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Nissan Leaf keeps charging at change

Roudra Bhattacharya New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018




In the absence of an engine rumble and with limited range, electric cars have found it tough to gain wide acceptance in most markets. However, Nissan has gone to great lengths to make the “Leaf,” a fully electric car, an easy shift from petrol/diesel vehicles.

“We've invested over €4 billion with our partners in this technology,” said Jerry Hardcastle, Vice-President of Vehicle Design, Nissan Technology Centre, Europe.

Just a bit bigger than the Hyundai i20 premium hatch, the Leaf can seat five in relative comfort. It has more boot space than most hatchbacks and offers nearly all features its conventional cousins do.

“Unlike its peers, the Leaf has been designed from the start as an electric vehicle. This means no compromise on space, the 48 battery packs are at the bottom, while there's a solar panel to charge the 12V battery,” added another official.

The one thing that will remind you that this is not a regular car is the absence of the engine sound – when it passes by, it feels like a slight gust of wind ruffling fallen leaves on a cold, dry evening. In some markets, Nissan has added an extra sound to the car so as to warn the unassuming pedestrian. A signature of electric motors, the acceleration is much quicker than conventional cars as well.

A very smooth drive, especially around corners, the Leaf can travel 175 km on full charge, while the 110-HP (80 KW) electric motor can take it to a top speed of around 150 kmph, enough for most daily city users. When in a hurry a quick charge of 80 per cent can happen in about half an hour.

The exteriors, which focus on aerodynamics for higher efficiency, follow Nissan's design language seen on most new vehicles such as the Juke crossover – curvy and pretty in an irregular sort of way. LED lights have also been used in abundance to save power.

A leap in prevailing automotive technology, the plan is to make electric cars usable by addressing issues of range and weight, while making it more accessible in terms of price. Very few full electric models exist right now selling in limited numbers. These include our very own Mahindra Reva's Revai, Mitsubishi MiEV, apart from the Tesla Roadster electric sports car.

Nissan is “studying the potential of launching Leaf in India”, but the lack of public charging infrastructure and high price for imported components are strong deterrents. However, the Government's ambitious policy initiatives planned for electric/hybrid vehicles over the Twelfth Five Year Plan may change all that.

The Leaf has found over 20,000 homes since December 2010, in markets with tax incentives for zero-emission vehicles – Japan, Europe and the US.

roudra.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on December 16, 2011

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