100% electric, 100 mile range, 100% torque, 0 emissions.
That’s the headlines from Nissan’s advertisement for their upcoming Leaf electric vehicle. This is, essentially, what greenies, the eco conscious and the like have been waiting for since the Chevy Impact disappeared lo those many years ago. This, if you believe the PR, is not some afternoon toy, or a plaything for the rich. This is a car, made by one of the world’s leading manufacturers, intended for every day use.
This better work, as advertised, or it will be a huge setback to acceptance of EVs.
100 miles. The press (and the people) like a nice round number … and the phrase “100 miles of range” has been some sort of lode stone for EV makers for as long as I can remember. The new Nissan Leaf promises 100 miles of range on a charge, but there’s a huge asterisk by that number, as there is for all other electric vehicles.
*Actual range may vary depending on driving style and conditions.
And that’s where the rubber meets the road, to coin a phrase. When a manufacturer gives you MPG figures for one of their “normal” cars, you know that, give or take, you’ll be getting 24 miles per gallon.
As anyone who has played around with anything battery powered, from toy cars on up to current EVs of today, will tell you, battery life and rage can vary hugely depending on how much throttle you’re giving it.
Nissan says this is a serious and as practical a car as a Toyota Camry or a Ford Econoline Van. Park it in your garage, wake up in the morning, hop in, kids to school, you to work, leave it the company lot for 8 hours, back in the car, get the kids, swing by and get milks and bread, back home for the night, it’s a car.
That’s what they’re saying via their ads and their press releases, and that’s what they have to deliver. If they don’t, if they promise the moon, but “only” get you into orbit, people will be bummed. The press in general, and the auto press in particular, will hold up the Nissan Leaf and say, “See! Electric vehicles are bogus. They’re unworkable, not to be taken seriously.”
So as I said in the beginning: This had better work.
It better work because, as much as we fight against it, we car guys (especially car guys) NEED electric vehicles.
No, I don’t mean us personally, I mean people in general are going to need these, if we want to keep personal mobility around for the foreseeable future. If the Nissan Leaf is perceived as a failure, it will be a huge step backwards for gearheads everywhere. Because we NEED functional electric cars. Cars with gas burning engines are killing us, poisoning the planet and more and more people (i.e. governments) are seeing this and are beginning to take action.
What we, the gearheads, have to insure, is that the non-gearheads get around quickly and efficiently and cleanly as possible, so we can still have fun with our rides.
That’s why I love things like the Leaf and public transportation (and when was the last time you heard a car guy say that out loud?).
Get your everyday “driver” into a light rail vehicle or something like the Leaf. Get them polluting less (at least) or get them onto some form of public transportation (even better) and there will be less environmental damage and more room on the roads. The more these things happen, the less likely that very, very bad things, like gearheads not being able to afford their 1968 Mustang Fastbacks or taking their old Lotus for a run on Sunday morning, will happen.
The new Nissan Leaf, and cars like it, better work, because if not, we, the gearheads, will be screwed.