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All the major car manufacturers have made major investments into developing cleaner, more efficient vehicles, not because they care, but because the world is changing natural resources are running out and they have to keep up.
To be fair, Nissan have been at the forefront of green vehicle technology over the last couple of decades and have made great advancements, their latest car the ‘Leaf’ is being advertised as the worlds first truly mass produced 100% Electric vehicle.
Technically it’s not 100% zero emission as there are emissions from generating the electricity it needs to go, but the Leaf shoes Nissan are grabbing the bull by both horns, (even if the car has only got one).
The Leaf (a bacronym of Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car, by the way) will travel up to 100 miles from one charge and you can get up to nearly 90mph in it. A quick charge system means you can recharge the car to 80% in around 30 minutes. Pretty good for most people and more than enough for 80% of car journeys made in the UK. However there is a drawback (more on this later).
For a car that is setting standards under the bonnet, it seems a little unfair to pick holes in its appearance, it’s a bit like saying Einstein had goggle eyes or Stephen Hawkings has greasy hair. But like books (and people), cars are judged on their covers. I actually think it looks quite cool, it has curves in places and reminds me a bit of a frog. It has character, and character is good in cars (and books, and people).
The car is eerily quite (surprisingly unlike a lot of electric cars), so quiet you will think the engine has cut out. It is nippy about town and quick off the mark. Handling is good for a car with huge batteries in the back and it is just as at home on the motorway (as long as you don’t go too far!).
The interior is (post) modern and sleek and the technology inside the car is courtesy of Microsoft. Now this has some benefits when you need to fins a charging point, but there have been some teething problems with the Sat Nav and even reports of directing cars along railway tracks! Much better in the meantime to get a Garmin Sat Nav (see review here).
The Leaf is going to cost you over £23,000 (or $33,000), and that is including £5,000 off via government allowance. For a regular, nasty, polluting car of comparable features and spec you would pay somewhere in the region of £8-10,000 less than the Leaf. The other problem is battery life. After 5 years or 100,000 miles you are on your own warranty wise and by then your battery will be only 80% as efficient as new. This could be a problem if you were looking to re-sell, or get a newer model.
The Leaf is a leap forward and Nissan have gone a long way to solving many (but not all) of the issues electric transport has. The problem being the two main ones, (price and range) are still unresolved. Until they can work those little niggles out, the best electric car in the world is still out of range of most people.
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