One of the EV's star attractions, and a reason why the advanced models of today were not possible until now, is its battery. Storage cells preserve and deliver energy; usually the bigger and heavier they are, the more capacity they have. Creating small but high-capacity batteries has now allowed Nissan to extend EV driving ranges to fully practical levels - a major factor leading to the commercialization of the EV.
It's not only about range, though.
The Nissan Leaf is also equipped with special tools for utilizing this battery effectively. For example, there's a timer function controlled by a cellphone, so you can activate the air-conditioning before departure. In other words, the vehicle temperature setting can be adjusted in advance. And if you use your household electricity as your power source, then you don't even need to use the Leaf's battery and there's no impact at all on your driving range.
The air inside the car is also hermetically sealed so once you've warmed it up, it cools down more slowly. If you maintain the in-car temperature like this, then you don't consume additional power from the car for heating.
But despite its strengths, the battery still presents the EV's next challenge. Current batteries are not able to perform at adequate efficiency during very low temperature. At normal temperatures they can store and deliver electrical power very quickly, but when the temperature drops the internal resistance increases and slows down the electricity output. Essentially this means that the charging speed and the car's ability to accelerate deteriorates.
The Nissan Leaf is engineered, however, to always deliver the minimum power necessary for a working drive even at -30°C (-22°F). Say it was cold enough for snow to pile up in Tokyo, it would still be possible to drive just like in summer conditions.
Now the next big target is to realize that same constant drive performance for even the coldest climates.