With sales of the third-generation Ford Taurus lagging, the Blue Oval decided that an entry-level variant would be just what was needed to help kickstart sales. Faced with slumping sales of their Leaf EV, Nissan is apparently taking the same route.
Tag: Nissan Leaf
As we reported back on July 17th, there were reports of Nissan LEAFs “bricking” themselves while connected to GE’s WattStation home charging stations. Over the last 10 days, I have been on a number of conference calls, spoken with a number of Leaf owners, electrical engineers and battery charging gurus. As it turns out, the problem was exactly as I had surmised: bad utility power damaged the LEAF. The only involvement the GE WattStation had, was that it was merely the connection between the LEAF’s on-board charger and the utility.
The GE Wattstation killed my Leaf! That’s the story being reported by the New York Times as well as PlugInCars.com. As the tale goes, 11 Leaf owners have had their chargers “damaged” while charging with GE’s Wattstation home charging station. The relative significance of only 11 failures aside, the Nissan Dealer in San Pablo, CA confirmed to PlugInCars.com that Nissan North America has notified dealers of a potential problem with the Leaf and the GE home charging station. TTAC contacted Hilltop Nissan and they have yet to return our calls. Rather than just parroting back the usual news reports we dug deep. We contacted GE and Nissan, consulted some professional electrical engineers and read though hundred of pages of boring SAE documents. Click past the jump to learn more about EV charging than you ever wanted to know. (Read More…)
Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to take a look at our favorite automotive urination competition, the epic battle between the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius Plug-In.
Nissan now has a zero emissions van that you’ll be able to buy in a couple years -if that’s what you’re into. We won’t judge. Either way, the company seems to be creating a brand identity for its electric vehicles.
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.
While Honda and Mazda are just getting their respective footholds in Mexico (the two automakers are opening up respective assembly plants in Mexico), Nissan has had a long presence south of the border, building cars at its Augascalientes, Mexico plant for decades.
Wamp wamp! That’s the sound of the sad trombone playing for the Chevrolet Volt, which missed its 2011 sales target by 2,329 units. General Motors hoped that the Volt would sell 10,000 units in 2011, but it was not to be.
Bloomberg reports that the bow tie brand sold only 7,671 Volts in 2011, but has plants to increase annual production to 60,000 units annually. 45,000 of those will be sold in the United States. The Volt had only been on sale nationwide for the final three months of 2011.
Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments in the much-hyped world of electric vehicles is the fact that no major OEM has committed to proving their battery-powered cars in the crucible of competitive racing. But it seems that this crucial oversight is being addressed by Nissan, which is unveiling a race-spec Nissan Leaf NISMO RC, aimed at pushing the electric racing world forward while proving that green isn’t synonymous with dull. Nissan’s presser explains:
“Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan’s world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company’s Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas.
The new electric race vehicle will likely make a series of special demonstration appearances at various motorsports venues in 2011, with the company exploring pioneer zero emission competition spec series in future years.
The shorter, lower, lighter racing Leaf has the same battery pack as the production version, but shifts the drivetrain to a mid-mounted position, driving the rear wheels. Early testing points to a 0-60 time of around 6.85 seconds and a top speed of 93 MPH. Nissan’s not announcing any details of the hinted-at racing series, but we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for the first manufacturer-backed EV racing effort.
Possibly not, says the National Federation For the Blind. According to the NYT the group is
disappointed that the [Nissan Leaf's] driver is permitted to turn off the sound because it in effect, allows drivers to deactivate this important safety feature and thereby endanger pedestrians, especially those who are blind.
Interestingly, Tesla’s IPO presentation opens with a customer describing the contrast between Corvettes “making all that noise” and Teslas which allow the driver to “hear the birds and the ocean.” With the Motor Vehicle Safety Act likely to mandate NHTSA rules on EV safety noises, expect that marketing angle to go the way of the PeaPod…
The EV smackdown is about to begin, as Nissan and GM prepare to launch their competing but different EVs in the final quarter of this year. It promises to be quite a show, as both manufacturers have gambled huge sums on distinctly different approaches. The Leaf is a pure battery EV, with an optimum range of 100 miles, but which will easily shrink into some 60 miles under less than ideal conditions. GM’s Volt’s target EV range is forty miles, also subject to the same diminishing influences. Of course, it carries a security blanket gen-set along for the ride. But the first skirmish for the hearts , minds, hands and wallets of consumers has already been decided, in the Leaf’s favor. (Read More…)
Now that Nissan have their Leaf EV in the works, Mitsubishi have the iMiEV in development and GM are rushing out the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota seem to be feeling a little unarmed in the next stage of green motoring. The NY Times updates us on Toyota’s plans to sell plug in hybrids in about 2 years quoting Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota Executive Vice President, as saying “Toyota believes that plug-in hybrids are a realistic solution among vehicles using electricity.” Funny, because not long ago Toyota had a different stance on electrification. In any case, Toyota remains highly conservative in its approach to electric vehicles. In preparation for a mass market launch, Toyota are leasing and renting 600 plug-in hybrids: 230 for Japan, 200 for Europe, 20 for other countries and 150 for the United States. This will provide Toyota with much needed feedback on how to improve the vehicles, a process GM plans on doing with its Volt contemporaneously with its California consumer rollout.
Reuters reports that Tesla is planning an Initial Public Offering, after postponing planned IPOs in 2008 and 2009. Tesla reportedly hopes to capitalize on the recent success of battery developer A123 Systems, on the assumption that the A123 IPO has raised interest in electric auto firms. According to one of Reuters’ sources, Tesla’s IPO filing could be made “within days.” And the Silicon Valley startup, which currently has only one product, the $100k+ Tesla Roadster, will most likely have to hurry. Both Nissan and General Motors plan to enter the electric car market this year, marking the initial entries by established auto OEMs into the American EV market. Both of their initial products, the estimated $30k Nissan Leaf and the estimated $40k Chevrolet Volt, will cost considerably less than Tesla’s estimated $50k Model S sedan and will beat it to market by at least a year. Acquiring funding after cheaper competing models go on sale could be extremely challenging for a boutique automaker like Tesla.
“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation,” goes a famous line in the Great Law of the Iroquois, “even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” Though TTAC tests the thickness of GM’s skin on a daily basis, GM is ahead of the seven-generation game. The Detroit News reports that GM’s engineering staff are already working on the Volt’s third-generation hardware, although previous iterations are still being used to collect data. Meanwhile, the major challenge remain getting everything road-ready for a 2010 launch, a goal that will be reached… “barring any last minute problems.” “I did place a lot of faith in the battery companies, who said they could have them ready,” admits Bob Lutz. Oh, and there’s still one other major obstacle to overcome: the cost. Test vehicles cost “over $250,000″ per vehicle to build, and a major focus of the testing process has been reducing the build cost. And despite the earlier Volt-as-sports-sedan rhetoric, the top attained speed in testing is 107 mph, although engineers say it will likely be limited to 104 mph. Though that’s faster than most EV early-adopters will take their Volts anyway, it’s also only about 15 mph faster than the much-cheaper Nissan Leaf EV, a vehicle that the Volt will have to differentiate itself from considerably to earn its estimated $10k premium over the non-range-extended EV.