Nissan Turns Over A Green Leaf

2011-nissan-leaf-photo.jpgUnveiled at the grand opening of the new high-technology plant in Japan, the new Nissan 100% all-electric Leaf is set to be released by 2011. The electric-blue hatchback, with room to comfortably seat five, doesn’t fall far from a similar design of the Nissan Murano.

With a range of 100 miles per charge and the ability to be fully recharged in about 30 minutes (where quick recharge stations are available), the Leaf could be an early leader in the EV world. And with its’ 207 pounds of torque and 107 hp electric motor, Nissan’s Leaf can reach top speeds of about 90 miles per hour with more get-up and go power than that of the Infiniti G37.

Pricing has not yet been announced, but Nissan has stated that it will be similar to that of other C-class European electrics. Although European compacts are generally better equipped and more expensive, one could speculate the Leaf will have a U.S. price of $28,000 to $35,000. However, this does not include government incentives from the federal clean car credit program, which could knock the cost down by as much as $10,000 if funding is still available.

In an idea as unique as the Leaf itself, Nissan, rather than selling the rechargeable battery, which accounts for almost $10,000 of the Leaf’s price may instead be leasing it. Similar to the fact that consumers don’t pay upfront for the gas a vehicle uses when they buy a new car, Nissan is considering leasing the EV battery rather than selling it with the vehicle.

In the U.S., where consumers are not as familiar or comfortable with purchasing EV vehicles, Nissan may be leaning toward marketing Leaves as leased vehicles rather than green cars you would buy. Whether or not Nissan will be selling or leasing the Leaf, as well as the actual MSRP are two announcements we may not get until we draw closer to the late 2010 release date, said Andy Palmer, Nissan’s Senior Vice President. The release of the Leaf will make Nissan the first major auto manufacturer to offer a full-service battery-electric car for retail sales in U.S. dealerships.

In an effort to make using an EV vehicle as easy and effortless for consumers as possible, the Leaf’s navigation system displays one-way and round-trip travel ranges the car is capable of before recharging. It also sends a message to your phone or PDA when the vehicle is plugged into a home or public charging station letting consumers know when their vehicle is fully-charged and ready to hit the road again.

The test model released in Japan last month is said to be almost identical to the actual model that will be launched at the end of ‘10. Available in only a blue color for now, Nissan has released photos of the prototype for public viewing on their website and they will continue to post updates as they become available. We will do the same, but I have to admit…this model of vehicle electrification looks a lot more futuristic than my 3rd generation Prius.

So, what kind of gas mileage do you think this vehicle will get? Unlike hybrid cars, phevs, and still others that can run on gas or battery power (i.e. Chevy’s Volt) - this one is going to take some getting used to…since it won’t use any gas at all, and it couldn’t use any even if you wanted it to. Mileage might be measured in CPM (cost per mile, cents per mile) but in won’t be MPH. Then when we want to compare fuel efficiency of 2 or more cars, we will need a new calculator or conversion method. This is going to get confusing, but it will be worth it. Go Big Green!

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