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A 2012 Australian release is planned for the Nissan Leaf.

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22nd March, 2011

Nissan Australia has landed two full production Zero Emission battery-powered Leaf hatchbacks in Melbourne, the first to arrive in Australia.

These family-sized, five door passenger vehicles will undergo field tests in the hands of Nissan engineers, acquiring real world driving data, while a further 16 cars are soon to arrive to join the Victorian government’s five-year electric vehicle trial.

The two Ocean Blue examples offer a good indication of the regular Australian market vehicles that are expected to be available for sale here within a year.

The front-wheel drive Nissan Leaf will be, arguably, the first all-electric, five-seater, five-door vehicle to be offered for sale to private customers in Australia, as well as to businesses and fleets. It provides a real-world option for car buyers who require a spacious, comfortable and practical family car delivering zero tailpipe emissions on a daily basis.

The Nissan Leaf is the world’s first car to be powered by new generation lithium-ion batteries.

Nissan is planning to extend its Zero Emission technology to a wider array of vehicles, including a light commercial vehicle and additional personal mobility variants, as the Geneva Motor Show ESFLOW concept suggests.

Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn is on record as saying that pure electric drive cars will make up 10 per cent of global vehicle sales by 2020.

The Nissan Leaf is manufactured in Japan at present, but factories in the United States in Tennessee and Sunderland, UK will also manufacture the Leaf within two years. Batteries to power the car will be manufactured in Portugal, the UK and the USA, as well as in Japan.

The Nissan Leaf in brief

The Nissan Leaf is a five-door, five-seater with a full charge range of up to 170 km (EU standard), sufficient for the majority of daily commuters. Recharging takes place overnight, or in as little as 30 minutes at a special fast charge station to be installed later.

The Nissan Leaf is built on a dedicated zero emission electric car platform, and around 50,000 will be built this year.

Delivering a spacious interior is a long-for-the-class wheelbase of 2,700 mm within an overall length of 4,445 mm. At 1,770 mm wide and 1,550 mm high it is well within norms for the small car class which has become the largest selling market segment (23 per cent in 2010) in Australia in recent years.

The electric motor and inverter sit under the conventional bonnet, while a flip-up hatch on the nose in place of a traditional radiator cowl allows one of two recharging cables (regular or fast charge) to be plugged in.

The Nissan Leaf 80 kW AC synchronous motor is powered by a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery manufactured at the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) operation in Zama, Japan, a joint-venture of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and NEC Corporation.

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Both motor and inverter have been developed by Nissan.

Power is transferred to the front wheels through a single-speed reduction gear.

The motor delivers 280 Nm of torque, a similar output to that of a V6 petrol engine. Unlike a petrol or diesel engine, which has to build up torque, the Leaf motor delivers maximum torque instantly providing smooth, responsive acceleration. Top speed is around 140 km/h (where legal).

Clever weight distribution allows the chassis to minimise body roll when cornering and the ride is supple and comfortable.

“Our car had to be the world’s first practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day,” said Masato Inoue, Product Chief Designer at Nissan Motor Co.

“That’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only the Nissan Leaf but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility,” he said.

Final Australian pricing and equipment levels are not yet available, but the Nissan Leaf will come very well equipped. Among the novel features available in some markets is Internet/smart phone connectivity enabling a unique pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control.

Expected to feature in Australian market cars are Bluetooth connectivity; Intelligent-key with push button start; satellite navigation, Vehicle Dynamic Control (ESP), traction control and six airbags. The Leaf also has energy-efficient LED headlights. A rear-view monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights may be available as options.

Extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials, such as seat fabric, instrument panel materials, and front- and rear-bumper fascias marks the Nissan Leaf as being as sustainable as possible.


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