Over the weekend I had the opportunity to test drive the new Nissan LEAF, the 100% electric, zero-emission car.
The Tesla Roadster, also a B.E.V. (battery electric vehicle) and perhaps the first electric car for U.S. consumers, retails for $109K. The MSRP of the LEAF starts at $32K – making it the first all-electric ride available to the consumer market.
Outside of taking a test drive, I had the opportunity to learn about the benefits of ownership (HUGE tax credits in CA), and the science and technology behind the car.
Many of you already know that I’m a total freak for Hybrids. Needless to say, I was super-stoked to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoon at Century City to take the LEAF for a spin (and possibly buy new boots at the adjacent outdoor shopping area – I’m not gonna lie!).
The car drives a lot like the Prius. It’s quiet and smooth. The guy let me floor it down Avenue of the Stars, and I noticed that the pickup is considerably faster. The 5 door hatch makes it smaller and less sedan-like, although it’s still considered to be a family car.
The technology is also similar to the Prius. The shift is in the middle and there’s a screen for navigation, entertainment and for monitoring your trip. The map also pinpoints nearby charging stations. The dash has a matte display – like a Kindle – where you can see your controls.
My favorite design element of the exterior is definitely the sleekness of the tail light.
I like the round shape of the car. It looks practical and accessible for buyers (and check it out- no tailpipe)!
The battery, when fully charged, gives the car a range of 100 miles. While this may induce range anxiety in some drivers, we learned that most drivers don’t even go more than 100 miles in a typical day.
A free app can help to ascertain how far 100 miles will take you. You can also use an app to turn on A.C. or heat when the car is powered down, keeping it at the perfect temperature before you enter – while saving battery when it’s actually powered on.
The LEAF is available for pre-order now in the U.S. and Japan, with shipping starting soon.
A rollout is planned in 2012 for availability in the global marketplace.