The 2011 Nissan LEAF™, the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car, ushers in a new era of mobility – the “no gas, no tailpipe” zero-emission era. Designed specifically for a lithium-ion battery-powered chassis, the Nissan LEAF is a medium-size hatchback that comfortably seats five adults and has a range of 100 miles (U.S. LA4 cycle) on one full charge to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.
The all-new Nissan LEAF is powered by 48 laminated compact lithium-ion battery modules and a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, providing a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience that is in keeping with what consumers have come to expect from traditional, gasoline-powered vehicles.
Unlike internal-combustion engine-equipped vehicles, LEAF’s powertrain has no tailpipe and thus no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases while being driven. The Nissan LEAF can be charged up to 80% of its full capacity in 30 minutes when equipped with a quick charge port and using a DC fast charger. Charging at home through a 220V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours. The advanced lithium-ion battery pack carries an industry-competitive warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.
“There’s little debate on the need to reduce vehicle emissions in the future. Nissan is taking an aggressive approach to establishing leadership in zero-emission vehicles, with the LEAF being our first effort,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division, Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA). “However, we’re not doing this solely to meet regulations or to wrap the Nissan brand in a green halo. We’re producing the Nissan LEAF because it makes good sense to Nissan and to our customers.”
“To reach a larger audience, beyond the early adopters and green-intenders, we must get the right product. Consumers do not want to compromise on space, driving enjoyment or technology features,” he added. “So, we’ve developed the Nissan LEAF to offer stimulating acceleration performance and a quiet, refined interior with the latest amenities and room for five adults while still carrying cargo – all in a vehicle that is totally electric, produces zero carbon emissions while driving and has 100 miles of range.”
Exterior Designed for “Smart Fluidity”
The new LEAF’s dedicated EV body is designed to offer “smart fluidity” – a fusion of sophisticated aerodynamic management and aerodynamic acoustics with the freedom provided by the new EV layout. The smooth, elegant movement of the body starts from the low, compact hood, moves through the iconic shoulder character line and on toward the large rear spoiler.
The distinctive exterior styling is characterized by sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, up-slanting LED headlights with a blue internal reflective appearance. The headlights split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, reducing wind noise and drag. The headlights also consume about 50 percent of the electricity of conventional halogen headlights. In the rear, the slim-type aerodynamic LED taillight design and crisp corners combine with the aerodynamic muffler-less rear bumper with rear diffuser to manage the aerodynamics of the rear end without compromising rear interior roominess. The coefficient of drag is just 0.29.
The exterior also utilizes a flat underbody (including a large front flat floor cover, motor area undercover, front undercover and rear diffuser with fins) to help manage airflow under the vehicle. An innovative vortex-shedding roof-mounted antenna is one of many design elements utilized to help reduce wind noise. Other noise reduction features include a quiet-operation windshield wiper motor, a sound insulation windshield design and a dual-isolated motor-mounting system.
“Because the operation of the Nissan LEAF powertrain itself is so quiet, the engineers paid extra attention to management of wind noise in the exterior design, since it would be more noticeable than with a traditional internal combustion vehicle,” explained Castignetti.
Nissan LEAF’s charging point is hidden under a small door located in the front of the vehicle. The 5-door hatchback design also features chrome door handles, aerodynamic outside mirrors and a large greenhouse to provide a bright interior environment. Attractive 5-spoke 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels mounted with P205/55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia tires are standard. Five exterior colors are available: Glacier Pearl, Blue Ocean, Brilliant Silver, Super Black and Cayenne Red.
Distinctive “EV Touch” Interior
The roomy Nissan LEAF interior offers a pleasingly modern design created to provide a unique “EV touch” with “simple and human flow.” The bright, welcoming atmosphere starts with the wide, high tech instrument panel design – which is dominated by a twin combination meter display in front of the driver and a center “floating” piano black C-stack with a 7-inch information display.
The digital “eyebrow” display at the top of the instrument panel provides high visibility for the Eco indicator and speedometer, while the lower liquid crystal meter display houses the power meter, battery temperature gauge, multi-function display, remaining energy gauge, capacity level gauge and distance to empty display.
The flat panel center C-stack cluster continues the “EV touch” feel with the color monitor for the standard navigation system, available RearView Monitor and control of the audio and climate systems. The display also provides access to the CARWINGS telematics system, which is connected to a global data center, (subscription required, no charge for 36 months). Through CARWINGS, Nissan LEAF drivers are able to use mobile phones to turn on air conditioning and set charging functions remotely, even when the vehicle is powered down. The system also displays “reachable area,” as well as showing a selection of nearby charging stations. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be programmed to recharge the batteries.
The Nissan LEAF interior also includes comfortable front bucket seats and a 60/40 split folding rear seat. The seat fabric is made with partially recycled materials. Recycled materials are also used for the back door trim, roof trim and headliner, carpeting and a number of other interior pieces such as the door panels and center console storage cover.
The center console area includes the palm shifter (inspired by a PC mouse) for the “by wire” drive selector. The 3-spoke steering wheel houses controls for the cruise control, audio system and standard Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System. XM® Satellite Radio (XM® subscription required, sold separately) is also standard, with HomeLink® Universal Transceiver standard on Nissan LEAF SL models. One interior color is offered, Light Gray.
Standard Nissan LEAF safety systems include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection, 3-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver’s seat ELR only) with pretensioners and load limiters, child seat upper tether anchor, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system and child safety rear door locks. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are also standard on all LEAF models.
A Dedicated EV Platform, Innovative Battery Design
The front-wheel drive Nissan LEAF utilizes an all-new dedicated EV platform with batteries housed in the floor for optimum vehicle packaging and weight distribution. The highly rigid body design includes a rigid-mounted battery frame, which helps provide greater body rigidity compared to a conventional compact car. LEAF rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a 175.0-inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height.
“Dimensionally, the Nissan LEAF falls in between our Nissan Altima and Nissan Versa, and like those vehicles provides room for five adults and a good-sized cargo area,” said Castignetti. “Placing the batteries in the floor of the vehicle provides optimum weight distribution to help enhance handling and allows for five passenger seating by not intruding into the cabin space.”
Nissan LEAF’s 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is comprised of 48 compact modules of four cells each, which allows a high degree of packaging flexibility. The batteries are designed to maximize drive time and minimize charging time. The new battery was developed by the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture of Nissan and NEC. Unlike conventional cylindrical batteries, the thin, compact laminated cells offer more flexibility in design applications.
The battery powers a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor, rated at 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels through a single speed reducer. Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine, Nissan LEAF delivers 100% of its torque from start, delivering smooth, consistent acceleration and the driving feel similar to a conventional V6 engine.
Range is rated at 100 miles/charge based upon US EPA LA4 City cycle conducted in laboratory tests. (Battery capacity decreases with time and use; actual range will vary depending upon driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, temperature, and battery age.)
The Nissan LEAF offers a number of charging options. A 220V charge port is located in the front body, along with a port for the portable trickle charge cable (110V). The available Quick Charge Port allows charging to 80% capacity in 30 minutes at public charging stations. There’s also an available photovoltaic solar panel spoiler, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for car accessories.
The Nissan LEAF utilizes an independent strut suspension with stabilizer bar in front and a torsion beam rear suspension with integrated stabilizer bar.
Responsive steering is provided by a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system. Braking is provided by power-assisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA).
“The new Nissan LEAF steers, brakes and handles like a ‘real’ car because except for the engine, fuel tank and exhaust, it essentially is one,” said Castignetti. “The Nissan LEAF does have an advantage in that braking force is used to re-power the battery, rather than wasting it like in a traditional vehicle.”
LEAF’s standard regenerative braking system helps increase range. By applying the brakes or reducing speed by letting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. To increase regenerative braking, there’s a driver-controlled Eco mode setting, which can also be used to reduce air conditioning and thus improve driving range when driving in urban areas.
Because LEAF does not have an internal combustion engine, Nissan has incorporated an “Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians” system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching. When driving at low speeds (below 16 mph), the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle’s speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the “approaching sound” automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again.
Two Well-Equipped Models
The 2011 Nissan LEAF is offered in two well-equipped models, the LEAF SV and LEAF SL. Standard features include a 6-way manual driver’s seat, 4-way manual front passenger’s seat, front door map pockets, passenger seat map pockets, trip computer (instant and average energy consumption, driving time, outside temperature and autonomy range), Automatic Temperature Control (ATC), center console storage and electric parking brake.
Other standard equipment includes an AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA CD-ROM playback capability and 6 speakers, auxiliary input jack ad USB Connection Port for iPod® and other compatible devices, Nissan Intelligent Key™ with Push Button Start, power windows with driver’s window one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto locking feature, remote charge door release, two cupholders, two bottle holders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, 12-volt power outlet and remote keyless entry system with remote windows down and hatch release.
The Nissan LEAF SL model includes a photovoltaic spoiler panel spoiler, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, cargo cover, HomeLink® Universal Transceiver and RearView Monitor.
Low Maintenance Costs, Graduated Distribution Rollout
A Roadside Assistance program is offered for 36 months at no charge, as is service for the CARWINGS telematics system. The advanced lithium-ion battery pack carries an industry-competitive warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.
In addition, LEAF is expected to offer a lower total cost of ownership than comparable internal combustion engine-equipped vehicles. With less complexity (due to no engine, transmission or exhaust system), maintenance costs are projected to be lower. In addition, the cost-per-mile of electric vehicles is projected to be 20 – 30% of the cost of fuel (based on 15,000 miles, $3/gallon fuel and $0.11 kWh for electricity for similarly sized vehicles, U.S. Energy Information Administration figures for cents per kWh).
The 2011 Nissan LEAF is scheduled to commence sales beginning in December 2010 in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Tennessee. The anticipated release date for Texas and Hawaii is January 2011, spring 2011 for North Carolina, Florida, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Georgia, then followed by the rest of the United States in late 2011.
Initial Nissan LEAF production is sourced from Oppama, Japan, with battery production at Zama, Japan. Construction is underway for new electric vehicle assembly and battery production facilities in Smyrna, Tennessee, with production slated to begin in 2012. The plants will have an eventual annual production capacity of 150,000 electric vehicles.
“The Nissan LEAF is the first of four 100% electric vehicles Nissan has announced, part of our worldwide commitment to becoming a leader in the effort to build a sustainable, low-carbon society,” said Castignetti. “We believe LEAF is an exceptionally exciting first step.”