Blog: Simon WarburtonElectric dreams

Simon Warburton | 3 November 2010

Nissan's been proudly showing off its new electric vehicle in Europe this week and appropriately decided to centre the event around the Museum of Electricity in Lisbon.

A former coal-fired power station - the transition analogy was not lost - the Museum houses an extraordinary collection of old power options right next to the Portuguese capital's iconic monument to its famous discoverers.

And power is something the Leaf most definitely doesn't stint on. It delivers a surprising torque value according to Nissan equivalent to a 2.5L V6 petrol engine, although when switching to the 'Eco' mode for motorways, pulling is clearly not as great.

Noise - or obviously the lack of it - has taxed the Nissan boffins who - in consultation with various blind associations for example - have come up with an engine-mounted system that the manufacturer says produces a sound similar to that of an aircraft taxiing. After 30km/h, tyre noise is deemed sufficient.

Such lack of cabin noise necessitated attention also had to be paid to quietening the wiper motor by 3db, while the headlamps deflect wind over the Leaf's wing mirrors.

A dashboard gizmo constantly updates the range available - 160km autonomy is sufficient for most journeys - but driving up to 140km/h certainly sees the distance left rapidly diminish. However, an indicator also tells the driver where the nearest recharging point is - just for reassurance's sake.

The Leaf certainly created quite a stir around Lisbon's streets this week. The 'Zero Emissions' badging caused a fair amount of head turning, while one driver gesticulated at the car "electric?"

My Portuguese isn't exactly fluent and after his several sentences - delivered at extraordinary pace - I just gave him a thumbs-up, which elicited the rather odd reply in Lisbon of "au revoir."

And the Japanese couldn't resist adding yet a further touch of technology. Should you be at dinner having parked your Leaf at a recharging point, a signal can be directed into your restaurant to a Smart Phone that will alert the driver when the car battery is fully replenished.

Oh, and according to Nissan, several Leaf cars together will be 'Leafs' and not 'Leaves.'


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