Of all the global nations, the gas guzzling U.S has surprised the rest of world by embracing the concept of the electric car. And one car in particular has amassed half of all sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV), the Nissan LEAF.
Recent figures indicate that more than 60,000 have been sold in the U.S., with 135,000 worldwide, this amounts to a 45% share. The other sales are divided between Japan (44,000) and Europe (30,000).
So why has America, of all nations, taken to this car? They do not have the best reputation when it comes to cutting CO2 emissions. Toby Perry, Nissan’s director of Electric Vehicle Marketing, believes that word of mouth is responsible for increased worldwide sales:
“LEAF owners have become our most effective marketers. Their enthusiasm for their LEAF and its benefits drives family, friends and co-workers to consider and purchase one for themselves. This has a viral effect, where one LEAF sale in a neighborhood or office often triggers several additional sales,” he said.
There are also the cost benefits of owning a LEAF. For those who live in a congested city such as London, as the Nissan LEAF leaves no carbon emissions behind, LEAF drivers are exempt from the Congestion Charge and road tax. There’s also the low running costs and free parking across the country.
The Nissan LEAF has been described as the ‘New Face of Electric Vehicles’, as it has super acceleration, improved torque and speeds that match conventional petrol powered vehicles. These new BEV’s also tend to be quieter, with a lighter body, and have additional extras as standard, including sat nav, rear view cameras and climate control. There’s also no compromise with interior space, as the LEAF has just as much room as a typical family car.
Nissan have radically increased the onboard charger for their latest models, from a 3.3-kW maximum on 2011/2012 cars, to a 6.6-kW charger in models from 2013 onwards. This was a big bugbear with owners, as the lower charging unit limited the amount you could charge and the range that you could therefore drive. The new charger practically doubles the amount of range, meaning that a full charge now only takes four hours, as opposed to eight hours with the older models.
For those who are worried about the charging aspect of electric vehicles, most owners have their own Home Charging Unit (HCU) at home and charge the car battery overnight (when electricity is cheaper). You will pay to have the HCU installed, or you can lease a battery for around $80 a month. The in-car technology will tell you how much power you have, how much energy you need to reach your destination, and where the nearest charging stations are. The battery takes around four hours to recharge, or there is the option of a rapid charger which will fully charge the battery after just 30 minutes.
Amongst the other features of the Nissan LEAF are the futuristic protruding LED headlights, designed to be more aerodynamic and reduce air drag from the side mirrors. The car has a definite ultramodern feel, and comes in various colours.
Prices start from $28,900 S model (this is with the 3.3-kW charger). The higher Charger Package will add $1,300 to the price.