Nissan considering free rental car use for trips beyond the Leaf’s range

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 11, 2010

As Nissan Motor Co. prepares to launch global sales of the all-electric Leaf, it is thinking about throwing in free rental car use for trips that exceed the Leaf's 80-100 mile battery range.

Nissan North America spokeswoman Katherine Zachary said that this idea mainly concerns markets outside the US where a majority of households do not typically own a second vehicle.

So far, Nissan has yet to come up with details on how the free rental-car service would work. That Nissan has considered it beneficial to offer this service is indicative of the challenge that electric-vehicle manufacturers have in introducing cars like the Leaf.

Battery-powered electric vehicles are criticized because they fail to satisfy the needs of most drivers, since the batteries need recharging every 100 miles.

They can’t be used for cross-country trips, or any type of excursions where the round-trip distance is more than 100 miles. Other carmakers such as General Motors Co. have said that customers require a longer driving range.

For instance, the Chevrolet Volt that will be launched next month is equipped with a battery that could only make the car run for 40 miles.

However, the car then switches to a gasoline engine to run electric motors in the car for 300 miles more. But then, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has always said that that the Leaf is not intended for all driving needs.

He does claim that the Leaf is practical for many drivers worldwide, including the US market, since most daily commutes are shorter than 50 miles. It’s expected that customers who routinely drive long distances will be directed by Nissan dealers to consider other vehicles. The Leaf starts selling in selected markets in the US this December. [via autonews - sub. required]

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