Nissan unveiled its new electric hatchback, the LEAF, yesterday. The LA Times has more:
The LEAF (is) a five-seat compact, all-electric hatchback with lithium-ion batteries (24 kWh energy storage and max output of 90kW), giving the car a top speed of 90 mph and nominal range of 100 miles – a magic number, Nisan figures, in Americans’ driving psychology. The car’s electric motor generates 80 kW (107 horsepower). Depending on how you define your terms, the LEAF will be the first mass-market EV sold in the U.S. since the 1920s.
The LEAF will also feature IT connectivity, so that, for instance, drivers can use mobile phones to reset charging or even turn on the air-conditioning. The IT function will also help Nissan monitor the health and wellbeing of it its early fleet of EV’s. Recharging will take less than a half-hour (to 80% charge) using a high-capacity charger, Nissan says, and about 8 hours using a home charger running at 200 Volts. Nissan is working with a half-dozen municipalities and other agencies around the country to develop the quick-charge infrastructure.
With the Volt, Mitsubishi’s IMiev and Nissan’s LEAF coming onto the U.S. market in the next 18 months, the infrastructure issue will begin to dominate the EV debate. Simply put, the cars will become less of a technical hurdle than places to plug them in.
As for the LEAF, the biggest unknown yet is cost. Nissan officials have quietly hinted at a price less than $30,000 retail (that’s before any tax credits), the goal being to make the EV a no-cost option. That would be the LEAF’s greatest trick.
BusinessWeek reports that the LEAF’s batteries costs $10,000 per car. Nissan plans to absorb the high cost by leasing the batteries to LEAF owners. Although Nissan can take advantage of government incentives to keep EVs profitable during initial rounds of production, the question of how they’ll do it once governments scale back subsidies remains.