2011 Nissan Leaf Photo

2011 Nissan Leaf - Review


nissan leaf ev 030

The Nissan Leaf EV has made headlines for some time now and for good reason.  This vehicle will become the first mass produced EV by a major automaker when its officially launched next year.  Just weeks ago the Leaf kicked off its North American tour with a launch on the West coast.  The vehicle will travel throughout the U.S. as a way to garner attention from potential buyers.

Dan Neil of the LA Times had an opportunity to drive the Leaf prototype at Dodger Stadium.  His review of the vehicle speaks well of the progress EVs have made and the level of refinement that Nissan has achieved with the Leaf.  As Neil states, "This level of refinement, which is such a struggle to achieve in conventional cars, is a birthright of electric cars. In the Leaf -- an all-electric, five-passenger car that will start hitting American streets in late 2010 -- you step on the accelerator and the car spools out velocity in one continuous, syrupy stream. It's nothing short of elegant."

Though his drive of the Leaf was but a short stint in a controlled environment, the words of praise from Neil are endless.  At one point Neil compares the Leaf to a BMW, the pinnacle of sporty, refined automobiles as Neil said, "In the case of a BMW twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine, for example, maximum torque comes at 1,400 rpm and doesn't start to go away until 5,000 rpm.  The BMW engine is, in other words, more like an electric motor. In fact, an EV's motor produces maximum torque at 0 rpm and maintains consistent torque across most of its operating speed range. That's what makes EVs such little hot rods -- loads of off-the-line quickness and mid-range punch."

Neil drove the Leaf prototype, which is the Leaf powertrain wrapped in the bodywork of a Nissan Versa.  Therefore, he had no opportunity to review the completed car and instead focused on driving dynamics.  Immediately apparent was the instant off the line acceleration.  The vehicle went from 0 -40 mph in an estimated 5 seconds and its instant torque made the vehicle feel similar to a sporty car.  As Neil said, "During my all-too-brief drive, the Leaf prototype, with three people on board, shot across the stadium parking lot like it had been pinged with a BB gun."

The Leaf's official debut is about one year away with a global launch about 2 years away.  Many still question whether or not consumers will be able to adapt to the range limitations of EVs and whether or not they will be able to overcome range anxiety.  If these issues can be put to rest, EVs are exceptional vehicles that drive like a modernized conventional car.  They accelerate with smooth, instant power and offer up gobs of torque instantly.  Their simple drivetrains make them easy to repair and relatively less complex to create than any hybrid model.

Small issues aside, EVs  are ready for primetime.  As Neil said after driving the Leaf, "The Leaf is definitely Car 2.0. Sweet, glycerin smooth, techy, frisky and even a little bit beautiful. It just feels like tomorrow. Perhaps the question is not "Will people buy them?" but "Can we build enough?"

Source:  LA Times

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Comments (10)
  1. No doubt that people will like the car but how will people respond to the business deal that Nissan will offer them? Will they be okay with paying top dollar for the car and still ending up owning what is basically just an empty shell because the most crucial part of the car -the battery- would not be included? Will people accept being made dependent to a car corporation like that, having to pay it every month for lease of a battery in order to stay mobile? Will Nissan allow the EV to fulfil it's promise of affordable and independent motoring or will we be forced to accept "big battery" to take over from big oil?

  2. I don't think we are in much danger of car companies holding us hostage with batteries. After a very short time of volume sales of EVs, there will be plenty of third-party battery suppliers. It's nothing like oil, where you are dependant on a consumable.
    I believe Nissan has been very honest and accurate with the reasons for a battery lease. The battery will become obsolete long before the car does. Nevertheless, I believe consumers will demand to purchase the batery with the car and Nissan will comply.

  3. I agree, we are a society that likes to buy things outright. From houses and boats and quads to automobiles. People will demand to purchase their all-electric car batteries and the carmakers will comply.

  4. hmmm why be so concerned about range ...a small car like leaf should be ideal for commuting ...in FL/many other states most families have 2 + cars ..use BEV for commute & ICE for longer trips ...better still rent a car when one goes for longer trips ...my hope is that BEV come down in price so the spoiled citizens cud afford it in US ..

  5. I think prices will come down eventrually. Actually, Nissan's Leaf looks to be not only the first mass-produced all-electric by a major automaker, but the cheapest. Still need to see a price for one sold with the battery, not leasing the battery. Overall, this is the direction we need to be taking, getting off of our dependence on foreign oil and ICE's.

  6. It will certainly be interesting to see how many they sell. I agree though that while people in Europe, South America and Asia don't mind renting an apartment their entire life, American's traditionally like to call something "there's". Having to make payment for the rest of your life no matter how long the car lasts sound really annoying, and what happens if someone doesn't make their lease payment? Does Nissan hire a collection agency to repossess just the battery as the vehicle is not theirs?

  7. Someone build a 'Leaf' that will get me from Chicago to NYC - with the infrastructure to let that happen. I will buy it.

  8. Mr Loveday and his journalist friends are asking the wrong questions.
    The real question is whether Nissan will sell ANY Leaf EVs.
    Name me ONE SINGLE CAR MAKER who is selling an EV in the US..
    Thats' right. Aside from the unattainable Tesla, there isn't one.
    They've been promising and promising and yet no cars arrive.
    With all due respect Mr. Loveday, you should have been asking car makers why they have conspired to stunt development of battery technology for all these years, and why a 2010 Fit gets 33mpg when the Civic did the same in 1995. What has Honda been doing for fifteen years??

  9. To Zaphod, There are several automakers selling EVs in the US. Smith Electric is one, Zap is another, also Meyer Motors, Ac Propulsion, Green Vehicles Inc, Phoenix Motorcars. The list is quite long. Anyways, small start ups are almost always first to market breakthrough technology. They can adapt quickly to a changing market. Within two years, major automakers will have at least 20 EVs for sale here. Why have automakers shown little interest in battery technology? The answer is quite simple, gas prices here are too low. Until the spike two summers ago, few thought that gas prices would rise here. With low gas prices, few buyers will show interest in EVs. Honda could improve gas mileage, but Americans tend to focus on performance numbers rather than economy numbers. The times are slowly changing and the automakers are now adapting to our preferences.

  10. god point on easing the battery from Nissan ..& if you dont pay the monthly payment on battery...what struck me the most that almost 90% of folks in US make either lease or get a loan for cars ..so either way if u dont make monthly payment Repo man will show up ...Love watching the Repo show on TV ..amazing how folks forget to make payments on loans for cars ..

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