• Feb 22, 2010

Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

According to Forbes' Jerry Flint, "the [Nissan] Leaf is more likely to be a sales failure than a sales success." Why is Flint so willing to 'stick his neck out,' as he puts it? There's an entire column of information that you can find by clicking here, but we'll list a few of the bullet points:
  • It doesn't have the range of a gasoline-powered car
  • It doesn't have the top speed of a gasoline-powered car
  • It costs more than a gasoline-powered car
  • It takes "forever" to refuel
Well now, that does sound pretty damning, doesn't it? But let's analyze a few of these complains right quick. We'll grant the range issue right off the bat – all electric cars that lack a range extender are limited in range by the available capacity of the battery pack. Nissan says to expect about 100 miles, some will get less. No surprise there, and a deal-breaker for some. Moving on then... to top speed. Who really needs to go faster than 90 miles per hour? Certainly not us, at least not on a day-to-day basis.

Next is cost. Nissan has yet to announce an expected price for the Leaf, but most expect it to come in somewhere under $30,000 after federal tax credits are factored in, plus its running costs should be far lower than a typical gasoline-powered car. Finally, refueling time. It certainly doesn't take "forever," but eight hours on a standard wall plug is indeed a long time. For those that travel less than the car's actual range, though, that won't be a problem. Plug the car in at night and unplug it in the morning. Simple.

For those that travel further than the Leaf's available range, Nissan and the U.S. government are rolling out rapid charging stations in selected markets, which you can read about here on these very pages. Will that be enough to make the Leaf practical for U.S. consumers? Certainly not everyone, but Nissan doesn't care because it isn't targeting everyone.

So, will the Nissan Leaf be a flop? We have no idea. Neither does Flint. But we do know that the car's limitations are well known and shouldn't be a surprise to anyone willing to plunk down $30,000 (or so) on one. We'll see.



[Source: Forbes]


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