So word is that the Nissan Leaf is about to hit the road – almost literally, as the all-electric vehicle had previously only been available in a few select markets, especially on the west coast. Soon, according to Nissan, the Leaf will be available anywhere in the country. Here’s the skinny from UberGizmo:
The 2011 LEAF from the Japanese car manufacturer is 100% powered by a lithium-ion battery. Seating up to 5 people, the new LEAF can go up to an impressive 100 miles without using a single drop of gasoline. With a highly efficient electricity-powered motor, the LEAF generates up to 107 horsepower and 207 ft-lb of torque, making the car completely green without sacrificing any performance. The car can be charged up to 80% in just 30 minutes with a quick charge port; however it will take up to 8 hours to completely charge when done from a regular 220V outlet from home. The 2011 Nissan LEAF is already available in certain states in the US, but it will be released nationwide in the coming months.
The Leaf is a pretty strong vehicle. It’s earned high praise, drives like a dream apparently, and all in all is an incredible low-emissions vehicle. I love it as a car: my problem with the Leaf’s rollout is less technical and more infrastructural: more and more electric vehicles are hitting the road without places to charge their batteries, no battery swapping stations (a really innovative idea that involves swapping batteries instead of recharging them – that way you’re at a swap station for a few minutes while your batteries are swapped out and then on your way without waiting hours for recharges – in exchange, the company that operates the swapping stations pay for your batteries by eating a sizable chunk of the purchase price of your vehicle,) and no infrastructure for people who live in cities, commute to offices, or don’t have a garage/own their own homes to use to charge their vehicles.
Sadly, with the majority of the world’s population now in cities, it’ll be a while before electric cars see serious adoption unless they can be plugged in virtually anywhere – including outside of an apartment building, or in any parking garage, not just at someone’s house plugged into a custom power outlet the owner’s had installed.
Even so, I’m glad to see the Nissan Leaf taking off, and I’m happy to see that the people who can get the infrastructure willing to invest in it. For people who rent or prefer to live the city life like me, we’ll have to wait until the infrastructure supports electric vehicles more robustly before we can dive in.