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Future Car - Nissan Leaf

Updated on September 23, 2009

About Nissan

Founded in 1931 as Datsun, Nissan Motor Company is a publicly traded company and one of the largest in Japan. In 1999, Nissan allied with Renault S.A. of France, when that company bought a forty-four point four (44.4%) percent stake in Nissan in 2008.

Nissan is considered one of the big three Asian Japanese auto makers. Nissan is also the manufacturer of Infiniti luxury cars. The company, as Datsun , began marketing cars in the United States in 1959 at a Los Angeles auto show. That same year created a U.S. subsidiary, Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A.

Datsun's continued technological breakthroughs with the sedans, along with Italian styling ensured the brand had a loyal if not small following in the United States. Along the way Datsun introduced the Datsun Fairlady roadster, the sporty and race-winning 411 series, and (likely the most famous of that time) the Datsun 510. Shortly after that Datsun introduced the American car market to the Datsun 240Z thus insuring a memorable place in the American psyche.

With a brand image and loyal following in place Datsun was in an ideal marketing position when the oil embargo of of 1973 happened. During this time Datsun opened new factories in Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, and South Africa.

In the U.S., Datsun formerly became Nissan in March 1986. By the mid-1980s Nissan began building trucks in Smyrna, Tennessee. Since opening, the plant has produced cars as well as trucks with an engine plant opening up in n Decherd, Tennessee and another assembly line recently opening in Canton, Mississippi.

Nissan Motor Corporation is headquartered in Yokohama Japan.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nissan Leaf three quarter viewNissan Leaf. Rear View.Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf three quarter view
Nissan Leaf three quarter view
Nissan Leaf. Rear View.
Nissan Leaf. Rear View.
Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

Though Nissan is not readily known in the United States as a eco-car company, they have been quietly working on a new model that promises to give both Toyota and Honda a wake-up call.

This new Leaf is all-electric with fast recharging times, seating for five, and some interesting innovations. It is also quite large for an eco-car with a wheel base and overall length twenty (20") inches longer than the Honda Insight and seventeen (17") inches longer than the Toyota Prius. it is also wider and taller than either. These dimensions mean that the Leaf has  more interior room and can accommodate larger drivers.

The Leaf will have a one hundred (100) mile per charge range with a top speed of about ninety (90) miles per hour. The Leaf is capable of being recharged to eighty (80%) of capacity in as little as thirty (30) minutes with a special, high-voltage quick charger.These quick charger stations will be set up in the Tucson/Phoenix metroplex, Tennessee, Oregon, San Diego, and Seattle. This represents and investment of twenty-five hundred recharging stations.

Nissan is projecting that the car will sell for between twenty-five ($25,000) and thirty-three ($33,000) dollars each.

The leaf is a front-wheel drive, all-electric car using lithium-ion battery technology.

See the first video below for interesting features. Minute markers 4:05 demonstrates the quick charge feature and minute marker 4:47 starting, the instrument cluster, and engaging the drive. This is an odd little film because there's no sound and it reminds one of a silent movie with title cards. Video two is a word from CEO Carlos Ghosn.

Leaf Specifications

The Leaf has the following specifications and features;

  • front "engine", front wheel drive
  • four door, five passenger layout
  • wheel base of one hundred six (106.3") inches
  • length: of one hundred seventy-five (175") inches
  • height: sixty one (61") inches
  • width: seventy (69.7") inches
  • battery capacity twenty-four (24kWh) kiloWatt hours
  • range one hundred (100) miles or one hundred sixty (160km) kilometers

Nissan has projected that the typical gasoline powered car costs six thousand (6,000) yen a month to operate. This is roughly equivalent to sixty-three ($63) dollars a month. Naturally driving distances are much shorter than in the U.S.

However, the Leaf, by the same methods of calculation is expected to cost 1,200 yen or, converted, thirteen ($13) dollars a month to drive. Regardless of where driven Nissan's Leaf has real money saving potential.

Because Leaf can accept a quick charge or a home charge two different charging ports are accessible from the front of the car. The quick charge (as stated above) takes thirty minutes or less and the home charge (from 120V) less than eight hours.

Note: The Leaf is not a prototype. This car will go into production in the near future.

This is the twelfth in a series on future cars.


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