The Truth About Cars » Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com At This Price, Nissan Just May As Well Pay You For a New Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152793 I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby. Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan […]

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2011 Nissan LEAF

I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby.

Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan Leaf one of the least expensive new cars in America is fascinating.

Right now, Leaf buyers in Colorado can receive the following perks: a $7,500 federal rebate, around $5,000 back from the state of Colorado, and $5,000 from Nissan if you finance your purchase through them. (Georgia, West Virginia and Connecticut are pretty high as well.)

All told, that’s $17,500 back in Colorado on a car that starts at $29,860 ($850 destination included) and your price — before negotiations with the dealer — is $12,360, if your shirt is starched, teeth are white and you max out rebates.

I called up a local Nissan dealer to confirm the details and after a little bit of checking (and a lot of trying to sell me on a lease) she confirmed I could score a Nissan for severely cheap.

FYI: A Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,995.

The financing rebate ends at the end of August, and Colorado’s $6,000 incentive (which is the highest in the nation) can’t last forever.

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New Prius Will Be Shown Next Month in Las Vegas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/new-prius-will-shown-next-month-las-vegas/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145889 Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog). The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation […]

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2016 Toyota Prius Getting Gas At Vons

Toyota’s next-generation Prius, which will be the first use of the automaker’s new global platform, will be shown to media in Las Vegas next month, Bloomberg is reporting (via Autoblog).

The report doesn’t specify when the automaker would build the next-gen Prius, or why it chose southern Nevada in the summertime for its reveal (Tesla speculation starts now).

Sales of the Prius have declined since 2007 and 2008 when average gas prices in the U.S. hovered around $4 per gallon. Toyota hasn’t fully updated the Prius since 2009, with a mild refresh gracing the hybrid in 2011.

Bloomberg notes that the eco-friendly Prius may have lost sales to all-electric cars — Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and others — in the time it’s taken Toyota to update it.

The automaker began taking reservations in California last month for its hydrogen-powered Mirai.

According to our own Bark Maruth, we should expect glowing coverage of the Prius from reporters from carsaregoodandfun.net sometime next month.

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Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135890 A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday. The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles. […]

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2015 Volkswagen e-Golf 3

A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday.

The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles.

The Leaf has sold nearly 11,000 copies since the beginning of 2015.

The SE trim will have a smaller, 6.5-inch touchscreen, compared to the SEL’s 8-inch model. Additionally, the e-Golf SE will only have a 3.6 kW onboard charger as standard. A 7.2 kW DC fast charger will be available later in the year for the model.

The Leaf S has an available quick charge package that boosts capacity to 6.6 kW for $1,770.

The Golf SE should be arriving in dealerships later this month, Volkswagen said.

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Nissan May Be Considering NISMO Maxima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-considering-nismo-maxima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-may-considering-nismo-maxima/#comments Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113649 Nissan may consider building a NISMO variant of its Maxima sedan based on sales of its SR model, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. Initial sales of the Maxima have been relatively strong so far, and Nissan said it expects 20 percent to 25 percent of its sales to be of the sportier SR model. A performance version […]

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2016 Nissan Maxima (8 of 23)

Nissan may consider building a NISMO variant of its Maxima sedan based on sales of its SR model, The Detroit Bureau is reporting.

Initial sales of the Maxima have been relatively strong so far, and Nissan said it expects 20 percent to 25 percent of its sales to be of the sportier SR model.

A performance version of the Maxima would be welcome news considering the model was nearly killed off four years ago.

According to The Detroit Bureau, a NISMO version of the Maxima may get a horsepower bump — although it’s unclear where the boost would come from. The Maxima currently sports a 3.5-liter V6 and, short of pulling an engine out of thin air, it would likely stay that way.

In reality, the NISMO version may be a more aggressive handling and appearance package for the Maxima, which may help it realize its “four-door sports car” moniker our managing editor Mark Stevenson said it fell short of last month.

Nissan’s NISMO division, a former racing outfit turned into branding mechanism, may expand in coming years to capture enthusiast interest a la BMW’s M division and Mercedes’ AMG group. Currently, Nissan sells NISMO versions of its Juke, 370Z and GT-R — although who wouldn’t like to see the NISMO Leaf in dealerships?

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Sales of EVs, Hybrids Slumping After Gas Prices Dip http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105913 Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up. According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf […]

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Atlanta Police Nissan Leaf

Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up.

According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf — last month, and both models may end up down significantly for the sales year.

Hybrid carmakers such as Ford and Honda are also reporting slow sales for their cars. Ford reported that its hybrid sales were down 29 percent over the last five months, and Honda reported a 15-percent drop in June.

Industry analysts say the slowdown could be a result of the lowest gas prices in five years, and a adjustment of states’ EV incentives. Recently, the California Air Resources Board unveiled a tiered incentive program that would adjust rebates based on income. A study showed that more than one in four EV buyers in California earned more than $200,000 a year, but still received the full benefit during the second quarter of 2015. More than three-quarters of EV buyers made more than $99,000. Georgia will end its incentives.

None of this has slowed down automakers’ production of EVs, however.

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Used Tesla Values Could Be a Bubble Waiting to Burst http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104801 The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates. Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates.

Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all segments, including mid-size luxury cars. That includes BMW.

But the news may not be all good, all the time.

According to the most recent NADA study, Tesla’s Model S retains 57.2 percent of its original value after three years based on dealer trade-in values. That figure is tops among mid-size luxury sedans, including BMW’s 5-series, in a study conducted last year.

Also noted in the 2015 study, there is a significant cliff after three years when most EV manufacturers’ powertrain warranties expire, meaning there’s good chance that the Model S’s value plummets after that.

The 2014 study by NADA (which examined all segments – including EVs) was comprised of only the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — the only two cars that had been on the market for three years by the time the study was conducted. The Volt and Leaf retained 41.6 percent and 38.2 percent of their values respectively, due partly to price drops from their manufacturers and increasing competition in the segment. The 2015 study had worse news for Volts and Leafs on trade-in: those values dropped to 31.3 and 25.3 percent respectively.

As Tesla prepares to release their Model X, there’s no doubt quite a few Model S owners will be looking to replace their sedans. This could trigger a market saturated with Model S’s (or is it “Models S”?) at or nearing the end of their warranty lives — and it’ll likely have legitimate competition in the near future as well, further driving down retained values.

Tesla Model X Teaser

It’s no secret that Tesla has no significant cash flow, hasn’t turned a profit for more than one fiscal quarter in five years, and probably won’t have a cash-positive year until 2020.

That all could mean the bottom falling out for Tesla Model S values soon. Or not.

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Nissan Taking On Tesla Powerwall With Recycling Approach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-taking-on-tesla-powerwall-with-recycling-approach/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1092769 Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach. Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will […]

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2015 Nissan LEAF battery pack

Nissan is looking to take on Tesla et al in the stationary energy storage game with their own battery solution. However, unlike the Silicon Valley based electric car manufacturer and ZEV credit printing press, the Japanese automaker is looking to take a much greener approach.

Instead of building fresh batteries for commercial stationary applications, Nissan will instead reuse lithium-ion batteries from the LEAF with partner Green Charge Networks.

The first application “will be installed at a Nissan facility this summer, where multiple Nissan LEAF batteries will be configured to offset peak electricity demand,” said Nissan in a statement released today.

Since the batteries can be offered at a significant savings over newer counterparts from competitors, Nissan hopes customers in regions without incentive programs will see them as a cost-effective option.

“A lithium-ion battery from a Nissan LEAF still holds a great deal of value as energy storage, even after it is removed from the vehicle, so Nissan expects to be able to reuse a majority of LEAF battery packs in non-automotive applications,” said Brad Smith, director of Nissan’s 4R Energy business.

 

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Nissan Leaf Sales Expected To Fall Steeply This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-leaf-sales-expected-to-fall-steeply-this-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/nissan-leaf-sales-expected-to-fall-steeply-this-summer/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 18:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087705 Like the leaves in autumn, sales of the Nissan Leaf are falling amid a flurry of changes coming to the EV this summer. Nissan expects to see sales of its EV to steeply drop off in July, when the Georgia’s $5,000 tax credit rides off into the sunset, Automotive News reports. There’s also an oncoming […]

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Nissan Leaf

Like the leaves in autumn, sales of the Nissan Leaf are falling amid a flurry of changes coming to the EV this summer.

Nissan expects to see sales of its EV to steeply drop off in July, when the Georgia’s $5,000 tax credit rides off into the sunset, Automotive News reports. There’s also an oncoming wave of Leafs whose leases are ending, bringing diminished resale values with it. The automaker is fighting back with a $5,000 credit toward buying the cars when said leases expire, though Nissan senior vice president for U.S. sales Fred Diaz says he doesn’t expect the program “to completely turn things around.”

Another issue affecting sales is the ongoing low fuel prices at the pump: at a national average of $2.750 per AAA — around a dollar below what it was at this time in 2014 — consumers are turning towards trucks and SUVs, leaving more efficient offerings like the Leaf and Toyota Prius on the table. While sales of the EV are down 26 percent during the first five months of this year, Nissan’s truck sales rose 17 percent over the same period.

Though Diaz acknowledges fuel prices are hurting Leaf sales, he says they won’t compare to the end of Georgia’s tax credit, which has helped make the EV a huge hit for Nissan in the state. Diaz also admits he nor his company have an idea as to how severe said decline would be once it began.

Despite falling sales, however, Nissan plans to mine for sales gold elsewhere, such as with its “No Charge to Charge” program introduced in Denver in June. The program allows new Leaf owners to charge their cars for free at public fast-charge stations during the first two years of ownership, as is already in place in 16 markets thus far.

There’s also word the automaker will increase the range of the Leaf from 84 miles to 105 miles with a new battery pack for the 2016 model. Said model is due in showrooms around the end of summer or the start of fall.

[Photo credit: Nissan]

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2016 Nissan Leaf Expected To Receive Larger Battery, Small Range Boost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-leaf-expected-to-receive-larger-battery-small-range-boost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-nissan-leaf-expected-to-receive-larger-battery-small-range-boost/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1081489 Consumers looking for a new Nissan Leaf may soon have the option for a better battery with improved range on certain trims. Right now, the best anyone can do is the 24-kWh battery good for 84 miles of travel on a single charge, Inside EVs reports. However, the 2016 model may see a 30-kWh battery […]

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2015 Nissan LEAF

Consumers looking for a new Nissan Leaf may soon have the option for a better battery with improved range on certain trims.

Right now, the best anyone can do is the 24-kWh battery good for 84 miles of travel on a single charge, Inside EVs reports. However, the 2016 model may see a 30-kWh battery delivering power to the SV and SL trims; the base S would keep the 24-kWh pack. The publication estimates range would come between 105 and 110 miles per charge.

The pack is likely a stopgap measure for Nissan as it prepares the second-gen Leaf for its showroom debut in Q2 2017, though the automaker remains silent on the subject thus far. The new EV is expected to deliver a range of 180-200 miles, while its styling will be more conventional than its current eco-trendy looks.

Price of admission for the 2016 model is expected to remain the same as now, beginning at over $29,000 for the S trim. Three new colors will also be available — Forged Bronze, Coulis Red, Deep Blue Pearl — while Morningsky Blue and Cayenne Red are dropped from the palette.

[Photo credit: Nissan]

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Second-Gen Nissan Leaf Announcements Coming This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/second-gen-nissan-leaf-announcements-coming-summer/#comments Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1003642 Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer? Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity […]

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2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Wanting to know if the Nissan Leaf will look more conventional in its second iteration? Power and range more your concern? Can you wait until this summer?

Autoblog reports news of the next-gen Leaf will likely come this summer, despite recent announcements from Chevrolet and Tesla regarding their own respective low-cost electric offerings piquing curiosity regarding Nissan’s EV.

The only statement to come thus far? Per Nissan North America corporate communications chief Brian Brockman during the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, “things are in the works.” He adds that the silent treatment until the weather warms up is out of concern for the potential of cannibalized pure EV sales, an issue no other automaker has to worry about.

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Nissan Looking Beyond Federal Credits For Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989562 Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV. According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit […]

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2013-nissan-leaf-7-1

Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV.

According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit harms EV adoption:

Being the first ones on the market, we should be among the first ones to reach 200,000, and you penalize those who’ve tried to be first?

That said, even when the $7,500 credit goes away, Nissan has plans to make the Leaf more attractive, from increasing the range to reducing the cost of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Loing admits that the latter’s cost issue hasn’t improved quickly enough, and worries that falling oil prices aren’t going to help much either.

He was pleased with how well the Leaf fared in 2014, however; 30,200 units left U.S. showrooms that year, an all-time record for Nissan.

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Dongfeng Nissan Launches Leaf-Based Venucia e30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912650 After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30. Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” […]

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After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30.

Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” miles in so doing. Six more cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Tianjin and Hangzhou — join the original three locations as part of the initial launch before sales go nationwide next year.

As for what consumers will get out of the reworked original EV for the masses, the e30 is expected to deliver up to 35 miles in range after using the quick-charge option, with normal charging also available. In addition, the EV comes with government subsidies, as well as lower running costs of 85 percent compared to similar gasoline models.

Though it remains to be seen how well the e30 hits it off with the Chinese public, the Leaf is doing well for itself as of late, with Nissan selling 3,186 units in the United States last month, and year-to-year U.S. sales jumping 34 percent to 18,841 units.

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Nissan Loses Money On Every Leaf Replacement Battery Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873026 In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold. Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained […]

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2011_Nissan_Leaf_SL_--_10-28-2011

In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold.

Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained that the low price for the new pack was the result of his employer subsidizing the price, though he declined to state how much Nissan spends per replacement. Thus, no profit is being made at this time off of the exchange.

However, Nissan isn’t yet hurting on this “customer-first” initiative. According to Kuhlman, no one has taken the automaker up on its Leaf battery replacement program.

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Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858009 Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013. Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that […]

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Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

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Nissan UK: Leaf Dominated EV Sales In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-uk-leaf-dominated-ev-sales-in-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-uk-leaf-dominated-ev-sales-in-2013/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=847961 Though consumers in the United Kingdom may not have been too interested in electric vehicles last year, Nissan says the majority of those sold belong to the automaker. Just-Auto reports out of the 2,507 EVs sold in the U.K. in 2013, 73 percent — 1,830 — belonged to the Nissan Leaf. The automaker added that […]

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2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Though consumers in the United Kingdom may not have been too interested in electric vehicles last year, Nissan says the majority of those sold belong to the automaker.

Just-Auto reports out of the 2,507 EVs sold in the U.K. in 2013, 73 percent — 1,830 — belonged to the Nissan Leaf. The automaker added that the nation’s EV market continues to be “well-supported” by incentives and breaks on taxes and congestion pricing.

Meanwhile, charging the Leafs continues to be made easier thanks to expansion of the charging network. In 2011, only 752 units were available along the roadway; today, 5,731 thus far. Fast-charging Chademo stations also are on the rise, beginning with 60 in 2013 and growing to 232 currently. Nissan expects 500 of the fast-charging stations to be available all over the country by 2015, with 90 percent of all service areas in possession of a Chademo.

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Review: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-chevrolet-spark-ev-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-chevrolet-spark-ev-with-video/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=705962 Outside North America, this little blue pill of an A-segment car is known as the Daewoo Matiz Creative. It may look an obsolete computer peripheral (or a pregnant roller skate), but GM claims that the Chevrolet Spark has more torque than a Ferrari 458 Italia. As a self-described technology lover, and card-carrying resident of the […]

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior

Outside North America, this little blue pill of an A-segment car is known as the Daewoo Matiz Creative. It may look an obsolete computer peripheral (or a pregnant roller skate), but GM claims that the Chevrolet Spark has more torque than a Ferrari 458 Italia. As a self-described technology lover, and card-carrying resident of the Left Coast, I had to check it out.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Spark EV starts its life in Changwon, South Korea where gasoline and electric sparks are built by GM Korea, which was once known as Daewoo. But the heart of the Spark comes from America. GM is building the permanent magnet motors in Maryland, and instead of LG batteries made in Korea (like the Volt) GM is using American-made batteries courtesy of B456 (formerly A123. I’m not making this up). For reasons we don’t understand, GM isn’t “doing a CODA” and shipping cars sans-drivetran to America for assembly. The plant in Maryland ships the batteries and drivetrain to Korea, GM Korea inserts it in the car and ships the completed unit back to the USA.

The Spark EV exists because of my home state of California. The California Air Resources Board has mandated that Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, GM and Chrysler make a total of 7,500 zero emissions vehicles available for sale by 2014 and 25,000 by 2017. By 2025, this number is expected to rise tenfold.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-006

Exterior

Overall length slots the Chevy between the two-door Fiat 500e and the four-door Honda Fit EV but the small Chevy is narrower than both by a decent amount. Like the Fiat and other small cars, there’s something “cartoonish” about the Spark that is endearing. It’s all about proportions. The headlamps, tail lamps and grille are all fairly standard in size, but they are large in relation to the overall vehicle. The Spark isn’t alone in this, the same thing can be said of the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and Fiat 500L.

Because small cars tend to value practicality in design, the Spark has a tall roofline and the wheels have been pushed as close to the four corners as possible. This mechanical necessity pays dividends in handling and interior space but causes the Spark to look unusually tall when viewed head-on.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-005

Interior

As with the gasoline version, the front seats are flat, firmly padded and offer little lumbar support. The hard plastics on the doors make for an uncomfortable place to rest your elbow, but there is a padded armrest in the center for the driver only. This isn’t unusual for compact cars, but electrification makes for strange bedfellows and the Leaf, Focus EV and Fiat 500e are direct competition that all offer more driver and passenger comfort.

Because of the Spark’s narrow width, the Chevy is a strict four-seater putting it on par with the 500e but one passenger behind the Fit, Leaf and Focus. It was surprisingly easy to put four tall adults in the Spark, a task that is more difficult in the considerably larger Focus because of its sloping roof-line. Still, passengers will be more comfortable in the Honda Fit which offers a bit more room for four, seating for five and more headroom all the way around. Despite the Leaf’s rear seat numbers being average, because of the way the seating position in the Leaf most people will find the Nissan roomier.

As with most gas to EV conversions, the Spark loses a bit of cargo volume in the process dropping 2 cubes to 9.6 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s slightly larger than the 500e, but a long way from the Leaf’s spacious 24 cubic foot booty. Unlike the Fiat 500e however, GM chose not sacrifice passenger footwell space for battery storage.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV MyLink-001

Infotainment

All Spark EVs get the same touchscreen head unit that is optional in the gasoline car. The system’s layout is simple, attractive and intuitive. Along the bottom of the screen sits a row of touch buttons for power, volume and a home button. After a week with Chevy’s entry-level system I was left wondering why every GM car can’t have this software. The system isn’t the height of modernity compared to uConnect or SYNC. It does not offer integrated voice commands, integrated navigation software or snazzy animations. This system’s claim to fame is in its simplicity and its integration with your smartphone.

Once you have an Android or iPhone paired with MyLink you can voice command your phone, your tunes, and anything on your device with the voice command button on the steering wheel. This means the mobile services provided my MyLink are limited to the app selection on your device. GM has taken another step that other manufacturers would do well to copy: integrated smartphone navigation. For $5 you can download the BringGo navigation app to your smartphone and the MyLink system will use the app as the processing engine and the car’s display as the user interface. This gives you a large, bright map with controls that look like a standard integrated navigation system coupled with the ability to pre-program addresses using the app before you get into the car.

In the Spark EV the MyLink system also handles vehicle charging control. You can choose to charge immediately, at a specific time, or you can program your electrical rates into the system and have the car charge when it is most economical. We of course get the typical power flow meter which is getting a little silly in the 21st century and a display that shows what percentage of your battery was used for driving, cabin heating/cooling and battery conditioning. Driving your Spark, or any EV, in a “polar vortex” will reduce battery life due to both cabin heating and battery heating.
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Drivetrain

Drivetrain

As with most EVs on the road power is delivered by a 3-phase AC motor connected to a fixed-speed reduction gear. EV’s don’t have a transmission in the traditional sense in order to reduce weight. If you want to go in reverse you spin the motor backwards and if you need neutral you simply disconnect the motor from the electrical path. Power output is rated at 140 horsepower and torque comes in at a whopping 400 lb-ft. (Most EV makers choose to electronically limit torque to reduce torque steer and improve battery life.)

Power is supplied by a 560lb, 21.3 kWh lithium battery pack located where the gas tank is in the gasoline Spark. As with the Chevy Volt, GM is taking the cautious path to battery preservation equipping the pack with an active heating and cooling system. That’s a stark contrast to the Nissan Leaf which uses a passive cooling system. Thanks to the lightest curb weight in the group (2,989lbs), the Spark scores 82 miles of EPA range and the highest efficiency rating of any EV to date. Depending on the weight of my right foot, my real world range varied from 70-100 miles.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Charging Port

For any battery, heat is the enemy. Especially when charging or discharging rapidly or when charging in hot desert climates. As a result I would anticipate that all things being equal, the Spark, 500e and Focus should suffer less capacity loss and battery degradation over time than the passively cooled Nissan Leaf.

The big news for 2014 is the world’s first implementation of the new SAE DC fast charging connector. I’m a bit torn on this twist in EV development. While I agree that the DC “combo connector” is more logical and compact than the competing CHAdeMO connector found on the Nissan Leaf and most EVs in Japan, there are already several hundred CHAdeMO stations in the USA and right now there is one SAE station. I’m told there is unlikely to be an adapter so this makes three charging standards on offer in the USA. One for Nissan and Mitsubishi, one for Tesla and one for GM and BMW (the i3 will use it as well.)

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Wheels

Drive

The biggest thing people forget about an EV isn’t charging related, it’s heat related. When you want to heat the cabin in a gasoline car you are using “waste” energy to do it. If you didn’t have the heater on, that heat would just end up dissipating via the engine’s radiator. Electric cars produce little heat when running and rely on resistive heating elements to heat the cabin and an electric air conditioning to cool the cabin. Heat pumps would be more efficient because they “move” heat rather than “creating” heat but so far the Nissan Leaf (SV and higher) are the only production cars to adopt this tech. In 50 degree weather on a 60 mile journey nearly 15% of the energy consumed went into heating the Spark’s cabin, while on my way home when it was 80 degrees only 8% of the energy was used to cool the cabin.

Thanks to a better weight balance vs the gasoline model and staggered tires, 185/55 front 195/55 rear, the Spark handles surprisingly well. Many have posited that this is simply a band-aid measure due to the weight shift in the car but all sources point to the Spark EV still being heavier in the front. This means the tire selection was likely done for handling reasons, which makes sense because the Spark beats the 500e in fun-to-corner metrics. The extra weight has also improved the ride in the small hatchback which, although still choppy on the freeway like many small hatches, it much smoother in EV trim. Steering is numb but accurate, a common complaint with EVs.

With 140 horsepower and 400lb0ft of twist routed through the front wheels, the Spark is probably the 2014 torque steer king. Is that bad? Not in my book. I found the effect amusing and perhaps even a challenge to control on winding mountain roads. The competition limits their torque output to reduce torque steer but in doing so they reduce the fun-factor as well as performance, something that really shows in the Spark’s 7.08 second run to 60, notably faster than the competition.

When it is time to stop the Spark comes up short. Stopping distances and fade aren’t the issue, it’s feel. The brake pedal is softer than average and the transition between regenerative and friction braking is probably the poorest, excluding the current generation Honda Civic Hybrid. When the system is entirely in friction braking mode (if the battery is full and you are going down hill) the brakes get even more vague, requiring more travel than when the system is regenerating to get the same effect.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-010

Pricing

At $26,685, the least expensive EV on the market excluding the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. For $27,010 the 2LT trim swaps cloth seats for “leatherette” and adds a leather wrapped steering wheel. That’s about the fastest and cheapest model walk in the industry. GM tells us that the DC quick charge port is an independent $750 option and it cannot be retrofitted to a Spark shipped without it. The Spark undercuts Nissan’s Leaf by nearly $2,000 and the Fiat by more than $5,000. While I might argue that the Nissan Leaf is more practical than the Spark, GM’s aggressive pricing screams value at every turn, especially if you lease. At the time of our loan GM was offering a $199 lease deal on the Spark with $1,000 down plus the usual miscellaneous fees.

The Spark’s main sales proposition for many is as a commuter car. When you factor in everything the Spark is the cheapest way to drive in California’s carpool lanes (you know, other than actually carpooling.) Despite not being less attractive than a Fiat 500e, less practical than a Nissan Leaf and less luxurious than a Focus EV, I’d probably pick the Spark.

 

GM provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.72 Seconds

0-60: 7.08 Seconds

 1/4 Mile: 15.78 Seconds @ 86 MPH

Average observed economy: 4.3 miles/kWh

Sound level at 50 MPH: 70dB

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Charging Port 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Drivetrain 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Drivetrain-001 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-001 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-002 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-003 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-004 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-005 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-006 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-007 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-008 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-009 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Exterior-010 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-001 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-002 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-003 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-004 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-005 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-006 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-007 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Interior-008 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV LCD Gauge Cluster 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV MyLink 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV MyLink-001 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV Wheels

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: The Nissan Leaf Found Its Home In Norway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/best-selling-cars-around-the-globe-the-nissan-leaf-found-its-home-in-norway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/best-selling-cars-around-the-globe-the-nissan-leaf-found-its-home-in-norway/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 13:34:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488552 Last time I spoke with you, we went to our traditional monthly worldwide Roundup, spending time praising the ever-impressive performance of the Nissan Qashqai. This week I take you to Norway, the new land of the Nissan Leaf… Contrasting with the rest of Europe, Norwegian new car sales are in great shape in April, up […]

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Last time I spoke with you, we went to our traditional monthly worldwide Roundup, spending time praising the ever-impressive performance of the Nissan Qashqai. This week I take you to Norway, the new land of the Nissan Leaf…

Contrasting with the rest of Europe, Norwegian new car sales are in great shape in April, up 29 percent year-on-year to 13,988 registrations which brings the year-to-date total back into positive at 47,684 units, up 4 percent on 2012.

If the VW Golf unsurprisingly flies above the competition with 903 sales and 6.5 percent share now that the Mazda CX-5 is out of sight at #16, the big event this month is the continuous progression of the Nissan Leaf, now #2 at 455 units and a 3.3 percent share.

This is by far the Leaf’s best ranking anywhere in the world, and no less than the fourth consecutive record month for the Nissan Leaf in Norway, after ranking #4 with 297 units and 2.8% in March#5 with 287 sales and 2.5% in February and #9 in January.

In fact, Norway is the only country in the world where the Nissan Leaf has managed to break into the monthly Top 10!

This is another proof (if we needed one) that government incentives are the key (for now) to success for electric cars. Norwegian buyers of the Nissan Leaf  benefit from priority lines to avoid congested traffic, similarly to what was done with the Toyota Prius in California.

You can be sure you’ll be the first to know if the Leaf manages the historical feat of taking the lead of the Norwegian models ranking in the coming months!

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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Requiem: 2012 Coda Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/requieum-2012-coda-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/requieum-2012-coda-sedan/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 23:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487013 About a year ago Bertel, Ed and I ended up in Los Angeles for a PR meet/dine with Coda. No automotive event would be complete without a drive and our electrifying dinner was no different. Bertel and Ed wisely chose to leave the driving to me (although they did toss me in the trunk and […]

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2012 Coda EV, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesAbout a year ago Bertel, Ed and I ended up in Los Angeles for a PR meet/dine with Coda. No automotive event would be complete without a drive and our electrifying dinner was no different. Bertel and Ed wisely chose to leave the driving to me (although they did toss me in the trunk and close the lid later that evening). Since that night I have struggled to erase the Coda from my mind when today it all came flooding back. Coda has filed for chapter 11 protection. I know it’s bad form to speak ill of the departed, but this is TTAC so let’s have a review style requiem for the worst EV ever made.

Exterior

If you ordered your car by the inch, the Coda is what 176 inches of generic sedan would look like. Since Coda was a small California company without the deep pockets of Elon Musk, they did what any start-up with a screw loose would do: turn to China. Hafei was crazy enough to be smoking the same thing Coda’s dudes were, so they offered up their Saibo sedan as a donor car. Plain hardly begins to describe the Saibo. It looks like a cross between a 1990s Corolla and a 2000 Civic with some 1980s Geo tossed in. No problem, just call in a design firm. Sounds good right? They hired Pininfarina. Sounds even better, right?? Yea, except look what they came up with. Ouch. The result was a grille-free beige something that was so boring we failed to take a side-profile shot of it. You didn’t miss much.

2012 Coda EV InteriorInterior

The Saibo was based on a last-century Mitsubishi Lancer, sort of. Knowing this, I feared that the 2012 Chinese car would still be sporting a 1990s interior. Oh how I wish that were true. Instead, they attempted to “modernize” things by creating an interior that even Benz/Cerberus era Chrysler would have rejected. That’s fine when the Chinese version costs about $15,000, but with a starting price of $37,250, “bad” doesn’t begin to describe what’s happening here. The dashboard in the “production” vehicle we drove rattled and squeaked non-stop, the radio was a Best Buy special with no Coda customization, and the only “feature” touted was the leather wrapped steering wheel. In truth, the tiller was fairly pleasant to hold, except that when you moved it you were reminded it was attached to a Coda. Toss in the cheesiest gauges I have ever seen and an imitation Jaguar Drive Selector gear shifter that looked bad and felt worse and the cabin was complete. I think recalling the horror within is bringing back my PTSD, I need to sit down.

Infotainment

Seriously, they just used an aftermarket double-din radio. Check out Crutchfield for the review on that.

2012 Coda Sedan, Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesDrivetrain

Under the not-sexy-at-all hood of the Coda beat a 130 horsepower electric motor capable of delivering a stout 220 lb-ft of twist from zero to whenever it hit its redline (we weren’t told) through a single speed transmission. If that sounds OK, trust me, it’s perfectly fine. In fact, the drivetrain of the Coda was innovative and had nothing to do with their failure. Powering the motor was a custom designed lithium ion iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery that sported square rather than round cells for greater energy density and better cooling. The power pack under the floor was rated at 31kWh (larger than the Leaf) but because of the Coda’s weight, range was barely better than the Nissan. Unlike the competition, Coda installed an active thermal management system to keep the cells at the optimum temperature at all times to prevent the same sort of battery failures we saw on the Leaf in the Arizona desert.

2012 Coda EV on the road, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

So far, the Coda sounds like a boring little car with a bland interior, high-tech drivetrain with an advanced battery pack. In truth, the Coda sounded like a reasonable argument on paper and it looked like something you could live with in person… until you drove it. The Coda’s motor management software that had all the refinement of a science project. An elementary school science project. Acceleration was brisk but wasn’t in tune with the sloppy bumper-car pedal. As with most EVs, the Coda had regenerative braking but the system was bipolar providing either too little assist or way to much. Press the brake pedal down 10%, nothing. 20 %, nothing. 30% was where the “magic” started with the slightest resistance to forward progress. Between 31 and 40% things were peachy-keen but soggy. Press the stopper to 41% and everyone in the car will be dialing a whiplash injury lawyer.

Steering feel was horrid, but so is the feel in the Prius. Not much to say here.

2012 Coda EV, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

So far everything I have described could have been lived with, you know, if someone gave you a Coda and you were unable to sell it. What absolutely could not be lived with was the ride. No 1990s Mitsubishi had a terribly polished ride to begin with, add Chinese tinkering, tinkering by a company that had never built a car before and 728 battery cells and you have a recipe for disaster. To compensate for the added weight, Coda jammed stiffer springs on all four corners and did nothing else. Crashy doesn’t begin to describe what my vertebrae felt on our 50 mile drive. If you think adding passengers would have improved things, we tried, there here were four of us in the car and we are all “American sized”.

Adding insult to injury, the EPA rated the Coda sedan the least efficient EV in modern history. No wonder they failed. Still, I’m sad to see Coda Automotive go because there will be one less voice in the EV conversation and auto journalists will have one less car to complain about. When you gathered writers together, someone will proclaim “there is no such thing as a bad car anymore.” Then somebody would remember Coda and we’d all have a good laugh before we moved back to complaining about the Prius. Now Coda is a fading memory, unless you are unfortunate enough to have one in your garage, then you won’t be able to forget. Or get it fixed. My condolences.

Coda gave me a free T-shirt at the Coda store, I still have it.

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The Truth About Battery Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/the-truth-about-battery-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/the-truth-about-battery-life/#comments Wed, 20 Feb 2013 21:07:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478387 The drama circling around the New York Times test of the Tesla Model S doesn’t surprise me one bit. Why? Because I understand, perhaps at a deeper level than most of the motoring press, how batteries work. Perhaps that has to do with growing up in a family of engineers and scientists, but battery technology […]

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The drama circling around the New York Times test of the Tesla Model S doesn’t surprise me one bit. Why? Because I understand, perhaps at a deeper level than most of the motoring press, how batteries work. Perhaps that has to do with growing up in a family of engineers and scientists, but battery technology has always interested me. So when people from Phoenix came to me crying in their soup about their LEAFs in the heat and friends started wagging fingers at Tesla and the New York Times, I figured it was time for a battery reality check.

What’s the problem (this time)?

Consumer Reports says their Tesla’s power gauge dropped to “zero” at the 173-mile mark on a 176-mile trip. At the beginning of the trip the range indicator said 240 miles while the “projected range” indicator which takes driving style into account said 188 miles. On first glance this sounds like some horrific range issue. “OMG, the Model S missed its 240 mile range by 64 miles.” But did it?

 

What was the problem last time?

If you didn’t know about the Tesla / New York Times punch up, then click here for the article that started it all. (And a picture of a Tesla on a flatbed.) Basically John Broder took a Tesla out on the road for a long road trip and ran out of juice. Of course he also didn’t charge the battery fully at every opportunity he had, but that’s beside the point for the moment.

About those journalists

Our readers are no doubt familiar with Jack Baruth’s assertion that the vast majority of auto journalists are less than professional drivers. The same applies in this case, the majority of journalists know rather little about EVs, how they work, what’s going on in the battery pack and why it matters. Much like a novice on the track, a novice in an EV can result in unpredictable results.

How batteries work

Batteries are a means of storing electricity chemically. The fact that we’re talking about a chemical reaction is absolutely vital to keep in mind when anyone starts talking about range, battery degradation, heat, cold, charging, etc.

All batteries have three basic components: a cathode, an anode and an electrolyte between the two. Depending on what materials are used for each of these three components battery life, cost and power density will vary. At the low-end of the scale we have the zinc-potato-copper battery from school and at the high-end of consumer electronics we have the lithium iron phosphate-dimethyl carbonate-graphite battery known as the Lithium-ion battery, or the battery that powers modern cell phones, laptops, electric cars and is even used in the new Boeing 787. (Yea, the one getting the bad press.)

Every battery chemistry has its advantages and disadvantages. Lead-acid batteries (the one that starts your car) are heavy, cheap and can handle the high current draw of starter motors. Ni-Cad batteries that were popular in my child hood were relatively easy to manufacture and lower cost than other alternatives. Nickel-metal hydride batteries have been around for some time and thanks to their stability and energy density have been used in hybrid vehicles since the Prius and Insight. Lithium based batteries are the current star in the consumer electronics world because their power density and ability to charge rapidly are excellent for smartphones, tablets and laptops. The problem is Lithium batteries can be more “temperamental” than some of the older chemistries. If you want to know all there is to know about Lithium-ion batteries, click on over to Batteryuniversity.com.

What does this have to do with the cold?

Because batteries store energy chemically, a chemical reaction has to occur when charging and when discharging. When batteries get cold, the internal resistance of the battery increases which decreases the amount of energy that you can get out of the pack. You can test this at home yourself if you have a camera flash at home. Drop the batteries into the freezer, put them in the flash and see how long it takes to recharge the flash. What does this mean in a car? Well, you are charging outside and it’s near freezing, then (A) you won’t be able to completely charge a battery and (B) after charging if the battery cools off to ambient you won’t be able to use a portion of those electrons you just stuffed in the battery. Think about your 12V car battery, remember that cranking amps vs cold cranking amps rating? Same thing.

To fix these problems many EVs (like the Model S) heat the battery to try to keep it at an optimum temperature. Doing so ensures that you can use the entire capacity for charging and discharging, but it of course consumes power, and the colder it is, the more power it takes to heat the battery. In hot weather the system cools the battery to preserve the lifetime of the battery chemistry.

What are the factors that decrease battery life?

There are many factors involved, but put simply, having your battery at a very low state of charge or a very high state of charge has a negative impact on battery life. The rate at which you take the battery from charged to discharged or discharged to charged also has an impact. While cold temperatures may keep you from getting the most out of your battery, it usually doesn’t impact longevity. Heat on the other hand has a severe impact on battery life and it gets worse the higher the state of charge.

Back to Consumer Reports

Without access to Elon’s creepy data logs of the CR test vehicle, I have two suggestions to what was going on. First off, the car was fairly close to reality with the projected range of 188 miles, but this needs explanation and education. The car was saying that if you drive gently the maximum range is 240.  Drive it like you’ve been driving it,  expect 188. Now we insert the cold weather into the mix. I assume he was heating the cabin on a chilly day and driving like normal. What wasn’t obvious is that the Model S may very well have also had the battery heater turned on, if so, there’s your 12 miles. Even if that wasn’t the case, any gasoline car that gets the range estimate within 7% scores in my book.

What about those LEAFs in Phoenix?

A while back I got a frantic call from a friend in the Phoenix area. “My LEAF’s batteries are dead!” So for the next 15 minutes he poured his heart out about the problem. Towards the end the usual comments from a person dealing with “automotive loss” came out “Nissan needs to give me a new battery.” After all his woes had been aired he asked me what I thought. I paused for a moment and said (as nicely as possible) “I’m not sure what your problem is. What you are describing to me is normal battery wear and tear.”

You see, unlike the Model S, the LEAF does not have an active cooling system for the battery pack. (This was done to save money and with the LEAF now dropping to $28,800 (less than half the Model S), you get what you pay for.) The lack of active cooling means that in the hot Arizona desert, parked in the sun at work or at the mall your battery is slowly dying. Why? It’s all back to the chemistry again. The optimum service life of Lithium-ion batteries is achieved when the cell is a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Baking in the sun for 8 hours a day while you’re at the office the inside of the car can easily go over 170 degrees when it’s 115 outside. Since he had to charge his car at the office in order to get back home, he was compounding the problem since batteries get hot as they charge. As the battery aged because of the long commute he started to drop by the local DC quick charge station. This made the battery age even faster because now the battery is hot and you are rapidly going from one state of charge to the other. Net result: 20% loss in capacity over 2 years and 33,000 miles. Case closed.

What about my Prius? (or other hybrids)

Right now the Prius, and most older hybrids like the Escape Hybrid and the first generation Fusion Hybrid use Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. This chemistry is more stable but less power dense than lithium based batteries. In addition remember what I said about battery life? State of charge and charge/discharge rates are large factors. Hybrids extend their battery life deliberately by never fully charging nor fully discharging their batteries. In fact most non-plug-in hybrids use 60-70% of the rated capacity in the battery. Since they don’t depend on the battery for 100% of the propulsion like an EV does, charge and discharge rates are lower which also extends battery life. And lastly, it’s less obvious when your hybrid’s battery does age because it’s not your only source of propulsion. As hybrids move to lithium batteries they are retaining these life extending measures, but even still they may or may not have the same life span as the NiMH batteries, only time will tell. In the plug-in world, only GM seems to be operating in a cautious fashion by only using about 80% of the Volt and ELR’s battery pack vs nearly 95% of the capacity in Ford and Toyota models.

Who’s right and who’s wrong here? Who is to blame?

Everyone. The EV buyer who didn’t bother to do his homework, the dealer who didn’t help set expectations, and the manufacturer who promised all would be well. My inclination however is to place the burden on the EV buyer. If you’re going to buy a car of any description, you need to do your homework. You don’t buy a Mazda Miata and then get upset when you bend the frame trying to tow your 5th wheel. Likewise, don’t expect any EV to have some magical battery that runs on butterfly-farts and lasts 250,000 miles, it just won’t happen. Yet.

 

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New Nissan Leaf Promises You More Or Less http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/new-nissan-leaf-promises-you-more-or-less/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/new-nissan-leaf-promises-you-more-or-less/#comments Tue, 20 Nov 2012 11:13:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=467513 Nissan showed a refreshed version of its all-electric Leaf today. Available to the Japanese market at first, it offers both more and less. Through a number of system tweaks, the nominal range under the Japanese JC08 test cycle has been raised from 200km (124 miles) to 228 km (141 miles). Of course, that Japanese cycle […]

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Nissan showed a refreshed version of its all-electric Leaf today. Available to the Japanese market at first, it offers both more and less.

Through a number of system tweaks, the nominal range under the Japanese JC08 test cycle has been raised from 200km (124 miles) to 228 km (141 miles). Of course, that Japanese cycle is completely out of touch with the real world, but there is hope that under the right conditions, you might get more than 10 percent additional range out of the new Leaf.

In the more department, there are added computer functions that tell you for instance what percentage of battery power is left, or what the state of charge may be when your reach your destination. Leather seats are available, a BOSE energy efficient sound system, regenerative braking has been enhanced, and the cabin heater works with a power saving heat pump.

In the less department, there is a lower price by way of a more frugal “S” (as in Spartan?) grade that dispenses with luxuries such as aluminum wheels, LED headlights, or the germ killing Plasma Cluster Ion generator.  With Japanese subsidies applied, the Japanese entry price comes down from nearly 3 million yen ($37,000) to some 2.5 million yen ($31,000).

The new Leaf also is less dependent on China. The rare earth used in the electric motor has been reduced by 40 percent.

2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan 2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan 2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan 2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan 2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan 2013 Nissan Leaf - Picture courtesy Nissan

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QOTD: How Many Leafs Were Bought So Far? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/qotd-how-many-leafs-were-bought-so-far/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/qotd-how-many-leafs-were-bought-so-far/#comments Thu, 15 Nov 2012 14:48:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466989 A game of two questions: How many Nissan Leaf do you think were sold so far? And where does it sell the best? Answer after the jump. There you go: Official numbers, factory-direct. How close were your guesses? (FY=Fiscal Year. FY12= April 2012 to date.)

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A game of two questions: How many Nissan Leaf do you think were sold so far? And where does it sell the best? Answer after the jump.

There you go:

Official numbers, factory-direct. How close were your guesses?

(FY=Fiscal Year. FY12= April 2012 to date.)

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Slow EV Sales Disappoint And Frustrate Nissan COO http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/slow-ev-sales-disappoint-and-frustrate-nissan-coo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/slow-ev-sales-disappoint-and-frustrate-nissan-coo/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 14:37:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466022 Nissan’s chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said he was “disappointed and frustrated” by the lackluster sales of electric vehicles in general and the Leaf in particular. Speaking at the mid-term results press conference at the Nissan HQ in Yokohama, his emotional appeal to recognize Nissan’s pioneering efforts in the field of zero emissions had undertones of […]

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Nissan’s chief operating officer Toshiyuki Shiga said he was “disappointed and frustrated” by the lackluster sales of electric vehicles in general and the Leaf in particular. Speaking at the mid-term results press conference at the Nissan HQ in Yokohama, his emotional appeal to recognize Nissan’s pioneering efforts in the field of zero emissions had undertones of an eulogy on the electric vehicle:

“Somewhere in the history of mankind, people will have to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and Nissan is assuming the risk to do it now. We were the first volume maker deploy EVs globally. Please don’t forget that we have this passion and a sense of mission.”

Not giving up on EVs, Shiga personally heads a task force to accelerate the sales of EVs. So far, Shiga did not have more to report than mining the data harvested from the connected Leafs, and giving the data to companies that will install quick chargers.

Next month, it will be two years that Nissan launched the Leaf pure EV. According to Shiga, it saw global sales of 42,700 units since introduction, 19,000 of them in Japan.

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Nissan Uses Strippers To Sex Up Limp Leaf Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/nissan-uses-strippers-to-sex-up-limp-leaf-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/nissan-uses-strippers-to-sex-up-limp-leaf-sales/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 15:11:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=464486 Warning: Video NSFW in Sharia jurisdictions and parts of corporate America Nissan plans a budget Leaf to be sold along the current version, Nissan’s Andy Palmer told the Financial Times. With the stripper model, Nissan hopes to extend the car’s reach beyond early adopters to “pragmatists.” Another problems remains unsolved: The car’s reach. “The main […]

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Warning: Video NSFW in Sharia jurisdictions and parts of corporate America

Nissan plans a budget Leaf to be sold along the current version, Nissan’s Andy Palmer told the Financial Times. With the stripper model, Nissan hopes to extend the car’s reach beyond early adopters to “pragmatists.” Another problems remains unsolved: The car’s reach.

“The main hesitation in buying the car is from range anxiety,” Palmer told the FT. “Maybe we were over-optimistic with the ramp-up as well.”

Nissan budgeted for 40,000 Leaf’s to be sold in the current fiscal, but sold fewer than 12,000 Leafs in the first half. Range, cost, and charge time are seen as the main reasons standing in the way of mass adoption of EVs.

Cost is already coming down, but not due to scale effects: In addition to generous government subsidies, Nissan offered incentives worth more than $4,200 on the Leaf in September, TrueCar says. Edmunds estimates that GM is putting more than $5,000 on the hood of each Volt, Truecar thinks $8,000 is more like it.

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The Truth About Tesla’s Charging Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 16:52:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451848 Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? […]

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Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? Sorry, you aren’t invited to this charging party. Have a Tesla and a LEAF? You’ll have to be satisfied with separate but equal charging facilities as the Tesla proprietary charging connector restricts access to Tesla shoppers only. Is this class warfare or do we parallel the computer industry where connectors come and go with the seasons?

What’s the big deal with charging? Let’s go over the Model S’s charging time chart and you’ll understand. From a regular 120V wall outlet the Model S will gain 4-5 miles per hour of charging and consumes about the same amount of power as a space heater. Charging at 41 amps, the car gains 31 miles per hour and consumes as much power as TWO average electric clothes dryers. Charging at 81 amps (a service that many homes with older wiring or smaller services cannot support) the Model S gains 62 miles an hour and consumes more power than an average home’s A/C, dryer, washer, stove, oven, lights and small appliances put together. With a range of 300 miles and a 10 hour charge time at the 41A rate, it’s easy to see why fast charging stations are appealing. Tesla’s Supercharger’s specs are yet to be revealed, but by the numbers it is apparent the system is delivering a massive 90kWh charge which is likely 440V DC at around 200A. An hour of charging at that rate is 70% of the power that my home uses in an entire month.

Is this a Tesla issue? No, it’s an EV issue. If you expect your EV to drive like a regular car, modern EVs are a delight. If you expect your EV to refuel like a regular car, we’ve hit a snag. But it’s more complex than that, you see, only three of the four Model S trims support DC fast charging and the only other EVs on the market with a DC charge port are the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Except they don’t use the same connector or the same standard. Oops. Adding more complications to the mix are the EVs with no DC charge connector like the RAV4 EV, Volt, Prius Plug-In, Accord Plug-In, Focus, Active E and Coda while the new Chevy Spark is rumored to début a third standard: the SAE combo plug.

Of course, if you think of your car like you think of your cell phone, this makes sense as the phone you bought last year wont use the same charger as the phone you buy today. If you think of this in car terms however it’s like buying a new car and finding out that most of the gas stations have a nozzle that won’t fit your car.

Back to those Tesla charging stations. Tesla opened the first four in Southern California and announced two more stations will go online in October with stations in Las Vegas, Northern California and Oregon by summer 2013 with the 100 station network being complete by 2015. If that network sounds familiar then it should, because the recent settlement in the California vs NRG lawsuit means there will be 200 new CHAdeMO stations in California over the same time frame in addition to the 8 already installed and the 75 commercial stations planned or under construction. It isn’t just California on the CHAdeMO bandwagon however, the Department of Energy claims there are over 113 CHAdeMO stations in the USA and a 1,200+ unit installed base in Japan.

What does this mean to Tesla owners? Until Tesla creates a CHAdeMO to Tesla charging adapter cable (much like they have a J1772 to Tesla cable for use at public AC charging stations), Tesla owners will be restricted to regular AC charging or the smaller Tesla only charging network. On the flip side, Tesla is promising the Tesla charging stations will be free to Tesla owners, positioned next to trendy restaurants and you won’t have to mix with the Leaf owning rabble. You can also feel superior because Tesla’s newer standard charges 80% faster than the 50kWh CHAdeMO connector.

What does this mean to LEAF and i-MiEV owners? It means this is just the beginning of a standards battle. If you bought an EV before this raft of new J1772-connector-toting models, you know what I’m talking about. While CHAdeMO has the lead now, depending on what standard the rest of the industry supports this could change rapidly.

What about the rest of us? If we continue to build more battery electric vehicles and continue to develop batteries that are more and more power dense, you can expect even the snazzy Tesla charging connector to be outdated on a few years. If you expect an EV SUV to deliver 300 miles of electric range, AWD, decent performance, mild off-road ability and Range Rover quality luxury trappings, then expect it to have a battery that is 50-100% larger than the Model S’ massive 85kWh pack. This means you have to either take all the charging rates and nearly double them, or you have to develop a charging method that charges 50-100% faster to keep the same performance.

Of course, just like LEAF owners experience battery degradation caused by repeated use of DC quick charge stations, Tesla owners should be mindful that batteries don’t last forever and the faster you charge them the shorter their life will be.

 

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The Case Of The Missing Bars: Leaf Owners Stage Massive Test To Prove Premature Battery Aging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-case-of-the-missing-bars-leaf-owners-stage-massive-test-to-prove-premature-battery-aging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-case-of-the-missing-bars-leaf-owners-stage-massive-test-to-prove-premature-battery-aging/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 13:15:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460798 Earlier this year, Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona started to observe bars missing from the charge state display of their cars. Instead of the 12 bars that signal a full battery, some saw only 10 or less. This spread like the Arizona wildfires through the EV community. As of today, the discussion at the Mynissanleaf […]

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Earlier this year, Nissan Leaf owners in Arizona started to observe bars missing from the charge state display of their cars. Instead of the 12 bars that signal a full battery, some saw only 10 or less. This spread like the Arizona wildfires through the EV community. As of today, the discussion at the Mynissanleaf forum  has swelled to 373 pages. Nissan looked at the affected cars, and so far has not rendered a verdict. Or maybe it did. 12 Leaf owners did assemble one night to prove Nissan wrong.

Three weeks ago, Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer was quoted by Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald as saying that “we don’t have a battery problem” and that the battery level display is faulty. Enraged, the Arizona Leaf owners set up a massive test, and published the results at InsideEVs.

12 Leafs with odometer readings as low as 2,500 miles and as high as 29,000 miles assembled at night at 7755 South Research Drive, Tempe, Arizona. The location was chosen because it has a DC Chademo fast charger, and two J1772-2009 EVSE charging stations. From there, they did set out to drive the Leafs until the battery runs out, or more exactly, until the Turtle in the display strongly recommends to get off the road. They even had a small fleet of dollies and a flatbed truck to collect the exhausted Leafs.

The results of the test appear to support the group’s claim that the Leaf’s batteries degrade much faster than they should, at least in the hot climate of Arizona. A Leaf with 29,000 miles on the clock did last only 59.3 miles during the group’s test, a nearly 30 percent degradation from the 84 miles the group says a new Leaf should get. A Leaf with only 2,500 miles on the meter did last nearly 80 miles.

The test was professionally set up, VERY detailed description here. The group also measured the charge indicator, and found that in most cases, the instrument low-balls the available charge. Says Tony Williams who spearheaded the effort , and who had done an all-electric Canada to Mexico trip in a Leaf:

So, Andy Palmer was right… they have poor instruments. But, he was wrong about the batteries. It was sheer stupidity to tell this group of owners that the batteries are ok. “

We talked to Nissan’s General Manager of Global Communications, Jeff Kuhlman, in Yokohama. Kuhlman praises the affected owners who “are very knowledgeable, some are engineers themselves.”

He denies that Nissan has come to a conclusion on the matter: “We cannot give you a final analysis, because there simply is none available yet.”

Seven affected Leafs were inspected by Nissan , and subsequently returned to their customers. Nissan did a full data download on all units.

“The data are with our technical team in Yokohama, and they are still analyzing them,” says Kuhlman. “Once they have finished their analysis, the owners will be contacted first, and we will discuss with them what needs to be done.”

Kuhlman expects the verdict to be available “within days.”

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