In a very bold move Nissan Jidosha Kabushiki-gaisha has made history by unveiling their first zero emissions vehicle intended for mass production. In an attempt to skip the gas/electric hybrid craze and jump directly into plug in electric vehicles, it might appear that Carlos Gohsen is set on taking over the world like a James Bond villain with the long awaited lithium ion beattery technology. This past Sunday the Japanese automaker unveiled the Nissan Leaf, a five door electric vehicle with a 100+ Mile range at their home base in Yokohama. The Leaf features a sharp, upright V-shaped body with a pair of slanted LED headlights that were designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind, noise and drag.
Those top secret batteries that we were talking about are made up of laminated lithium ion cells that are capable of delivering over 90 kW of power and weigh only 440 pounds. The battery pack sends it stored energy to the Leaf’s front mounted electric drive motor that only outputs 80 of those kilowatts for a maximum output of 107 HP. The interesting thing about an electric motor is that they make their peak torque at 0 RPM, we know this sounds crazy, but unlike the internal combustion engine, the amount of energy an electric motor can do is based upon how it was made and it delivers that power at one constant amount. That is a healthy 208 lb-ft of torque. The instantaneous power should provide off the line acceleration comparable to the Infiniti G35 sports car .
Of course the question with any purely electric vehicle is how long will it take to charge? Nissan claims that the Leaf will take 8 hours for a full charge from a 200 V source; so a high capacity 220 V outlet is recommended, otherwise it will take twice as long for a full charge from a standard 110 V AC outlet. There is an impressive 50 kW AC fast-charge capability. This allows for an 80% charge of the lithium ion batteries meaning you can go up to 80 miles with only a 30 minute charge, or if you are really in a hurry, you can get an additional 31 miles after being plugged in for only 10 minutes. Although the hardware necessary is a little too expensive for in home use, leave that up to your local municipality. The disadvantage of having to run with all that electronic gear onboard is the excess weight, however because it can be mounted low in the chassis it should make for a decent handling package.
Press release after the jump.