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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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By Keeir on 8/3/2009 3:02:20 PM , Rating: 2
1.) Figures from Autobloggreen and various other sources
Recharge from 110V standard US plug = 16 hours
Recharge from 220V semi-standard US plug = 8 hours
Recharge from Special Charger = 30 minutes for 80%. (These apparently are being built in select cities already. The charger only costs 45,000, which is very reasonable in comparison to a fuel pump)

2.) Unknown. Nissian has researched and have the capacity to build thier own special batteries. Manganese Spinel is the type they are working on... which makes sense. Manganese Spinel type is the same used by LG the primary supplier for the Chevy Volt battery. (Its important to note that Nissian has limited max power to around 90 kW, whereas the Volt battery must do above 110 kW. This tends to make a battery more fragile) Since Nissian is making thier own batteries, there are no tech specs floating around that I can see. From the Chevy Volt specifications released so far, I think it would be reasonable to assume that at the end of 10 years/150,000 miles, the Leaf would retain 50-75% of its original capacity, and through fancy battery management proably 75% of driving range. (Far Better than Tesla which has the same figure at 5-7 years)

3.) Up in the air. I have read that projected 0-62mph times are around 10 seconds. Based on the information provided, I thinks thats slightly optomistic, but reasonably so. (~100 max HP, but 200+ ft-lbs of torque). I guessing 10-12 seconds real-world.

Far more worrysome is the ~90 mph maximum speed. I think realistically, 85 mph will be lucky, a speed that is easily reachable on many US highways... sometimes even the "expected" speed... and if its required to have 90kW battery draw to obtain that speed, Range is likely to be ~20 miles at that speed.

4.) No idea. I think the confusion is that Nissian will persue different plans in different parts of the world. Some areas will be lease only. Some will be purchase car, lease battery. Some may be purchase only. Warranty will likely be similar to "normal" cars for most of the parts. If they want to sell the battery in California though, I believe they will need to do the 10 year/150,000 mile warranty or lease the battery.

5.) This is really over-rated. Lithium is highly recyclable and to this point, no drastic demands have been put on the system. In the long run, there is alot of Lithium out there in the world and the push to actual find and exploit these reasources may actually -lower- lithium prices.

6.) How much do you drive per week? The Leaf should consume around 200wh-250wh/mile in "normal" US driving. They currently are claiming less than 200wh/mile, using LA4. Do you currently exceed EPA estimates for mileage? if you do, 200wh/mile is probably okay. If not 250wh/mile is more reasonable.

7.) Manganese spiral Lithium Ion are alot better than other types of batteries in this regard as well. Lithium Iron Phosphate I believe are even more durable in regards to temperature. The short answer is yes. Severe Cold and Heat will damage the batteries, but Nissian will likely include a battery management system that will heat/cool the batteries to the appropriate temperature before go. This will probably be annoying if you park outside on days >100 degress F or <32 degrees F.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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