Roll up in a Leaf
Nissan’s much-hyped plug-in electric car is here
supply to juice up the underfloor battery pack.
A cutting edge telematics system connected to a global data centre allows the driver’s smartphone to remotely set charge options, including taking advantage of off-peak rates. But the Leaf is launching head-on into the carbon tax— which will raise electricity costs after July 1.
The general view is the carbon tax will lead to electricity prices going up about 8 per cent, says Chris Giaoris of Origin Energy, which is supplying the Leaf charge points.
The car also faces an acknowledged resistance to the new technology and concern about plug-in range. ‘‘ There is some reluctance, not just in Australia, but in every country,’’ says Nissan global head of product strategy and advanced planning Francois Bancon.
‘‘ We are improving the technology, we are targeting better economy and we plan to double the range in another four or five years.
‘‘ The answer is in the infrastructure, where you can one day drive from one city to another and along the way pull into a station and charge in 10 minutes while you have a cup of coffee. But the government has to support this approach and in Australia it has not, so far.’’
Nissan doesn’t expect the Leaf to sell hugely, saying it is spearheading a push for the range of models coming behind it.
‘‘ We’re talking about just hundreds a year,’’ Nissan spokesman Jeff Fisher says. ‘‘ It’s about electric car awareness, so we want to take one step at a time.
‘‘ This is basically the thin end of the wedge. We’ve always talked about having a suite of electric vehicles: a family hatch, we talked about a two-seater city runabout, a luxury version that could be under the Infiniti brand. We talked about a commercial vehicle. All are out there.’’
Economical: Thenewfive-seater Nissan Leaf tops up from a charging station (left) or a domestic supply