Leaf is a quiet achiever
Nissan Leaf. Supplied picture

The electric car revolution may not be here yet but Nissan believes it has definitely started.

Last week the Japanese car maker launched the Leaf EV in Australia, its maiden electric vehicle and the first of three we will see over the next 12 months or so. It will be followed by the LE from Nissan's Infiniti prestige nameplate and the NV200 commercial van.

And while it expects Leaf sales to be less than 1000 per year, Nissan also believes it will be a game changer, especially for city commuters.

The Leaf is the first car that was designed to be powered by an electric motor from its concept,unlike the Mitsubishi iMiev, the first EV sold in Australia.

It did not start with an engine bay it did not need, nor did it need to make compromises in the passenger compartment or cargo area to fit the batteries.

Nissan engineers have also introduced subtle design elements, such as small wings on top of the headlights, to reduce wind noise. With no engine noise, outside noises are far more noticeable in the cabin, so Nissan has gone to extra lengths to ensure the cabin is ultra quiet.

A short introductory drive in Sydney last week revealed just how successful it has been. The cabin is as quiet as any car, no matter the cost, that I have driven in an urban environment. Whether or not it remains that quiet on a freeway run is still to be seen - or heard.

With a maximum range of 170km it is not a car designed for country cruising.

But Nissan still has to convince potential buyers to part with $51,500, which is about $20,000 more than a similarly-equipped petrol-powered competitor.

Nissan points out that when you take the whole-of-life cost into account the difference is not so dramatic.

It says that in some US States where government rebates can reduce the cost of the Leaf by up to $12,500, it has come very close to matching the ownership costs of a petrol-powered Volkswagen Golf.

Unfortunately in Australia, where only very small - or no - government incentives are offered for buying green technology, the cost equation takes longer to be equalised.

But Nissan still believes the Leaf is compelling enough to attract family buyers to purchase its five-seater hatch. It is the same size as a Toyota Corolla and it has more rear leg room and a similar-size cargo area.

Features include climate control, cruise control, sat nav, a premium audio system and a five-star crash rating.

Whether or not it is compelling enough to change the way we think about urban mobility only time will tell.

But the thought of never having to go to a service station again has to be appealing.


A free app with every car, it was only going to be a matter of time. But it is exactly what you get when you buy a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

The app will enable you to check on how much charge you have in your car’s batteries and whether or not it is enough to get you where you want to go and home again. It is designed to eliminate range anxiety, a major curse of EVs.

On those hot summer or cold winter days you can also turn the air-conditioner on before you are due to leave.
And they are just some of the simpler things that a middle-aged motoring writer can understand.

It will also read you the latest news headlines, stock market report or gig guide, or you can send the sat nav system a pre-determined drive route so when you get to the car it is ready to give you directions.


Model: Nissan Leaf
Price: $51,500
Power: Electric motor
Outputs: 80kW, 280Nm
Range: Up to 170km
Battery: 24kWh lithium-ion
Recharge time: 8-14 hours using household power point Recharge/refuel price in WA for 15,000km: $843 (petrol $1808, diesel $1300, hybrid $860)
Battery life: Estimated eight years
Servicing: Every 10,000km
Service costs: First $88, next six vary from $88 to $280

The West Australian

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