Since 2008, we have been covering the electric vehicle market, and things have certainly changed since then. Back in the day, an electric vehicle startup, Tesla Motors, perked international interest with the Tesla Roadster. Then dozens of concepts, specialized automakers, and eletrofitters rolled in. I remember when it was only the little guys like ZAP, Think, Tesla, Zenn, etc. We’ve seen exotic supercars and concepts like the Eliica, Aptera, and Lightning GT, and low speed, neighborhood electric vehicles like the BG-100 and REVA. Some came to fruition, some did not. This international attention garnered the interested of the major automakers like Ford, GM, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. These majors not only created concepts, but have begun delivering electric vehicles in mass. Here are a few fully charged, highway capable 2012 models for the masses that you can order for delivery right now. In the US, these all qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.
The 2012 Ford Focus EV is one of my favorites because, from the outside, you can’t even tell that it is an EV. The Ford Focus EV is built on the same glider as the third generation ICE model. The EPA rated its range at 76 miles per charge and a fuel economy of 105 MPG equivalent. Production began in December 2011, in Wayne, Michigan.
I had a chance to drive the first model of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV at the 2010 New York Auto Show. I preferred it too the Mini-E, because it had more natural coasting and braking, and the battery was tucked under the carriage instead of being jammed in the back hatch area. On the Japanese test cycle, the vehicle has a 100 mile charge, but the EPA, the harsh critics they are, rated it at merely 62 miles. Over 20,000 of these little buggies have been sold worldwide. Prices vary widely regionally and so do tax incentives. In the Japanese market, the i-Miev is only $23,000 after subsidies, in Europe and the US it’s about $30,000, and $50,000 in Australia.
I have already spotted a few 2012 Nissan Leafs in the wild already. Although, I don’t know why so many people choose the seemingly trademark, “blue ocean” color. The EPA rated this hatchback at 73 miles-per-charge. After tax incentives in the US, the price is solidly below $30k at $27,000. Nissan is claiming an increase in range and a pretty significant decrease in price in the next model year.
We are all still wrapping our heads around a company from Palo Alto, California won the Motor Trend Car of the Year with the 2012 Tesla Model S. Not Detroit, Japan, or Germany, but essentially a company founded by a guy who made his first millions from PayPal. The award really means something though: that technology, innovation, and thinking outside the box in the automotive world can really evolve the industry in ways not possible through traditional thinking. Motor Trend states the $50,000 supercar (after US tax credits) “smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox, and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius.” This simply was not possible before.
Electric cars. For years they’ve been a pipe dream; an experiment, something for Jeremy Clarkson to laugh at. By 2012 however, that could all change, with the imminent release of a couple of vehicles…
Earlier this year, Vauxhall offered its Ellesmere Port staff an opportunity to see the new hybrid car, the Ampera, ahead of it going into mass production, and Nissan’s Leaf is being debuted in the US and Japan at time of writing.
When these vehicles hit these shores however, picking one up might well be worth the money if you’re looking to buy a new car: Nearly every single European country are offering to subsidise electric vehicles in some way or another, and they’re keen to try to tempt people to switch to a newer, more environmentally friendly vehicle, as the technology within them is likely to represent the way transport will be powered in the future – although admittedly not for some time yet.
By 2020, Nissan Motor Company estimate that no more than a tenth of the traffic worldwide will be electric powered – and even this paltry number is considered optimistic by many people within the industry, who think that electric vehicles are likely to be a niche product for the foreseeable future as the general public refuses to change. Nissan are very keen to focus on the upsides of hybrid and electric vehicles however; when asked about how far the Leaf can travel on a single charge (Otherwise known as range), spokesmen for the company focused on the fact that you would never need to travel to a petrol station instead of discussing the fact that with the aircon on, the Leaf can only be expected to do around 80 miles in motorway conditions. Vauxhall’s Ampera contains a small petrol motor that keeps the battery charged, and whilst this is not a completely emission free system, the amount of fuel (and the emissions produced) are miniscule compared to a standard petrol car.
The Ampera recently completed the longest journey in the UK by an electric car, making a 160 mile journey under its own power from Luton to Ellesmere Port.
So where is electric motoring going in the future? Right now, it’s very difficult to predict. Electric cars are only just now starting to be seen as a credible alternative to “old-fashioned” petrol propelled vehicles, especially as anything more than a city runabout. Part of the reason the adoption rate has been quite low is the fact that every element of motoring would need to change to accommodate them – from car insurance to fuel, garages and car rental.
It is clear that electric cars are going to take some time to fit in, but one day electric vehicles will have to become a contender to petrol vehicles, and when they do it will be very interesting to see the changes they bring…
This is an educational video about the production of the Nissan Leaf. The battery, inverter, and electric motor modules are manufactured in Zama and Yokohama, Japan. The parts go to their Oppama plant, where the modules are plugged into the Leaf chassis. The Nissan Leaf rolls off the same production line as Nissan’s regular cars, but they basically “mount a battery instead of a fuel tank, and a motor instead of a gasoline-fueled engine.” Nissan hopes to produce the modules locally, while shipping them off to be assembled into Leafs in countries around the world. Everything looks very high tech and efficient for auto manufacturing, Detroit should take notes.
This is a pretty vanilla review of the Nissan Leaf. Robert Llewellyn makes a nice point about carbon dioxide emissions, that many laymen fail to consider. When comparing the emissions of an electric to a petrol powered vehicle, you have to consider that the combined emissions of the journey from the oil well to the pump, not just the emissions from the tailpipe. It is only fair if you measure the electricity source emissions.
(Video may be taken down later)
The electric car world is buzzing about the affordable Nissan Leaf, set to go on sale later this year. Here is a quick rundown of all of the facts you would ever need from Nissan, from dimensions, to charging time, to production plants.
NISSAN Zero-Emission Info
LEAF start of sales: FY2010 in US, Japan and Europe
Mass market globally in 2012
Global Partnerships: 30+
N. American Partnerships State of Oregon, with Portland General Electric
State of Tennessee, with Tennessee Valley Authority & Oak Ridge National Labs
City of Seattle, Wash.
Sonoma County, Calif.
San Diego, Calif.
Raleigh, N.C./Progress Energy
EV line-up post-LEAF e-LCV, based on NV200 commercial vehicle
Infiniti premium vehicle, a compact, luxury, high-performance 4-seater
4th entry – new concept
Production Plants: Japan Vehicle: Oppama, starting in fall 2010, production of 50,000 units/yr
Batteries: AESC (Zama) production, capacity of 65,00 units/yr by 2011
Production Plants: Other Vehicle, Battery: Smyrna, TN, starting in late 2012 (vehicle cap. – 150,000; battery cap. – 200,000)
Battery: Sunderland, U.K., and Portugal
Nissan LEAF Spec Sheet
Length: 4445 mm / 175.0 in.
Width: 1770 mm / 69.7 in.
Height: 1550 mm / 61.0 in.
Wheelbase: 2700 mm / 106.3 in.
Driving range: over 160km/100miles (US LA4 mode)
Max speed (km/h): over 140km/h (over 90mph)
Type: AC motor
Max power (kW): 80kW
Max torque (Nm): 280Nm
Type: Laminated lithium-ion battery
Total capacity (kWh): 24
Power output (kW): over 90
Energy density (Wh/kg): 140
Power density (kW/kg): 2.5
Number of modules: 48
Charging times: Quick charger DC 50kW (0 to 80%): less than 30 min; home-use AC200V charger: less than 8 hrs
Battery layout: Under seat & floor
Recycled materials: LEAF utilizes materials extracted from a wide range of products including plastic bottles and home appliances. The use of these recycled plastic materials makes Nissan LEAF a world-class leader in the use of recycled plastics.
The Nissan Leaf, set to be released in select US markets by the end of this year, will be priced at around $25,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. This will be about $7,500 less than the Chevy Volt after tax credits, which will be released about a month beforehand. In the upcoming weeks, people will be able to make refundable $100 dollar deposits on the Leaf. So far there has been an overwhelming interest in this compact four door hatchback with a 100 mile electric range. Nationwide availability will begin in 2011. Nissan sounds pretty serious about an electric future, and we think they are right. Here is their full press release:
NISSAN PRESS RELEASE
NISSAN DELIVERS AFFORDABLE SOLUTIONS FOR PURCHASE, LEASE OF ALL-ELECTRIC NISSAN LEAF
As low as $25,280 ($32,780 MSRP minus up to $7,500 federal tax credit)
Lease world’s first mass-marketed EV for $349 per month
FRANKLIN, Tenn. (March 30, 2010) – Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) today announced U.S. pricing for the 2011 Nissan LEAF electric vehicle, which becomes available for purchase or lease at Nissan dealers in select markets in December and nationwide in 2011. Nissan will begin taking consumer reservations for the Nissan LEAF April 20.
Including the $7,500 federal tax credit for which the Nissan LEAF will be fully eligible, the consumer’s after-tax net value of the vehicle will be $25,280. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price *(MSRP) for the 2011 all-electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF is $32,780, which includes three years of roadside assistance. Additionally, there is an array of state and local incentives that may further defray the costs and increase the benefits of owning and charging a Nissan LEAF – such as a $5,000 statewide tax rebate in California; a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia; a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon; and carpool-lane access in some states, including California.
As a result of aggressive pricing and the availability of the $7,500 federal tax credit whose benefit is immediately included, Nissan will be able to offer a monthly lease payment beginning at $349, not including state or local incentives, which could further reduce the net cost of the Nissan LEAF.
“Imagine the possibility of never needing to go to a gas station again. Or of paying less than $3 for 100 miles behind the wheel. Or of creating zero emissions while driving,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, NNA. “Nissan leads the industry by offering the first affordable, zero-emission vehicle for the mass market. Nissan LEAF truly is in a class by itself.”
The vehicle at the SV trim level is well-equipped with a variety of standard features, including an advanced navigation system and Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle, enabling pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control. Nissan LEAF is equipped with energy-efficient LED headlights and makes extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials, such as seat fabric, instrument panel materials, and front- and rear-bumper fascias. Other standard amenities include Bluetooth connectivity; Intelligent-key with push button start; Sirius/XM satellite radio capabilities and roadside assistance. Safety features include vehicle dynamic control (stability control), traction control and six airbags. The SL trim level, available for an additional $940 (MSRP), adds features including rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights.
Reservations and Purchase
In order to ensure a one-stop-shop customer experience, Nissan is carefully managing the purchase process from the first step, when consumers sign up on NissanUSA.com, until the customer takes the Nissan LEAF home and plugs it into a personal charging dock.
• Nissan begins accepting reservations on April 20 first from people who have signed up on NissanUSA.com, and, after a brief introductory period, to all interested consumers.
• Consumers will be required to pay a $99 reservation fee, which is fully refundable.
• Reserving a Nissan LEAF ensures consumers a place in line when Nissan begins taking firm orders in August, as well as access to special, upcoming Nissan LEAF events.
• Rollout to select markets begins in December, with nationwide availability in 2011.
In tandem with the purchase process, Nissan will offer personal charging docks, which operate on a 220-volt supply, as well as their installation. Nissan is providing these home-charging stations, which will be built and installed by AeroVironment, as part of a one-stop-shop process that includes a home assessment.
• The average cost for the charging dock plus installation will be $2,200.
• Charging dock and installation are eligible for a 50 percent federal tax credit up to $2,000.
Using current national electricity averages, Nissan LEAF will cost less than $3 to “fill up.”
• Nissan LEAF also will be the sole vehicle available as part of The EV Project, which is led by EV infrastructure provider eTec, a division of ECOtality, and will provide free home-charging stations and installation for up to 4,700 Nissan LEAF owners in those markets.
In North America, Nissan’s operations include automotive design, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program 2010, whose key priorities are reducing CO2 emissions, cutting other emissions and increasing recycling. More information on the Nissan LEAF and zero emissions can be found at www.NissanUsa.com.
MSRP excludes applicable tax, title and license fees. Dealer sets actual price. Prices and specs are subject to change without notice.