Nissan drew back the curtain today on its ambitious all-electric LEAF. Along with a small parade of international journalists, I've been in Yokohama for the past three days meeting with executives, getting technology briefings, and driving the electric platform. Although we had been given a chance to see the LEAF with our own eyes the day before, we went camera-less and all images were embargoed until this morning when, at Nissan's glimmering new super-green headquarters, the car was revealed. It was driven onstage by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and other notables, including the former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
(Exclusive pics after the jump)
Until this morning, in fact, the car's name was a closely guarded secret. The LEAF, as it is now officially dubbed, is a compact five-door hatchback with room for four or (with a squeeze) five adults. Below its floor sits a laminated lithium-ion battery pack composed of many rectangular modules, each roughly the size of a notebook, which add up to a 24kWh capacity and an output over 90kW. Under the LEAF's hood lives the engine, a small but powerful synchronous AC 80kW motor.
Nissan is confident that the LEAF will travel 100 miles on a charge. Charging time will vary from 16 hours (on a standard household plug) to 30 minutes (on a fancy 3-phase charging station).
The car goes on sale to select global markets and commercial fleets in late 2010. When it does, Nissan hopes to sell the car itself, but to lease the battery pack. While pricing is yet to be announced, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told the crowd that the car without its battery will be "very competitive" with comparable internal combustion models. The monthly cost to lease the battery and fill it with electrons, he added, will be less than an average month of fill-ups at the gas station.