Second Drive: 2011 Nissan Leaf – Some things you probably didn’t know
These days, Nissan‘s overall marketing strategy is called “Innovation for All,” and this applies not just to the company’s high-profile Leaf electric vehicle, but to things like the company’s direct injection gasoline engines, two-clutch, one-motor hybrid system and more. Still, nothing in the portfolio is as impressive as what’s in the Leaf, which was on hand for journalists this week in Nashville, TN. That’s where we got to learn a little more – okay, a lot more – about the world’s first mass-market EV.
First, a bit of history. Nissan has been considering using lithium-ion batteries in vehicles since they showed up in cell phones in the early 1990s. Nissan’s R&D in this field started in 1992 and, in the mid-1990′s, Nissan was already testing the Prairie and Altra EVs, followed by the Hyper Mini in 2000. About 100 of those drove around in the U.S. – one even appeared in the movie Sleepover. That car was a stepping stone, because with just 50 miles of range and a top speed of 50 miles per hour, it wasn’t ready for prime time. In 2003, Nissan had what Nissan’s director of product planning, Mark Perry, called a “battery breakthrough” with the shift from cylinders to prismatic cells. It was at this point that Nissan really got serious about EVs, showing off battery-powered concept vehicles like the Mixim and the EV-02.
This long development lead time means is helping Nissan beat its major OEM competitors to market with a pure EV. Still, the competition is right behind the Leaf. In fact, if all press releases and other announcements are to be believed (we know they can’t), we should see 30 plug-in vehicles on the market by 2015. That’s a big change from today and, while everyone has their own predictions for how long it will take for plug-in vehicle market to take home, it appears that the technology is here to stay. What’s it all about and how does it work in the Leaf? We answer those questions and more after the jump.
Gallery: Nissan Leaf
Photos copyright (C)2010 Sebastian Blanco / AOL