There’s a reason that Nissan is calling its new electric car “the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car.” The Nissan LEAF is priced at $32,780, minus a $7,500 federal tax credit and generous state-based incentives, such as California’s $5,000 rebate toward the purchase of zero-emissions vehicles. That puts the LEAF just above $20,000—right in the sweet spot of mainstream buyers.
The LEAF is an all-electric, compact-sized hatchback that seats five adults and has a range of about 100 miles—and a top speed of 90 miles per hour. Its V-shaped design features long, slanted LED headlights and rounded, downward curves in the back. The prominent protruding headlights are designed to split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag. The shape says high-tech and aerodynamic, but with a sharpness that the Toyota Prius never had.
Despite its designation as a compact car, seating and headroom accommodates passengers who are 6’4”, maybe even taller. The lithium-ion battery pack is tucked away under the cabin.
Like all of the upcoming electric cars, the Nissan LEAF comes standard with a system that connects to a global data center, to supply all kinds of info and entertainment to the dashboard—most critically maps showing the locations for nearby charging stations.
The initial rollout of the Nissan LEAF is limited to California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Tennessee. Nissan filled its first-year reservation list only a few weeks after registration opened in May 2010. So, unless you’ve already submitted the $99 deposit, don’t expect to take delivery on one until 2011. But don’t lose heart. Nissan not only plans to dramatically increase production of the Nissan LEAF, but it also plans to release three more electric cars in the next few years.
Web site: www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car
No. of passengers: 5
Battery size: 24 kWh
Range: 100 miles
Max. speed: 90 mph
Availability: December 2010