Nissan Leaf: The EV That Will Change Everything?

2011_nissan_leaf

On Sunday in Japan, Nissan unveiled what just might be the kick in the pants electric vehicles need to go mainstream.

The company also revealed its potential to yank the carpet out from under GM’s electric Volt debut.

The Nissan Leaf, if it lives up to its promise, will appear in the United States in 2010 as a 2011 model and feature these specs, which are surely making Volt execs cower under their desks: a 90-mph top speed, a range of 100 miles per charge, and 107 horsepower coming from an 80-kilowatt electric motor.

Pricing should come in on either side of the $30K mark, but keep in mind that government subsidies could bring the out-of-pocket cost down to the low-to-mid 20s.

I have to admit I questioned Nissan’s ambitious EV goals earlier this summer. I wasn’t sure if the company could come from so far behind in the gas/electric hybrid game to overtake competitors in the strictly electric game. (While the Nissan Altima Hybrid is a fine car, it uses technology mostly sourced from Toyota.)

My tune is changing now, though, and I’m frankly shocked that it looks like Nissan might be able to turn the auto world upside down if it actually delivers a no-emission EV that’s practical as a daily driver, affordable, and looks like a traditional car. I’m sensing a home run here!

Nissan is brilliant to announce the Leaf’s planned release about a year ahead of time after quietly developing the technology, compared with GM’s endless hype about its Volt. GM’s is a failed strategy that has exposed every setback the Volt has suffered along the way, leaving me and the rest of the world already excited about its competitors.

Is Nissan poised to shock the auto world, or will the Leaf be another hype machine that fizzles out?

-tgriffith

4 Comments

  1. Well, hyping something that is not for sale yet is one thing, and actually putting them on the street is another. However, as you note, the flaw in this hype is the standard scam on electric cars– the quoted price is for an inoperable vehicle. It’s like going to a car dealer and buying an IC vehicle, only to be told that on top of your payment, you will have to lease the fuel system. Except in the case of an electric car, you have a “fuel system” that can cost $25,000 or more. Bait and switch? In a way, yes.

    The real problem here is that demand for electrics is far ahead of the battery technology, mainly because the govenment should have been funding battery research since the late 1980’s. I don’t believe all-electric vehicles will be anything but rich people’s toys until an electric is available with fast charging, 150 mile range (at normal driving speeds) and a real cost comparable to IC vehicles.

  2. @evnow
    Good point evnow…
    The sales price would not include the battery pack, which would be leased. Nissan is also considering leasing the entire car in the U.S., since the idea of owning a car, but not the batteries inside it, may not go over well in this market.
    When you think about it though… if you buy a Nissan Versa you don’t automatically get a full gas tank forever. Same thing with the Leaf… buy the car, pay over time for the “fuel” that makes it go.

  3. –Pricing should come in on either side of the $30K mark–

    Is that with or without the battery ? Looks like they may lease the battery …

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