Never one to avoid hyperbole, our own tgriffith pulled out all the stops in writing up the Nissan Leaf in August. “Nissan is brilliant,” he said, and “I’m sensing a home run here.” As a born skeptic, I chuckled over these remarks, but the guru may have been right. Perhaps, I thought, it’s time to turn over a new leaf.
If you saw the freaky EV concept cars Renault-Nissan was showing at Frankfurt (go here and click on “Slide Show” at right), you will understand the direction the company is moving. It wants to show its dominance in electric tech with small futuristic cars that excite people.
The Land Glider, coming to the Tokyo Motor Show, is one of these, and it seems (like other recent offerings) to combine car and motorcycle design in a two-seat tandem layout. According to Motor Trend, vehicle and driver lean up to 17 degrees into turns; there are sensors and small motors on each wheel to set steering angle, yaw rate, and angle of lean. The Land Glider will do 40 mph and take you up to 60 miles on a “wireless” (no plug-in) charge.
And so, on to the Leaf, as Nissan prepares to show it—along with the Land Glider, Qazana and Roox (yes, I was thinking of commenting on those names but won’t)—at Tokyo to highlight its zero-emissions goal. The Leaf isn’t as overtly quirky as the other cars, but its straightforward design hides some interesting features, as we learn from Autoweek:
- Bumpers and interior trim made from recycled plastic bottles and fabrics
- Batteries that can be recharged remotely through the driver’s mobile phone
- Special tires to reduce running noise usually masked by a noisy combustion engine
- Rear tail fins to improve aerodynamics and deliver a slick 0.28 drag coefficient.
Recharging through a cell phone?? What if a call comes in? What if you lose the phone? Anyhow, Nissan says it expects to presell 20,000 Leafs (Leaves?) in the U.S. alone and will make “around 200,000 a year worldwide by 2012.” That is pretty ambitious, not to say over-the-top, goal-setting. But the car is apparently top-drawer as far as its technology goes. Good luck, Renault-Nissan, and I’ll try to reign in my skepticism.
Nissan is going to market the Leaf through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and of course the blog world. How likely is the car to go viral, do you think?