Driving Nissan's Global Electric Car

Nissan Electric Test Car photo

So this lucky writer is in Yokohama, Japan, where Nissan is getting ready to unveil its global electric car. Yesterday, members of the press were given an extensive briefing on Nissan's flagship greentech programs, and given a chance to drive the car pictured above (see our recent coverage). What you see, and what we drove, is the final incarnation of the much-anticipated EV in almost every way, save for its physical appearance. The width, length, and other critical dimensions are the same as they will be in the final version, as are the critical guts: battery modules, motor, inverter, tuning, etc. After driving the car, our next stop was to Nissan's brand-spanking global headquarters here in Yokohama where we were allowed to see (but not photograph) the final version of the EV, even the name of which is still under wraps.

(Pics and video after the jump)

Nissan Electric Test Car photo

The final design, to be publicly unveiled on August 2nd, is a 5-door compact car. It can travel up to 100 miles on a charge, and can be juiced to capacity in 30 minutes when plugged into a 200-volt, three-phase charger (currently a very expensive device). A 200-volt home charger would take eight hours.

As for the appearance of the final version, you'll have to decide for yourself when we post pics on Sunday night (stay tuned). We have our own opinions, but we'll be interested to hear what you think.

How about the driving experience? Well, it's fantastic...in a modest sort of way. The car accelerates with smooth vigor. Although there is no engine roar, just the swoosh of the air and road, it is exhilarating, especially when taking off from a stop. Once cruising, the car doesn't offer much in additional punch, which is a bit of a let-down after the initial spike of power, but overall handling is responsive and enjoyable.

This is no Tesla Roadster or Fisker Karma, to be sure, and you won't need to visit your chiropractor after snapping your neck back. But thank goodness, because this is an EV you might actually be able to afford.

Stay tuned for most posts on specifics of the car's innovative li-ion batteries, its IT integration (and iPhone interface), and Nissan's wireless charging technology. And of course stay tuned for plenty of bubblicious pics of the car once unveiled.

Nissan Electric Car Battery modules photo
The car's manganese-based lithium-ion battery is composed of modules, each the size of a TV dinner, that can be arranged in whatever configuration optimizes space.

Nissan Electric Vehicle Charging Plugs photo
The car's charging ports accommodate multiple voltages, each offering a different speed of charge.

Nissan Electric Vehicle charge station photo
Nissan hopes to see 200-volt charging stations like one installed at businesses and in public spots. They can deliver a full charge in 30 minutes, but still cost almost half a million dollars each.

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