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Mike Stevens | Aug 6, 2009

NISSAN HAS REVEALED more details and video of its first foray into the electric vehicle market, the Nissan LEAF.

Due for launch in Japan next year, the LEAF will compete with the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Subaru's Plug-In Stella, but will bring greater affordability to the revolutionary electric vehicle market.

While the Stella weighs in at around AU $61,000 in Japan, and the i-MiEV at around AU$43,000, Nissan claims the LEAF will be priced to compete with a well-equipped petrol-powered vehicle in the small car segment.

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"Our car had to be the world's first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that's what we've created," Masato Inoue, Product Chief Designer, said.

"The styling will identify not only Nissan LEAF but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility."

Powered by a lithium-ion battery park - the power source of choice for most electric vehicles - the LEAF is expected to offer performance on par with most entry-level small cars.

The battery pack will provide an output of up to 90kW, with the electric motor generating 80kW and 280Nm of torque.

By comparison, the 1.6 litre petrol engine of the Hyundai Getz small car delivers 78kW and 144Nm of torque.

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The Nissan LEAF will achieve a driving range of around 160km per charge - perfect for urban driving, which Nissan says accounts for 70 percent of the world's driving.

A full charge will take around 8 hours, however, the LEAF will be able to regain up to 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.

The design of the LEAF's body contributes to the EV's efficiency, including split headlight lens covers that redirect airflow away from the door mirrors to cut wind noise and drag.

The LEAF also offers an in-car computer called EV-IT, connected to a global data centre. EV-IT provides 24 hour, seven day support and displays vital data such as a Maximum Range display and updates on the location and status of charging points.

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The United States and Europe will also see the LEAF launched in late 2010, while Australia buyers will need to wait until 2012.

Pricing for the Nissan LEAF will be revealed closer to its market debut.

Nissan Australia's Jeff Fisher told The Motor Report that the delay is due to the necessary infrastructure in Australian cities being some time away.

"We have begun infrastructure exploratory talks with the City of Sydney and with (NSW Premier) Nathan Rees on what a roll-out of infrastructure might look like,” Mr Fisher told The Motor Report.

“We are also talking to the City of Melbourne. This needs to move relatively quickly; 2012 is not that far away.

"Having the right infrastructure in place, as well as strong product offerings, will be a key confidence factor in winning consumers over to these vehicles,” he said.

Better Place Australia is due to begin construction of an electric vehicle network in Canberra in 2011, with services expected to begin in 2012.

The Renault-Nissan alliance announced a partnership this week between it and the Victorian State Government, focusing on a smooth introduction of zero-emissions vehicles into Victoria, and beyond.

 

Nissan LEAF Specifications

Length: 4445 mm / 175.0 in.

Width: 1770 mm / 69.7 in.

Height: 1550 mm / 61.0 in.

Wheelbase: 2700 mm / 106.3 in.

Driving range: 160km/100miles (US LA4 mode)

Max speed (km/h): over 140km/h (over 87 mph)

Max power (kW): 80kW

Max torque (Nm): 280Nm

Battery: laminated lithium-ion battery

Total capacity (kWh): 24

Power output (kW): over 90

Energy density (Wh/kg): 140

Power density (kW/kg): 2.5

Number of modules: 48

Charging times: quick charger DC 50kW (0 to 80%): less than 30 min; home-use AC200V charger: less than 8 hrs

Battery layout: Under seat & floor

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