Sunlight Solar President Paul forwarded me an e-mail a couple of weeks ago that Nissan was assembling a roadshow demonstration of the new all-electric vehicle the Nissan Leaf. The first Portland, Oregon stop was at Solarworld in Hillsboro last weekend. I called Sunlight Solar customer Rodney Hickman who lives in Hillsboro, works at Intel, and is registered to receive his Leaf next month. Rodney and I synced up our schedules to meet up at 10am at solarworld on Saturday November 6th. We showed up and got in line to register and drive an all-electric Nissan Leaf for the first time!
We all felt that Nissan was incredibly organized and professional in their presentation. There were about 30 people packed in to listen to Nissan representative Dylan talk about the engineering of the car and its charging station.
Dylan went on to explain that the Leaf has a 100-mile range per charge and there are several charging options. Every leaf comes standard with a 22 foot, 120 volt, 3-prong extension chord and plug that hooks into the same outlet you would use to plug in your toaster oven. This is called Level 1
charging (120 volts and 20 amps). It takes 20 hours for the Leaf to achieve full charge (100 miles) at Level 1. Fortunately you can partial charge the car at Level 1. For example, a 5-hour charge would get you 25 miles. Every Nissan Leaf also comes with the ability to charge at Level 2. (240 volts at 40 amps).
Level 2 charging is a standard already accepted by the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) which uses a connector called the J1772. This will enable you to charge at any existing Level 2 or “soon to be installed” Level 2 EV charging station and will decrease your 100-mile drive charge time to 6 hours. Since the installation of electric vehicle charging stations is subsidized by a federal tax credit, Nissan is able to pull information from a national database and your car’s navigation system is automatically updated when new charging stations come on-line.
The Leaf also has an on-line feature called “carwings” where you will be able to input your commute habits to calculate your available charge relative to where you drive in an average day. The on-line tool includes your workplace, grocery stores, gym, or wherever else you’d like to input as a daily stop.
Range anxiety is the fear that your electric vehicle will run out of juice in a remote place – far from a charging station. When your Leaf has 15 miles of remaining charge the car will warn you audibly and also start pulling up a map of the nearest charging stations.
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Rodney and I jumped over to electric avenue for the last stop in our experience, the test drive. I didn’t sit in the back seat so I can’t speak to that but the driver’s seat was very comfortable. There are only 3 positions on the shifter – drive, reverse, and park. There is an eco mode, which is supposed to extend your car’s range by 10 miles. Shifting from eco mode to regular and back feels a lot like shifting in or out of overdrive in a typical combustion driven vehicle. The leaf’s navigation display is futuristic, entertaining, and packed with functionality. We had a good time just playing with the large touch screen display. Turning on and off the climate control system gives you an estimation of the impact the climate system will have on the car’s range. The Nissan Leaf might not have a lot of horsepower with a 93 mph top speed but it certainly has a lot of torque. We were encouraged to step on the gas (ahem… I mean the accelerator), and the car responded immediately with what seemed close to Nissan’s statement of 0-60mph in 7 seconds.
Price – The release price on the Leaf is US $32,780 with a Federal tax credit of $7,500.
Thanks for reading and if you are interested in talking more EV’s, PHEV’s, charging stations, or one of my favorite topics – Solar, don’t hesitate to call.