published Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Nissan turns new Leaf over to test drivers


by Brittany Cofer
  • photo
    Staff photo by Matt Fields-Johnson/Chattanooga Times Free Press Nissan presents the electric Leaf car at the Tennessee Pavilion on Friday afternoon.

"Quiet" was the buzzword as Chattanoogans got a sneak peek at Nissan's first zero emissions, all-electric vehicle.

"It was very, very super quiet and easy to drive," said Heidi Chapin, of Chattanooga, who test drove the car Friday during a demonstration at the First Tennessee Pavilion.

"There wasn't anything that I noticed that was different than driving a normal car," she said.

About 100 people were there to see Nissan North America unveil its Leaf vehicle, which hits the market this year.

Chattanooga is among 11 cities in five states that will build and test charging stations for the car through a $99.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

"There's not a car right now in the mass-marketing form that is a pure electric vehicle," said Darryll Harrison, manager of corporate communications for Nissan. "You don't have to go to a gas station at all for this car, you just plug it in."

The five-door hatchback can seat five and reach speeds up to 90 mph. A lithium-ion battery pack will power the car for 100 miles when fully charged.

Testing will start this spring on solar-assisted charging stations for the vehicle, according to a Tennessee Valley Authority news release.

TVA, the Electric Power Research Institute and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will test prototypes for three to six months before building additional stations in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville over the next few years, the release states.

Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan, said final location decisions should be made within two months in the three cities.

Owners can plug the cars into 110-, 220- or 440-volt lines. Charging times range from 26 minutes to up to 16 hours, depending on the voltage.

Several of the people who tested the car Friday said they were impressed, but John Niemeyer, a Chickamauga, Ga., resident and member of the Chattanooga Engineers Club, said the driving range would be the top factor if he considered buying the car.

FAST FACTS

* 2,500: Number of charging stations expected in Tennessee

* 11: Cities that got grants for charging stations

* $7,500: Per-purchaser subsidy for Leaf buyers

"It kind of limits (your driving), because if you know it's a 100-mile range, you're not going to drive 100 miles," Mr. Niemeyer said. "So you'll have to be very careful about planning your trips."

Terry Nelson, of Soddy-Daisy, said he commutes 42 miles to work, so he wants to make sure each charge will actually deliver 100 miles.

Mr. Nelson drives a Honda Civic Hybrid now and likes hybrids.

"There's less upkeep. You have no oil changes in these cars and you won't have to buy fuel," he said. "So that's going to save a lot of money in maintenance and upkeep."

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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KWVeteran said...

If you can get 100 miles of driving on a charge in this vehicle in the summer time (most ideal time) you'll find that you will get 33 miles if the temperature is 15 degrees. If colder than that, the mileage continues to be drastically reduced. Of course, you'll want to be wearing your warmest clothing because there will be no heat. Summer time driving for a hundred miles is fine, too, if you like the fresh air blowing through the car.

January 16, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.
chuckwolber said...

The Nissan Leaf battery pack is unaffected by external temperature. NASA uses the same Lithium Ion technology in -176F (-80C) conditions. If you can go 100 miles in the summer, you will be able to go 100 miles in the winter.

As far as heating and cooling the passenger compartment goes, a 1000W space heater would easily keep the passenger compartment warm. The equivalent energy would cost about 4.2 miles of range for every hour you heat the car. A 5500 BTU air conditioner, which is about what you would need to cool a 100 square foot room in a house, would cost about a mile of range for every hour you cool the car.

(based on the advertised 24kWh battery pack)

January 17, 2010 at 5:39 p.m.
YagamiLight said...

Nissan Leaf is a very good car. I've tried it once.

May 19, 2011 at 12:41 a.m.
KennyRogers said...

Nissan's electric vehicles are really something. I heard so many good things about them. I wonder if its engines, suspension, brake hoses and lines are off good quality.

May 19, 2011 at 12:55 a.m.
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