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Nissan LEAF electric family hatchback

Nissan has unveiled a very significant car – as it is due to be the UK’s first mainstream purpose-designed electric hatchback.

The company says the Nissan LEAF will be the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car. Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of more than 100 miles to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.

Due for launch in late 2010 in Japan, the United States, and Europe, Nissan says its LEAF ushers in a new era of mobility – the zero-emission era. The company says the car is the embodiment of Nissan’s radical, transformative vision for the future and the culmination of decades of investment and research.

“Nissan LEAF is a tremendous accomplishment – one in which all Nissan employees can take great pride,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn.  “We have been working tirelessly to make this day a reality – the unveiling of a real-world car that has zero – not simply reduced – emissions. It’s the first step in what is sure to be an exciting journey – for people all over the world, for Nissan and for the industry.”

Key characteristics of the LEAF include zero-emission power train and platform, affordable pricing, distinctive design, real-world range range,and connected mobility: advanced intelligent transportation (IT) system.

According to Nissan the “LEAF” is so named because just as leaves purify the air in nature, so the Nissan LEAF purifies mobility by taking emissions out of the driving experience.

Pricing details will be announced closer to start of sales in late 2010; however, the company expects the car to be competitively priced compared to a well-equipped C-segment vehicle.  The car is also expected to qualify for a range of significant local, regional and national tax breaks and incentives in markets around the world.

The Nissan LEAF is powered by laminated compact lithium-ion batteries, which generate power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW/280Nm.

Unlike internal-combustion engine vehicles, Nissan LEAF’s powertrain has no tail pipe, and thus no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. A combination of the car’s regenerative braking system and lithium-ion battery packs enables the car to deliver a driving range of more than 100 miles on one full charge.

Extensive consumer research demonstrates that this range satisfies the daily driving requirements of more than 70% of the world’s consumers who drive cars.

The car can be charged up to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. Charging at home through a 200V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours.

”Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only Nissan LEAF but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility,” said Masato INOUE, Product Chief Designer.

As well as using a completely new chassis and body layout, the LEAF employs an exclusive advanced IT system. Connected to a global data centre, the system can provide support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day.

The dash-mounted monitor displays Nissan LEAF’s remaining power – or “reachable area” – in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations.

Another state-of-the-art feature is the ability to use mobile phones to turn on air-conditioning and set charging functions – even when Nissan LEAF is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.

“The IT system is a critical advantage,” says Tooru ABE, Chief Product Specialist. “We wanted this vehicle to be a partner for the driver and an enhancement for the passengers.  We also wanted this vehicle to help create a zero-emission community, and these IT features will help make that possible.”

The Nissan LEAF is the first in the company’s forthcoming line of EVs and is a major milestone in the realisation of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s vision for zero-emission mobility. The first of Nissan’s EVs will be manufactured at Oppama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for Smyrna, Tennessee, USA.  Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries are being produced in Zama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for the USA, the UK and Portugal, and other sites for investment are under study around the world.