Brief Thoughts on Nissan Leaf EV

So Nissan announced their EV for commuters – the LEAF EV. 100 miles (spec.) on electricity. So what makes this stand out over all the other EVs being offered or promised?

First, the most interesting thing I saw was the 50kW DC charger. This is incredibly useful from a commuter standpoint – if you’re on your way home from work and need to run some errands, if you plug it in for 10 minutes you get an extra 30 miles, which will probably get you anywhere you need to go in your city.

Next is the that the electric motor is capable of 80kW (106hp). That is low compared to the Volt’s electric motor is 111kW/150HP, and the LEAF is estimated to weigh about the same (3,300-3,500lbs) as the Volt – as the extra 8kWh of batteries are about the same weight of the Volt generator. I’ll be interested to see acceleration and highway performance of the LEAF once they start to do road tests.

Overall, I don’t think they’ll hit their 100 mile range target, even the current Mini-E owners are saying that their real world mileage is about 70 miles per charge despite promises of 100 mile range. Not that 70 miles is bad, but there might be the occasional time where something happens and you end up exceeding 70 miles in a day. This is why its imperative that the same working group that did the SAE J1772 connector start work on a high capacity off-board DC charger. Up to 50kW is probably enough, assuming the 20-30 miles per 10 minutes figure holds up. Not all batteries will be able to handle that (E-REVs and plug-in hybrids wont be able to charge that quick) but if they could dial it down to what they could accept (15kW, 6kW, etc) it would allow more “charge point” and “service station” type places to recharge your electric car.