Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the Nissan LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of 100 miles (U.S. LA4 cycle) on one full charge to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.
Enhancements for the 2012 model year include the addition of a standard battery heater, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, heated outside mirrors and rear HVAC duct on all models. Also, a Quick Charge Port is now standard on the LEAF SL.
The EPA has rated the Nissan LEAF as “best” in the mid-size vehicle class for fuel efficiency and “best” for the environment with a 99 miles-per-gallon (MPG) equivalency rating (combined city/highway), along with a rating of 106 MPG city and 92 MPG highway.
Nissan LEAF was also named “2011 World Car of the Year,” edging out the BMW 5-Series and the Audi A8 for the top spot. The award is just one of a string of accolades for the vehicle, which was also named “2011 European Car of the Year.”
Two Well-Equipped Models
The 2012 Nissan LEAF is offered in two well-equipped models, the LEAF SV and LEAF SL. Standard features include a 6-way manual driver’s seat, 4-way manual front passenger’s seat, front door map pockets, passenger seat map pockets, trip computer (instant and average energy consumption, driving time, outside temperature and autonomy range), Automatic Temperature Control (ATC), center console storage and electric parking brake.
Other standard equipment includes an AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback capability and 6 speakers, auxiliary input jack ad USB Connection Port for iPod® and other compatible devices, Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, power windows with driver’s window one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto locking feature, remote charge door release, two cupholders, two bottle holders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, 12-volt power outlet and remote keyless entry system with remote windows down and hatch release.
The Nissan LEAF SL model includes a photovoltaic solar panel spoiler, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, cargo cover, HomeLink® Universal Transceiver, RearView Monitor and Quick Charge Port.
A Roadside Assistance program is offered for 36 months at no charge, as is service for the CARWINGS telematics system. The advanced lithium-ion battery pack carries an industry-competitive warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.
The 2012 Nissan LEAF will cost $2,420 more but will have more standard features then previous model. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the 2012 Nissan LEAF is $35,200 for the SV trim level, and $37,250 for the SL trim level.
Including the $7,500 federal tax credit for which the 2012 Nissan LEAF will be fully eligible, the consumer’s after-tax net value of the vehicle will be $27,700.
Lease payment for the 2012 Nissan LEAF SV goes up $20 to $369 per month for 36 months, while SL lease goes up $30 to $409. Lease down payments rise to $2,599 from $1,995.
A Dedicated EV Platform, Innovative Battery Design
The front-wheel drive Nissan LEAF utilizes a dedicated EV platform with batteries housed in the floor for optimum vehicle packaging and weight distribution. The highly rigid body design includes a rigid-mounted battery frame, which helps provide greater body rigidity compared to a conventional compact car. LEAF rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a 175.0-inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height.
Dimensionally, the Nissan LEAF falls in between the Nissan Altima and Nissan Versa, and like those vehicles provides room for five adults and a good-sized cargo area. Placing the batteries in the floor of the vehicle provides optimum weight distribution to help enhance handling and allows for five-passenger seating by not intruding into the cabin space.
Nissan LEAF’s 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is comprised of 48 compact modules of four cells each, which allows a high degree of packaging flexibility. The batteries are designed to maximize drive time and minimize charging time. The battery was developed by the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture of Nissan and NEC. Unlike conventional cylindrical batteries, the thin, compact laminated cells offer more flexibility in design applications.
The battery powers a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor, rated at 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels through a single speed reducer. Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine, Nissan LEAF delivers 100% of its torque from start, delivering smooth, consistent acceleration and the driving feel similar to a conventional V6 engine.
Range is rated at 100 miles/charge based upon US EPA LA4 City cycle conducted in laboratory tests. (Battery capacity decreases with time and use; actual range will vary depending upon driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, temperature, and battery age.)
The Nissan LEAF offers a number of charging options. A charge port is located in the front body for the 200V charger and portable trickle charge cable (110V). The available Quick Charge Port (standard on SL) allows charging to 80% capacity in 30 minutes at public charging stations. There’s also a standard photovoltaic solar panel spoiler on SL models, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for car accessories.
The Nissan LEAF utilizes an independent strut suspension with stabilizer bar in front and a torsion beam rear suspension with integrated stabilizer bar. Responsive steering is provided by a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system. Braking is provided by power-assisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).
Nissan LEAF’s standard regenerative braking system helps increase range. By applying the brakes or reducing speed by letting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. To increase regenerative braking, there’s a driver-controlled Eco mode setting, which can also be used to reduce air conditioning and thus improve driving range when driving in urban areas.
Because Nissan LEAF does not have an internal combustion engine, Nissan has incorporated an “Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians” system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching. When driving at low speeds, the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle’s speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the “approaching sound” automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again.
Distinctive “EV Touch” Interior
The roomy Nissan LEAF interior offers a pleasingly modern design created to provide a unique “EV touch” with “simple and human flow.” The bright, welcoming atmosphere starts with the wide, high tech instrument panel design – which is dominated by a twin combination meter display in front of the driver and a center “floating” piano black C-stack with a 7-inch information display.
The digital “eyebrow” display at the top of the instrument panel provides high visibility for the Eco indicator and speedometer, while the lower liquid crystal meter display houses the power meter, battery temperature gauge, multi-function display, remaining energy gauge, capacity level gauge and distance to empty display.
The flat panel center C-stack cluster continues the “EV touch” feel with the color monitor for the standard navigation system, available RearView Monitor and control of the audio and climate systems.
The display also provides access to the CARWINGS telematics system, which is connected to a global data center, (subscription required, no charge for 36 months). Through CARWINGS, Nissan LEAF drivers are able to use mobile smart phones to turn on air conditioning and set charging functions remotely, even when the vehicle is powered down. The system also displays “reachable area,” as well as showing a selection of nearby charging stations. An on-board charging timer can also be programmed to start the charging event whenever desired.
The Nissan LEAF interior also includes comfortable heated front bucket seats and a 60/40 split folding heated rear seat and rear HVAC duct. The seat fabric is made with partially recycled materials. Recycled materials are also used for the back door trim, roof trim and headliner, carpeting and a number of other interior pieces such as the door panels and center console storage cover.
The center console area includes the palm shifter (inspired by a PC mouse) for the “by wire” drive selector. The 3-spoke heated steering wheel houses controls for the cruise control, audio system and standard Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System. XM® Satellite Radio (XM® subscription required, sold separately) is also standard, with HomeLink® Universal Transceiver standard on Nissan LEAF SL models. One interior color is offered, Light Gray.
Five Star Safety Rating
The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF has earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.
The Nissan LEAF has also been named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the first 100-percent electric vehicle to do so. The rating is given to vehicles that achieve the Institute’s highest rating of “Good” in front, rear and side impact protection as well as being equipped with electronic stability control and earn a good rating in roof strength.
Standard Nissan LEAF safety systems include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and occupant classification sensor, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection, 3-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver’s seat ELR only) with pretensioners and load limiters, child seat upper tether anchor, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system and child safety rear door locks. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are also standard on all LEAF models.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]