$48,000 for a Leaf

Nis­san leads the charge for elec­tric ve­hi­cles, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE Nis­san Leaf has be­come the first elec­tric ve­hi­cle to win the Euro­pean Car of the Year award.

The first mass-mar­keted ze­roe­mis­sion ve­hi­cle for the global mar­ket beat 40 other con­tenders to win the 47th an­nual award.

Jury pres­i­dent Hkan Mat­son says the Nis­san Leaf is the first EV that can ‘‘ match con­ven­tional cars in many re­spects’’.

Nis­san Aus­tralia CEO Dan Thomp­son says the Leaf will ar­rive here in 2012 in one trim level. It is ex­pected to cost about $48,000.

The Leaf is pow­ered by an 80kW/ 280Nm elec­tric mo­tor driv­ing the front wheels, with a stack of flat lam­i­nated lithium-ion bat­ter­ies un­der its floor.

The car weighs 1.6 tonnes but its low and cen­tral mass of heavy bat­ter- ies gives it a very bal­anced feel. On test in Ja­pan in June the car felt very sim­i­lar to most hatch­backs ex­cept for its quiet­ness. It also looks like any nor­mal hatch­back, rather than some weird fu­tur­is­tic golf buggy.

Its bat­tery can be charged in about eight hours on 240V or quick-charged to 80 per cent ca­pac­ity in 30 min­utes and has a range of about 160km.

The Leaf will be fol­lowed by three more elec­tric ve­hi­cles and four EVs from their al­liance part­ner, Re­nault.

Nis­san chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Toshiyuki Shiga says the EVs will in­clude a small elec­tric van, a lux­ury car and the Land Glider sin­gle-seater city car.

Thomp­son says they are very in­ter­ested in the small elec­tric van.

‘‘An elec­tric light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle would have mar­ket de­mand but we’re fo­cused right now on the Leaf,’’ he says.

‘‘Once there is mar­ket ac­cep­tance of EV, we will move to the LCV but that is sev­eral years down the track.

‘‘It will be a small de­liv­ery van — not a ute.

‘‘We don’t cur­rently have a small van, so we will launch a con­ven­tional-pow­ered van first and in the fu­ture we will have an EV.’’

Award win­ner: the Ja­panese-made, elec­tric-pow­ered Nis­san Leaf beat 40 other con­tenders to win the Euro­pean Car of the Year award.

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