2011 Nissan Leaf will be a loser, says an electrochemical engineer

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 21, 2010

“2011 Nissan Leaf will be a loser”. No, is not what we think because we really like the car, but this is what an electrochemical engineer says, that consults with battery companies in the United States, Europe and Asia. According to this engineer, it appears that as presently produced, the 2011 Nissan leaf will be a loser for a number of reasons.

Apparently, the car will fail for the same reasons that GM’s EV-1 did, and most of you know this: due to the short range, awkward recharge, and the considerable uncertainty of battery safety (fires), lifetime, and cost.

It seems that the battery issues are the main ones. The lithium batteries are different when comparing them with the ones found on laptops and cell phones, as they are a work in progress. Competitive pressures are putting the heat on those car companies and engineers involved to finish the job.

“I think Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has really screwed up this time. The EV-1 gave electric vehicles a bad name. Will the Leaf do it again? Maybe, unless something is done about it” said the engineer.

The Nissan LEAF has two main sources of power. The first are the compact laminated lithium-ion batteries that can provide more than 90 kW of power. The second is the electric motor that can generate 80kW/280Nm.

This means that the LEAF is both responsive and fun-to-drive, which is what many consumers expect from the gas-powered traditional automobiles. The power train of the LEAF does not have any tail pipe compared to vehicles that have an internal-combustion engine and therefore does not emit CO2 or any other greenhouse gas.

When its regenerative braking system is combined with the lithium-ion battery packs, the LEAF is able to achieve a maximum driving range of more than 160 km, around 100 miles, under a full charge. Extensive consumer research has demonstrated that this particular range is more than enough to satisfy the daily driving needs of more than 70% of consumers who drive cars.

What the Nissan did was make it all easy and at the same time convenient. For example, the LEAF can reach around 80% of the battery’s total capacity with just 30 minutes of charging. The battery can even be charged at home using the standard 200V outlet.

Though it would take 8 hours to get full charge, it is enough time to sleep and be ready for the next day. The Nissan LEAF was created by designers and engineers with the aim of having a competitively priced real-world vehicle that would allow the company to take the lead in the era of zero-emission mobility.

Aside from zero emissions, the LEAF offers comfort, a large space, and even better cargo capacity, with a new chassis and a better body layout.

Product Chief Designer Masato INOUE shared that this car can be considered as the first practical and medium-sized electric vehicle that consumers can afford and be able to use on a daily basis. He added that the style not only identifies the Nissan LEAF but the owner as well as a participant in the new age of zero-emission mobility.

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