Nissan is following in the carbon footprints of a number of other manufacturers, announcing the LEAF electric vehicle. Planned for launch in the US, Japan and Europe in 2010, the LEAF - Nissan says - will be the "world's first affordable, zero-emission car."
The LEAF does trump rivals such as the Smart ed with enough space, says Nissan, to seat five adults "comfortably." I'm not convinced about the LEAF's looks although I can't dispute Nissan in calling the design "distinctive." Features such as LED-headlights (which use notably less power than conventional lamps) are less controversial.
Performance is hardly in Porsche Cayman territory, but for an electric vehicle the LEAF doesn't do too badly. The LEAF is powered from lithium-ion batteries delivering 90kW to an electric motor which itself develops 80kW of power and 207lb/ft of torque. That's enough to take the LEAF to a top speed of about 90mph - though not on a public road, of course.
Nissan says a full charge should take about eight hours from a normal wall socket and a dedicated quick charger will take the LEAF to 80 per cent in just 30 mins. Nissan reckons the LEAF's 100 mile maximum range suits the needs "of more than 70 per cent of the world's consumers who drive cars."
Pricing isn't mentioned, but will be revealed closer to the planed 2010 launch. Nissan says the LEAF will be comparatively priced and also reckons that maintenance costs should be lower due to the LEAF being less mechanically complex compared to a fuel-powered vehicle. And there are a number of tax incentives on offer for purchasers of electric vehicles to consider, too.