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Nissan upgrades Leaf, drops price

2012-11-20 15:08

TOKYO, Japan — The upgraded Nissan Leaf electric car can travel further without recharging, comes in a cheaper model and tells drivers how much battery life is left.

The changes in the revamped model, shown on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at a Tokyo hotel, were based on feedback from owners whose chief worry was running out of electric juice while driving, Nissan officials said.

ADDRESSING CUSTOMER CONCERNS


Electric cars emit no pollution, but they need to be recharged. Owners have charging equipment installed at home, but the scarcity of recharging stations on the roads has limited electric vehicles use to short commutes and kept zero-emission cars confined to a market niche.

The new model can travel 228 kilometers on a single charge, up from 200 kilometers as long as you don't use air conditioning, due to improvements such as streamlining the battery system and the vehicle's lighter weight, according to Nissan.

It sells for less than the Rand equivalent of R275 000 in Japan when stripped of fancy options and adding government green subsidies — and more affordable than the cheapest previous model at R328 000.

Nissan did not detail overseas sales plans but said similar upgrades were in the works.

Nissan South Africa is expected to launch the Leaf in SA in 2013.

TOP EV

The Leaf is the world's most popular electric vehicle, comprising more than half of all electric car sales. Leaf global sales since late 2010 total 43 000 vehicles, about half of them in Japan.

Senior vice president Masaaki Nishizawa told reporters the Leaf does away with the hassles of going to fuel stations and allows drivers a cleaner conscience.

He said: "People who try out the Leaf are moved, but they are worried about cruise range."

When the Leaf first went on sale, recharging facilities were at 200 Nissan dealerships in Japan. That will grow to 1200 locations, by the end of 2012, including 500 extra dealers and other spots such as shopping centres.

Among other changes to the Leaf:

— Roomier luggage space after the recharging mechanism was made smaller and was moved to the front.

— A dashboard display that tells how much battery charge is left.

— A navigation system that calculates the best energy-saving route to your destination.

— A smaller, lighter recharging nozzle.

AP

Comments
  • Jeremy - 2012-11-20 15:23

    Useless vehicle - and a dead-end technologically. Takes up to 12 hours to charge and the battery costs a fortune to replace when it wears out, which it will quite quickly! Oh and bad luck, you can't use the aircon in summer SA if you want enough juice left to get home. Just as a matter of interest, with Eskom battling to meet existing demand, how is it going to manage if hundreds or thousands of Leaf owners have their cars plugged in every night? And what about the pollution incurred in making all those Leaf batteries? Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick to my petrol Merc until there's a genuine alternative - like maybe a hydrogen powered car....

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 19:55

      You mention the manufacturing of the batteries, but remember that the power to charge the car also needs to be generated. I'm all for electrical, or altenative drive cars, but it does not help if the polution just get moved from one place to the other. Rather look at Prof Rossi's E-CAT and get cold fusion and then go for electrical cars. Ther are a lot of LENR divices in the making at the moment, but get stalled by the oil barons and big money game players.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 19:55

      You mention the manufacturing of the batteries, but remember that the power to charge the car also needs to be generated. I'm all for electrical, or altenative drive cars, but it does not help if the polution just get moved from one place to the other. Rather look at Prof Rossi's E-CAT and get cold fusion and then go for electrical cars. Ther are a lot of LENR divices in the making at the moment, but get stalled by the oil barons and big money game players.

      ernst.j.joubert - 2012-11-20 20:59

      @Jeremy: "Useless vehicle - and a dead-end technologically." There is no other alternative at the moment Jeremy. If electric cars are not put on the marketplace, prices will never come down. You have to start somewhere, we dont have anymore time to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. Once the price of batteries go down, you can increase the range of these cars substantially. And as far as hydrogen cars are concerned: The technology is probably 60 years away from full comercialization and that is assuming that battery technology doesnt improve which it will. "Takes up to 12 hours to charge and the battery costs a fortune to replace when it wears out, which it will quite quickly!" That is if you use a 120 Volt electric outlet. We have 240 Volt outlets in SA. If you have a DC fast charger the battery can be replenished to 80% capacity within 30 minutes. "Just as a matter of interest, with Eskom battling to meet existing demand, how is it..." You are missing the point. Electricity is something that individuals can generate on their own vis solar energy. South Africans dont even use this resource. "And what about the pollution incurred in making all those Leaf batteries?" What about the pollution caused in the production of your petrol powered merc with all its fancy items? A typical red-herring used by people like you to perpetuate the misinformation regarding alternatives. Continued:

      ernst.j.joubert - 2012-11-20 20:59

      @Jeremy: "Useless vehicle - and a dead-end technologically." There is no other alternative at the moment Jeremy. If electric cars are not put on the marketplace, prices will never come down. You have to start somewhere, we dont have anymore time to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. Once the price of batteries go down, you can increase the range of these cars substantially. And as far as hydrogen cars are concerned: The technology is probably 60 years away from full comercialization and that is assuming that battery technology doesnt improve which it will. "Takes up to 12 hours to charge and the battery costs a fortune to replace when it wears out, which it will quite quickly!" That is if you use a 120 Volt electric outlet. We have 240 Volt outlets in SA. If you have a DC fast charger the battery can be replenished to 80% capacity within 30 minutes. "Just as a matter of interest, with Eskom battling to meet existing demand, how is it..." You are missing the point. Electricity is something that individuals can generate on their own vis solar energy. South Africans dont even use this resource. "And what about the pollution incurred in making all those Leaf batteries?" What about the pollution caused in the production of your petrol powered merc with all its fancy items? A typical red-herring used by people like you to perpetuate the misinformation regarding alternatives. Continued:

      ernst.j.joubert - 2012-11-20 21:09

      Continued: @Kobie: "...but remember that the power to charge the car also needs to be generated." This argument always comes up. You conveniently forget that: 1) Drilling for oil (causes pollution) 2) Transporting it to refinieries (causes pollution) 3) Refining oil into petrol and diesel (uses substantial amounts of electricity which causes pollution) 4) Storing petrol and diesel (causes pollution) 5) Transporting petrol and diesel to filling stations (causes pollution) 6) Burning it in your car (causes pollution) are all energy intensive processes. No matter what you say, when compared to petrol and diesel cars, electric cars are practically zero emissions. Conclusion: People dont like to be told that their choices in cars is damaging the environment more than others. As a defence mechanism, they bash alternatives, to make themselves feel better, by using misinformation and "flawed studies" to get their point across so that they dont have to take responsibility because they are lazy and fear change. They perpetuate this nonsense and so these myths get picked up by other individuals and are repeated and spread. So the cycle of disinformation continues.

      ernst.j.joubert - 2012-11-20 21:09

      Continued: @Kobie: "...but remember that the power to charge the car also needs to be generated." This argument always comes up. You conveniently forget that: 1) Drilling for oil (causes pollution) 2) Transporting it to refinieries (causes pollution) 3) Refining oil into petrol and diesel (uses substantial amounts of electricity which causes pollution) 4) Storing petrol and diesel (causes pollution) 5) Transporting petrol and diesel to filling stations (causes pollution) 6) Burning it in your car (causes pollution) are all energy intensive processes. No matter what you say, when compared to petrol and diesel cars, electric cars are practically zero emissions. Conclusion: People dont like to be told that their choices in cars is damaging the environment more than others. As a defence mechanism, they bash alternatives, to make themselves feel better, by using misinformation and "flawed studies" to get their point across so that they dont have to take responsibility because they are lazy and fear change. They perpetuate this nonsense and so these myths get picked up by other individuals and are repeated and spread. So the cycle of disinformation continues.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 22:27

      Ernest, you are right, but to generate electricity take mining of coal and the use of diesel, whatever sytem is used. In those points of yours coal count exactly the same, eccept in the car. If we had enought water or sub surface heat sourses we could use that as clean energy generation, and the electric car will be a perfect thing. The developement of better batteries are going at gaint leaps, so it is looking better every day. Solar and wind generation is not jet economical, but there are gaint steps in that field also. Solar is jumping to 34% effectiveness with a halving of production cost, but it is still in developement stage. Wind power was never a big success, except for the firms who installed the farms, and then abandoned it, taking the money they made with them. I'm well aware of the misinformation, but I must say, you should dig a bit deeper on that solar pannels and the real cost to gain you get. Let us give them another 5 years at the most, and then we can realy dream on that E-car. By that time, watch the improvements on electrical drives/motors go. I pick up that the super conductors are going slow at the moment, till someone get a brainwave to attack that again.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 22:27

      Ernest, you are right, but to generate electricity take mining of coal and the use of diesel, whatever sytem is used. In those points of yours coal count exactly the same, eccept in the car. If we had enought water or sub surface heat sourses we could use that as clean energy generation, and the electric car will be a perfect thing. The developement of better batteries are going at gaint leaps, so it is looking better every day. Solar and wind generation is not jet economical, but there are gaint steps in that field also. Solar is jumping to 34% effectiveness with a halving of production cost, but it is still in developement stage. Wind power was never a big success, except for the firms who installed the farms, and then abandoned it, taking the money they made with them. I'm well aware of the misinformation, but I must say, you should dig a bit deeper on that solar pannels and the real cost to gain you get. Let us give them another 5 years at the most, and then we can realy dream on that E-car. By that time, watch the improvements on electrical drives/motors go. I pick up that the super conductors are going slow at the moment, till someone get a brainwave to attack that again.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 22:41

      Ernest, just for demonstration what I'm talking about. Go to your nearest RC hobby shop, and compare a same "turn and class" brushed motor, with a NiCd or NiMh 7.2V battery pack, to a brushless motor, same "turn and class" with a 7,2V LiPo 2 cel pack. See the difference in effectiveness and just by feeling the heat generated, therefore, waste energy, try and compare the effectiveness of the new systems used. Also the time run on the same capacity battery pack of the diferent chem comp. And that is for toys, now, what will be the gain on cars in the near future.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 22:41

      Ernest, just for demonstration what I'm talking about. Go to your nearest RC hobby shop, and compare a same "turn and class" brushed motor, with a NiCd or NiMh 7.2V battery pack, to a brushless motor, same "turn and class" with a 7,2V LiPo 2 cel pack. See the difference in effectiveness and just by feeling the heat generated, therefore, waste energy, try and compare the effectiveness of the new systems used. Also the time run on the same capacity battery pack of the diferent chem comp. And that is for toys, now, what will be the gain on cars in the near future.

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 23:23

      I'm looking for that other link for you, but here is one interesting one. Take into account that silicon is the main cost in solar cells. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506901/all-carbon-solar-cells-will-mean-cheap-and-flexible-solar-panels/ Nother one: http://www.celsias.com/article/nanosolars-breakthrough-technology-solar-now-cheap/ Nother one, still looking for the 32% one. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/426792/concentrated-solar-startup-sets-a-new-efficiency-record/?p1=A1 Anyway, they develope a material that is spryed on that capture about all light that hit the pannel. It give the effect that the pannel is totaly black. Can't find the article now, but things are moving fast

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-11-20 23:23

      I'm looking for that other link for you, but here is one interesting one. Take into account that silicon is the main cost in solar cells. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/506901/all-carbon-solar-cells-will-mean-cheap-and-flexible-solar-panels/ Nother one: http://www.celsias.com/article/nanosolars-breakthrough-technology-solar-now-cheap/ Nother one, still looking for the 32% one. http://www.technologyreview.com/news/426792/concentrated-solar-startup-sets-a-new-efficiency-record/?p1=A1 Anyway, they develope a material that is spryed on that capture about all light that hit the pannel. It give the effect that the pannel is totaly black. Can't find the article now, but things are moving fast

      peter.tony.14 - 2012-11-21 07:23

      @ Jeremy. I had the same concerns BUT consider the following: Charging vehicles at night will be handled by Eskom with ease. They have huge excess capacity during off-peak periods. Remember they can't just turn off the generation so all that electricity just goes to waste. Imagine if all our cars were charged at night - Eskom would have the ability to pay off their investment quicker and it would make electricity cheaper! Secondly your Merc consumes about 8 times its own weight in oil just in production, never mind all the other pollution inducing processes. The LEAF is designed as a commuter vehicle. Most people don't travel more than 100 km's to work and if you do then this is not for you!

      peter.tony.14 - 2012-11-21 07:23

      @ Jeremy. I had the same concerns BUT consider the following: Charging vehicles at night will be handled by Eskom with ease. They have huge excess capacity during off-peak periods. Remember they can't just turn off the generation so all that electricity just goes to waste. Imagine if all our cars were charged at night - Eskom would have the ability to pay off their investment quicker and it would make electricity cheaper! Secondly your Merc consumes about 8 times its own weight in oil just in production, never mind all the other pollution inducing processes. The LEAF is designed as a commuter vehicle. Most people don't travel more than 100 km's to work and if you do then this is not for you!

      christiaan.barnard.359 - 2012-11-21 11:51

      Until we all examine our real needs we won't make a significant difference to the problem. One has to ask yourself what it is that you use your vehicle for the most. There is no point driving 10 k's to work and back in a Range Rover when a Prius could do the same job. It is a whole other kettle of fish if travel long distances and need all the creature comforts of a Range Rover, but my belief is the majority of people are driving a car that makes them feel good, especially in our country where more people have the means now to flash some cash. Looking at the Lexus Hybrid sales (locally)it doesn't seem as if the majority of drivers are very interested in saving the planet so without sugar coating the problem we might as well admit that especially a man's vehicle is an extension of his sexuality and given that, there will always be a huge market of M powered BMW's and AMG's.

      patrick.buckley.712 - 2012-11-21 13:39

      Jeremy, it's time to turn over a new LEAF!

      raath - 2012-11-28 09:41

      Hydrogen power? Do you know how much energy it takes to make hydrogen? It doesn't occur freely in the atmosphere like nitrogen now, does it?

      chris.stockwell.161 - 2012-11-29 10:13

      short sighted and narrow minded? your need to tell us you drive a merc says it all?

  • brak.jan - 2012-11-20 16:09

    The prices are getting better, but the range still needs lots of improvement. 228km is just not enough, especially for our market. People inland will take 3-4 days to reach the coast! Maybe if Peak Oil is reached (with its predicted R25-R30 p/L fuel prices) we will have to reconsider cars like the Leaf. Currently, efficient internal combustion cars are much more viable.

      raath - 2012-11-28 09:42

      An electric car is for commuting, not for long distance travel.

      chris.stockwell.161 - 2012-11-29 10:26

      OK, so leta look at a trip to the coast. I live on the East Rand and for me a trip to Durban (common destination for may Gautengers) would look like this - Leave home fully charged and drive to Harrismith. Hook up to charge whilst having breakfast in the Wimpy or other. 30 min later (now 80% charged so with a capacity to drive about 180 km) I depart and head for Mooi River where I stop for coffee and a pee and charge again. Then off to Durbs? I fail to see the problem. ALSO,,,,,, a 200 watt solar panel on the roof rack will extend the trip ability and take care of me should I find myself stranded? Admittedly it would take hours to get to even a 10% charge but Hey! I'n not stranded! This is the way to go. Leaf does not appeal to me but the NV200 van! now that's an option :-)

      brak.jan - 2013-01-22 09:56

      Chris, the Leaf will definitely not charge to 80% capacity on a regular single phase 16A power outlet. You will be stuck @ Harrismith for at least 8 hours. Solar panels usually comes in lower voltages (12/24/36/48) and a 200w panel will take days to put any decent charge in that car. What if it rains? What if it is even just cloudy? It is simple math: the car is powered by a very large electric motor (80kw!). If you drive for 5 hours, it will use 400kw/h. That energy will have to be replaced somehow. Tiny solar panels won't make a dent and regular power outlets will take hours.

  • sabelo.mzuku - 2012-11-20 22:57

    I doubt they (Nissan SA) will keep their word about bringing Leaves to South Africa...just a doubt.

  • brak.jan - 2012-11-21 09:12

    Even as a petrol head I must applaud companies such as Nissan and Toyota that builds cars like these. I also heard the statement from Eskom (during the development of the Joule) that they have capacity at night. If they can just improve the charging time and range a little. If it takes 12 hours to charge, you will have to plug your Leaf in as soon as you get home from work, in order for it to be ready the next morning. This is right in peak time for Eskom, when they do not have enough capacity. I also wonder how many South African households have +/- R300 000 to spend on a city runabout/commuter vehicle? Unfortunately 90% of our electricity is also generated by some of the largest coal fired power stations in the world. They will have to improve in order for these cars to become more than a ‘fashion’ statement.

      raath - 2012-11-28 09:46

      Remember that it takes 12 hours for a FULL charge - I doubt you commute 220km+ in a day. If your total commute is around 100km, then you can charge every second day, or do a short charge for a couple of kilometers more. There are also two types of charges - the slow proper charge which will last longer, and a quick charge which will give you just enough to get back home. Using petrol or diesel engines actually pollute more than the power stations would for supplying electricity to charge the electric vehicles. It is called economy of scale. My concern over the electric cars is the limited battery life-cycle - they must be replaced and disposed of. Then also the manufacturing processes and mining to get the raw materials to make the batteries. Once they make those sustainable and reduce their impact on the environment, then I will look at getting an EV.

  • phathuchicos - 2012-11-23 11:27

    Id rather wait for the tesla model s from united states...that one is a stunner, more like a battery powered jaguar xf that can bring shame to BMW M3 monster while capable of a range of more 400KM on single charge...enough of Japanese frog-like leaf, prius and electric hondas...who said EVs have to be ugly just like the one above.

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