Nissan’s Leaf electric car purrs onto local roadsBy Ryan Noik 25 November 2013 | Categories: news
Fresh from the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) last month, Nissan’s LEAF electric vehicle (EV) is apparently also making in-roads if the reported public interest is anything to go by.
This is despite the fact that the one bump in the road on the EV’s journey to the market is its price – a hefty R446 000. This though, includes a 3-year or 100 000 km mechanical warranty and 3-year or 90 000 km service plan. Nonetheless, according to Nissan South Africa’s chief marketing manager for electric vehicles and new technology, Ross Garvie, the reaction of both the media and general public at JIMS was “overwhelmingly positive.”
He asserted that the South African public is ready to begin adopting this new form of mobility, something he pointed out was in line with other global markets where LEAF is already “extremely popular.”
Driven by details
The company explained that the fully electric drivetrain, which features a 24 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack linked to a front-mounted 80 kW electric motor, allows for smooth and silent driving. Additionally, the EV boasts a punchy 254 Nm of torque which kicks in the moment the throttle pedal is depressed.
A switchable eco driving mode is available as standard which reduces throttle sensitivity and mimics the driving characteristics of conventional vehicles. According to Nissan, this also encourages economical driving habits to maximise the batteries’ driving range.
As befitting its name, the vehicle appears to have been designed from top to bottom to be environmentally friendly. For example, an aerodynamically-sculpted body exhibits special features like LED headlights for efficient energy use at night, along with eco-friendly tyres with low rolling resistance and a noise-conscious design.
Furthermore, the LEAF sports a roof spoiler with integrated solar panel, which feeds the conventional 12-volt battery with solar power in order to minimise the impact of ancillary systems – like the high-quality audio system - on the main battery pack.
Charged with battery
Keeping the batteries topped up is also a simple, cost-effective and technologically-advanced process, with a fully-charged battery pack able to power the Nissan LEAF for a distance of up to 195 km. Every LEAF comes with a home charge unit which allows the vehicle to fully charge conveniently overnight from empty in eight hours directly via the main electricity supply.
Additionally, Nissan announced that drivers will be able to plug in to a quick charge unit located at one of the nine Nissan LEAF dealers in Gauteng which form part of phase one of Nissan LEAF roll-out in South Africa. Each dealer features a specialised Nissan LEAF quick charge station which enables an 80% charge from zero in just 30 minutes, a facility that is free of charge for Nissan LEAF owners. Cape Town and Durban-based EV dealers will follow in the forthcoming rollout phases in 2014.
Considering that the price of petrol still manage to pound the general users’ disposable income into the ground, and the fact that the strain on the environment doesn’t appear to be lessening, the LEAF’s time may just have arrived.
“We are the first manufacturer to retail an EV in South Africa and after meticulous planning and strategic pilot programmes involving Eskom, the Technology Innovation Agency and Department of Environmental Affairs, we believe the Nissan LEAF is reaching the eco-conscious South African consumer at the right time,” concluded Garvie.
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