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Nissan Leaf Named European Car Of The Year

Key victory for new Nissan battery-electric vehicle.

by on Nov.29, 2010

The 2011 Nissan Leaf wins a key award.

After watching its top battery car competitor, the Chevrolet Volt, snag several key endorsements, the 2011 Nissan Leaf has landed a big one of its own.  The compact battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, has been named European Car of the Year, overcoming tough competition from an assortment of conventional and “green” products.

Leaf’s victory not only marks the first time a battery car has won the influential award but the first time an electric vehicle has simply made it into the final round, where Nissan’s entry was pitted against the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Opel Meriva, Citroen C3/DS3, Dacia Duster, Ford C-Max and Volvo S60.


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“This award recognizes the pioneering zero-emission Nissan Leaf as competitive to conventional cars in terms of safety, performance, spaciousness and handling,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn as he accepted the annual award. “It also reflects Nissan’s standing as an innovative and exciting brand with a clear vision of the future of transportation, which we call sustainable mobility.”


Feds Rate Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG

But new rating system could confuse, rather than clarify for battery-car customers.

by on Nov.22, 2010

The Nissan Leaf recently paced the NY Marathon. Now, says the EPA, it is setting the pace for the rest of the midsize auto segment.

The Nissan Leaf gets 99 miles to the gallon and can go for at least 102 miles per charge, according to new government fuel economy ratings.  Or is that 100 miles before having to plug in again?  Or 120?

While the EPA’s long-awaited calculation, which will appear on the window sticker of the Japanese battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, should please many green-minded motorists, it’s likely to confuse plenty of others.

The government’s challenge has been to come up with ways to measure the efficiency of a battery car in a manner comparable to the current fuel economy calculations used for conventional gas-powered automobiles.  But skeptics question whether the new numbers  are any better than a controversial earlier proposal that would have shown Leaf’s fuel economy at something close to 400 mpg.

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As it stands, the pure battery-powered Nissan Leaf is the most fuel-efficient car in the midsize segment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged by law with determining the mileage of new cars, trucks and crossover.  The agency’s finalized testing process gives Leaf a Combined 99 MPGe figure, or miles per gallon equivalent, which is a measure of what an alternative fuel vehicle actually would get if it were powered by gasoline.


Nissan Increasingly Bullish On Battery Power

Maker sees electric vehicles capturing 10% of global market by 2020.

by on Nov.01, 2010

Battery-electric vehicles will account for 10% of the global automotive market by 2020, contends Carlos Tavares, EVP of Nissan in America.

The push to zero-emission vehicles is inevitable, a senior Nissan executive declared during a visit to Detroit, on Monday, just weeks before the maker formally launches sales of its first mass-market battery-electric vehicle, the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

By 2020, forecast Carlos Tavares, executive vice president of Nissan in America, pure battery-electric vehicles, like the Leaf, will account for 10% of worldwide vehicle sales.  Considering global volumes are expected to reach perhaps 65 to 70 million by the end of the decade, that would mean sales of perhaps 7 million BEVs annually – a figure significantly in excess of what many other industry leaders are projecting.

“You won’t be surprised if we disagree,” Tavares said, referring to several recent surveys that took a more pessimistic view of the potential market for battery power.

One of the most widely quoted, J.D. Power and Associates’ new Drive Green study, predicts all forms of battery propulsion, including conventional hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electrics, will generate just 7.3% of global sales by 202, with BEVs accounting for barely a third of the overall market. (Click Here for that story.)


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While Tavares said Nissan is aware of the “tough challenges,” he argued that there is now a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to bring pure electric propulsion into the mainstream.  But critical to achieving that goal are factors that include:

  • The development of better, lower-cost batteries;
  • The creation of a smart infrastructure to handle the switch and manage the distribution of electric power; and
  • The establishment of a nationwide network of public charging stations.


A Nissan Leaf for $12,000?

Extensive tax incentives could shave nearly 2/3 off sticker price.

by on Oct.25, 2010

Could you put a 2011 Nissan Leaf in your driveway for just $12,000?

Imagine getting a new 2011 Nissan Leaf for nearly two-thirds off the sticker price.  That very well could happen for some buyers of the battery-electric vehicle if they live and work in the right places.

Given the range of tax credits and other givebacks coming online, some Leaf customers could drive one home for barely $12,000.

Nissan has put a base of $32,780 on the BEV.  But that doesn’t take into account the $7,500 federal tax credit that will be offered on the 2011 Leaf (for the first 200,000 customers, anyway).

And it also ignores an array of state and local incentives, and even some incentives from green-minded employers, notes Mark Perry, the Nissan product planning chief overseeing the maker’s battery program.


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Washington State, for one, waves the sales tax for buyers. The State of Colorado, meanwhile, has approved a $6,000 credit of its own.  In fact, 13 states now have some form of financial incentives in place covering battery cars and other green, high-mileage models, including the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

In California, the credit is a smaller $5,000, but Leaf buyers also will get the coveted HOV decal that permits a motorist to drive in the freeway car pool lanes even with only one person onboard.


First Drive: 2011 Nissan Leaf

Battery car charges into the unknown.

by on Sep.10, 2010

The 2011 Nissan Leaf is the first of several battery vehicles from the Japanese maker.

Automakers, by nature, tend to be a risk-averse group.  No surprise considering a major new vehicle program can quickly run costs up to a billion dollars or more.

Yet, Nissan is putting plenty on the line as it gets ready to roll out its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the 2011 Leaf.  Not just money, but prestige, with CEO Carlos Ghosn’s own reputation on the line as he personally champions the breakthrough battery car.

Will the 2011 Nissan Leaf live up to expectations as the first purely battery-driven automobile to meet the needs of the typical American motorist, rather than tech-crazy “first adopters” and enviro-addicts willing to opt for anything promoted as green?  To find out, we jumped at the change to drive the new BEV, which Nissan had waiting for us at its technical center in suburban Detroit.

It takes only a quick glimpse to recognize the Leaf isn’t your everyday automobile.  Like Toyota, with the popular Prius, Nissan has opted for a unique – and distinctive – design that will blare out, “I’m different,” as it rolls by.

Now, that’s not just to let owners easily show off their environmentalist bona fides.  There’s a practical purpose to the sweeping lines of the 2011 Nissan Leaf.  Minimizing aerodynamic resistance has yielded a significant bump in the BEV’s range and improved performance as well, the maker claims.  It also has advantages when it comes to creature comfort.


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In the plus column when it comes to electric vehicles is their naturally quiet nature.  You don’t have a big internal combustion engine roaring away directly in front of you.  But that creates what some call the “stumps in the swap syndrome.”  All the little tics and pops that are normally masked by the IC engine are suddenly quite apparent.


Ghosn Defends Nissan’s EV Program

Battery power is “here to stay,” says exec.

by on May.25, 2010

With the 2011 Nissan Leaf only set to begin fleet sales later this year, the maker already claims to have nearly 20,000 retail orders in hand.

Like it not, the electric car is here to stay, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Allliance, said during a whirlwind visit to Detroit.

The Japanese side of the alliance, in particular, is betting heavily on battery power, with its first battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, the Nissan Leaf, due to go on sale late this year.  Other models, including a luxury BEV for the Infiniti brand, are set to follow.

The first-year production of the electric-powered Nissan Leaf is already sold out, Ghosn said, noting the Japanese automaker already has 13,000 orders from customers in the U.S. and another 6,000 orders from buyers in Japan, with more pouring in every day.


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Initially, Nissan plans to offer the 2011 Leaf to fleet buyers, but for 2012 it will go into retail sale, and in the U.S., the orders have come from private citizens not government organizations, stressed Ghosn.


Nissan Ready to Take Orders on 2011 Leaf Battery-Electric Vehicle

Strategy shifts as maker decides batteries "not sold separately."

by on Feb.11, 2010

Have $100? You can reserve your 2011 Nissan Leaf battery car starting in April.

Wrapping up a 24-city promotional tour for its first battery-electric vehicle, Nissan has announced it is ready to begin taking orders for the 2011 Leaf sedan.

Interested customers will be able to place a refundable $100 reservation fee, starting in April, for the lithium-ion-powered Leaf, which will be one of the first in a new generation of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, expected to reach market over the next several years.  The deposit will put registrants at the head of the line when the formal ordering process begins in August.  Nissan plans a phased rollout of the 2011 Leaf, starting in select markets, in December 2010.



The automaker says it will make the BEV available for either lease or sale, but in a surprise move, it has reversed course on what was seen as a creative, if untraditional, pricing strategy.  The maker had considered the idea of setting one price for the Leaf itself, then another for the battery, which would have only been available as a lease.


Q&A: Nissan EV Director Hideaki Watanabe

Making the case for Zero-Emissions vehicles.

by on Nov.16, 2009

Can Nissan make a profit on the Leaf, even while charging no more than a comparable, gasoline-powered small car?

Can Nissan make a profit on the Leaf, even while charging no more than a comparable, gasoline-powered small car?

Nissan is kicking off a 22-city tour designed to promote the first of four battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that it plans to bring out over the next several years.

The debut event coincided with the announcement of a new joint venture with Reliant Energy, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S.  The automaker has been racing to ink a series of joint ventures with utilities, battery producers and even governments, such as Portugal and Israel, in its bid to make electric propulsion not just the darling of environmentalists but a competitive alternative to the conventional internal combustion engine.

While the battery car program is the pet project of Nissan’s hard-charging CEO Carlos Ghosn, the man who has to pull it all together is Hideaki Watanabe, the general manager of the automaker’s advanced propulsion program.  The ebullient executive was on hand during the Zero-Emissions Tour kickoff, in Los Angeles, discussing the program in only faintly accented English, which he honed during a three-year stint in the United States.

Watanabe discussed the challenges of battery technology, as well as some unexpected advantages that, he feels, could attract customers not simply driven by “eco-guilt.”  He spoke with TheDetroitBureau.com Publisher Paul A. Eisenstein.

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TheDetroitBureau: Everyone at Nissan seems to be, if you’ll pardon the pun, charged up about battery vehicles.  Why, considering so many competitors are still reluctant to comit to the technology?


First Drive: 2010 Nissan Leaf

Will consumers plug into battery powered 5-seater?

by on Nov.13, 2009

Nissan rolls out a prototype of the 2011 Leaf battery-electric vehicle to launch its 22-city "Zero Emissions Tour."

Nissan rolls out a prototype of the 2011 Leaf battery-electric vehicle to launch its 22-city "Zero Emissions Tour," before next year's introduction.

Every so often, the fate of an automaker winds up riding on a single new product.  For Nissan, the new Leaf could be exactly one of those vehicles.

No, if the little 5-seat sedan, set to roll into showrooms next year, fails to attract enough buyers, the Japanese automaker won’t go broke.  But Nissan’s corporate pride and image clearly have been wed to the success of the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV.

Long the also-ran in terms of bringing environmentally-friendly products to market, Nissan hopes to leapfrog leaders like Toyota and Honda, who it contends are taking only halfway measures, focusing on hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles that continue to burn petroleum and produce global warming emissions.  Nissan is going all the way, with Leaf – and three other BEVs it’s developing – which will eliminate tailpipe emissions entirely.

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While “electrification” has become an industry buzzword, Nissan’s faith in battery technology puts it far out on a limb, with Leaf.  So, we jumped at a chance to take the new electric sedan for a spin – in this case, a moderately short one around a special course set up next to Dodge Stadium, in Los Angeles, where the Japanese maker is kicking off a 22-city “Zero Emission Tour” that will lead up to next year’s formal introduction.