2013 Nissan LEAF Offers New Entry-Level 'S' Grade, Improved Efficiency and Greatly Reduced Charging Time
CARS, Nissan Leaf
Now in its third model year, the highly innovative, industry leading Nissan LEAF pure electric vehicle features an extensive list of important enhancements for 2013. Importantly, LEAF is now assembled in the United States at Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn. assembly plant, with battery production taking place right next door in the country's largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant.
Changes to the 2013 Nissan LEAF start with improved energy efficiency* due to refined aerodynamics, a wider range of regenerative braking, improved energy management and a newly available 6.6 kW onboard charger that reduces 220V charging time nearly in half to approximately four hours for full charge*. In addition, a new lower priced entry-level LEAF S grade joins the previous SV and SL grades, while an array of feature enhancements are added to the LEAF SL grade, including leather-appointed seating and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Also, three new option packages are available - offering advanced systems such as Around View Monitor and 7-speaker Bose energy efficient audio.
Due to efficiency improvements, the 2013 Nissan LEAF is expected to offer improved range, with testing on the EPA test cycle to be announced closer the vehicle's on-sale date.
Said Nissan Division Vice President and General Manager Al Castignetti: "The refinements and enhancements for 2013 hit at the core of customer requests during LEAF's first two years - available features providing quicker charging, improved range expectations and the ability to fine-tune the equipment levels to exact owner needs, whether they desire fewer standard features for an even more affordable car or more luxury amenities like leather-appointed seating and premium audio."
Other 2013 model year additions include an available hybrid heater system that provides superior cold weather performance while consuming less energy; a new available "B" drive mode that increases regenerative braking during deceleration; and a new charge port light and lock, with a charge port door release button added to the intelligent key fob.
Enhanced interior features range from a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel to a new black interior color and sun visor extensions. Rear cargo space has been increased to 24 cubic feet with the 2nd row seat upright by relocating the onboard charger to the front of the vehicle. There is 30 cubic feet of cargo space with the standard 60/40-split rear seat folded down.
EV-IT improvements for 2013 include a new "Eco route" feature added to the available navigation system that includes suggested power-saving alternative routes - plus Google local search, Pandora link for iPhone and iPod cover art. The new Google Places search function allows LEAF owners to look for area restaurants, shops and other points of interest and browse user reviews using Google's POI database to get the most up-to-date information at all times.
"When we launched the Nissan LEAF two years ago our desire was to offer surprising acceleration performance and a quiet, refined interior with room for five adults and their cargo - all in a vehicle that is fully electric, produces zero carbon emissions and with a range that would satisfy the daily needs of most drivers," said Castignetti. "Having met and exceeded those original goals, we've now enhanced nearly every aspect of LEAF for 2013 - extending its appeal to an even wider audience just as we've started local assembly and local production if our batteries and electric motors."
A Dedicated EV Platform, Innovative Battery Design
The front-wheel drive LEAF again uses a dedicated EV platform with batteries housed in the floor for optimum vehicle packaging and weight distribution. The body design includes a rigid-mounted battery frame, which helps provide greater body rigidity compared to a conventional compact car.
LEAF rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a 175.0-inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height. Dimensionally, the Nissan LEAF falls in between the Nissan Altima and Nissan Versa, and like those vehicles provides room for five adults and a good-sized cargo area. Placing the batteries in the floor of the vehicle provides optimum weight distribution to help enhance handling and allows for five-passenger seating by not intruding into the cabin space. LEAF's 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery is comprised of 48 compact modules of four cells each (192 cells total), which allows a high degree of packaging flexibility. The batteries are designed to maximize drive time and minimize charging time.
The battery was developed by the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture of Nissan and NEC. Unlike conventional cylindrical batteries, the thin, compact laminated cells offer more flexibility in design applications. The battery powers a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor, rated at 107 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels through a single speed reducer. Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine, LEAF has 100 percent of its torque available from start, delivering smooth, consistent acceleration and the driving feel similar to a conventional V6 engine.
The Nissan LEAF offers a number of charging options. A charge port is located in the front body for the 220V charger and portable trickle charge cable (110V). A charge port light and lock has been added for 2013. The available Quick Charge Port (standard on SL, optional on S, SV) allows charging to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes at public charging stations using a DC fast charger. There is also a standard photovoltaic solar panel spoiler on SL models, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for vehicle accessories.
For 2013, LEAF SV and SL grades feature a new 6.6 kW onboard charger that reduces 220V charging time nearly in half to approximately 4 hours for a full charge. The system is optionally available on the LEAF S, which in standard form will utilize a 3.6 kW onboard charger. All LEAF models come with a standard portable trickle charge cable.
Said Castignetti: "Being able to 80-percent recharge the LEAF battery in approximately four hours gives owners tremendous flexibility, such as recharging while going to dinner and a movie, attending a sporting event or spending a half-day at the office."
The 2013 Nissan LEAF again uses an independent strut suspension with stabilizer bar in front and a torsion beam rear suspension with integrated stabilizer bar. Responsive steering is provided by a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system.
Braking is provided by power-assisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. LEAF's standard regenerative braking system helps increase range. By applying the brakes or reducing speed by letting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. The new "B-mode" (SV and SL grades) allows the driver to Engage an even more aggressive level of regenerative braking while decelerating, such as when going down hills. The "B-mode" is in addition to the normal and Eco drive modes. The Eco mode increases regenerative braking, assists in limiting motor output and reduces HVAC power output.
"The Nissan LEAF has an advantage in that braking force is used to re-power the battery, thereby improving its energy efficiency," said Castignetti.
Because Nissan LEAF does not have an internal combustion engine, Nissan has incorporated an "Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians" system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching. When driving at low speeds, the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle's speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the "approaching sound" automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again.
Exterior Designed for "Smart Fluidity"
Nissan LEAF's dedicated EV body is designed to offer "smart fluidity" - a fusion of sophisticated aerodynamic management and aerodynamic acoustics with the freedom provided by the new EV layout.