De­signer mo­tor­ing

Charged up and ready to go, We-Ar cloth­ing cre­ative di­rec­tor Jy­oti Morn­ingstar takes a spin around Auck­land streets in the new Nis­san Leaf.

Element - - Element Motoring -

Be­ing a fan of two wheeled travel modes – ves­pas, bikes and, more re­cently, an elec­tric bike – I expected to ap­pre­ci­ate the eco-awe­some­ness of Nis­san’s new elec­tric car but I didn’t ex­pect to be quite so se­duced by it. Com­pletely silent and strangely in­tu­itive, the Leaf be­guiled me with it’s svelte driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. There were a cou­ple of fea­tures that took half a day to get used to; such as the rounded gear shift that glided al­most too eas­ily be­tween it’s two modes – for­ward and back­ward (just like driv­ing a slick go-cart) and then also, the ut­ter sound­less­ness of this car – a gor­geous de­vel­op­ment that I think will have such a pos­i­tive im­pact on our ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment as more peo­ple go elec­tric but one that calls for ex­tra cau­tion for now around pedes­tri­ans who can­not hear you ap­proach­ing.

Once I’d teth­ered my phone via blue­tooth, the Leaf played what­ever I was lis­ten­ing to once the prox­im­ity key was ac­ti­vated which made for a cosy co­coon in the rot­ten, wet weather we Auck­lan­ders have been suf­fer­ing of late.

The dash dis­play shows how ef­fi­ciently you are driv­ing by show­ing the num­ber of kilo­me­tres you can still travel ac­cord­ing to the bat­tery’s charge. A few tricks such as gen­tly brak­ing when mov­ing down­hill caused a gain in charge whilst swift ac­cel­er­a­tion made it drop quickly. Be­ing able to see this made me more con­scious of the power I was us­ing and also cu­ri­ous to try and im­prove the ef­fi­ciency with which I was driv­ing – not some­thing I gen­er­ally think about when driv­ing around town. I think with a bit of prac­tice the num­ber of kilo­me­tres eked out of a sin­gle charge could be in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.

A sur­pris­ingly fun fea­ture of be­ing in this com­pletely elec­tric car was the in­stant ac­cess to power. It’s all right there, un­der your foot, with no de­lay. This is a great fea­ture for city driv­ing when your op­por­tu­nity to nip across a busy road or swerve into a park needs to be seized in a mo­ment. An ever-so-slightly ‘too-twee’ fea­ture that gave me the cringe feel of be­ing mar­keted to was the graphic ‘tree’ which grew leaves when you drove ef­fi­ciently but some­how I ended up kind of lik­ing it for the easy sym­bol­ism which may have the de­sired ef­fect of con­nect­ing users with their in­di­vid­ual re­source us­age.

I guess the chal­lenge to mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion here in NZ may be that you can­not re­ally take it out of town be­cause of the need to recharge ev­ery 150 km – or less if you’ve been putting your foot down or driv­ing hilly streets. So no good for a kiwi road trip but, hey, for ur­ban liv­ing when you just need to get around town and out to the beach at the week­end, it’s per­fect.

"A sur­pris­ingly fun fea­ture of be­ing in this com­pletely elec­tric car was the in­stant ac­cess to power."

Jy­oti Morn­ingstar is the cre­ative di­rec­tor of We-Ar cloth­ing, the gor­geous yoga in­spired fash­ion range. See the lat­est cloth­ing and find out more about eth­i­cal pro­duc­tion of We-Ar cloth­ing at www.we-ar.it

Pho­tos: Ted Baghurst

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