In the days and weeks after March 11 2011, when a giant fist wiped out large swaths of Japan’s northeastern coast, and sent the power grid into a near-coma from which the Japanese patient has yet to recover, electric and hybrid vehicles were pressed into a new mission as emergency power supplies. People in the stricken areas used the batteries of their Toyota Estima hybrid minivan, or the much bigger battery of the Nissan Leaf, as a power source for cell phones and laptops when the regular power was out. Ever since, Japanese became infatuated with the idea of rigging a car to a house – to power the house, if needed. One year later, houses are ready to take charge from a car. (Read More…)
Two years after the Volkswagen Golf was launched, it received a fuel sipping diesel in 1976. I presented the launch campaign in Wolfsburg, and the ground shook. It wasn’t because of my campaign. It was because of the body stamping presses. The offices of the Zentrale Absatzförderung, VW’s advertising department, were two floors above. (Read More…)
Last May, the Nissan Leaf was the hottest thing on the green radar. Limited production and a long waiting list for the press meant that Nissan was lending out Leafs (Nissan tells us that is the correct way to pluralize a Leaf) 62-hours at a time. With my long commute and lengthy 120V charging times, this meant a review with only 217 miles under our belt (read our three-part review here: 1 2 3). Now that a few thousand Leafs have found homes in Northern California and I had practiced my “range anxiety” breathing techniques, I was eager to see if the ultimate green ride was also a decent car beyond the batteries.
Patrolling the interwebs for TTAC-worthy content, we find a woman selling Nissan Leafs on the streets of Davos. Rachel Konrad, formerly spokesperson of Tesla, is now the Communications Director of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Her boss Carlos Ghosn is a fixture at the World Economic Forum, which ends today in Davos. Rachel is using the fact that Davos has received more snow than in the 42 years before to praise the virtues of the Leaf in winter weather. At the same time, three topless women steal her thunder and get arrested. (Read More…)
Because electric cars represent the first fundamental technological shift for the automobile since its invention, their appearance on the US market has elicited quite a bit of skepticism. And as with any new technology, the first generation of EVs does have some serious downsides. For example, you can charge a Nissan Leaf at any outlet, but it takes 21 hours. Also, the Leaf’s range that was once promised at 100 miles is typically under 70 miles in the real world. Plus, it’s not exactly cheap. In the face of these challenges, you might think the Leaf, the first mass-market pure-EV in the US, would be forever doomed to a small niche of the market. But small compared to what? To give a real-world taste of how America’s first pure EV is selling in the context of the broader market, here are the year-to-date sales numbers for the Leaf and 15 other vehicles that you might not expect to be selling worse than an electric car. Incidentally, all of these models are also selling better than the market’s other pioneering plug-in, the Chevrolet Volt… which now has its own graph in the gallery below.
Two days ago, we told you that Senator Debbie Stabenow was barking up the wrong tree when she again fingered China for “attempting to pressure American automakers, including General Motors and Ford, to transfer core technologies of their electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to Chinese companies, in order for those vehicles to qualify for China’s clean energy vehicle incentive program.” Both Ford and GM quickly and as diplomatically as possible said it isn’t so, simply because neither of them has any plans to build electric vehicles in China. Now it turns out that Stabenow was barking up the wrong forest: Nissan will export its Made in Japan Leaf to China. And the Chinese clean energy incentive program looks like a non-starter. (Read More…)
If you want to charge your Nissan Leaf in 30 minutes, Nissan will (at least in Japan) sell you (reluctantly) a pricy quickcharger. It costs about half of what a U.S. Leaf costs – before incentives and rebates: The current quickcharger sets you back 1.47 million yen, in today’s dollars, that’s about $19,000. Soon, this will get considerably, well, more reasonable. Nissan today announced a quickcharger with the same performance, but at half the size and half the price of the old one. (Read More…)
One of the most challenging aspects of running a blog like TTAC is managing diversity. As a global site, TTAC and its readers are exposed to the full range of diverse global perspectives, but our largest market, the United States, is also home to incredibly divergent views and lifestyles. Much is made of our national polarization these days, and when the topic turns political, TTAC often finds itself on the front lines of America’s cultural and ideological battlefield. Luckily we’re all of us bound together by something that transcends much of what divides us: our shared fascination with cars gives us the opportunity to interact with and relate to people with whom we may have little else in common.
Take this photo: depending on your perspective, this scene, photographed near my home in Portland, OR, might be a symbol of the ultimate automotive aspiration or a dread vision of a dystopian anti-automotive future. But regardless of how the image relates to your personal views and circumstances, nobody can deny that the people who live in that house think very seriously about their automobiles. And even the most unabashed, gas-huffing EV skeptic has to respect that. Vive le difference!
The first time Top Gear “tested” an electric car, it depicted Tesla’s Roadster running out of electricity and being pushed from the track. Tesla immediately pointed out that the batteries “never fell below 20%” during the test, a charge the British motoring show addressed by claiming that its review
offers a fair representation of the Tesla’s performance on the day it was tested.
Tesla responded again, and then three years later (as the Roadster was headed out of production) the EV maker sued the BBC and Top Gear producers. An online war of words erupted, with Tesla coming away looking rather foolish. And guess what? Now it’s all happening all over again… and this time, the most EV-committed global automaker, Nissan, has taken the Top Gear bait.
Last week, we brought you the news that the Nissan-Dongfeng joint venture will build an EV in China, that it will be ready by 2015, and that it will not be the Nissan Leaf. The Made-in-China plug-in will be offered by Nissan-Dongfeng’s “Chinese” brand, Venucia. This most likely in compliance with yet-to-be-released, but much-rumored regulations which will shower Chinese EV subsidies only on indigenous vehicles.
Barely a week after the news, there already are pictures of the future Chinese EV. (Read More…)
Ever since the power went out in large parts of Japan after a massive Tsunami slammed into the country on March 11, the big question no longer is “will I be able to charge my EV at home.” It is: “Will I be able to power my house with my car?” This may seem alien to you, but a Tsunami has certain effects, and this is one of them. At a press conference in Yokohama, reporters asked Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn: “When will it discharge?” Meaning the Leaf into the house. A few days later, Toyota showed a house that can be powered by a plug-in Prius should the lights go out. Now Nissan finally shows its great chargeback solution. (Read More…)
My, what a busy morning it’s been for EV news! Now Nissan is jumping into the fray by bumping the price of its 2012 Leaf EV by $2,420, reports Automotive News [sub]. But don’t worry, you’re getting something for that extra money…
Compared to 2011 model year’s $33,630 base price, including delivery, the 2012 model will begin at $36,050. The car’s upper-grade SL model will sell for $38,100, an increase of $3,530 over 2011.
Brian Carolin, Nissan North America Inc. senior vice president of sales, was to tell an electric-vehicle industry audience in Raleigh N.C., this morning that the 2012 model will contain two new standard features, according to his prepared remarks.
One is a cold-weather package that includes heated seats and steering wheel and a battery warmer. The other, available on the car’s more expensive SL model, is a standard quick-charge port that allows the vehicle to be recharged up to 80 percent of capacity in under 30 minutes.
So, just as Toyota goes public with its fears about the ChaDeMo DC rapid charge protocol, Nissan doubles down on the standard by offering compatibility on the higher trim level (incidentally, Nissan says that 93% of sales are of the upmarket SL trim, and “most” customers opt for the optional ChaDeMo DC charging compatibility). As if raising prices by over two grand after less than a year of sales weren’t risky enough, Nissan is also gambling that ChaDeMo will win out when the SAE rules on a DC fast-charging protocol for the US market. At this point, it almost seems as if the charger compatibility issue might be more of a risk than tthe price…
The transition from exclusively gasoline-powered vehicles to the new panoply of permutations of gas and electric power has not been easy on the old emm-pee-gee. The imperfect-yet-universal (in the US market) measure of efficiency finds itself at a loss to compare an electric car’s efficiency with that of a gas-powered car, and completely falls apart as a relative measure of efficiency between plug-in-hybrids which use gas and electricity in different ways (see the ongoing battles over the Chevy Volt’s efficiency). Into the breach have stepped several challengers to the emm-pee-gee’s supremacy, including the weak MPGe (which was responsible for the Volt’s disastrous “230 MPG” introduction), and the “Kilowatt-hours per 100 miles” measure championed by Motor Trend in a rare display of admirable pointy-headedness. But the Gordian contradiction of efficiency measures is that they must be both accurate and easy-to-understand… and if the MPG’s history tells us anything, it should probably err on the side of the latter prerogative.
Leaf or Volt? Ask the average person on the street that question, and you might get a response acknowledging that you’re talking about plug-in electric vehicles. Ask for more detail, and you may well be disappointed. Despite the many differences between the two vehicles, some simple and obvious, others subtle and complex, it’s unlikely that the average consumer is going to be able to tell you much about them. Why? Because chances are, your randomly-selected consumer doesn’t even know who makes which car. Automotive News [sub] reports that a Compete, Inc study shows
a little more than 17 percent of consumers polled knew that Nissan sells the Leaf. Another 13 percent incorrectly believed the car is offered by other brands, including Chevrolet and Toyota.
The Volt fared better. The study found that 45 percent of shoppers identified it as a Chevrolet.
Yowza. Considering that Nissan is betting bigger on EVs than any other manufacturer in the business, selling the only pure EV on the market and ramping up to 500k annual units of global battery production capacity, it needs to get on top of this branding awareness issue yesterday. Because as things stand, Nissan is making a gigantic global gamble only to find Chevrolet and Toyota stealing nearly as much credit for the Leaf as consumers give Nissan itself (13% versus 17%… what’s wrong with that picture?). Ads like this one are a good start, but Nissan needs to do more to ignore the Volt and make itself synonymous with pure-electric cars the way Toyota made itself synonymous with hybrids.