Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Nissan Leaf

Have you heard about the Nissan Leaf?

It a new, electric only car that is supposed to be affordable.

I saw one at the Denver Auto Show a few weeks ago and didn't think too much about it.  I noticed there was a new model, similar in style to other sub-compacts but didn't realize it was an all electric car until I read an article in Mother Earth News.

Then I heard a story about it on Minnesota Public Radio earlier this week.

In the early 1990's I worked for a lobbying organization.  I was privileged to prepare and present an opinion in Washington DC on the California Air Resources Board's goal that 10% of all new vehicles sold in California would be electric by 1998.

CARB's position was that electric vehicles would reduce average vehicle air emissions and therefore increase air quality in Los Angeles.  Having lived in LA since then, I would agree that anything that improves air quality should be considered.

The part that disappointed my idealistic mind was that much of Los Angeles' electricity was derived from a coal fired power plant near the Grand Canyon.  I did not find information about how the air quality in Arizona or the view across the Grand Canyon would be affected.  I did not find information about how batteries would be recycled or reused.  There was some information regarding how the infrastructure would need to change to support electric car charging.

Twenty years later, the conversation is different.  The conversation has expanded beyond the tail pipe.  Which I find remarkable.

The Nissan Leaf takes a full charge from a standard household outlet in eight hours or a "quick" charge to 80% in 30 minutes.  It is a lot longer than the few minutes it takes to fill up a tank of gas, but it has come along way.

The Leaf's is range is only 100 miles per full charge.  This car is not intended for travelling.  It is intended for running errands and going home every night.

Nissan is talking about offering the car for sale, but batteries for lease.  This is supposed to make the car more affordable and also ensure the batteries are properly recycled.

Certainly time will tell, but I am please to see how the conversation has changed.

As a side note, when parking for the Auto Show, I noticed spaces reserved for electric vehicles in the garage complete with outlets for charging.  I wish now, I had taken a photo.


Heather's Husband said...

Nissan abandoned the idea of leasing the battery pack months ago. But you can lease the entire car for $349/mo. Perhaps that's not a bad deal for some. I'll be purchasing my Leaf outright.

Kathryn Ray said...

That's a shame about the battery program. Hopefully they will still be recycled appropriately.