2011 Nissan LEAF: The CleanMPG Preview

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by xcel, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. xcel

    xcel Guest

    [​IMG] While only a Preview, hopefully you will have a good understanding of this cars qualities. And hopefully we will discover its true capabilities in the very near future :)

    [fimg=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2011_Nissan_LEAF_Blue_NEWS_Header.jpg[/fimg]Mike Sirach and Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Oct. 23, 2010

    The 2011 Nissan LEAF – 100-miles range and soon available at a Nissan dealership near you.

    The much anticipated 100% electric Nissan LEAF is almost here, and with it comes the excitement of owning the first full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) available to the average consumer since a few RAV4EV and Ranger BEVs were sold to a lucky few almost a decade ago.

    The name “LEAF” has a story all its own but was chosen to make a statement that just as leaves purify the air in nature, the LEAF purifies mobility by taking local emissions out of the drive.

    The LEAF’s ancestral history goes back decades!

    The LEAF was not created from the minds of a group of exec’s and engineers sitting around a table attempting to come up with the “Next Big Thing”. The story of the Nissan LEAF really begins over 5-decades earlier when an early predecessor to the Nissan Motor Company that we know today designed, built and sold the 1947 Tama all-electric wagon.

    The Tama used replaceable lead-acid batteries generating upwards of 3.3kW allowing a top speed of 22 mph and a spec’ed all-electric cruising range of 40 miles. Now, where have we heard that range before ;)

    And like Hypermiler’s everywhere, where there’s a spec, some will and do rise to a challenge. In this case, Nissan reported that someone achieved over 60 miles range from a single charge :D

    The 2011 Nissan LEAF Timeline

    August of 2009 - Nissan reveals the first hard details regarding the 100% all-electric LEAF BEV

    In addition to the above base specs, the LEAF can be charged to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a Level-III DC charger. Charging at home through a 220V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours from dead to full.

    Another first was the detail that Nissan incorporated LED headlights that consume just 50 percent of the electricity of conventional halogens. To see them in person ready to turn night into day is impressive for a BEV costing as little as the LEAF does.

    Early January of 2010 - Nissan announced its selection of Aerovironment of EV1 fame to install 220V Level-II chargers in future LEAF customers homes.

    Nissan also announced that the LEAF had indeed achieved its 100-miles AER on a full charge, as measured by the LA4 test cycle.

    Late January of 2010 - Nissan announced it had closed a $1.4 Billion loan deal with the DOE to modify Nissan’s Smyrna, TN plant to produce the LEAF and the Li-Ion batteries that power it.

    The loan should result in the creation of up to 1,300 jobs with the vehicle assembly plant able to build 150,000 Nissan LEAF BEVs per year and the battery plant capable of supplying up to 200,000 batteries per year.

    Late March of 2010 - Nissan drops a bombshell when they announced pricing for the brand new, all-electric Nissan LEAF starting as low as $25,280 ($32,780 MSRP minus up to $7,500 federal tax credit) with a lease of just $349 per month. Both the outright purchase or lease of the LEAF included three years of roadside assistance.

    This is a smokin hot deal folks!!!

    In addition, there are $5,000 tax rebates in California; a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia; a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon as just a few more perks to add to the fire.

    Nissan also announced that the average cost for the charging dock including installation will be $2,200. With tax credits for some customer’s, free installs will defray or remove the cost of that Level-II charger. It can be charged from a 110 V circuit from an extension cord but will take over twice as long.

    Mid May of 2010 – Nissan opens up LEAF reservations to the public with over 9,500 select customers who had registered early thanks to their early participation with the Nissan LEAF program.

    The open to the public reservation required you to create an account online, configure your vehicle of choice, answer a few questions, pay a 100% refundable $99 deposit and indicate a local Nissan dealer of choice. It was that simple according to CleanMPG members that signed up :)

    Late July of 2010 – Nissan announced the LEAF’s rollout schedule with consumers in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee receiving their cars in early December.

    The LEAF will then be introduced into Texas and Hawaii in January of 2011 and the states of North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina and Alabama in April 2011. The rest of the nation will see LEAF’s beginning in Fall 2011 through the end of the year.

    In addition, Nissan announced that the Li-Ion pack will carry a warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.

    Late September 2010 – Nissan announced the 20,000-Reservation milestone had been reached and reservations had to be close early due to the unexpected and overwhelming demand.

    2011 Nissan LEAF in Detail

    When we first heard about the LEAF, it was supposed to incorporate a highly rigid body with a high-performance motor, include a compact Li-Ion battery with high power and energy density that would deliver excellent performance while arriving with the latest safety features.

    And to that end, the Nissan LEAF is a purpose built Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) with some suspension components shared with the Nissan Versa. The LEAF however has a 6” longer wheel base and dimensionally, falls between the Nissan Altima and Versa albeit a bit heavier, tipping the scales at 3,366 pounds (Base SV trim) with the large Li-Ion battery beneath the floorboards.

    The electric motor provides up to 107 HP and 206 Lb-Ft of torque allowing a maximum 90 mph top speed with some exceeding this figure ever so slightly. The NEC sourced, 24 kWh Li-Ion battery allows the LEAF to reach over 100-miles AER as measured under the US LA4 City cycle testing regimen.

    The batteries are constructed with a lithium manganese positive terminal coupled with a carbon negative electrode. 48 modules are ganged together to form a combined capacity of 24kWh.

    An optional 50 KW DC charge port will allow the LEAF’s battery to charge from 0 to 80% in just 30 minutes. A 240 V home charger can charge the LEAF from 0-100% in less than 8 hours and the 3.3 KW 120 V onboard charger can recharge the battery from 0-100% in approximately 20 hours. Early estimates show that after 10 years, the battery should retain 70% to 80% of its original storage capacity with a lot more capacity if charged more frequently from a lower depth of discharge (DoD).

    2011 Nissan LEAF 120V Plug into Onboard charger


    2011 Nissan LEAF is Feature Packed and Environmentally Responsible

    The LEAF includes a Nissan Navigation System with XM Satellite Radio and Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System is standard on both trims (Base SV and high end SL). The system also provides high end connectivity, connecting the vehicle’s on-board transmitting unit to a global data center to support BEV driving 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    The SL adds a photovoltaic panel embedded into the rear spoiler that supports charging of the 12-volt battery for car accessories, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, cargo cover and more. The output is miniscule however.

    The LEAF's upholstered seating surfaces are almost suede-like and partially made from recycled plastic bottles with other interior plastics being made from other recycled materials. In Japan, the Leaf is 99% recyclable due to the huge recycling effort. In the USA, it is approximately 94% recyclable.

    All LEAF’s contain LED Headlights that slant up with a blue internal reflective appearance and consume just 50 percent of the electricity that conventional halogen headlights consume.

    The digital instrument panel includes a speedometer, battery temperature gauge, power meter, remaining energy gauge, capacity level gauge, distance to empty display, and Eco indicator. The standard monitor also displays “reachable area,” as well as showing a selection of nearby charging stations. A standard trip computer (instant and average energy consumption, driving time, outside temperature and autonomy range) are also incorporated.

    2011 Nissan LEAF “Hypermiler’s Screen” :)


    Nissan’s Intelligent Key with Push Button Start, Power windows with driver’s window one-touch auto up/down and an Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) highlights the interior.

    Along with the standard Navigation System, an AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA and CD-ROM playback capability, Auxiliary input jack, USB Connection Port for iPod and other compatible devices and 6 speakers round out the entertainment features.

    A Rear View Monitor and HomeLink Universal Transceiver are standard on the high end SL trim.

    A display a BEV driver can always use is the maximum range display.
    • With a simple touch of a button, the navigation map shows the driving radius within range under the current state of charge. It is totally cool!

    • The system can calculate if the vehicle is within range of a pre-set destination.

    • The navigation system points out the latest information on available charging stations within the current driving range. Push an icon on the screen; it logs onto a global server and updates the local charging station status’ including any that were recently added. Nothing new was shown but it was certainly “rad” ;)
    Another interesting feature was the Timer function which enables the A/C or battery charging to begin at a specified time. The A/C can be pre-set while the vehicle is plugged-in to cool the cabin to a desirable temperature before you begin driving without working off the vehicle’s battery. In addition, battery charging can be scheduled to start at a specified time at night to benefit from more favorable electricity rates.

    And through a Smartphone, you could monitor the state-of-charge, turn the charging system ON or OFF and remotely turn on or turn of the A/C. Kids are going to freak when they discover they can do this to their car ;)

    To finish off the LEAF’s premium attributes, attractive 5-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels mounted with P205/55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia tires round out the vehicle.

    The Nissan LEAF will be available in five exterior colors:
    • Glacier Pearl
    • Blue Ocean
    • Brilliant Silver
    • Super Black
    • Cayenne Red
    2011 Nissan LEAF – Are your ready for it?


    2011 Nissan LEAF Aerodynamics: While not the cleanest (aerodynamically speaking) vehicle on the road due in part to its tall yet useable Hatchback form factor, the LEAF is equipped with a number of unique features to reduce drag.

    During its design, the LEAF was found to be so quiet at higher speeds that wind rushing by the radio antennae, over the windshield wipers and even around the headlight lenses created noise that would not normally be heard in a regular car due to a running engine at speed. Now these minor additions could be heard by the driver and occupants.

    Nissan expended quite a bit of engineering effort to quiet these annoyances, including the large headlight lenses which incorporate noise dampening qualities as they direct a large amount of the wind up over the top the car and down the side to miss the rear view mirrors. The antenna was redesigned with an airfoil base and vortex shedding tip to direct the air flow in a quiet fashion around the shaft.

    The exterior utilizes a flat underbody (including a large front flat floor cover, motor area undercover, front undercover and rear diffuser with fins) to help manage airflow under the vehicle.

    Aerodynamically enhanced radio antennae and under body panels​

    2011 Nissan LEAF Safety Features: Nissan equipped the LEAF with an abundance of safety systems including six air bags, 4-wheel Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Traction Control System (TCS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer System and a Vehicle Security System (VSS).

    Nissan has incorporated an “Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians” system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching. When driving at low speeds (below 16 mph), the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle’s speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the “approaching sound” automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again. A switch by the steering wheel can turn the speaker on or off.

    A Reverse Beeper is standard warning those outside the car of that the LEAF is about to back up.

    2011 Nissan LEAF BEV Short Distance Driving Impressions

    2011 Nissan LEAF Early Conclusions

    Given the low energy consumption when booted up and parked at just .25 kW and the stunning 144 Wh/mile when driving a city/suburban loop with speeds at some point exceeding 50 mph, what else is there to say? It rides reasonably smooth, it handles better than the Subcompact Mazda2 and Fiesta, its interior noise is much more subdued when compared against a 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid, 2010 Honda Insight-II and 2010 Toyota Prius plus it had some really fun to play with telematics that we cannot wait to try out over a far lengthier period. I can only imagine what the LEAF will offer in terms of all-electric range when let loose but let us just say it should exceed most drivers and HEV, PHEV and BEV enthusiasts expectations given the above.

    There were a few minor hits to the LEAF being the perfect BEV. One comes about because the LEAF is based on the Versa platform. The 2011 Nissan Versa in a sedan form factor is the only automobile of the 34 2011’s currently rated that achieved just 2 stars on the NHTSA’s new crash test rating system. The poor side collision crash test was the Versa’s downfall. While the Versa and LEAF are not the same, we anxiously await the NHTSA and IIHS crash test results once the LEAF becomes available to the public. The second and third being the lack of a telescopic wheel and the rear passengers not having a low floor height to rest their feet on. Or is it in?

    While the Mitsubishi iMiEV used to be my (Wayne’s) favorite BEV, the LEAF simply buries it. For the price, Engineers and Marketing Managers from every major manufacturer have surely been doing some serious pencil sharpening over the last 6-months trying to figure out first how Nissan did it and second, how are they going to do it themselves? The LEAF’s price for what you are provided by comparison to every other HEV, PHEV or BEV either available today or that will be available soon makes everything else obsolete… If this is Nissan’s first offering to the masses, imagine what their second and third generation will be like when the rest of the world jumps on board the fully electric bandwagon :eek:

    CleanMPG's Mike Sirach with the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Where do I fuel it? And never a drop will she drink :)

    Wayne drove the Nissan LEAF at the Midwest Automobile Media Association Fall Rally held in Hoffman Estates, IL on Wednesday, Oct. 6. Mike drove the LEAF at the Nissan LEAF Short Lead Press Launch on Wednesday, Oct. 20 in Nashville, TN.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2010
  2. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Thanks, Wayne and Mike, for a most intriguing and tantalizing preview. That places the Leaf firmly onto my radar screen as a potential next vehicle for my family.
  3. RobertSmalls

    RobertSmalls Ecodriver

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Basjoos, while you are of course correct, today I will side with those who will say a factory boattail is, unfortunately, unrealistic. Though a little more effort regarding skirts and a smaller rear end would have been nice.

    At least the underside of the car has commendable aerodynamics. Do we have a picture of the diffuser strakes? Perhaps I could imitate their design, now that my underbody is a little smoother.

    So the assist gauge goes up to 80kW, but regen tops out at 30kW? Given the vehicle's heavy weight, that's not great. Most drivers won't start braking early enough to get the most regen out of it.

    144Wh/mi -> 167mi range on 24KWh. :D Can you tell us more about the conditions? Driving style / ambient temperature?

    The Leaf uses 250W once booted up. That's only a little more than the Insight draws while just sitting there.
  4. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    "someday" I will add a boatail to my large SUV. We could use it for storage, and we already put a hitch carrier behind it, so it wouldn't really add too much to the overall length of a 217" vehicle. I'm guessing just 3- to 4 ft of tail might improve my 65 mph hy mpg by at least 1 mpg-

    Crudely shaped large vehicles should benefit much more from aero stuff than most cars, and adding 3' to a 19' vehicle doesn't make too much difference in hy road trip traveling. Many of these monsters travel with hitch carriers, or much worse roof baskets, bike racks.

  5. atlaw4u

    atlaw4u Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Thanks for the info.
  6. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    You will really like it when you get yours. Nissan has hit a home run in my books.
  7. ericbecky

    ericbecky Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Great write up Mike. I know it takes time to get this much detail together in such a short time. I had time with the Leaf last month out in California but was limited mainly to city streets. Great to hear what you were able to achieve and look forward to hearing more.
  8. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    "The LEAF was not created from the minds of a group of exec’s and engineers sitting around a table attempting to come up with the “Next Big Thing”."

    Ohh a dig at Lutz and the birth of the Volt..
  9. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    So the AC uses only 600w at most?.. a lot lower than I expected.
  10. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Hi All:

    Regarding real GHG emissions, it is 29.5 pounds per gallon from ground to wheel and climbing with every foot deeper they drill, not 19.6 from pump to wheel.

    1 gallon of gasoline in an Insight-I w/ me behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 29.5 pounds for 90 miles range.

    1.5 gallons of gasoline in an Insight-I w/ Average Joe behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 44.2 pounds for 90 miles range.

    2 gallons of gasoline in an Insight-I w/ Autoweak’s lead foots behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 59.0 pounds for 90 miles range.

    Electrical Generation within the US -- Average of all-sources today: 1.3 pounds of CO2/kWh generated according to the EIA.

    Solar to a LEAF: Insignificant for 90-miles range.
    Hydro to LEAF: Insignificant for 90-miles range.

    12.85 kWh in a LEAF at 7 Miles/kWh w/ me behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 16.7 pounds for 90 miles range.

    18 kWh in a LEAF at 5 Miles/kWh w/ Average Joe behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 23.4 pounds for 90 miles range.

    24 kWh in a LEAF at 3.5 miles/kWh w/ Autoweak’s lead foots behind the wheel: CO2 emissions of 33.4 pounds for 90 miles range.

    The Insight certainly has some life in her but when Autoweak dumbass leadfoot in the LEAF can almost take me out while I drive an Insight, you can tell there are going to be issues with the continued use of gasoline.

    The Insight is simply being bested by technology. Namely the battery and an electric motor on a price basis, on a CO2 emissions basis and especially on a national security basis. Where the BEV has a ways to go is range and for all I know, the BEV will never achieve what we have achieved in the Insight. And does it really matter that it does?

    The days of the ICE are numbered thanks to the BEV's heading our way. HEVs and PHEV's will be good for another 10 + years but the BEV will eventually take over on a cost of ownership basis as liquid fuels become ever more scarce.

    It is time to stop dancing around the past as the future has arrived. That does not mean we stop driving gasoline or diesel fueled cars and trucks because that will continue for a long time to come but on energy consumption and emission basis, liquid fueled cars and trucks cannot even begin to compete with the BEV unless some low carbon methods are offered for liquid fuels and those do not appear to be coming as fast as we really need? Ethanol from Sugar Cane from Brazil would make a dent as it is today but there simply is not enough of it. Corn based as we all know is a wasted effort in terms of $'s and time :ccry:

    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  11. deleond2

    deleond2 Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    After reading this article, I began to crunch some numbers

    XCEL, you got 6.9miles/KwH, lets pretend I would get 6.
    I paid $.11 per KwH on my last electric bill.
    I drive about 1500 miles a month, and a 100mile range would handle all of my commuting needs. The LEAF would take $28 a month to run. My truck (averaging 21mpg and $2.79/gal) would take about $200 a month. If I was a hypermiling GOD with a honda hybrid (and able to get almost 120mpg), it would take $35 a month.


    My carbon footprint would be another story. Maybe ya'll would have fun crunching the numbers.

    According to the link below, Coal accounts for 46% of OK's electricity, NG about 45%.

  12. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    Seems pretty clear to me at this point, that the Leaf is a home run. I think this will prove as meaningful a new-car introduction as the 2004 Prius did.
  13. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Re: CleanMPG Previews the 2011 Nissan LEAF

    They have put an immense amount of thought and GREAT engineering into the Leaf. The ancillaries are all efficient and it does tell you "how many more miles" you could get the way you are driving when the AC is on.
  14. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Honda thought it was worthwhile to put a mini-boattail on the Fit EV. They put a similar piece on the new Odyssey, as well.

  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Andrew:

    The add-on has been placed on a number of European Hatches and can be fitted to the current Fiesta and the current Euro based Focus Hatch. The upcoming North American 2012 Focus will have one as well.

    2010 European Ford Fiesta...

    2012 Ford Focus

  16. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Does that add-on mean that they designed the wrong slope for the hatchback?
  17. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    I think it means it's cheaper to use an add-on than have it part of the bodywork.
  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    Spent about 6-hours in total with the LEAF this week with a full charge completed at a Nissan dealership in downtown LA this afternoon.

    Here is a short 25 mile jaunt out to Malibu from downtown LA at Rush...


    Coming back with even worse traffic and in temps from 55 to 59 degrees F revealed a final of 6.4 miles/kWh after 50 miles when I parked it at the Press Fleet garage just outside of LAX this evening. The final pic is in my Canon right now and I will add it tomorrow. This one came from the handy but not such HQ Motorola Atrix2 I have been reviewing for Automotive and Press Event uses this week.

    In the right conditions, the LEAF is going to blow through 150-miles AER on single charge like a hot knife through warm butter ;)

  19. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    Gentle acceleration and N-glide or glide?
  20. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    HQ Motorola Atrix2. AT&T. Now your issue is clear. :D

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