Nissan is calling the just-unveiled Leaf the first “affordable” all-electric car. Expect the 100-mile-range EV to hit the U.S. in late 2010 when it will also go on sale in Japan and Europe. Nissan will start production in Japan. If demand is high enough, the automaker plans to build the Leaf in Smyrna, Tenn.
Nissan, of course, won’t say what affordable means except for “the company expects the car to be competitively priced in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle.” The Sentra is Nissan’s top-of-the-line C-segment car, and its highest trim starts at $19,660. The only all-electric vehicle with any kind of price tag from an established automaker is Mini’s E, which is still a test case with a lease payment of nearly $900 a month.
What about the technology? Nissan says the Leaf will have quick-charge ability that will allow its batteries to be refilled to 80% capacity in less than 30 minutes. That’s a major feat for the burgeoning segment. A full charge through a household 200-volt outlet will take eight hours.
The 100-mile range is equal to what the Mini E gets, and one tester has already complained about “range anxiety.” The electric motor is good for an equivalent of 107 hp or about the same power as a Hyundai Accent. It also has some radical looks that to us could clearly be considered a futuristic Nissan Versa.
There are many more photos below. Nissan is saying what you see here is not a concept or even a far-out prototype, but a very near production vehicle.