Unlike the Chevy Volt, the Leaf completely eschews internal combustion power, even as a backup. The Nissan Leaf is the first of a long-promised wave of usable, practical electric vehicles.
So, is it really the car that will finally replace the combustion engine?
The Nissan Electric Car, The Leaf is a real car. It has air conditioning, heating, and power everything. Unlike many hybrids, the brakes feel normal and the rear seat folds down.
The car is also able to do some things regular cars can't. Without a combustion engine, the car is quieter than most luxury vehicles. Electric motors make peak torque at 0 RPM which means power is always instantly available and hill climbing ability is better than a diesel. The transmission is just one gear, so there's no shifting to deal with. It takes 8 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, but the power is so effortless that it feels faster. Best of all, traditional maintenance like oil changes and tuneups aren't needed with an electric motor.
The Nissan Leaf is the first electric vehicle on the U.S. market to offer fast charging, combine high voltage lines with careful battery monitoring to recharge the vehicle in about an hour. However, Nissan decided to use the Japanese ChaDeMo system. It looks like the SAE Stage 3 charging system will be come the fast-charing standard in North America limiting current buyers to quick-charge stations at a handful of Nissan dealerships.
Range is only 100 miles. Although drivers will be able to charge their vehicles nightly to prepare for commutes, road trips are out of the question.
The Leaf is built at Nissan's Yokohama plant, which was damaged in the recent earthquake. The company had planned to expand the availability of the car by adding production to their factory in Smyrna, Tennessee at the start of 2012, but production delays mean that current reservations may no be fulfilled until this comes on-line.
The Nissan Electric Car. Is it a direct replacement for gas-powered cars? No. However, for most people who need a second car it is ideal: Comfortable driving along with low fuel and maintenance costs make for a vehicle that's worth buying on more than its green credentials.