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Nissan gets into the zero emissions game with the 2010 LEAF EV

When it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles, names like Prius, Insight, and Volt manage to grab the bulk of the limelight. The Toyota Prius is the darling of the "green" movement when it comes to fuel efficient vehicles and the Volt hasn't even made it into the hands of the buying public yet -- but it still garners attention from the automotive press (and prospective buyers).

Nissan is now looking to put its name up near the top of the list when it comes to zero emissions vehicles according to Autoblog. The company this weekend announced its new 2010 LEAF EV which melds Nissan/Renault's current design theme with an electric-only vehicle.

As with most next generation electric vehicles, the LEAF uses an advanced lithium-ion battery pack (48 modules, 90kW) and has electric motors which deliver 80kW (107 HP). The combo allows the LEAF to have a driving range of 100 miles and a top speed of 87 mph according to Nissan. By Nissan's estimates, the 100 mile driving range is enough to satisfy the daily commute requirements of 80% of American drivers (Nissan says that the average U.S. driver has a daily commute of less than 62 miles).

When it comes to styling, most would be hard pressed to call the LEAF "another Prius knockoff" which has been a label affixed to the Honda Insight. Instead, the LEAF takes its design direction from a few vehicles already in the Nissan stable including the Murano, Rogue, and Versa -- albeit with more aerodynamic curves and surfaces.

Given that the LEAF is a fully electric vehicle and doesn't have an "extended range" gasoline engine/generator like the Volt, the vehicle will rely heavily on a robust electric charging infrastructure. As a result, Nissan will initially market the vehicle in U.S cities which have taken the initiative to provide charging station for EVs including Phoenix, San Diego, Raleigh, and Seattle.

"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."

Nissan expects to market the LEAF in the U.S., Europe, and Japan next year. Pricing has not been announced, but Nissan describes the vehicle as "affordable".

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This is NOT a zero emission car
By DOSGuy on 8/2/2009 11:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
"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."

They're not giving consumers very much credit if they expect us to believe that you can drive a car and produce zero emissions. Instead of burning gasoline, you're using electricity, which (at least in the United States) is largely produced by burning coal, a much dirtier source of energy.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great step in the right direction. Nuclear power is making a comeback, and there is a big push towards solar, wind, geothermal and tidal power. These so-called zero emission cars may actually be zero emission cars someday, but not yet. Now that they've removed the gasoline, the next step is to switch to clean electricity.

RE: This is NOT a zero emission car
By WackyDan on 8/3/2009 10:27:11 AM , Rating: 2
Fair point...But***

It is far more efficient to charge/take energy from the power grid then to run a gas engine to get you from point a to b.

ie; I'd wager the charging produces less carbon/pollutants per mile than the gas engine.

By pachai on 8/3/2009 12:04:52 PM , Rating: 2
It MIGHT not be truly Zero emissions
if you include the generating station, BUT!

1. As WackyDan mentioned, using electricity
to move stuff is far more efficient than
using explosions to move stuff, and then
having to get rid of the heat, etc.

The formula is something close to
Gas engine, 15% efficient
Electric motor 85% efficient (and getting better)
(and stopping in a gas car creates waste heat,
but in an EV, it charges the battery.)

2. In the forseeable future, there's really only
one source of gasoline: oil, and much of it is foreign.
But there are an infinite number of sources of
electricity, many of them "Zero emissions" -
Solar (photo Voltaic), wind, hydro (most of Canada),
Solar (steam turbine), waves.

There's even a company using Speed Bumps to make

You can even hook up exercise bikes to the grid!
(gives about a yard of range :-)

Someone should do it for hampsters in school...

By werepossum on 8/3/2009 5:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming you charge from solar panels (and assuming your solar panels were created using energy from solar panels and so forth back to the Virgin Mary), then the car would truly be zero emissions not counting its own construction, maintenance, and disposal. That's close enough for me.

RE: This is NOT a zero emission car
By Keeir on 8/3/2009 2:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
Zero Emissions... no

But here are some fun numbers. I will use C02 emissions as a base here, since whether you believe in AGW or not, at this point it appears sweeping policy decisions will be made the world over based on this emission

A Toyota Prius gets 50 miles to 1 gallon of gas.
1 Gallon of gas will produce ~8,800 grams of C02.
Toyota Prius --> 176 grams of C02 per Mile

A Nissian Leaf gets 100 miles to 24 kWh of electricity. So thats .24kWh/mile.
Lets assume 100% is made from Coal, NG, and Nuclear in turn
Coal= 1,041 grams per kWh * .24 = 250 grams per mile
NG = 622 grams per kWh * .24 = 150 grams per mile
Nuclear= 17 grams per kWh * .24 = 4.1 grams per mile

For the sake of ease of calculation, All renewables will be assumed as Nuclear, and all others as Coal.

In the US, 250 * .512 + 150 * .2 + 4.1 * .288 = 159 grams per mile

And this is -Worst- case senario including entire C02 for the electric car and only consumption for the Prius.

Comsumption only puts 2007 figures at 145 grams per mile.

And yet again, I am assuming that the Full 100% battery will be used. More likely only 80% of the battery will be used. Yielding more like 116 grams per mile. Which will get better each and every year as more and more old Coal and Gas plants are taken off-line and replaced with new more efficient Coal and Gas plants. Or potentially much much better if Nuclear is used. In fact, Nuclear, Wind, Hydro type power would result in C02 levels at 2% of the Prius's numbers per mile.

RE: This is NOT a zero emission car
By Spuke on 8/4/2009 5:00:50 PM , Rating: 2
In fact, Nuclear, Wind, Hydro type power would result in C02 levels at 2% of the Prius's numbers per mile.
That's also if you ignore CO2 produced during manufacturing.

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