First Drive: Nissan Leaf, all electric [Updated: With Video]

Nissan has taken a very large step into the world of a completely emissions free vehicle. The Nissan Leaf, which went on sale shortly before CES, is their fully electric offering and the vehicle offers some really cool tech to make that happen. The vehicle, for some is a pain to look at. Nissan admits that the design is hit or miss with most customers, but is very efficient and tends to stand out, which is its purpose. The vehicle's headlights are sort of neat, they stand up and out from the body and it helps contribute to making the vehicle look like an insect of sorts.

The Nissan Leaf is 100% electric and thus produces no emissions. The federal US government is offering $7500 back off of the almost $33 000 USD asking price, while Californians will gain a further discount and the ability to drive in HOV lanes throughout the state. The powertrain is Nissan developed with parts derived and supplied by NEC, putting out the equivalent of 110hp and 210 lbs/ft of torque. The vehicle is peppy off the line, but still accelerates like an econobox, which for power consumption is smart. Torque delivery is very linear, it accelerates not unlike a golf cart.

Taking a peek into the "engine" bay, if you weren't told this was an EV, you might have trouble figuring that out. The engine bay is laid out visually like a traditional car, but there are no gas lines or air intakes! 

The Leaf can be charged in multiple ways: Over 110v standard outlets (which takes 18 hours); Over 220v level 2 outlets, in less than 8 hours and over a TEPCO Level 3 outlet, it will charge to 80% in about 25 minutes. Nissan showed off the onboard instrumentation of the vehicle which provides a ton of information including range numbers, charge cycles, battery state, charging locations and much much more. This is all supported by a central Nissan datacenter that provides information to the vehicles. Also interesting is that mobile phone apps are provided which allows the vehicle owner to either pre air condition or heat the car remotely so that it is the proper temperature before a trip. This is because the initial climate control setting is normally the hardest on the battery and requires the most energy so doing it while plugged in saves battery charge. Also, the instrumentation calculates battery estimates based on climate control, stereo and other device usage and adjusts its readout accordingly.

The car is packed with juicy tech goodness, and although it's a hit or miss design you have to appreciate the technology that has gone into creating an all electric vehicle. Nissan states that the Leaf can attain a 100 mile range and that its top speed is 90 mph. This is definitely a commuter car, but Nissan is confident that most driving is done within that small range and so for city dwellers it is a perfect choice. There is no gasoline engine maintenance or topping up and Nissan estimates total cost of ownership to be 1/4 that of a gasoline car.

The car itself on drive handled similarly to other econoboxes, with not particularly tight steering, and an electric powered feel. For driving enthusiasts this would be an issue, but for the city and econobox driver it is better than other previously tested vehicles and the car does hold its own around faster city corners. The car achieves a respectable (for its class) 8.1 seconds to 60mph but it does it in a very smooth way. Once again, for typical enthusiast drivers, this would not be their choice of car. For someone with social responsibility, those with driving habits that keep them close to home and those that are excited by a commuter's electric car, this may be the vehicle for you.

 

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Still prefer instant fuel up. I drive 70 miles a day That is without running errands. The narrator seemed too obvious in his marketing. Kind of annoying.

In the video he says it has a CVT transmission, but why should an electric car need a transmission at all?

I agree with his comments that most people don't drive more than 100 miles a day, and it would be a good car to have just for going to/from work and around town. But for $33k, it will still be cheaper to own and fuel a gas or diesel car. For $15k or less you can buy a car that gets 35+ MPG, and even if gas goes up to $5/gallon, you could drive it for over 100k miles for the same price.

jimnms said,
In the video he says it has a CVT transmission, but why should an electric car need a transmission at all?

I agree with his comments that most people don't drive more than 100 miles a day, and it would be a good car to have just for going to/from work and around town. But for $33k, it will still be cheaper to own and fuel a gas or diesel car. For $15k or less you can buy a car that gets 35+ MPG, and even if gas goes up to $5/gallon, you could drive it for over 100k miles for the same price.

Seems like it would have none.

while the intention is good, what does it take to recharge the battery? oh of course, existing electricity, which requires fossil fuels to produce. i can't see electric cars being too much help to pollution reduction in the long run. maybe if the electricity being produced world-wide was done with say dams and other natural means, but most is created by coal consumption. look at China, they use more coal than even the US does.

- Ugli factor (Why do electric cars always end-up designed by the fail branch of the companies?)

+ Electric (no more gears!!)

- Charge at home (vandals?, forget to charge at night?, cost per kWh is stupid high in NL, parking
space close to your home or else your cable won't reach...)

+ Charge at Work (work for grid company so that should not be a problem)

- Still stuck in Traffic (I travel by public transport, to be out of the constant 2 hour traffic jams)

- Battery replacements (after 5 years) will cost an arm and a leg, because of the environmental issues with the chemicals inside those batteries (and the way those taxes work...no more tax income by means of selling gas, we (government) will just rip you off in a new way).

I'm sorry but going electric is still a very long way away.

Fugly as hell, and it's electric! Electric cars do no good to anyone. Hydrogen cars are the way forward. But i'll stick with my petrol "ruins the world" mwhaha might buy a v8 then

How long (years) the batteries will remain before you need to change them ? How much you'll have to pay to change them ?
What % of the car weight is for the batteries ?

I so wish we get these cars into our everyday lives in about 10-15 years. No more problems with fuel going up because of the huge demand and peace in world economy. If you fail to understand that and still think 6 liter car is much more safer - you are a 1 year educated idiot.

Electric cars are for idiots, they are more harmful to the enviroment than a big ass 6 litre car. Forget this rubbish and get onto Hydrogen as a fuel source.

On another note... if you add up all the co2 emissions that industry, cars, power stations create its nothing compared to what humans breathe out... go do the math, so all this reduction rubbish is just a PR stunt by the world governments to keep jonny public happy in there little bubbles. What needs to happen is reduction in the world population.

Stup0t said,
Electric cars are for idiots, they are more harmful to the enviroment than a big ass 6 litre car. Forget this rubbish and get onto Hydrogen as a fuel source.

On another note... if you add up all the co2 emissions that industry, cars, power stations create its nothing compared to what humans breathe out... go do the math, so all this reduction rubbish is just a PR stunt by the world governments to keep jonny public happy in there little bubbles. What needs to happen is reduction in the world population.

CO != CO2

I can't believe how many stupid people get these mixed up.
Cars and power stations don't create CO2, and humans don't breathe out CO.

Stup0t said,
Electric cars are for idiots, they are more harmful to the enviroment than a big ass 6 litre car. Forget this rubbish and get onto Hydrogen as a fuel source.
Hydrogen energy is made from the same source as electricity (burning fossil fuels, or solar, or wind, etc.), so it's just as harmful to the environment.

Meh, electric cars do more damage to the environment then normal petrol cars do! where do you think the power from the plug comes from? then there is the pollution caused from just making the batteries alone and then there is the disposal of them....electric cars are a gimmick.

Xerxes said,
Meh, electric cars do more damage to the environment then normal petrol cars do! where do you think the power from the plug comes from? then there is the pollution caused from just making the batteries alone and then there is the disposal of them....electric cars are a gimmick.

OH I DON'T SUPPOSE GAS POWERED CARS HAVE BATTERIES??? DO YOU? ---OH SNAP

Xerxes said,
Meh, electric cars do more damage to the environment then normal petrol cars do! where do you think the power from the plug comes from? then there is the pollution caused from just making the batteries alone and then there is the disposal of them....electric cars are a gimmick.

OH, I don't suppose gas powered cars have batteries?? do you??? ---OH SNAP!!

Xerxes said,
Meh, electric cars do more damage to the environment then normal petrol cars do! where do you think the power from the plug comes from? then there is the pollution caused from just making the batteries alone and then there is the disposal of them....electric cars are a gimmick.

I guess gas powered cars don't have batteries. OH SNAP!!

Xerxes said,
Meh, electric cars do more damage to the environment then normal petrol cars do! where do you think the power from the plug comes from? then there is the pollution caused from just making the batteries alone and then there is the disposal of them....electric cars are a gimmick. Gas powered cars don't have batteries.

I would reply but it keeps disappearing...

Turion said,

I guess gas powered cars don't have batteries. OH SNAP!!
Just one small ~12v battery compared to the much larger battery(s) found in electric cars, for example like the ~376v "battery" found in the Tesla Roadster. Big difference

"It's like going from a Macbook Pro to a Dell" - Wow. He seriously said that? As if all Dell laptops offer exactly the same stuff...

Quikboy said,
"It's like going from a Macbook Pro to a Dell" - Wow. He seriously said that? As if all Dell laptops offer exactly the same stuff...

Only on Neowin will anyone catch and debate over a line like that.

It's nice that car companies are exploring alternative fuels (so much for those big oil conspiracies) but my problem with electric cars are:
1. Shifting emissions from a car to a power plant.
2. Straining the power grid more than it already is.
3. Producing a larger volume of toxic wastes (from the batteries).
4. Takes too long to charge.
5. I've yet to see batteries that don't nose dive in capacitance after two years.

Kreuger said,
yo dawg, we heard you like hoods so we put a hood in your hood. So you can check under your hood while you check under hood

the "under" hood is accessible without the actual hood up, it's your 'electric' tank.

Kreuger said,
yo dawg, we heard you like hoods so we put a hood in your hood. So you can check under your hood while you check under hood

Actually one isn't beneath the other. I think they open separately.

Soldiers33 said,
why cant they make nice lookign electric cars

cause its the only one in existence, least commercially. makes it hard to have nice looking electric 'cars'

don't know the history on this style, but you better get used to it. Looking way back to the original Honda Insight, GM EVI, Original Toyota Prius, Toyota Echo, current Prius etc, they all use in some way this fugly single curve design. I guess its for aerodynamics??? Anyway I agree, these designs are weird, but do have an appeal to commuter drivers. Maybe someday down the line we will see some more futuristic design

vincent said,
110hp, woohoo, now i can get on those high speed chases wit t3h cops ive been dreaming about
You dream about cops? Haha!

Everyones cheering for the electric car.

No one cares about the oil that went into making it, or the dangerous chemicals required for the batteries and disposal and replacement of them.

Screw the test drive video. I wanna see the consumer reports and vehicle safety videos where they run it into random things and see what happens there!

SCRISP said,
Do the batteries wear over time like a Laptop?
Good question.

With what I see from laptop batteries, I wouldn't something like a car running on batteries.

"produces no emissions"

Really? where is the electricity made? Nuclear? coal fired? Not all of it is renewable so there ARE emissions, just not directly

Auzeras said,
"produces no emissions"

Really? where is the electricity made? Nuclear? coal fired? Not all of it is renewable so there ARE emissions, just not directly


Well if you really want to get nitpicky...

Auzeras said,
"produces no emissions"

Really? where is the electricity made? Nuclear? coal fired? Not all of it is renewable so there ARE emissions, just not directly

I'm sure over time, people will void the warranty and strap solar pannels to the roof to avoid paying at the fuel station.

Auzeras said,
"produces no emissions"

Really? where is the electricity made? Nuclear? coal fired? Not all of it is renewable so there ARE emissions, just not directly

Fuel doesn't magically appear in your car either.
It is drilled, pumped, transported via pipeline, supertanker, pipeline, refined by using lots of electricity in the process, transported via pipeline, truck, and finally pumped into your fuel tank.

Yet nobody complains that the indirect emissions from all this aren't included in their car's emissions rating.

Centralized power generation away from populated areas is much more efficient (even with transportation losses) and clean than having millions of tiny engines producing smoke right where people live.
Fossil fuels are absolutely NOT clean in any manner, while electric cars don't care where the electricity is generated. So new clean power plants can be built and all electric cars automatically get "cleaner", without the owner noticing anything.

Raa said,

Paying for what?

I assumed they would have fueling stations, like some kind of plug instead of "liquids".
I could be wrong as it takes 25 minutes to top it up...

Not bad. If you want an electric that isn't an econobox, you can spend about $16,000 more and get a Tesla Model S that handles better and has a 300 mile range.

joemailey said,
I'd prefer a car that doesn't need charged after it drives 100miles.

You can sort of think of it as owning a smart phone - usually have to charge those every night or two. The same would apply to the car, let's just say that you owned one, drove 25 miles to work each way - at night, plug it in, and you are fine for the next day.

I think the whole point behind the mileage on the car is mainly for commuters and those who travel to work extended distances. For me, I drive 11 miles each way to work on the freeway, so this would make it ideal for me, usually put in 150 miles in one week with with a little extra driving to and from places, but not a lot. But the price tag is not attainable for me at the moment.

Where I live in the state of Oregon, they are installing the Fast chargers (25 minutes or less) in almost every major city and in multiple locations within the cities. If I am not mistaken, they are going to also power those chargers via solar power as much as they can with regular power as a backup. The news stories have equated the wait time for charging would be about the same as if you stopped to get a bite to eat and dined in at a diner or went shopping in a store. You wouldn't even think about the time it takes to charge.

Medfordite said,

You can sort of think of it as owning a smart phone - usually have to charge those every night or two. The same would apply to the car, let's just say that you owned one, drove 25 miles to work each way - at night, plug it in, and you are fine for the next day.

I think the whole point behind the mileage on the car is mainly for commuters and those who travel to work extended distances. For me, I drive 11 miles each way to work on the freeway, so this would make it ideal for me, usually put in 150 miles in one week with with a little extra driving to and from places, but not a lot. But the price tag is not attainable for me at the moment.

Where I live in the state of Oregon, they are installing the Fast chargers (25 minutes or less) in almost every major city and in multiple locations within the cities. If I am not mistaken, they are going to also power those chargers via solar power as much as they can with regular power as a backup. The news stories have equated the wait time for charging would be about the same as if you stopped to get a bite to eat and dined in at a diner or went shopping in a store. You wouldn't even think about the time it takes to charge.

I agree with everything you say. And I am in a similar situation to you - live close to work, lots of short, traffic-laden, suburban/city trips. The type of trips where gas mileage is abysmal. An electric car would be ideal for my day to day.

The problem is, occasionally I like to go on a road trip and visit friends that live 4 hours away. I like to drive to the beach. I drive to the airport and leave my car parked for a week. And so on.

The problem I see with these is they almost HAVE to be a second car. They can't be your only vehicle.

Medfordite said,

You can sort of think of it as owning a smart phone - usually have to charge those every night or two. The same would apply to the car, let's just say that you owned one, drove 25 miles to work each way - at night, plug it in, and you are fine for the next day.

I think the whole point behind the mileage on the car is mainly for commuters and those who travel to work extended distances. For me, I drive 11 miles each way to work on the freeway, so this would make it ideal for me, usually put in 150 miles in one week with with a little extra driving to and from places, but not a lot. But the price tag is not attainable for me at the moment.

Where I live in the state of Oregon, they are installing the Fast chargers (25 minutes or less) in almost every major city and in multiple locations within the cities. If I am not mistaken, they are going to also power those chargers via solar power as much as they can with regular power as a backup. The news stories have equated the wait time for charging would be about the same as if you stopped to get a bite to eat and dined in at a diner or went shopping in a store. You wouldn't even think about the time it takes to charge.

Question is why would you pay 33k for it if the battery in it can give only 100 miles? Where is the value for money?

Kinda odd lookin, but they all are. I absolutely appreciate what they are trying to do. I just really hope this does become the future, less 'smog' and less money going to the greedy oil riggers.

Must be a bit odd, 'gassing' it, while there is no gas involved ahah. Also wonder about the heating setup. No 'hot' parts to bring the heat in, so where does it come from? Electric heater?? lol odd indeed.

Im all for it! Now lets see the electricity usage in the world skyrocket though . Cant win, we need to go back to horse and buggie...

theslam08 said,
Now lets see the electricity usage in the world skyrocket though . Cant win, we need to go back to horse and buggie...
With the technology we have, electricity is easy, clean, and abundant. There's no reason to worry about our electricity multiplying by 1000.

Electricity comes from the wind, the sun, the waves, the moon (tidal power), and the earth (geothermal power).

Beaux said,
With the technology we have, electricity is easy, clean, and abundant. There's no reason to worry about our electricity multiplying by 1000.

Electricity comes from the wind, the sun, the waves, the moon (tidal power), and the earth (geothermal power).

LOL You must be dreaming in the theoretical world. Ah the beauty of theory!

Until they charge in the same amount of time that you can fill up at the pump with diesel, I don't know how this can ever be feasible in the real world. I'm not going to stay in the 'charge station' for hours to quick charge it.

dave164 said,
Until they charge in the same amount of time that you can fill up at the pump with diesel, I don't know how this can ever be feasible in the real world. I'm not going to stay in the 'charge station' for hours to quick charge it.

Do you really think the future has us standing at gas/electric stations?

dave164 said,
Until they charge in the same amount of time that you can fill up at the pump with diesel, I don't know how this can ever be feasible in the real world. I'm not going to stay in the 'charge station' for hours to quick charge it.

On some solutions that I have seen when you go to a charging station the batteries in your car get swapped out by the station. Basically as quick, if not quicker than "pumping gas".

superconductive said,

these pics don't demonstrate how fugly it is - google image it.

Tesla all the way!

When i google image searched it..i was shocked just how ugly it was compared to the pics here

superconductive said,

these pics don't demonstrate how fugly it is - google image it.

Tesla all the way!

LOL I have to agree. $33k for an ugly car giving a mileage of 100 miles, charging in 8 hours, is not of much value. How they manage to call it a "2nd car" after paying 33k is beyond me.