1. LEAF ELECTRIFIES THE WORLD
Zero emission motoring is, at last, a reality. The Nissan LEAF is here, now, and promises to revolutionise the way we drive. After decades of development, the Nissan LEAF is packed with innovative new technology to become the world's first truly practical mass-produced 100% electric vehicle.
"Nissan LEAF is a real-world car that has zero tailpipe emissions. With this innovative, affordable electric car, Nissan is bringing a sustainable mobility system breakthrough to our industry and to people all over the world." said Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.
At a glance
• Deliveries to start in December in Japan and the US
• First European customer cars arrive in early 2011
• Spirited performance with zero tailpipe emissions
• Easy to drive, even easier to own
• First of four EVs from Nissan and Infiniti
The charge to a zero-emission future has begun. Deliveries of the Nissan LEAF - the world's first truly practical and affordable electric vehicle ¬- are about to start, following the world premiere of the production version of the innovative five seat family car at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
The first Nissan LEAF buyers in Japan and North America take delivery of their cars in December and will be joined by Europe's initial customers from Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK in the first quarter of 2011. They will be the first drivers in the world to experience the future of motoring: the Nissan LEAF is the first realistic electric vehicle to be sold around the globe. The battery-powered five seater is both practical and affordable... and it's here, now.
By the end of 2012, the Nissan LEAF will be available in all major European markets.
"This is just the beginning. Nissan has already announced the development of zero-emissions versions of the award-winning NV200 light van and people carrier and we have other pure EVs being readied for launch right now,'" said Pierre Loing vice president of product strategy and planning and head of the zero emission business unit at Nissan International SA, Nissan's European headquarters. "The Nissan LEAF and the electric light commercial van are the first of four 100 per cent electric vehicles from Nissan to be brought to market over the next few years."
With its compact, highly efficient lithium-ion batteries and powerful electric motor, the Nissan LEAF has a range of 175 kms (NEDC) while a quick charge system takes just 30 minutes to restore up to 80 per cent of battery power. Instantly responsive acceleration is matched by a top speed of more than 140 km/h.
The Nissan LEAF will be built in Japan, the USA and the UK, while the state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries will be manufactured in Portugal and France as well as in Japan, USA and the UK, making the Renault-Nissan Alliance the world's largest EV and EV batteries manufacturer.
"The future of motoring has arrived," said Pierre Loing.
2. DRIVING THE FUTURE
Nissan LEAF is not a prototype or a concept, but the world's first purpose-designed family-sized production EV. It's practical, comfortable and simple to drive. It has a potential driving range of 175 kms (NEDC) between charges, easily within the daily driving cycles of most of the world's population.
At a glance
• 48 compact lithium-ion batteries from a joint venture between Nissan and NEC
• Torque figures equivalent to a 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine
• Simple to drive
• Driving range of 175kms (NEDC)
• 80% quick recharge in less than 30 minutes
The Nissan LEAF is a totally new design built on a unique platform. At its heart is the advanced Nissan-developed laminated compact lithium-ion battery, technology which has, at last, made the electric vehicle a practical proposition. The battery is the result of decades of research and development: Nissan first used lithium-ion batteries in the prototype Prairie Joy EV of 1996.
Developed by the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture between Nissan and NEC, the new battery has the capacity to store twice as much energy as the previous generation. Unlike conventional cylindrical batteries, the thin and compact laminated cells used in the new AESC battery offer more flexibility in design applications. The Nissan LEAF stores its energy in 48 lithium-ion battery modules with four battery cells inside each module. The advanced laminated design allows for them to fit snugly beneath the floor of the car, thus optimising cabin space and giving the Nissan LEAF a low centre of gravity for a smooth and stable ride.
Responsive performance comes from the 80kw (108 bhp) electric motor that instantly generates its maximum 280 Nm of torque - equivalent to the torque of a conventional 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine - from a starting start. The result is rapid acceleration perfectly in tune with the Nissan LEAF's natural urban and suburban habitat.
The Nissan LEAF is easy to drive. The electric powertrain does not idle and only rotates when the vehicle is moving. To start the engine, the driver need only press the start button, and electricity begins flowing to the motor. Using the electric shift, the driver then selects "D" range, and the vehicle starts to move. It's as simple as that.
A full charge delivers a potential range of 175 kms (NEDC), a distance which will satisfy the daily driving demands of most customers. Global research indicates that the average daily mileage for 80 per cent of the world's population is under 100 kms: the figure in Japan and the UK is under 50 kms for 80 per cent of the population.
Driving range depends on several factors, including external temperature, air-conditioning usage, battery age and driving behaviour. Generally, the more environmentally friendly one drives, the greater the driving range. A user-friendly onboard screen shows key battery data, including maximum driving range, power output and regenerated electricity. An eco-indicator on the meter displays the status of electricity consumption, giving real-time feedback on the driver's handling efficiency.
The Nissan LEAF's regenerative braking system also increases the vehicle's range. By applying the brake or lifting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. To increase regenerative braking capability, there's a driver-controlled Eco mode setting, which also can be used to reduce air conditioning and thus improve driving range by 10 per cent when driving in urban areas.
Recharging Nissan LEAF
By working closely with governments and local authorities across Europe, Nissan has helped to speed up the introduction of the public EV recharging infrastructure and tax incentives and subsidies necessary for the widespread adoption of EVs. The choice of the first four European markets to receive the Nissan LEAF - Portugal, Ireland, UK and the Netherlands - reflects the progressive attitudes of the respective governments in providing such support.
The Nissan LEAF can be charged up to 80 per cent of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a public quick charger. At-home charging using a 240V - 16A outlet takes approximately seven to eight hours for a full charge and will usually be carried out overnight to take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity. At-home charging will need a special outlet and cable: Nissan dealers and other selected specialists will assist customers in the installation of domestic charging systems. The Nissan LEAF's charging port has two sockets - one for normal charging, the other for quick charging - under a flap at the front of the car.
Matching the advanced electric drive technology is the Nissan LEAF's advanced on-board IT and telematics systems called CARWINGS. The system provides continuous information feedback to the driver, including battery capacity and range, and provides the location of the nearest charging station. Navigation information is continuously updated giving drivers the latest accurate traffic conditions en route.
Another state-of-the-art feature is the ability to use a computer or smartphone to set charging functions and to monitor the car's current state of charge and the remaining battery capacity. Drivers can set the Nissan LEAF's air conditioning while charging via remote control, so the car is ready and comfortable for the driver. The on-board timer also can be pre-set to start charging the Nissan LEAF at night, taking advantage of lower electricity charges.
The Nissan LEAF comes with a five-year subscription to Nissan CARWINGS.
Safety for all
All aspects of vehicle safety have been addressed during the Nissan LEAF's development. For example, when not under charge, an electric relay within the vehicle turns off the power to isolate the charging port. Although the charging port is waterproof and has a drainage structure for use in the rain, in case of a short circuit, the supply of electricity is immediately interrupted. The platform has been designed to protect the batteries and prevent short circuits in the event of an accident.
As with conventional vehicles, the Nissan LEAF has an airbag system, ABS, Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control and pretensioner seatbelts as standard, along with a rear-view camera for safe and easy parking.
Pedestrian safety has also been addressed. In response to public concern that quiet EVs and hybrids can surprise pedestrians and the visually impaired as they approach, Nissan has developed a set of distinctive sounds that will come standard with Nissan LEAF to ensure a positive experience for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.
In developing the sound system, Nissan studied behavioural research of the visually impaired and worked with cognitive and acoustic psychologists. After looking at applied original technology developed to reduce vehicle noise and conducting tests in Japan and abroad, the Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians system was created.
The sine-wave sound system sweeps from 2.5kHz at the high end to a low of 600Hz, an easily audible range across age groups. Nissan worked to avoid a sound range that would add unnecessary noise to the environment (around 1,000Hz).
Depending on the speed and status (accelerating or decelerating) of Nissan LEAF, the sound system will make sweeping, high-low sounds. For instance, when Nissan LEAF is started, the sound will be louder, so a visually impaired person would be aware that a nearby car was beginning operations. And when a car is in reverse, the system will generate an intermittent sound. The sound system ceases operation when Nissan LEAF tops 30km/h and enters a sound range where regular road noise is high. It engages again as Nissan LEAF slows to under 25km/h.
The system is controlled through a computer and synthesizer in the dash panel, and the sound is delivered through a speaker in the engine compartment. A switch inside the vehicle can turn off sounds temporarily. The system automatically resets to "On" at the next ignition cycle.
A full standard equipment list, including the rear-view camera, satellite navigation and the comprehensive IT systems, means there's only one option available: a solar panel incorporated into the roof spoiler which supports charging of the car's 12V battery used for powering accessories.
Recycled and recyclable
Nearly 100 per cent of the vehicle weight will be recyclable through the development of recycling technology for parts and components specific to an EV such as the battery, motor and inverter. During the car's development, Nissan has also been actively working on using recyclable materials in its production. Although a difficult process, Nissan has succeeded in adopting recycled materials in some parts of the Nissan LEAF by developing colour-shade adjustment technologies and enhanced quality control of resin materials.
In Japan, Nissan has set up a joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation to "Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle" lithium ion batteries from EVs. In Europe, Nissan with its Alliance partner Renault is studying the establishment of a similar business with a local partner.
Competitive pricing, affordable operations
With subsidies provided by central and local governments and considering the difference in power costs, Nissan LEAF is priced competitively with a fully equipped C-segment diesel-powered vehicle.
Although it depends on the country, analysis shows that electricity cost is approximately five times lower than fuel cost. For overall ownership cost, the higher the fuel cost, the more cost-effective EV ownership is.
EVs: the future
Nissan has entered into more than 80 partnerships worldwide with countries, cities, organizations and other key stakeholders to support the widespread adoption of EVs. Numerous governments support EV technology and are providing tax incentives and subsidies for those who purchase EVs and invest in building EV charging infrastructure. With more public charging stations, the practicality and use of EVs will be accelerated.
While the energy for charging EV batteries must come from power plants, a majority of which are coal-powered, CO2 can be reduced as power generators capture more CO2 emissions or use solar or wind power. As the world seeks to reduce CO2 and other global greenhouse-gas emissions, Nissan, through its commitment to sustainable mobility and EV technology, will be a leader in the effort to create a zero-emission society.
3.THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Nissan LEAF is unique - it's not a conversion of a conventional car but has been designed as an EV from the ground up. And that means the designers have been able to give LEAF looks that are as distinctive as its power train.
At a glance
• No packaging compromise
• Distinctive profile
• Roomy, futuristic interior
• Large luggage area
Built on an all-new bespoke EV platform, LEAF sits on a generous 2700 mm wheelbase. It is 4445 mm long, 1770 mm wide and 1550 mm tall.
Because it is powered by a small electric motor and with the compact battery packs located under the floor at the centre of the chassis, the Nissan LEAF's design isn't compromised by the need to house a traditional engine at the front.
The result is the Nissan LEAF's low-slung, abbreviated front-end design which is dramatically framed by the vertical blue LED headlights. These also direct airflow away from the door mirrors to improve the Nissan LEAF's aerodynamics.
The body was designed using Nissan's ‘smart fluidity' principle, combining visually pleasing flowing lines with aerodynamic efficiency. The kicked-up roofline blends into a large spoiler while the Nissan LEAF's wind cheating shape is further helped by the flat, smooth underfloor.
The rear view is dominated by thin, gently curved, vertical taillights and is, of course, notable by the total absence of an exhaust pipe.
Inside there's ample space for five adults and the airy interior houses advanced electronic devices including a flat centre cluster for the bespoke IT system and a neat and easy to use gearshift selector inspired by a computer mouse.
The Nissan LEAF will be available in five colours in Europe - blue metallic and pearl, white pearl, silver metallic, black solid and red pearl.
4. OWNING A NISSAN LEAF
Owning a Nissan LEAF is as easy as driving one. With an incentive-backed low purchase price and a raft of purchase schemes including an innovative ownership package, electric mobility is closer than ever
At a glance
• Price includes Government backed incentive
• All-in price includes battery
• Low monthly charges via PCP
• Innovative electric mobility ownership package
• Free public recharging in many countries
Owning a LEAF
There are three ways to buy a LEAF. Customers can either buy the car outright, via a Personal Contract Purchase scheme (PCP) or under an innovative electric mobility ownership package.
Nissan LEAF's standards components will carry a warranty of 3 years or 100,000km whereas specific electric vehicle components, including the lithium-ion battery, will carry a warranty of 5 years or 100,000 km - matching European market competitive conditions.
In the unlikely event that the car runs out of energy, any pickups during the first year will be covered for free under Nissan's roadside assistance service.
Buying via the PCP scheme means customers pay a low monthly charge over three years. At the end of the term they can either hand the car back to the dealer and walk away, or pay the Guaranteed Future Value - fixed at the start of the term - and keep the car. Most owners, however, are likely to choose a third option and trade in their LEAF for a new EV. If the trade-in value - which depends on the car's mileage and condition - is greater than the GFV, then the difference can be put towards the new vehicle.
Nissan will also offer additional services to the PCP. This innovative electric mobility package will cover all the vehicle's running costs for those three years. As well as the vehicle, it will include insurance, service and maintenance costs, roadside assistance, connection to LEAF's on-board telematics, free access to public network electricity (depending on the country) and even access to a conventional car when the owner needs to cover longer distances.
After paying a monthly fee, LEAF owners will be able to budget exactly their total operating costs no matter how far they drive each month.
The monthly charges for the PCP and the mobility package will be disclosed closer to launch.
5. NISSAN UNPLUGGED
The Nissan LEAF is far from being the first EV to wear the company badge. Indeed, LEAF can trace its roots back to the Tama built in 1947 by a company later absorbed by Nissan. But it is Nissan's pioneering work in developing lithium-ion batteries that has really brought the modern EV to life
At a glance
• EV history stretches back to 1947
• World's first Li-ion-powered EV was the 1996 Nissan Prairie
• Hypermini experiment integrated EV into society
• Compact battery technology was EV breakthrough
• Series of concept EVs showed glimpse of the future
The Dawn of the EV Age
"His other concern was the batteries themselves. Thorne had selected the new lithium-ion batteries from Nissan, which were extremely efficient on a weight basis."
That quote could easily be from a government official at a pitch for a future fleet of zero emission vehicles. In fact the source is a scene from Michael Crichton's 1990 novel - and later blockbuster film - Jurassic Park.
Two decades later, Nissan is still an industry leader in lithium-ion battery development. However, the real story of Nissan's history of Electric Vehicles starts much earlier, in 1947. It was a unique period in the auto industry and the development of electric vehicles. Due to the post-World War II energy shortage at that time, the Japanese government encouraged entrepreneurs to produce EVs to cope with the crisis.
The Tama Electric Car was created by Tokyo Electric Cars Company - one of the ancestors of Prince Motor Co., Ltd., which later merged with Nissan. Developed by former military aviation engineers, the Tama used lead-acid batteries and generated 3.3kW power and a top speed of 35 km/h (22 mph). With a cruising range of 65 km (40 miles), they were used mainly as taxis. The car was sold until 1950, when Japan's post-war recovery was well underway and oil supplies were stabilised.
Li-ion on the Prairie
Today, with oil futures again uncertain and the eco-system under stress, it goes without saying that the evolution of battery technology corresponds with social need and an entrepreneurial spirit - both driving forces behind the development of Nissan EVs. Automotive application of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries began in 1990, led by Sony Corporation. Just a day after Sony's official announcement, Nissan began collaboration with the company.
The first fruit of their efforts was in 1996, when Nissan launched the Prairie EV, the world's first electric car with Li-ion battery power. Although the Prairie EV was limited to fleet sales, around 30 units were sold to various entities.
"The majority of the industry, even our colleagues, were sceptical about the Li-ion system," recalls Hideaki Horie, Expert Leader at EV Technology Development Division. "We chose the Li-ion battery because we believed in its potential and possible applications for vehicles, much higher than the nickel hydride batteries that were common at that time."
EV on ice
One of the most unusual applications of the Prairie EV was the years it spent under extreme polar conditions as a support vehicle for the Japanese National North Pole Exploratory Team at their research station in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway - which at 79°N is the world's most Northerly settlement.
The Prairie EV, with no Nissan support or maintenance, served as the daily transportation from the base research station to the town and airport and, most importantly, while conducting meteorological observations. Zero emissions vehicles are critical for such use in order to not contaminate the research data with CO2 emissions.
"The Nissan EV became a symbol of our pledge at the International Arctic Research Village that the environment would not be damaged by the execution of research activities," recalls Dr. Hajime Ito, Chair NySMAC. "VIPs visiting our village were welcomed at the airstrip by the Prairie EV, which transported them to town without the slightest noise or exhaust gas. It was also an excellent vehicle for scientific purposes, such as the observation of wild animals, which you could approach without sound or smell."
In 2006, after six flawless years of service, the Prairie EV stopped running. Since Ny-Alesund, with a permanent population of just 35 residents, lacked a Nissan dealership, the vehicle was returned to Nissan for investigation and evaluation. When the car was examined, Nissan engineers were delighted to find that the problem was simply a disconnected condenser. Once repaired, the Prairie EV started right up (though cell performance had degenerated slightly but within projections), proving the feasibility and durability of the Li-Ion battery under extreme conditions.
In 1997, Nissan revealed the lithium-ion battery equipped Altra EV (called the R'nessa EV in Japan). This award-winning electric minivan was sold both in Japan and the United States, though only an estimated 200 units were produced.
Initial units were delivered to utility companies, including Southern California Edison Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. They were even used as parking enforcement vehicles by the Santa Monica Police Department. Part minivan, part SUV, part station wagon, charging was by a proven, safe, user-friendly inductive battery charging system through an electromagnetic paddle inserted into a charge port located in the front grille.
The 83-horsepower (62 kW) synchronous motor utilized a high-performance Neodymium-Iron-Born alloy internal magnet rated at an approximately 89 percent operating efficiency. The AltraEV's 12-module Li-Ion battery pack was located under the passenger compartment floor and offered a real world driving range (combined city/highway) of 130 km (80 miles). It also offered a 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), regenerative braking, a 120 km/h (75 mph) top speed and an 800-pound passenger/cargo capacity. Altra EV drivers were treated to amenities such as air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a premium audio system and dual supplemental air bags.
Electric movie star
Shortly after the introduction of the Altra EV, Nissan challenged itself to develop a more compact and less utilitarian dedicated EV. The result was the legendary Hypermini, which debuted in 1999.
Hypermini featured a lightweight, highly rigid aluminum space-frame and was fitted with a neodymium magnet synchronous traction motor and high performance lithium-ion batteries. It took about four hours to recharge the batteries using a 200-volt non-contact inductive AC charger. Hypermini's driving range was 115 km (72 miles) on a single battery charge and it had a top speed of about 100 km/h (62 mph). The car was widely used in Japan and U.S., including at the University of California, Davis and a car-sharing project in Yokohama.
Fully charged for the future
The turn of the century was a turning point for battery systems as well. Nissan took a major step forward and started developing compact laminated Li-ion batteries together with NEC, replacing the cylindrical cell used up until then. The newly developed laminated batteries are able to store double the energy in the same size.
The evolution of battery development has accelerated in the last decade thanks in large part to innovations in home and personal electronics, especially cellular phones.
"We can even say that battery innovation owes a debt to the high school girls in the streets of Shibuya, who are extremely demanding, heavy cell phone users," said Horie. "They are eager to have more chat, more emails, in less charging time. The boom of cell phones definitely accelerated the enhancement of battery technologies."
The impact of the ongoing reduction of batteries size has been felt not only in cell phones and computers, but also in designing cars.
"You'll be unleashed from various constraints if you choose an electric powertrain," said Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president, Design, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "For example, it allows you to make the hood very low, contributing to the vehicle's aerodynamics and style. You can make the center of gravity very low by putting the battery under the floor, or you can even place the motor in the wheel. And ultimately, you can separate the cabin and the platform - thanks to the x-by-wire technology. We wanted to show examples of this freedom of design and mobility for the future with the Pivo and the Pivo2. These concepts feature rotating cabins and the ability to make the four wheels move individually."
The original Pivo was one of the stars of the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, a feat followed by the next generation Pivo2 two years later. Continuing Nissan's tradition of exhibiting advanced EV concepts to the world's top motor shows, the Nissan Mixim electric sports car debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, followed by the Nissan NUVU (literally a "new view" of the urban transportation vehicle) at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. NUVU incorporates a witty representation of Nissan's green credentials, including solar panels across its all-glass roof and the use of organic and recycled materials within the cabin.
Looking ahead after more than 60 years of EV leadership, the year 2010 will mark the transition from the era of conventional mobility to true zero-emission mobility, led by the introduction of the Nissan LEAF.
Cars like the Nissan LEAF will take us another critical step closer to the day when Nissan lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles will drive cleanly and efficiently through urban amusement parks filled with Raptors and T-rex clones - and not just in novels and movies.
And, where the real dinosaurs on display may just be internal combustion vehicles.