Nissan and Renault, its Alliance partner, aim to be the global leader in zero-emission mobility. On August 2, 2009, Nissan unveiled the Nissan LEAF, the world's first affordable, electric vehicle, which is slated to be launched first in Japan, the United States and Europe in late FY2010.
This issue of Inside Nissan focuses on the company's efforts and vision for the widespread use of electric vehicles (EV).
Part 1: Why Promote "Zero-Emission" Now?
Nissan has been investing in a wide range of environmentally-friendly "green" technologies including clean diesel, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. Nevertheless, zero-emission vehicles, such as the EV, will play a central role in its product strategy for the next several years. There are three factors behind this strategy:
(1) Environmental Issues
Global warming and climate change are at the center of global concern. There has been increasing demand for the auto industry to produce solutions to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Governments worldwide have introduced legal measures with stringent environmental targets for vehicle emission standards.
Starting in 2012, the European Commission will impose heavy fines on auto manufacturers, if the average emissions of new models exceed 130 gram per one kilometer (which equates to fuel consumption of approximately 18km/L). The amount of the fine will vary depending on the level of emissions. The U.S. Congress also proposed a bill to require auto manufacturers to set the average fuel economy for all vehicles at 35 miles per gallon (which is approximately 15km/L) by 2020.
(2) Post-Petroleum Society
We rely heavily on oil as a source of energy for transportation. In addition, the price of fuel produced from oil is extremely volatile and is generally expected to soar in the mid- and long-term. On July 11, 2008, oil prices hit an all-time high of 147.27 dollars a barrel. Political disputes have ensued over the stable supply of oil and energy self-reliance has become a major focus of concern. Now, governments and consumers are seeking solutions, so that we can break our dependence on oil.
(3) Technological Advances
Due to the recent advances made in battery technology, batteries that are more compact and powerful, with increased capacity, have been developed, compared to previous-generations. Nissan will use the new compact lithium-ion battery, which will be produced by a joint venture with the NEC group, for the new EV in 2010. In addition to batteries, Nissan also develops key components such as the motor and inverter in-house. Nissan is also a pioneer in ITS with telematics and navigation technologies.
Part 2: Nissan LEAF Electric Vehicle
-Nissan LEAF -
- Nissan LEAF interior -
The Nissan LEAF, which will be introduced in late FY2010, has a number of characteristics unique to the EV.
In contrast to traditional vehicles, the Nissan LEAF does not have an engine. As a result, it does not emit CO2 or exhaust gas.
(2) Driving range sufficient for daily driving
The Nissan LEAF delivers a driving range of more than 160km (100 miles) on one full charge (US LA4 mode). Some research indicates that over 80% of drivers worldwide drive less than 100 km a day. In Japan and the U.K., more than 80% of drivers drive less than 50 km a day.
(3) Charging method and time
It takes approximately eight hours to fully charge the battery through a 200V outlet (often used for home air-conditioners). If the vehicle is charged over night, the battery will be fully charged in the morning. A ten-minute charge with a quick charger will enable the vehicle to travel approximately 50 kilometers.
(4) 24-hour IT charging support
The Nissan LEAF's exclusive advanced IT system provides full-time, 24-hour support for drivers. This system encompasses four main functions:
- Maximum range display
With a simple touch of a button, the navigation map shows the maximum driving range under the current state of charge.
- Update on charging stations
The navigation system points out the latest information on available charging stations within the current driving range.
- Timer function
The timer function enables the air-conditioner or battery charging to begin at a specified time. The air-conditioner can be pre-set before driving begins. The battery charging can be set to start at a specified time at night to benefit from more favorable electricity rates.
- EV remote control and monitoring function
The driver can monitor the state-of-charge of the EV via an online website and a cellular phone. Additional remote control functions range from switching the charging system ON/OFF or setting the air-conditioner timer.
Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the Nissan LEAF is a five-door hatchback that comfortably seats five adults with body styling featuring improved aerodynamics. With the new compact lithium-ion batteries fitted under the floor, it ensures a comfortable space with ample rear seat legroom and headroom. As no engine or exhaust noise is produced, it is very quiet both inside and outside. With its powerful motor, the driver experiences brisk acceleration comparable to a 3-liter gasoline-powered vehicle.