It isn’t your father’s golf cart, doesn’t look anything like it. It doesn’t resemble its predecessors much either. It’s a real gem of a car and it’s called a LEAF. I just saw it up close and I think many people will adore the futuristic look and feel of this car (car & truck guys and Muscle Car enthusiasts excluded of course.) The NISSAN LEAF EV has all the things you’d expect in a modern vehicle, except a motor under the hood.
That is significant. No internal combustion engine = no tailpipe = no emissions! An emissions free, high quality, driving experience is almost upon us and that’s a wonderful thing.
I was early to sign up for Nissan’s LEAF pilot program so I received an invitation to attend a media event at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to get a first look at the car. Attend I did and the local media was there en masse. OMSI visitors stopped by to gawk and it was gratifying to hear parents tell their children … “look, sweetie, there’s the car of the future. When you’re old enough that’s the kind of car you’ll be driving.” I hope they’ll be able to afford EVs. Nissan will only say they’re targeting LEAF in the price range of other typical family sedans. In my research, I’ve seen numbers like $28-34K (US) estimated price at 2011 launch depending on options.
The official talking heads at this event were Mark Perry, Head of Product Planning/Nissan USA and Charlie Allcock, PGE’s Dir of Economic Development. I’ve seen Charlie talk once before (Portland’s Go Green) and he seems committed to ensuring the appropriate infrastructure will be ready when these cars roll off the boat. He’s talking about 2500 charging stations available in the Portland metro area.
If we are chosen to participate in the Nissan study we’ll receive a 220-Volt charging station for our garage to plug this baby into. One over-night charge will enable us to get everywhere we need to go during a normal day. We’ll continue to use the Subaru for winter weather and long distance driving.
I hate dealing with car maintenance, don’t you? Internal combustion engines, greasy transmissions, and the like are complicated and wear out constantly. Nowadays fixing the car is costly. As America transitions away from gasoline/diesel powered vehicles, a multitude of auto-related businesses and repair shops will be a thing of our greasy past. This concerns some folks, especially those who love to tinker with dirty oil-dripping car parts, and they can get emotional about these things. I’ve never been one of them. I can’t repair my own car. Truth is I wouldn’t even know where to begin once I lifted the hood.
The idea of a clean and simple vehicle like the Nissan EV fits the bill for me and my family.
A large number of our fellow North Westerners drive a Prius or another hybrid vehicle. I’ve talked with friends who’re looking forward to getting a “plug-in” hybrid (PHEV), and while it’s good to see hybrid cars making their way into the mainstream, I view them more as a half-step. Like a heroin addict moving to methadone, hybrids wean some off the hard stuff but the addict still has the addiction, (GW Bush’s words, not mine!) and it will take that much longer to “get straight.” If it takes America more years to move towards clean energy, oil companies and auto part companies won’t mind one little bit.
There is an argument that the power used to charge one’s EV or plug-in hybrid at home will require continued or increased use of coal burning and carbon producing energy. In the near term this will probably be true – especially with the current mix of power production in our country. Increasing alternative and RE mix to the grid will certainly help (the sooner the better), but keep in mind that there is a big difference in energy use and associated costs between peak and non-peak hours.
PGE figures annual use/cost to charge an EV at your home will be comparable to a major household appliance and less than a freezer in that same garage. The LEAF will be programmable to enable a charge whenever one likes, but Nissan believes most people will charge overnight during non-peak hours. I asked Charlie about “quick-charging” and he said quick-charging will take the battery to 80% from zero in about 26 minutes and PGE intends to have this option available at some of the public stations.
Nissan LEAF & Tour Info:
- 0 Emissions
- 5 Passengers
- 90 Top Speed
- 100 Mile Range (per single charge)
- The Batteries are under the front seats.
- Seat fabric is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and Nissan says some other parts are from recycled materials as well (although I don’t know what these are or might be.)
Nissan, along with alliance partner Renault, is the only automaker committed to making all-electric vehicles available to the mass market on a global scale. Through the Nissan LEAF Zero-Emission Tour, Nissan is showcasing the electric vehicle and battery technology as well as the company’s zero-emission mobility objectives. Nissan is also furthering the development of an electric-vehicle infrastructure through agreements with the State of Tennessee, the State of Oregon, Sonoma County, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Washington D.C., Seattle, Raleigh, Vancouver, and Mexico City.