Nissan has some great vehicles; but you would be hard pressed to get close to any of them based on Nissan being a no-show at auto shows and having a limited advertising budget. With that said, they did send their near-production-ready Leaf to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Although journalists were shooed away from the interior, (some unknowns did sit inside – but they weren’t journalists) I am here to say it looks rather conventional.
Indeed, a “conventional” car is exactly what Nissan was after.
One of the biggest concerns for consumers looking at electric cars is ability. Electric cars of the past have a golf-cart reputation, and rightfully so. A majority of electric cars are poorly built, unsafe, slow, have low range and/or have lead-acid batteries (psssst… that’s not very ecologically sound). Other electric cars like the mighty Tesla are expensive and impractical. None of these or most other electric vehicles have the feel of an everyday, internal combustion based automobile.
The Nissan Leaf looks like a real automobile with a mix of shapes that blends a Nissan Versa, Nissan Murano and hint of a Nissan Micra (which is not sold here) together. It won’t stop traffic, but it does look like a conventional car with 4-doors and seating available for up to 5. It’s a hatchback with lots of space as the batteries run along the floor (48 lithium ion bunches – very thin).
Wait! Don’t run away! It still performs like a regular car!
How does about 107 horsepower sound? Not much I know, but think of it as spinning bits and look at what truly matters – in this case, 208 lbs feet of glorious torque! A cool thing about electric motors is that they get to their maximum torque numbers without spooling up the engine. 0 to 60 times are said to squash, obliterate and humiliate nearly every hybrid in the American market.
How about a nearly 90 mph top speed? Well, I dig the 100 mile real world range (“real world” means it doesn’t have to be running on a perfectly flat surface to achieve those numbers) and the Leaf will recharge in 8 to 16 hours depending on the voltage used.
Sounds real good!
Prices should fall between $25,000 and 35,000 to compete with the lower end hybrids. The only other company with such an aggressive electric program brewing is Ford and Mitsubishi – but Nissan looks to be first with the local punch.
Good stuff Nissan!
If you need coverage from the 2010 NAIAS (I was there – but my stuff is usually about cars) check out my friends Roman Mica (http://www.aerochug.com/x-2812-Road–Driver-Examiner) and John Matras (http://www.aerochug.com/x-572-Auto-Review-Examiner) who covered it extensively!
Stay tuned for part 2 of “The Week of Nissan”