Nissan have turned over a New LEAF!

We were invited to come along to the Nissan LEAF Roadshow in Kilkenny to test drive the world’s first affordable, mass produced electric car, the Nissan LEAF. This was one of only two in Europe and was a left hand drive version.

The Nissan Leaf

They were very sceptical, another electric bubble car, how would this one differ? Arriving at the Roadshow they were very surprised to see that the Nissan LEAF looked like a normal 5-seater family car, but this was no normal car. It is a car that runs on 100% electricity, a car with no fuel tank, no mechanically propelled engine and no exhaust pipe and is therefore a zero emissions car. Mechanics may not be over the moon about its arrival as it is the dawn of a new breed of vehicle that does not have the associated high service and maintenance costs that we have come to accept. In fact the average annual running costs for the Nissan LEAF, based on 12,000 miles or 19,200 kms, are expected to be in or around €232, or less than €20 per month. With the LEAF the standard service intervals of a normal car are a thing of the past with replacement tyres now probably being the biggest maintenance cost.

The Nissan Leaf

This is a sleek looking mid-size family car with a very eye catching appearance and a surprisingly spacious interior; four adult males were easily and comfortably accommodated. No key in the ignition, no clutch and no gear stick, just a press of a button and the car is started, but shut your eyes and you wouldn’t realise as the only indications are visual ones. The Nissan LEAF has the performance of a 1.6 litre petrol engine and is very quick and smooth in acceleration, it drives like an automatic but much more responsive and without the associated gear change shunts and roaring engine. Power is delivered via an 80kW a.c. motor that develops enough torque to reach a maximum speed of over 140 km/h. Acceleration from a standstill is very impressive indeed and the LEAF floats on seemingly effortlessly and silently. The LEAF is so silent that below 30km/h it emits an audible beep to alert unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists of its presence.

Charging socket under the Nissan badge just in front of the bonnet.

The electric motor is powered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries that are mounted under the seats and floor of the LEAF thus giving a low centre of gravity and balanced weight distribution resulting in excellent handling and ride comfort. The latest generation lithium-ion batteries used in the LEAF are manufactured by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture company between Nissan and the Japanese electronics company NEC. These batteries are more efficient, more powerful and faster to recharge than anything gone before. The batteries can be recharged to 80% battery capacity in about 25 minutes from a fast charging point but the more normal method is a slower overnight charge. A full charge delivers a capacity of about 160kms but is very dependent on driving habits. The charging socket is under the Nissan badge just in front of the bonnet. ESB will install home charging points free of charge to the first 2,000 electric vehicle customers.

Underneath the Bonnet

Underneath the Bonnet

Under the bonnet Nissan have provided a mock engine but this space could have been put to better use. There is a standard 12V DC battery also to cater for starting and instrumentation on the dash, there is a small solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on top of the boot door that provides some level of recharge to the 12V battery. The boot is just adequate, certainly wont be carrying your full set of golf clubs in there. For a car with the latest generation lithium-ion batteries whose thinner structure and distribution around the vehicle allows for more room inside the vehicle itself, it is a pity that the lack of a conventional engine does not mean pucks of cargo space as well. But this is the only real negative in what is otherwise a breath of fresh air to the automotive industry and a real credit to Nissan.

Small solar photovoltaic (PV) panel located on the boot

Nissan Leaf Boot Space

The Nissan LEAF that will be available in Ireland will come fully equipped with features such as 16” Alloy Wheels, fully automatic Climate Control, Satellite Navigation that doubles up as a screen for the Rear Parking Camera, Cruise Control and a quick charge socket. Safety equipment such as Driver, Passenger, Side and Curtain airbags will be standard along with Electronic Stability Control. Equipment will also include the very distinctive LED headlamps which is a first for Nissan.

According to Nissan innovative smart phone connectivity will allow an owner to control many elements of the LEAF’s functions remotely, including telling the car when to re-charge, to heat or cool the interior of the car before starting a journey and many more innovative features. The Satellite Navigation on the LEAF can connect directly to a Global Data Centre via the Telematics System giving owners updates on charging points, driving patterns and so on.

Charging Point

Road tax is €104 per year but should these state of the art zero-emissions vehicles be exempt from road tax?

Nissan have certainly set the bar extremely high indeed and for this they must be applauded. The LEAF is certainly suited to city driving and low mileage driving but as technological advances extends the range of these vehicles they will become the vehicle of choice for all types of customers.

Test drive the Nissan Leaf at a branch near you!

Thanks to Liam Martin, Wexford Car Centre for the invitation to test drive this great piece of technology. It was a truly unexpected surprise. Test drive the LEAF at a branch near you!

All photographs copyright of Eco Evolution

ELECTRIC CARS A REALITY FOR IRELAND

– Government announces €5,000 incentive for electric vehicles

– ESB to roll out 3,500 charge points and 30 fast charge points

– Renault-Nissan Alliance to provide Ireland with supply of electric cars

electric-cars-lg

Electric Cars # Photo Credit – ESB

DUBLIN (April 12, 2010), The Irish Government, the ESB and the Renault-Nissan Alliance today announced a comprehensive partnership to position Ireland as a European leader in electric transport.

Today’s Definitive Agreement includes the development of a nationwide electric car charging infrastructure by ESB, the supply of electric cars by the Renault-Nissan Alliance from 2011, as well as Government policies and incentives that will support the widespread adoption of such vehicles.

Those who purchase electric cars can avail of the €5,000 grant, which the Irish Government announced today. Irish buyers of electric vehicles will be exempt from Vehicle Registration Tax.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan described today’s announcement as on-the-ground delivery of Government policy. “The Programme for Government announced our intention to transform the Irish energy and transport sectors. We have made great strides in renewable energy, energy efficiency and now we begin the electrification of our transport fleet.

The Irish Government’s target is for 10% of Ireland’s vehicles to be electric by 2020. Today’s Agreement with Nissan-Renault will see 2,000 cars on Irish roads by 2011. This keeps us firmly on track to achieve, if not exceed, our goals.

Those purchasing an electric vehicle will be grant aided by the Government to the tune of €5,000 and exempt from VRT. The ESB will provide the charging infrastructure in the homes of the new owners of electric cars.

Irish motorists can look forward to the cash, cars and charging points that will make the electric car the smart choice for the Irish motorist.”

Under the agreement, ESB will roll out 3,500 charge points nationwide by December 2011. The rollout has already begun in Dublin and charging points will also be installed in Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick. ESB also plans to install 30 fast charge points across Ireland by the end of 2011, with nine expected to be set up by the end of this year.

ESB Chief Executive Padraig McManus described today’s announcement “as another important milestone on the road to develop an emissions-free transport system.”

“ESB is currently rolling out a nationwide infrastructure to support the widespread use of electric cars. Ireland will be one of the first countries in the world to have a nationwide electric charging network which will offer opportunities for enterprise and job creation, as well as the obvious environmental benefits of ultimately having a decarbonised transport fleet” he said.

Nissan will supply its all-electric, five-seater LEAF hatchback to Ireland in early 2011 while Renault will launch its light commercial electric vehicle, Kangoo Z.E., later in the year. By the end of 2011, Renault will also supply 100 pre-production Fluence Z.E.s for a pilot project in Ireland. Fluence Z.E., an electric sedan for both private and professional use, will go on sale in Ireland in 2012.

All three vehicles will be fitted with the latest generation of lithium-ion batteries produced by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Tonkin.

Philippe Klein, executive vice president of planning and control at Renault SAS, said: “The Renault-Nissan Alliance’s commitment to the global mass marketing of electric vehicles requires the close cooperation of many partners around the world. . Thanks to Ireland’s determination to be a leader in electric mobility transport, the necessary conditions – including incentives and infrastructure – are being put in place in this country to allow for the successful adoption of electric vehicles in the near future.”

Pierre Loing, vice president of product strategy and planning of Nissan International SA and head of the company’s zero emission business unit in Europe, said: “Renault and Nissan look forward to providing Irish customers with affordable, all-electric vehicles that are built to the same high standards in terms of performance, roominess, comfort and quality that customers expect from both brands.”

ESB is designing an infrastructure that will ensure open access to all car manufacturers and all energy suppliers. Trials and pilots will be conducted by ESB to test the infrastructure and collect the data necessary to examine driving trends, usage patterns as well as the new electric car lifestyle experience.

Today’s Definitive Agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the three parties last April to study the promotion of electric vehicles in Ireland.

“Nissan Ireland is delighted to be part of such an historic occasion for the motor industry in Ireland and Europe. We look forward to delivering a new and emission-free driving experience to Irish customers with Nissan’s electric vehicles starting with LEAF in early 2011,” said Gerard O’Toole, chairman of Nissan Ireland.

Eric Basset, managing director of Renault Ireland, said: “Due to its relatively small size, Ireland is ideally suited for the introduction of electric vehicles and as a pilot for the rest of Europe, As the population of Ireland is predominantly centered around the major urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, and with the average vehicle covering approximately 75 km per day, electric vehicles are ideally suited to address the every day needs of both private and business use.”

Renault and Nissan are among the leaders in development of pure electric vehicles and together have announced global production capacity of 500,000 units per year. To date, the Alliance has entered into more than 50 partnerships worldwide with countries, cities, organisations and other key stakeholders to prepare the markets and infrastructure for the successful adoption of electric vehicles around the world.

Source: http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Press+Releases/ELECTRIC+CARS+A+REALITY+FOR+IRELAND.htm