Nissan says it will sell almost 12,000 Leaf EVs in the US this year

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 3, 2011

Nissan North America Inc. estimates that it will be able to sell 50% or more of the 20,000 electric Leaf sedans available for the U.S. this year. Al Castignetti, Nissan Division vice president of sales, said that the first model year of the battery-powered family sedan will sell from 10,000 to 12,000 Leafs.

Nissan has not given specific figures about what Leaf’s startup sales target is. However, Nissan has said in the past year that its U.S. retailers could get as many as 20,000 units this year and another 20,000 in 2012.

Nissan said that just 50,000 Leafs annually are available worldwide from Japan. For the past half year in the U.S., Nissan has been hard at work on the Leaf’s marketing.

This car is offered only in seven states and before a purchase can be made, the potential customer has to go through an online reservation system.

Nissan aims to make the Leaf available in other markets in the upcoming year. Before any customer’s Leaf could be delivered, a home charging system has to be installed first.

The Leaf hasn’t had a smooth rollout due primarily to the wary startup of the lithium ion battery plant in Japan. Production and shipping in Japan were disrupted in a major way by the disaster in Japan.

The designers and the engineers who worked on the Nissan LEAF had the goal of developing a real-world vehicle that would be competitively priced and that would allow Nissan to spearhead the charge of mobility to what is called as the zero-emission era. By having a new body layout and a new chassis, the new Leaf is able to offer a larger space, bigger cargo capacity, and guarantee comfort. Product Chief Designer Masato INOUE shared that the company wanted to be the first to develop a practical and medium-sized electric vehicle that would be affordable and one that customers would want to drive in every day.

The result is the new LEAF, he added. The style not only makes it clear that it is indeed a Nissan LEAF, he continued, but customers who have one will also be given the opportunity to be part of the new era when it comes to zero-emission mobility. When it came to the design, one of the principles followed by the design team was to keep in mind the fact no matter how small the detail is, it can sometimes result in a remarkable effect. The front part thus makes use of the vertical and sharp v-shaped design. This same design has the headlights that are fitted with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are long and slanted upwards.

Since the headlights make use of an internal reflective design in blue, it seemingly makes the announcement that LEAF is truly a special car. Aside from helping with the overall design, the headlights have a practical function as well. Since it makes use of LEDs, the headlights only use power that is 10% of what conventional lamps use. This allows the LEAF to attain a range autonomy that is truly world-class.

That is not all as there is another function which is that it was constructed in a manner that it splits the airflow and then transmits it away from its door mirrors. This results in having lower drag and even decreased wind noise. The designers were also able to create an elegant environment for the cabin that was pleasing as well due to the use of bright trim colors. The interior follows a blue earth theme that includes even the illumination of the instruments and the dashboard highlights. This particular theme was based on the introductory version of the LEAF with its body color in Aqua blue.

In terms of power, the LEAF has the compact laminated lithium-ion batteries with output of at least 90 kW. The electric motor meanwhile has output at 80 kW with torque at 280 Nm. These figures ensure that the LEAF can deliver a fun-to-drive experience and is responsive at the same time. These are the same qualities that consumers generally expect from the gas-powered and conventional vehicles. However since the LEAF does not utilize an internal combustion engine, the powertrain removes the need for a tail pipe. This means that there is no emission of CO2 or any other greenhouse gas for that matter. By combining the battery pack with its regenerative braking system, the LEAF is able to reach a driving range in excess of 100 miles (160 km) on simply one full charge.

While this may not be far for some, extensive consumer studies have shown that this particular range is in fact enough to satisfy the daily driving needs of at least 70% of drivers in the world. Should the battery be almost empty, Nissan has made sure charging is both convenient and easy. The battery can be charged up to 80% of its total capacity in merely under 30 minutes using a quick charger.

It is even possible to charge the LEAF at home using a 200-volt outlet. While this may take 8 hours to complete, this is enough time for the vehicle and driver to be refreshed. One of the unique technologies in the LEAF is that it comes with its very own innovative IT system that is linked to a global data center. With this, the driver is able to access any important information or get the needed support for 24 hours a day. It can even provide for entertainment. Mounted on the dashboard is a monitor that is able to show the remaining power of the LEAF as well as the distance it can cover. It can even display a choice of charging stations in the near area. Then there is the capability to activate the air-conditioning through a mobile phone even if the vehicle is still powered down. It is the same in setting the charging functions. A remote-controlled timer is available inside that can be pre-programmed if there’s a need to recharge the batteries.

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