This is my third in a series of columns about City Cars, the possible future of American motoring if Washington and the Greenies – and perhaps common sense — have their way. Actually, there is a reasonable alternative view to “Greenness” about the future need for City Cars, and I’ll get to that in a future column when I report on a new Honda Hybrid, wrapping up the series.
First, let’s discuss the Nissan Leaf, the first high production-mainstream BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) or PEV (of necessity, Plug-in Electric Vehicle) to enter the U.S. market since GM’s EV-1 of 1996-99. And remember that the limited production EV-1 was not sold, but rather leased and even then only in California and Arizona. The other two types of electric vehicles are the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid) such as the Chevy Volt, powered by both electricity and an internal combustion engine but with the ability to recharge the battery from the grid; and the HEV (Hybrid) also powered by both gas and juice, typified by the original Honda Insight, the highly successful Toyota Prius and Ford’s Escape Hybrid SUV.
The Nissan Leaf is a driver’s delight: smooth, quiet, well-appointed, relatively functional with seating for five, and highly equipped yet with an attractive sticker price as tested of “merely” $34,000. The price includes Navigation system, fancy entertainment center and automatic temperature control as well as most of the usual comfort and convenience features of today’s upscale models.