 -> 50k looks. You'd think design and some sexy sheet metal would be relatively cheap in the grand scope of creating and manufacturing a car.

On the other hand, I've seen worse, and maybe they intended for it to look like happy lollipop rainbows. I mean, consider, it's hard to make a small car look "classy" and making this car look mean and fast might end up being a joke.

I dunno, just not my style I guess. To each their own.

By Spuke on 8/7/2009 3:06:08 PM , Rating: 2
Why can't they make a $15,000 car look like a $50,000 car?
Creative designers cost money. Complex body panels cost money. Money that automakers can't afford to "waste" on non-profitable or barely profitable cars (under $20k car segment in the US).

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By kaoken on 8/7/2009 6:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
Answer is quite simple really. Car companies want to retain a certain image for their cars. There is a problem in China where there are car companies just copy popular luxury cars and sell them with different names and of course a lot cheaper.

By lightfoot on 8/7/2009 6:43:52 PM , Rating: 2
BMW chose an aggressive image, and Nissan chose the LittleTikes image.

To each their own.

RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By hduser on 8/8/2009 1:22:59 PM , Rating: 2
How about renting a car for long drives?

By Spuke on 8/10/2009 4:24:21 PM , Rating: 2
How about renting a car for long drives?
I did that when I was leasing cars because it's cheaper in the long run but now that I am not leasing, driving my own car is cheaper. BTW, a long drive for me would be going outside SoCal (say to Phoenix, AZ...~450 miles).

By Chemical Chris on 8/9/2009 2:16:47 PM , Rating: 3
For those long trips, I would suggest taking the bus, or flying. The bus is cheap, you dont have to do any work, just sit there and read a book or something. A lot of busses now have WiFi and power outlets, so you have even more infotainment options.
If you only need to travel long distances occasionally, then why not take the bus then, and have an electric car for around-town activities.
And really, whats wrong with bus? Is it really that bad/are you really that high and mighty? Just think of all the extra money you'd save on gas, or getting a smaller, cheaper car. The small amount of (perceived) extra convenience of driving rather than busing is more than offset by the financial and environmental factors. I mean really. C'mon.


RE: What about people who drive long distances?
By Keeir on 8/10/2009 12:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
Just curious where you are from...

Bus options are not really that great in the vast majority of the United States. Nor are they particularly cheaper than driving. Especially when you consider transportation requiredments at the other end.

For example, Seattle WA --> Portland OR is well outside the Leaf's range at 175 miles one way. Yet at ~3:00 max driving time and around ~6 gallons of gas (even in a poor car) its cheaper than a one-way ticket on greyhound at 27.00 dollars, and is much faster (greyhound takes around 4:00 of time). Its also cheaper than Amtrack, at ~35 for the same trip.

Not that I disagree with your statement, but your assertion that the extra convenience is perceived is clearly in error as is the idea that the bus is inheritantly better financially or even enviromentally (Buses do use alot of fuel in some areas... approaching parity with Hybrid type cars per person and a Diesel powered bus in the US anyway would be very dirty)

On top of all this, there are very few places serviced by Buses reliably enough in the US to make this practical. Someone in Seattle can get to Portland, but not Mt. St. Helens or Rainer, or any of dozens of other places a reasonable person may want to go on occasion.....

By JediJeb on 8/10/2009 5:26:32 PM , Rating: 2
True, and for those of us who would need to drive over 50 miles to get to the nearest bus station or airport or even rental car office, it just wouldn't make sense since unless they let you recharge while you are parked you may not make it home when you return.

By Spuke on 8/10/2009 4:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
For those long trips, I would suggest taking the bus, or flying.
There is no bus where I live. The closet one is a 45 minute DRIVE and would require someone to pick me up (driving) at the other end (if I were going to Phoenix). A lot of places I visit have no bus service and require a car to get there. Unless you live in a large metropolitan area AND never go outside that area, public transportation in the US is either non-existent or it sucks or it's too expensive compared to driving. Occasionally, I fly if I need to maximize time or if it's just too far (over 500 miles).

There is a train station (local) about 20 minutes away. It only goes to certain destinations so I can't take it everywhere but it does allow connections with other trains. It's not cheap and the hours are limited so we use it more for fun than anything but some people do use it for commuting (does save time during rush hour).

Don'r get it!!
By bobny1 on 8/7/2009 7:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't they create instead of charging stations swappable batteries. Think about it!. If you are running low on power just stop at a station and swap the battery for another just like a BBQ gas tank.

RE: Don'r get it!!
By JediJeb on 8/10/2009 5:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
This will work as long as most of the cars use the same voltage, amperage and form factor of battery. But then we can't even get that standardized on laptops and cellphones, imagine trying to get it done on new cars.

By blueboy09 on 8/8/2009 6:17:13 PM , Rating: 2
but what they really need to do is improve the battery about 4 or 5 fold in order for people to really take this seriously. 100 miles is good for a daily commute around town, but not on long trips. You would take about a day roughly if you went 500 miles on 5 charges and that's if you rapidly charge it with a special charger. Tech will get there though, it's just waiting for the time for it to get here. - BLUEBOY

By Jedi2155 on 8/8/2009 8:16:06 PM , Rating: 2
We need a breakthrough in energy storage devices however I haven't seen such a breakthrough happen in a long time.....still more money in the field might hopefully find us this breakthrough.

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