The West

Nissan s aggressive plan to cut Leaf price
Nissan Leaf

Nissan's fully electric hatch, the Leaf, will be priced at $51,500 when it goes on sale in June. That's big money for a car that's somewhat smaller than the Holden Volt and would likely be the second car for many families.

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However, Nissan has an aggressive plan to sell the car in big numbers globally which, if successful, would bring prices down over the next five years.

The Leaf is recharged from an electric socket and has a range of about 170km when driven in Eco mode. The gear selector, which looks like a computer mouse, has just three choices - Park, Reverse and Drive.

Like all electric cars, the first sensation is of instant acceleration and near-silent running.

There's space for four adults and a good-size boot.

Nissan sold more than 20,000 Leafs globally in its first year, which makes it the highest-selling electric car available.

It has won World Car of the Year and European Car of the Year.


Also due mid-year is the Renault Fluence ZE, an all-electric sedan that is about the same size as the Volt.

Its point of difference is a low price, an estimated $35,000, which is achievable via an innovative approach to the car's battery pack. The battery pack would normally add a whopping $15,000-$20,000 to the price.

Instead of being the property of the vehicle owner, the battery pack will be owned by the green motoring company Better Place, which will lease it to the user.

How much money drips from your credit card to Better Place each month will depend on how much use is made of Better Place's servicing, battery-swap and fast-charging stations. It's similar to how we are billed for mobile phone/data usage.

Charging takes seven hours using a household outlet or 30 minutes at a fast-charge station. Better Place reckons it will be able to change the 250kg battery pack in one minute, which would double the range to 320km.

Sadly, for us, the Better Place stations will initially be set up in Eastern States cities.

The West Australian

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