Yesterday, we told you about Forbes automotive writer Jerry Flint’s opinion that the Nissan Leaf will flop. Flint cited four reasons – range, price, infrastructure and recharge time – for believing that the electric Leaf “will get blown away in the marketplace.”
Today, we present Nissan’s viewpoint. The comments here aren’t a response to the Forbes article. They’re actually drawn from an interview we did with Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman in December (before the Forbes story was published). Some of the comments originally appeared as part of a piece we did on electric vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show.
Leaf Will Be A City Vehicle: “If someone is driving less than 100 miles per day on their normal commute, then we think this will be a great vehicle for them,” Brockman said. “It will be aimed more at city-type folks.”
Infrastructure Is On Its Way:” Brockman said Nissan is working hard with utilities in a number of markets, including Seattle, Portland, San Diego, and in the corridor between Phoenix and Tucson “to make sure the electric grid is ready.” He said that Nissan is also teaming with such companies as eTec to bring public charging stations to the above markets and to Tennessee. Finally, he noted that Nissan dealers will also help Leaf customers to install charging stations at their homes. In many cases, the dealers will suggest electricians who can install 220V lines and charging stations in customers’ garages. “The idea is that when people take the Leaf home, they can hit the ground running,” Brockman said.
Nissan Knows Batteries: Nissan believes that its experience with lithium-ion will help minimize costs and maximize performance. “We have 17 or 18 years of experience with lithium-ion batteries in vehicles,” Brockman said. “We’ve done some very unique things to make the heat management very effective and very cost effective. Our batteries are in a flat pack instead of a cylindrical shape. With that design, cooling is a lot more efficient, so you don’t have to worry so much about supplemental cooling.”
Solutions To The Range Issue: If Nissan and other EV manufacturers are successful in bringing 440V stations to public sites, they could enable EVs to go from near-depleted to 80% charged in about 25 minutes. “You could drive 90 to 100 miles and have a sandwich while your vehicles recharges in the parking lot,” Brockman said. “Then you could go another 70 to 80 miles before you’d have to charge it again.”
Cost Not A Big Problem: Nissan estimates that the Leaf’s costs will be in the $30,000 range. “We’re not going to overtake internal combustion vehicles in a short span, but we are offering a vehicle that allows people to go zero emission and do it in very economical way,” Brockman told us. “It’s not just for people to buy because they want to be green. We think it will make sense from a financial perspective.”