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Nissan takes a Leaf out of the dodgem book

Leaf drivers set to get one-pedal driving with Nissan’s world-first e-Pedal

20 Jul 2017

NISSAN appears to have borrowed an idea from fun park dodgem cars with its new one-pedal throttle and brake system for its upcoming second-generation Leaf electric car that is due to be revealed in September.

Unlike conventional two-pedal cars with one “go” pedal (accelerator) and “stop” pedal (brake), the Leaf’s e-Pedal can do both jobs – press for go, ease off for coasting and lift off for brake. The system even acts as a hill-holder on slopes.

But just in case the driver is uncomfortable with such an arrangement, a press of button will select a conventional two-pedal mode.

Presumably, if the driver forgets which mode they are in, emergency autonomous braking (AEB) will save them and their car from disaster.

Nissan is claiming the e-Pedal as a world first, although most electrified cars, including the current Leaf, already use regenerative braking to help slow the vehicle while at the same time topping up the battery.

Under regenerative braking, the car’s electric motor becomes a generator, employing the motor’s magnets to generate electricity while providing resistance to forward movement.

Seemingly an advance on that system, e-Pedal has been included in the Leaf as a first step towards autonomous city driving, although cars from other brand, such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, can already safely operate in city traffic without pedal intervention by autonomously accelerating and braking in adaptive cruise mode.

Last month, Nissan said its new Leaf would get ProPilot autonomous technologies, mainly to support the driver in highway driving. Like the e-Pedal, ProPilot can be switched on an off.

In its latest teaser media release for the new Leaf, the Japanese company says the e-Pedal can cope with 90 per cent of driver’s needs, although it does not say why the other 10 per cent requires driver intervention.

“In heavy traffic and during city commutes, drivers will greatly reduce the need to shift from one pedal to the other, making your drive simpler and more engaging,” the company says.

“The e-Pedal technology represents another key milestone in Nissan’s ongoing commitment to bring accessible, advanced driver assistance technologies to the mainstream.”

Although the new Leaf is set to be revealed in September – firstly to motoring journalists in Japan and then to the public at the Frankfurt motor show a week or so later – it is not expected to hit Australian showrooms until 2019.

The pioneering current Leaf has been deleted from the current Nissan line-up, clearing the way for the all-new model that promises to be lighter, faster and have a much longer driving range.

While the original Leaf had a 24kWh battery pack, the new model is expected to get at least double that, taking its potential range from 110-170km to 300km and making it far more attractive to buyers.

It also will get more mainstream styling, taking on Nissan’s new Emotional Geometry family design language.

Although Nissan has sold 277,000 Leafs worldwide, making it the world’s best-selling full-electric vehicle, it has sold in small numbers in Australia where sales peaked at 188 in 2013.

Last year, Leaf sales were down to 47, while none have been sold this year.

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