Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf (also formatted "LEAF" as a bacronym for Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) is a five-door mid-size hatchback electric car manufactured by Nissan and introduced in Japan and the U.S. in December 2010. The United States Environmental Protection Agency determined the range to be 117 kilometres (73 mi), with an energy consumption of 765 kJ/km (34 kWh per 100 miles) and rated the Leaf's combined fuel economy at 99 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent. Deliveries began in the United States on December 11, 2010, and on December 22 in Japan. Sales are scheduled to begin in Portugal in January 2011, Ireland in February, the United Kingdom in March, and the Netherlands in June, with global market availability planned for 2012. According to Nissan initial availability is limited in quantities and to select markets and only for customers who made online reservations. The availability will be increased by the second quarter of 2011 with U.S. production planned for 2012. The Leaf's retail price in Japan starts at ¥3.76 million and US$32,780 in the United States. The price in the United Kingdom is GB£28,350 and around €35,000 in the other three European countries where it will be launched first. These prices include the price of the battery package. Most countries have applicable tax incentives or subsidies for eligible buyers that reduce the effective cost of purchase below the retail prices listed by Nissan. As an all-electric car the Nissan Leaf produces no tailpipe pollution or greenhouse gas emissions at the point of operation, and reduces dependence on petroleum. Among other awards and recognition, the Nissan Leaf won the 2010 Green Car Vision Award award, the 2011 European Car of the Year award, and ranks as the most efficient EPA certified vehicle for all fuels ever.

The Leaf's frontal style is characterized by a sharp V-shape design with large, up slanting light-emitting diode (LED) headlights that create a distinctive blue internal reflective design. The headlights also split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, which reduces wind noise and drag. The headlights consume 50% less electricity than halogen lamps. Nissan sought not to deter individuals away from the Leaf, giving it a familiar sedan- and hatchback-like design. The bottom of the car has aerodynamic paneling to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics as much as possible. Nissan says that the car has a top speed of over 150 km/h (93 mph). Its motor is rated at 80 kilowatts (110 hp) and 280 newton metres (210 lb·ft). Unofficially, 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) performance has been tested at 9.9 seconds. The Leaf uses a front-mounted electric motor driving the wheels, powered by a 86 megajoules (24 kW·h) lithium ion battery pack rated to deliver up to 90 kilowatts (120 hp) power. The pack contains air-cooled, stacked laminar battery cells with lithium manganate cathodes. The battery and control module together weigh 300 kilograms (660 lb) and the specific energy of the cells is 140 W·h/kg. It is estimated that each battery pack costs Nissan US$18,000 (as of May 2010), and this cost is expected to be halved by mass production. Under its five-cycle testing, the United States Environmental Protection Agency found the Leaf's energy consumption to be 765 kJ/km (34 kWh/100 miles) and rated the Leaf combined fuel economy equivalent at 99 MPGe (2.4 L/100 km), with an equivalent 106 mpg-US (2.22 L/100 km; 127 mpg-imp) in city driving and 92 mpg-US (2.6 L/100 km; 110 mpg-imp) on highways. The battery pack is expected to retain 70% to 80% of its capacity after 10 years but its actual lifespan depends on how often fast charging (440-volt) is used and also on environmental factors. Nissan stated the battery has a "lifespan of 5–10 years under normal use". The Leaf's battery is guaranteed by Nissan for eight years or 100,000 miles (160,000 km). The battery pack consists of 48 modules and each module contains four cells and is assembled by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) – a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Energy Devices. Since the battery is the heaviest part of any EV, Nissan housed the battery pack below the rear-seat compartment to keep the center of gravity as low as possible and also results in increased structural rigidity as compared to a conventional five-door hatchback.

The Leaf has two charging receptacles: a standard SAE J1772-2009 connector for level 1 and 2 recharging (120/220 volts AC) and a JARI Level 3 DC connector designed by TEPCO for high-voltage, DC fast charging (480 volts DC 125 amps) that uses the CHAdeMO protocol. Using the on-board 3.3-kilowatt (4.4 hp) charger the Leaf can be fully recharged from empty in 8 hours from a 220/240-volt 30 amp supply (5.2 kilowatts (7.0 hp) allowable draw) that can provide the on-board charger its full 3.3 kilowatts (4.4 hp) of usable power. In North America and Japan using a standard household outlet (120-volt, 15 amp breaker, 12 amp maximum allowable draw, 1.4 kilowatts (1.9 hp)) and the 7.5-meter (25 ft) cable included by Nissan, the Leaf will regain approximately 5 miles of range per hour. This type of charging is intended for convenience use when making stops or for emergency charging if you are within a short range of the charging destination. U.S. electrical regulations require a 240-volt charging station to be permanently wired to an AC outlet unless proper interlock mechanisms are available to ensure the charging current can be safely turned on and off. Nissan selected AeroVironment to supply its charging dock and installation services in North America. Using DC fast charging, the battery pack can be charged to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes. Nissan developed its own 500-volt DC fast charger that went on sale in Japan for ¥1,470,000 (around US$16,800) in May 2010 and plans to install 200 at dealers in Japan. Nissan warns that if fast charging is the primary way of recharging, then the normal and gradual battery capacity loss is about 10% more than regular 220-volt charging over a 10-year period. Other companies make compatible charging stations, and companies and local government have various initiatives to create networks of public charging stations (see electric vehicle network). Nissan plans to double the power of the on-board charger to 6.6-kilowatt (8.9 hp) in the 2012 model year Leaf. There are also plans to allow upgrades for the 2011 year model. Nissan officially introduced the Leaf in a ceremony held at its global headquarters in Yokohama on December 3, 2010. The first U.S. customer delivery took place in Northern California on December 11, 2010 and the first delivery in Japan took place at the Kanagawa Prefecture on December 22. Retail sales to individual consumers in Portugal, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2011, and global market availability is planned for 2012. The Leaf does not have the Renault-Nissan's QuickDrop battery swap feature, but the allience's partnership with Better Place influenced Nissan's distribution plan for the U.S. which was based upon availability of electric vehicle networks.

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