Nissan Leaf Test Drive Event


The Nissan Leaf, as many people may know from the commercials… is Nissan?s fully electric mass production vehicle. This car has no tail pipe what so ever and has an approximate range per charge of 100 miles. This vehicle is comparable to the Nissan Versa in size and seats up to 5 passengers. Also, since it is an electric car, it qualifies for a series of California State and Federal rebates that eventually drive the $30,000+ vehicle?s price down to $20,000. The rebates do vary from state to state, but in California it should run you around $20,000. This, though, does not include the cost of having a charging station installed in your own home. Those charging stations should run around $1,500 but Nissan is working to give those away to the first few thousand people who reserve a Leaf.

What can an iPhone do to a Nissan Leaf?

Today was the first experience with the Leaf that really gave a decent window into what the leaf really is and the work backing it up. Nissan is working feverishly with utility companies to make sure that the Leaf is fully supported and that customers get the maximum value out of their electric car. That includes allowing you to monitor your car?s charging via an iPhone App and having a separate meter just for the car?s plug in order to allow you to sign up for a different pricing structure for the car.

When you first enter the event, you enter the first tent in a series of tents that eventually lead you to the actual cars that you will drive. The first tent is simply for registration and general information while each group waits to be called in. There is also a constantly running demo reel including Lance Armstrong talking about how great the Leaf is and how important it is and is just general marketing hubbub.

Once you get your wristband [to drive, or to be a passenger] you then proceed into the first tent [if you can call it that] and get briefed on the car?s internal electrical system and overall charging ability. The videos below easily explain everything that was talked about and give you a nice understanding about the multi-cell lithium batteries that power the Nissan Leaf?s drive train.

ECOMode on Nissan Leaf should extend the range by reducing the power consumption of car’s subsystems

After that, you proceed into the next ?tent? and are greeted by a series of TVs that run a series of videos explaining mostly about the Nissan Leaf?s charging and the costs associated with the charging. In the video, the presenter breaks down how far each vehicle can go on $1.00 of fuel with the Nissan Leaf, of course, going the furthest. Just to get an idea, the Nissan Leaf can go 100 Miles [full range] on approximately $2.75 in charge compared to say $3.11 a gallon x your MPG [let’s say a 28 MPG car costs $11.07 for 100 miles]. In the same tent, they also detail the iPhone app that allows you to control the climate control of the car before you even drive it. This allows the car to warm up or cool down before you get in so that it uses grid power instead of battery power, effectively increasing your range once you leave the house.

Last, but not least was the short talk that the presenter gave on the way as we were walking to the cars and talked about the ECO mode of the car which increases the range of the vehicle and basically conserves more power and generates more power while driving.

The Cockpit and the drive

Once we got into the car, it was a fairly simple process and starting the car was almost identical to driving a Toyota Prius, which we believe was done on purpose to get as many Prius owners to switch. Considering the overall size, ride, and speed of the vehicle we?d say that the closest comparison to the Nissan Leaf is actually the Toyota Prius. The only difference, though, other than being fully electric is that the Leaf has extremely touchy brakes which are good in our opinion and it also rides very very smoothly. The overall cockpit noise was very minimal and the only sound really emitted from the vehicle was the sound of the wet tires which drowned out the nearly silent electric motor. The Nissan Leaf does have quite a bit of torque, and as a result we were warned that the car would spin out if we did not enable traction control in this wet weather. Most electric cars, because of their electric motors are capable of delivering maximum torque at 0 rpm meaning a very good, sometimes too good, pickup from a stop.

You can view all the videos on our YouTube channel. This is a selection of few we wholeheartedly recommend:
Nissan Leaf Range Calculator
Nissan Leaf Charging times
Nissan Leaf Cockpit / Dashboard
Nissan leaf Center Console