American motorists have been slow to embrace electric vehicles for many reasons. The cost and the lack or range and infrastructure are chief among them. Still others may be deciding to wait a bit until all the bugs have been worked out. Indeed, recalls and accusations of battery fires have plagued more than one major EV maker this year. One of the most popular models, however, the Nissan Leaf, has a clean record.
New Nissan Leaf coming in January
Nissan USA is building the U.S. version of the 2013 Leaf in its Smyrna, Tennessee plant. According to Inside EVS, an English-language version of the Japanese site SankeiBiz, it will have a range of about 150 miles in any weather, even in the cold. EVs have traditionally not responded well to extremes of temperature.
The EPS rates the 2012 Leaf’s range at about 73 miles. So can American motorists really expect, like magic, Nissan Leaf will more than double its range next year? Not really. The Japanese automotive industry has a much more lenient testing cycle than do automakers in the U.S. According to AutoBlog, a much more real estimate is that its range will be extended by 25 percent of the current EPA number — or about 91 miles. Still a significant increase.
AutoBlog also reports that the automaker may be considering an entry-level Leaf in January for motorists who have less to spend. According to Inside EV, the starting price of the no-frills Leaf will be around $26,600 in the U.S., before incentives. Compare that to the $35,200 MSRP for the 2012 Leaf.
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Battery nearly fire-proof
Many EV models have come under scrutiny for fires that may or may not have been caused by problematic batteries. The Tesla Roadster has faced repeated setbacks over the issue. Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt faced a recall of several thousand units early in the year for similar claims.
The 2012 Leaf, however, has never been recalled, and its battery seems to be the most fireproof thing about it.
In Colorado recently, a Nissan Leaf burned to the ground, until it was almost impossible to identify. However, according to AutoEvolution , the battery was the one thing in the wreck that remained relatively unscathed.
Green in the sun
The lack of available charging facilities is a big reason American motorists have been so reluctant to visit an auto loan bank regarding the purchase of a new EV. An infrastructure of charging stations to keep EVs powered up is coming. But in the meantime ingenuity has prevailed for one Salt Lake City man.
Michael Mielke loves the Nissan Leaf he calls Lela. And he hates leaving a carbon footprint by relying on power grid electricity, generated by burning coal. So he creates his own.
He has 18 solar panels affixed to his roof, facing the Utah sun. They generate about 3,200 watts of power, which is more than enough to light his home and keep his Leaf running.
Mielke speaks highly of Lela:
“She’s a sports car and she runs on sunshine.”
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