Clean Tech Institute

Plug it in and Leaf it Alone

Nissan Launches Electric Vehicle

The hours required to charge Nissan’s latest electric vehicle, the Leaf, shouldn’t be a problem, said Hideaki Watanabe, the head of the company’s zero-emission business unit.

The Japanese car maker is betting that its first mass-produced electric car will take the lead in the zero-emission car market. It takes eight hours to charge the five-seater hatchback model from a regular home outlet, Mr. Watanabe said at a recent Leaf test-drive event in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, south of Tokyo.

The electric car, which will debut in the U.S., Japan and Europe in December, can run up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a single charge.

While the charge time certainly takes longer than gassing up a traditional car, powering the Leaf takes much less effort. “Some people say that it takes only 15 minutes or so to go to a gas station, while you need eight hours to charge (the Leaf). But my thinking is different,” Mr. Watanabe said. “It’s true that it takes eight hours to charge. But it takes just 15 to 30 seconds to plug it in. Once you do it, you can (leave the car and) do whatever you like to do at home.”

If a driver starts re-charging the Leaf at night, “the vehicle gets fully charged by next morning,” he said.

Quick chargers will also be available. This equipment, which will be installed at some Nissan dealers, gives the battery an 80% charge in 30 minutes, Mr. Watanabe said.

What’s more, while the car is being recharged, the car can be pre-air-conditioned so that drivers feel comfortable when they get in the car, he said. This feature won’t shorten the drive range because the car is plugged in while the air conditioner is on, Mr. Watanabe said. The ventilation system can even be controlled from outside the garage with a mobile phone, he added.

Original Article

By Yoshio Takahashi
Wall Street Journal
June 16, 2010