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Old 02-09-2010, 09:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Nissan Leaf @ Boston Science Museum - TODAY 9-3!

Nissan Leaf @ Boston Science Museum - TODAY 9-3!

Nissan Leaf Zero Emission Tour - Museum of Science, Boston | Going.com

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Old 02-09-2010, 05:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Okay, I've seen the Nissan Leaf in person -- it is one of only two actual cars they've made, so far. It cost them ~$2.5 million to build it. It looks larger than I expected, and it has a typical-for-today look: thick doors and thick seats, a quite tasteful dash with large screen GPS navigation system (more later) and the dash is all electronic. The backseat looks pretty decent, and the hatch/boot looks pretty darn large and deep.

The battery is 24kWh, lithium manganese polymer (IIRC) designed and built by Nissan. There are 48 ~inch thick cells that are about the size of a piece of paper; and each of these has 4 prismatic "sub-cells". They are in a sealed enclosure, and it has a 10 year warranty -- it will have 70-80% of its capacity at that time. There is no active cooling in the battery pack.

There are three types of charging:

Level 1 is 120v AC and will take up to 16 hours to go from no charge to full charge.
Level 2 is 240v AC and will take up to 8 hours to go from no charge to full charge.
Level 3 is 440v DC and will be able to charge 0-80% in ~27 minutes.

Charging starts after you plug it in, and after the car and the charger have "talked" to each other, and everything is hunky dory. It will be nearly impossible to get shocked, even in a rain storm, as the cord is not energized until after this happens. I believe I heard someone talking about being able to program the car/charger to work during specific times, to take advantage of (possibly) lower rates.

The cost of the car will include the battery. You will be able to buy the car with the battery -- or you can lease the car with the battery. It's not "official" at this time, but they will *not* be leasing the battery separately from the car.

You will be eligible for the $7500 federal tax credit for buying the car. If you have a charger installed (this may be for a Level 1/2 charger?), you can get up to an additional $2,000 tax credit, as well. Level 3 chargers are eligible for more, IIANM.

They will announce the actual pricing in April (at which point I believe they will start taking pre-orders). For the moment, they say the price will be "the same as a similarly sized and equipped [conventional] car." Remember the nav system I mentioned? This is part of the battery monitoring system, and my understanding is that it is standard equipment:

There are 4 ways to monitor the battery charge:

A "miles left" estimate display.
A percent of charge left display.
A circle of approximate range highlighted on the nav screen display
An "idiot" light that warns you when you get close to 10% (IIRC) charge left, and it soon thereafter goes into a "limp home" mode that limits your speed to 55mph, (and probably turns off things like the A/C?).

I forgot to ask about how regenerative braking works. Darn. Oh, they will start shipping at the end of this year, to the pre-orders, and then after that, they will be at the dealerships. They had a dealer conference/training happening concurrent with this public "tour". Tomorrow/next they will be in New York city.
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Old 02-09-2010, 07:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Nice, thanks for the report. I wish they were coming to Buffalo, but I'm sure they won't.

This car is interesting from a packaging perspective. No exhaust, no gas tank, etc. Are the usual locations of these items full of batteries? What kind of transmission does it have?

Regenerative braking ought to be able to stop you just as quickly as you can accelerate. If that's all on the front wheels, though, I wonder if that creates brake force distribution problems. Eh, probably not.

What kind of mods would make sense for a Leaf? I would want a Level 1 (120VAC) charger permanently installed in the car for sure. I'd also try to find a spot to mount a 15HP gas engine to drive one of the wheels, for road trips.

I guess we won't be talking about the "fuel economy" of the Leaf, but how would you improve the Wh/mi of the Leaf?

A 10yr warranty on the battery is very impressive. I wonder, what depth of discharge does Nissan use? Deeper discharge allows for longer range at the expense of shorter pack life.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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GM is probably bouncing off the walls right now trying to find a way to talk this car down.... in GM fashion, they will probably have a commercial with the LEAF creeping to a hault on a deserted highway and the volt driving on by....

GM will be kicking themselves in the butt when they realize how well the public will love the Nissan Leaf, and how the GM EV-1 could have captured that audience.
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Old 02-09-2010, 09:41 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertSmalls View Post
What kind of mods would make sense for a Leaf? I would want a Level 1 (120VAC) charger permanently installed in the car for sure. I'd also try to find a spot to mount a 15HP gas engine to drive one of the wheels, for road trips.

I guess we won't be talking about the "fuel economy" of the Leaf, but how would you improve the Wh/mi of the Leaf?
I would assume everyone will need the Level 2 charger at minimum, at least for those people who plan on using this car every day for their commute to work. For the stay at home mom, for example, a Level 1 charger may suffice.

Mods to improve the range? Lighten the car, improve aerodynamics, LRR tires, and more batteries (adds weight).
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Here's a link with two disappointing bullet points:

Nissan Leaf offers much more than zero-emission driving - egmCarTech

*Cd=0.28. Not bad, but I expected much better from a car without a grille.
*Quiet tires. LRR tires are not always quiet, especially at 50psi.
So the car needs a few tweaks.

Bryan, you're right that most Leaf owners will want to have a 220V charger installed in their garage. But if I had a Leaf, I'd also want a 120V charger installed in the car, and I'd keep a big orange extension cord in the trunk. I'd also convince the boss to let me install an outlet at the parking lot and plug in at work.
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The battery pack is under the seats -- the front is under the front seats, and the back is under the back seat. I don't think it has a transmission per se; just maybe a reduction gear?

I wish I had asked about the regenerative braking -- this car should be capable of accelerating pretty quickly -- it is about as fast as some of the Infiniti models.

I think wheel covers would be at the top of the list -- plus they are 17" rims. I tried to see what the tires were -- I doubt they made their handmade show car with the same OEM rubber that will ship, but I could be wrong. They were medium width, and a fairly smooth "performance" looking tread pattern.

The 100 mile range is for a fairly slow (LA4?) cycle, and many folks who know about these things are saying 60-70 miles with much highway speeds -- though as you point out, we do not know the DOD design, and since we know there is no active battery cooling, they may just have a very stable battery cell, and they may be able to "push" it regularly. The polymer layering is similar to the batteries that Apple now uses in their MacBook Pro, and that battery life went from about 2.5 hours up to ~7 hours with no increase in physical size...

I didn't see the underside, but from pictures I have seen it is pretty good. The headlights protrude *up* a couple of inches, near the back -- and this is supposedly to create a "break" for the side mirrors. And the side mirrors look fairly small and well shaped, as these things go... (They shoulda' used video mirrors!)

I agree Bryan -- the Leaf is precisely aimed at the mainstream buyer, who wants an electric car, that doesn't look much different from any other car out there. It certainly ain't a golf cart!

Yes, they said they expect ~80% of the time they expect people to be using the Level 2 charger.

A Cd of 0.28 certainly sounds right. The wheels and wheel openings are the biggest culprits. There is a grill opening below the stagnant point. The weight is pretty high -- 3,400-3,500 pounds is just ~300-400 less than the Volt, which has a 1.4L ICE and the associated cooling, fuel system, etc.

I think the interior space in the Leaf is probably much better than the Volt -- the Volt has its battery in the tunnel remember, so the center spot in the back seat is useless. (Do they even call the Volt a 5 seater -- I think it is officially a 4 seat car.) The Leaf looked to be pretty roomy all around. It still had "fat" seats, which is something we need to get over "needing"...
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theycallmeebryan View Post
GM is probably bouncing off the walls right now trying to find a way to talk this car down.... in GM fashion, they will probably have a commercial with the LEAF creeping to a hault on a deserted highway and the volt driving on by....

GM will be kicking themselves in the butt when they realize how well the public will love the Nissan Leaf, and how the GM EV-1 could have captured that audience.
Actually, just replace Leaf with F150 and Tundra, and Volt with Silverado, and they've already done it. But with GMs new aggressive ad campaign who knows!

The EV-1 was loved. Thats why GMis so unpopular with electric cars lovers and greenies alike. Like I said, GM is going all-in with the Volt. They took away the EV-1, but 10 years later its bigger son is coming.

I'm not the worlds biggest Leaf fan, mainly because I've heard so little about it, but as the next electric production car, it gets my applause! Its interesting to me how Nissan can make the GTR and 370Z, two of the worlds best sports cars, then go and make this. Excellent automotive diversity!

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