January 27th 2011 2:06 am PT
Earlier this week, Nissan let me borrow one or their Nissan LEAF electric cars. While some may argue that the exterior design is not the most pleasing to the eye, it’s what you can’t see that will really turn heads. The car has almost every conceivable high tech gadget and gizmo packed into the car: GPS, Bluetooth, LED headlamps, back up camera etc.
What I found most interesting was the always on, always connected aspect of the car. The LEAF has a Telematics system that Nissan calls Carwings. This system can upload and download data about the cars performance and energy savings, as well as update the GPS database with the location of charging stations in your area (very helpful.) You can also use this connectivity to query the status of the car, as well as send it commands like start charging or turn on the heat via your mobile phone.
Driving under 100% battery power is a little different from gasoline power. First off, you have all of 100% of your torque from the moment you step on the accelerator. If you’ve ever played with a slot car, you know that means: A LOT of power right off a dead stop. It’s pretty impressive how fast you can go when you need to, like merging into fast moving traffic. Fortunately, when you hit the brake, the LEAF is designed to capture that power with the regenerative brake and send it back to the battery. Second: I did find myself having a little ‘Distance Anxiety’ when I was driving around. Since charging up a battery can take a lot longer than filling up a tank of gas….you drive around and wonder (hope?) that you’ll make it home.
The Nissan LEAF tries to calm your fears by giving you real-time feedback on your remaining battery power, as well as showing you via the GPS Map what your current range is. It helps.
There are plenty of reviews posted for the LEAF, but I thought you’d enjoy a closer look inside through some videos and pictures I’ve posted. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll try and answer them.
Listen to the show this weekend where we’ll talk more about the experience with the LEAF.