The Nissan Leaf (also formatted "LEAF" as acronym for Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) is a compact 5-door hatchback battery electric car (BEV) to be produced by Nissan. Sales are scheduled to begin in North America, Europe, and Japan in late 2010, with global market rollout planned for 2012. As the reservation process began for U.S. customers, Nissan announced that availability for December 2010 is limited in quantities and to select markets and initially through online reservations only. The availability will be increased by spring 2011, with full U.S. market rollout planned for 2012.
The announced price in Japan starts at ¥3.76 million (approximately USD40,500) and USD32,780 in the United States, including the price of the battery package and both countries have applicable tax incentives.
Because the Leaf is an all-electric car, it has the advantages of producing no tail pipe pollution, lessening dependence on oil, and its total cost of ownership improves in comparison as the price of gasoline rises. In January 2010 the Leaf received the Green Car Vision Award by the Green Car Journal.
The EV-11 prototype electric car was based on the Nissan Tiida (Versa in US) platform, but it had an all-electric drive train including an 80 kW (110 hp)/280 N·m (210 lb·ft) electric motor, 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack rated to have a range of 100 miles (160 km) on the EPA LA-4 or "city" driving cycle, navigation system, and remote control & monitoring using a cellphone connection through Nissan's secure data center to the car. The technology in the EV-11 was previously developed and tested in the EV-01 and EV-02 test cars, built with an all-electric powertrain using the Nissan Cube as development mule. The EV-11 prototype was on display July 26, 2009. A week later, on August 2, 2009, the production version was unveiled at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters and is set to begin selling in both the North American market and Japan at end of 2010.
The Leaf uses a front-mounted electric motor driving the wheels, powered by a 24 kW·h/90 kW lithium ion battery pack. The expected cruising range is the same as the EV-11 prototype, as is the motor.
The battery pack is made of air-cooled stacked laminar cells with manganese oxide in the cathode. The battery and control module together weigh 480 pounds (220 kg) and the energy density of the cells is 140 W·h/kg.
The battery can be charged from 480 Volt, 220 Volt and 110 Volt sources. The Leaf has a standard SAE J1772-2009 connector for 220/110V AC recharging and appears to use the TEPCO connector for high-voltage 480V DC.
With 480 Volts, it can be charged to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes with a special quick charger that sends 480 volt 125 amp DC to the battery. With 220 Volt, it can be charged in 8 hours, and in North America and Japan using standard household 110 Volt outlets it can be charged in 16 hours.
The LEAF's frontal styling is characterized by a sharp V-shape design with large, up slanting light-emitting diode (LED) headlights that create a distinctive blue internal reflective design. The headlights also split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, reducing wind noise and drag. The headlights also consume 10 percent less electricity than conventional lamps. Nissan also sought not to deter individuals away from the LEAF, giving it a familiar sedan and hatchback like design.
Nissan claims that the car has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph). Its motor is rated at 80 kW (110 hp) and 280 N·m (210 lb·ft).
Nissan Leaf will employ an advanced IT system. Connected to a global data center, the system provides support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day. The dash-mounted monitor displays the Leaf's remaining power, in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations.
Users' mobile phones can be used to turn on air-conditioning, the heater and re-set charging functions even when the vehicle is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.
Price and sales
Leaf sales in Australia are scheduled for 2012.
Nissan plans to release the Leaf in limited quantities to government customers in China in 2011.
On 30 March 2009, Nissan announced that the price of the Leaf in will start at ¥3.76 million (approximately USD40,500) before any current tax breaks. The Leaf will be eligible for a ¥770,000 government tax credit if current incentives continue through fiscal year 2010, thus reducing the net price to ¥2.99 million (USD32,200). The Nissan Leaf will also be exempt from the car-weight tax and the car-acquisition tax.
Nissan will offer customers various purchasing methods, including a financing program that allows consumers to pay ¥2.4 million (US$25,800) and then a monthly fee of ¥10,000 (US$108), which includes the cost for electricity. Other services that will be available include charging equipment arranged by Nissan dealers who will assist customers in the installation of charging facilities in their homes. Before the Leaf release, Nissan will also install 200-volt regular chargers at 2,200 Nissan dealers nationwide. In addition, about 200 dealers will have quick-charging facilities that provides 80% of battery capacity in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore, Nissan guarantees that at least one quick-charge unit will be available within a 40-kilometer radius throughout the country.
Some 9,300 people have signaled an interest in buying a Leaf as of March 2010 and the pre-order process began on April 1 through Nissan dealers across Japan. After three weeks, 3,754 pre-orders were received which exceeds half of Nissan's sales target of 6,000 units for FY2010. Individuals accounted for 64% of the pre-orders and fleet orders represented the remaining 36%. Among individuals, older consumers (age 50 and higher) accounted for 61% of the orders.
Nissan announced on March 30, 2010 that the release price in the U.S. will be USD32,780 before any applicable tax incentiveS. Nissan will sell or lease the Leaf only with batteries included, forgoing the initial idea of leasing batteries to reduce the price of the car. With the USD7,500 electric vehicle federal tax credit established by the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, the net price will drop to USD25,280 for eligible customers. The federal tax credit shrinks by automaker after it has sold at least 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. and then it phases out over a year.
Other state and local incentives are available and may further decrease the cost. California has a USD5,000 statewide rebate, there is a USD5,000 tax credit in Georgia, and a USD1,500 tax credit in Oregon. Nissan will also have an option to lease the Leaf for USD349 a month for three years (SL trim), with an initial payment of USD1,999.
Nissan explained that it will price the Leaf lower in the United States as compared to Japan because it wants to achieve higher sales in that market. The Leaf will have two trim levels available, the SV and the SL. The SV trim level includes an advanced navigation system and Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle. The SL trim level adds several convenience features, including rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights for an additional USD940. Additionally, Nissan will offer personal charging docks, which operate on a 220-volt supply, in tandem with the purchase process, that will be built and installed by AeroVironment. This one-stop-shop process also includes a home assessment by a certified technician to ensure that your garage is plug-in ready. Nissan is giving Leaf customers the option of buying a home charging station at an estimated cost, including installation, of USD2,200, which is eligible for a 50% federal tax credit up to $2,000. So after the federal tax credit, the average cost for the charging dock would be USD1,100.
Nissan announced that by April 2010 around 115,000 people have already registered in the U.S. to have first priority, though Nissan is aiming for 25,000 orders by December. The online only reservation process began on April 20, by paying a fully refundable US$99 reservation fee that allows customers to secure a place on the list to purchase or lease a Nissan Leaf. Nissan limited reservations to one per household. During the first ten days around 8,000 individuals made a reservation and after May 15 reservations will open to the general public. Nissan also reported that about 75 percent of U.S. reservations were for the SL trim, the premium model, and a similar percentage of the reservations were from its primary launch markets in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. Orders are expected to begin in August and deliveries will start in select markets in limited quantities in December 2010, with more availability in 2011, and full U.S. market rollout in 2012. Initially sales will be limited to Seattle/Puget Sound region, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and the states of Oregon, California and Tennessee. Thereafter, it will also be available in the Washington, DC Metro Area, Orlando, Houston, Vancouver (Canada), and the states of Georgia, Texas, North Carolina and Massachusetts.
Renault-Nissan has partnered with governments, public utilities, and private entities to produce the global infrastructure necessary to make the LEAF a viable concept. The Leaf, however, will not contain Renault-Nissan's QuickDrop battery switch feature. Countries already signed up to this electric vehicle network include Portugal, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Ireland, France, China, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada (British Columbia) and Monaco.
The first vehicles to be sold in the U.S. will be produced at Nissan’s plant in Oppama, Japan. Commercial US production would begin in late 2012 at Nissan's manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. This U.S. plant will be modified with a $1.4 billion loan granted by the U.S. Department of Energy to allow the manufacturing plant to produce the Nissan Leaf and its advanced batteries. The retooled plant is expected to create 1,300 jobs. The Smyrna plant is expected to produce up to 150,000 vehicles and 200,000 battery packs annually.
The Leaf will also be produced at Nissan's plant in Sunderland, England, beginning in 2013] Nissan will benefit from a £20.7m grant from the British government and up to £220m from the European Investment Bank. The plant will produce 60,000 lithium-ion batteries a year, and it also is expected to deliver 50,000 Leaf EVs a year.