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 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 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.