The most anticipated electric car of 2010 has it all: a world-wide following, over 30,000 pre-orders, television advertising, and even a virtual appearance at Apple's prestigious WWDC. Even though it has even been spotted in the wild in Arizona,  the one thing Nissan hasn't given many of are test drives of it's 2011 Leaf.

Nissan has held events world-wide where journalists and potential owners have been given the chance to drive the final test-mule of the 2011 Leaf, based on a 2008 Nissan Tiida.  Although actual Leaf examples toured with the test-mule the only people lucky enough to drive them were the Nissan personnel charged with driving them on and off the car transporter.

Until now.

Nissan Japan has flown a select group of EV advocates, journalists and bloggers over to its headquarters in Japan, where each lucky driver was given 30 minutes behind the wheel of the real Nissan Leaf.

Paul Scott drives the Nissan Leaf

Paul Scott drives the Nissan Leaf

PlugInAmerica's Paul Scott and Marc Geller were both lucky enough to be invited to Yokohama to test-drive the production Leaf.  Paul writes about his experience on his blog, comparing the 2011 Chevrolet Volt he'd driven a few weeks earlier to the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

"Since I'd driven the GM Volt not too long ago, I could fairly compare the two in terms of acceleration. I'd give the nod to the Volt on that score, but just barely. The Leaf had plenty of power in the lower speeds, but it levelled out just a tad as I got over 60. I didn't try to hit the top speed, but did get over 70 quickly and it was still pulling strong as I let off. "

We've seen the interior before at press events and love the clean lines and dash reminiscent of the 2004-2009 Prius. Two things we didn't see though, was the small bag Nissan has attached to the rear trunk area for stowing the charging cable, and the tiny solar panel available on the SL model which charges the car's auxiliary battery to minimize drain on the main battery pack.

Nissan also demonstrated its noise generating system to alert pedestrians of the presence of the Leaf at low speed. At the moment it can be turned off using a switch inside the vehicle, but should legislation be passed requiring EVs to produce warning noises the switch will be removed.

Nissan's 50Kw Charger for the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

Nissan's 50Kw Charger for the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

Nissan were able to install several of their 50Kw fast charge units at the test-track, meaning each Leaf was able to be recharged from empty to 80% full in under 30 minutes. This is in contrast to previous events on the world-tour, where time behind the wheel was often limited to a few minutes to ensure everyone had a chance to drive the test-mule as there was only one possible recharge per day.

An 80% charge time of under 30 minutes eliminates claims of long charge times, but expect the very large, very expensive charge stations to only be present at select locations such alongside freeways or large shopping malls. The rest of the time, the Leaf will fully charge on a domestic supply in between 8 and 16 hours, depending on the power available. Since the slower charging will take place at night, it is not a big issue for most consumers.

We can't wait to test drive the leaf for ourselves and as soon as we do you can read all about it here on

 [Nissan][EVs and Energy]