1 Jun 2012
AUSTRALIA’S first mainstream five-seater electric vehicle is the Leaf by Nissan.
Created from the ground up as an EV, on an all-new platform that will underpin a bevy of future electrified Nissans, it is slightly larger than a conventional ‘C’ segment hatchback.
Powering the Leaf is a 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack consisting of 48 separate modules weighing about 300kg all up, located below the floor in the back seat area, and arranged in such a way as to maximise interior space as well as keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. The car in total tips the scales at 1521kg.
Using the European NEDC figures, maximum range is stated at 170km, although many factors including temperature, topography, driving style, in-car accessories in use, and vehicle load, will reduce that figure significantly.
Charging time from empty depends on whether the operator uses a standard ‘Level One’ 240-volt 10-amp household outlet (between eight and 12 hours) or a specially fitted ‘Level Two’ 15A device (around 6.5 hours). Each dedicated Leaf dealership features a ‘Level Three’ 400V fast charger that provides up to 80 per cent battery capacity in around 30 minutes.
Driving the front wheels is an electric motor delivering 80kW of power from 2730rpm to 9800rpm, and 280Nm of instantaneous torque (from zero to 2730rpm) – about the same as a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.
Beyond the drivetrain, the Leaf’s underpinnings are purely conventional – from the MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension designs to the vehicle speed-sensitive electric rack and pinion steering and ventilated front/solid rear disc brake systems.
Not only does the latter include ESC electronic stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution and BA Brake Assist, but also regenerative braking decelerating with or without pressing on the brakes turns the electric motor into an electric generator, siphoning otherwise wasted energy to the battery.
The electronic transmission shifter features an eco mode that shaves motor power and air-conditioning outputs a little to maximise range.
When it was new