Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nissan LEAF Tour visits New Jersey


My wife and I stopped by the 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.

5 comments:

  1. Great post Tom!
    I too went to the Leaf Party out here in Santa Monica last month.
    I have some of the same concerns as you. I'll have to drive it.
    You are such a great example of want happens to people once they are bitten buy the EV bug. But I'm not sure why some try to limit their allegiance to just one manufacturer. The competition that is heating up between OEMs is putting the choice power back in the hands of consumers. So flaunt it! Jeff

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  2. Thanks Jeff. I'm not limiting myself to BMW products though. FOR NOW, I'm going to see what they have in store. Only because I'm afraid the Leaf might not have the range I need. If the Leaf proves it has a real world 100 mile range, I'll have to rethink my plans. However I expect it to have a true range of 70-80 miles based on the size of the pack and the weight of the car. Hey man, my dollars are up for grabs. Build me the EV I need and I'm buying it.

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  3. I'll buy one if it's around $30,000 and can go a minumun of 80 miles of real world driving. I don't think Nissan is going to sell them in all markets at first though.

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  4. Tom - Hi. Your blog is amazing. I live in Montclair, and have been waiting for a Better Place to bring their car here already. It is so frustrating living in NJ and seeing all the great stuff happening in HI, San Francisco, etc...and knowing we are 10 yrs behind the curve. Then I saw your blog, and that you are a fellow Joyzee-ite. Good for you!!! (and your blog is great). I am very interested in EV's -- can you help me get in touch with the mini-E folks, so I can lease one too?

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  5. Angie, Better Place is a great concept, but I'm afraid you'll grow old waiting for them to come to the US. The good news is that you will soon be able to purchase an EV here. Within the next 12 to 18 months you will have at least two options, the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt which is and extended range EV. The MINI-E program is closed, sorry. However there is a small possibility that I might be able to get you one. Stop by Nauna's sometime and ask for me and I'll tell you about it. Thanks for the compliments on the blog.

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