Exclusive: PluginCars.com to Test Drive First Pre-Production LEAF in Japan Next Week

· · 4 years ago

So, I've been blogging about the future of transportation for almost four years now, and early on I went to a Nissan event where they were talking about their EV strategy down in San Francisco. At the time, its plans were so new that it had only just announced partnerships with Oregon, Tennessee and Sonoma County to bring EVs and infrastructure to North America. Looking back, that all seems so small compared to the hundreds of global partnerships Renault-Nissan has gathered at this point.

Anyway, I came away from that early event and immediately felt that Nissan fully understood what all it was going to take to dominate the EV market. I even wrote a post: "Nissan Stealthily on Track for Electric Car World Domination". It was clear, even back then, that the company was in it to win. And now, two and a half years later, Nissan and its sister company, Renault, have plunked just about $4 billion dollars into their EV plans — more than any other manufacturer, I believe — in a bid to be the no-holds-barred absolute leader in the world of plug-ins.

As a result, many people now regard the Nissan LEAF as the most important car to hit the market since cars were invented. There is so much riding on it — so much caught up in its success — that when it finally gets into consumer hands at the end of this year, you can bet it will be evaluated ad nauseum. Which is why, when I was approached by Nissan and asked if I wanted to come to Japan and be one of the first five non-Nissan employees in the world to drive a pre-production LEAF on Nissan's test track in Yokohama, I was honored to accept.

Along with a few industry analysts and EV advocates, I'll be the only writer/blogger on hand at the event. It is truly a humbling thing. For my readers and audience, I see it as a duty to make sure that I get as much information as possible and disseminate it as widely as possible.

I'll be in Japan all next week and, along with the LEAF test drive I'll have a chance to chat over lunch with Nissan's CEO, talk with Nissan designers about the future of Nissan EV designs, and I'll be getting a tour of Nissan's historical vehicle archive museum. You can bet I'll also try to eat my weight in Sushi... I honestly can't get enough of the stuff.

So, check back here next week for exclusive pics, video and lots of coverage of this important event. You won't want to miss it. I'll also be covering the event for Gas 2.0, and I promise, I'll try not to let the jet lag show.

If you have any issues you want me to ask about or anything you want me to look for during my test drive, please let me know in the comments. I can't guarantee I'll be able to get answers, but I can sure try.

Comments

· · 4 years ago

Great news, Nick! Congratulations!
Finally the first drive - we are getting closer.
Could you take a picture of how "under the hood" looks like?

· · 4 years ago

Nick, could you ask Nissan people about if anything was done about protection from electromagnetic radiation since it is an all electric car?
Electric power transmission lines are a known cause of health diseases. Of course there is much less electricity in the electric car but a person position is very close to it. What was done about it?

· · 4 years ago

Yegor, Thanks!

I'll be sure to ask about EMR protection, since you're now the second person to ask me about it :)

And no worries, I'll get as many pictures as they'll let me take.

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

I would like to know if the batteries will develop the same memory issue as cell phones if the batteries are topped off each night rather than be allowed to be depleted below 50%.

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick,
Please ask them why they decided to exclude a thermal management system for the pack. I'm one of the MINI-E drivers and while I love the car, the effects on the cars range in the cold weather is substantial. Why does Nissan think their car doesn't need to better manage the battery temperature when just about all other EV's in development have one. Tesla uses one, the Volt will have one, the upcoming BMW Megacity will have one. I think Nissan has made a big mistake here and could have big problems in cold weather markets.

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick,
Congrats!
The main thing I want to know is this an electric car like an EV1, Tesla, T-zero, Wrightspeed X1, or White Zombie whose performance gets people's attention or is it designed to preserve the ICE?
An electric motor is good performing and efficient. I hope the Leaf demonstrates this.

· · 4 years ago

Nick,
What is 100% highway driving range?

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick,
Congratulations!
Will the battery pack be upgradable to larger capacity or new chemistries during the life of the car? 5-10 years of lifetime of the car will see many new battery developments.
Thanks

· · 4 years ago

Nick,
say big thank you! to Nissan people for investing $4 billion dollars into EV! They made the difference!

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick,

When I see the name Honda or Toyota, I think of quality and reliability. I also had a Nissan. I have own all three names and found that Honda tops the list in quality and dependability. I owned a Honda Civic hybrid 2005 and still own a 2006 Civic Hybrid. The 2006 is dependable. NO problem at all. When it comes to Nissan, quality and dependability just does not come to mind. Personally, I would be hesitant to buy a Leaf because of the dependability issue. Can you find out what Nissan has done with the Leaf to ensure quality and dependability? Thanks so much.

Scott

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

A lot of folks envy you (me for one) so congratulations.
Here is my pithy list of questions for you to ask them:

Are there LEAF APIs for iPhone developers?
Can we change the sounds (startup, low speed)?
Does Nissan have min/max range statistics (Minimum: Freeway speed with everything on, Maximum: Hyper-mileage driving)?
Will Nissan have a special website for owners to log in their results for data tracking and mining (or will Nissan be polling this data from the car itself over the cell network)?
Exactly what does the ECO setting do?
More details concerning the regenerative breaking in and out of ECO mode?
Besides the charging style, do the batteries last longer with less frequent charging?
I saw that Nissan is planning to have charging stations at their dealerships. What will there policy be for Leaf owners to use those stations?

Many thanks if you could "pepper" them with these questions.

Have fun!

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick,

I have read that the emergency brake on the Leaf is electronic. Can you find out how it works? If it's electronic, can it be controlled to apply gently as opposed to just all on or all off? I'm thinking of in an emergency if a braking failure occurs, you can manually apply a regular emergency brake. How do you apply the electronic one to control a stop?

· · 4 years ago

All,

Thanks for your questions! I'll be leaving in the AM and have got them all printed out. I'll ask as much as I can and see how many answers I can get. I'll probably address many of the questions in subsequent posts, but any ones I don't address in posts that I get answers to I'll just plop right back in this comment thread.

Cheers!

· · 4 years ago

Nick,
Have a great trip!

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Second this question:
"I saw that Nissan is planning to have charging stations at their dealerships. What will their policy be for Leaf owners to use those stations?"

Also, will the first batch of cars be upgraded to proper level 2 (7kW) charging or stuck at 3kW?

Also, what is the plan for owners to do pack replacement after say 5 years when it starts to wear out? Have they offered a projected price somewhere to replace the pack when the time comes?

· Anonymous · 4 years ago

Nick, careful with the wasabi...

· · 4 years ago

Nick,
It looks like you were scooped:
http://evsandenergy.blogspot.com/2010/06/testing-leaf-on-nissans-yokoham...
and
http://gm-volt.com/2010/06/15/first-nissan-leaf-journalist-test-drive/

but I'd still very much like to know what you found.

· · 4 years ago

Scooped, but just for the moment. Nick's post(s) are coming soon. Maybe even some video. And we'll have him around PluginCars.com to answer all the follow-up questions.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 4 years ago

This was a month ago right? Where is the article on that trip with the video's an all?

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