Saturday, February 13, 2010
Nissan LEAF Tour visits New Jersey
Liberty State Science Center in Jersey City this morning to see Nissan LEAF. Nissan has dubbed it the Nissan LEAF Tour and they are stopping at various cities around the country to show off the car. I thought the car looked better in person and definitely was designed with aerodynamics as a primary concern. We got there at 9:15 am and nobody was there yet so I could really talk to the representatives. I voiced my concerns about the lack of an active thermal management system which is what I believe is the MINI-E's biggest flaw. It's acceptable in the MINI-E though because we know it's a test mule and not a polished and refined vehicle that will be offered for sale. The reps stressed that the Lithium Ion batteries that will be in the Leaf are superior to the ones in our MINI-E's and have tested well and will work better in cold weather. She also told me that Nissan has discussed this at great length and is prepared to install a thermal system if they see that there are problems with the cars. Anyone that had already bought a LEAF would have the system installed at no cost to them if they decided that it was necessary.
I do like the car a lot, but I am also concerned with size of the battery pack. It's only 24kwh. If you compare it to the MINI-E's 35kwh pack it looks underwhelming. The Leaf is lighter (by about 600lbs) and more aerodynamic though so that should help to bridge the gap in energy storage. Plus, it's been designed from the ground up as an EV, so perhaps it will come close to the MINI-E's true 100 mile per charge range. Nissan is claiming a 100 mile range, but remember the MINI-E was rated as having a 156 mile range and that's about as real as Santa Clause.
As much as I like the LEAF and want to support Nissan for having the guts to be the first major auto manufacturer to actually sell an EV, I think I'll stick with BMW and see where they are going with Project I. We have been told that the MINI-E trial lease participants will be offered another year extension, but we haven't been told what we have to pay if we want to keep the cars for another year. We have also read that BMW will transition some of the MINI-E participants into ActiveE leases in June 2011 which is when our second year lease will be over. Again, no promises and no word on what it will cost us. Even then, it's just a one year lease and we can't keep the cars. Hopefully, this possible three year lease odyssey will end with an offer to buy an ActiveE or Megacity or whatever BMW is going to call the EV they eventually sell. Leasing is OK for now, but in the end I want to own an EV. I give Nissan a lot of credit for bringing the LEAF to the market for sale. After checking out the car in person, I think they are going to make a lot of people that want to own an EV very happy.