Nissan Leaf Test Drive

Posted by admin February 1st, 2011

Got a chance to visit the Nissan Leaf test drive event in Fort Lauderdale. Nissan had a really nice display which was like a small village they setup out in the Sawgrass Mills parking lot.

The main tent was for registration and also had a number of video displays that helped educate people about electric cars.

After they had a group ready, we were escorted into the next tent which housed a display with the Leaf’s battery pack. The pack is a very nicely organized system of 24 prismatic flat lithium ion modules. Each module houses 4 cells. The total pack is 24kwh of energy.  I don’t know how hard it is to actually get into the pack when it’s on the car, but it looks like it would be pretty easy to change out a bad module if you can get into the pack.

The next tent we were escorted to was a display on the range and iPhone system monitoring and control. For those that don’t have an iPhone there is also a web site. From your phone you can read battery charge and a lot of other car functions. One nice feature is that you can turn on the AC or heat remotely. So if you car is plugged in charging in the garage, you can turn on the AC and the car will cool itself off the garage power and be cool when you unplug it to drive.

From here we were lead out to the cars to drive. We first went through a little course setup in the parking lot with cones and then out on the street. The car performed real well. There is an econo mode which we also tried. In this mode acceleration is really sluggish and the regen is a lot heavier. You can really see how driving in this mode would lead to better economy, but for the average driver, it’s no fun.

The back seat was easily large enough to fit 3 adults, so it really is a 5 passenger car. There was even a nice sized trunk.

Charging the car can be done in two ways. There is the new standard j-1772 connector which can be plugged into a public charging station. The car comes with a cable with one of these connectors and a 120 volt standard AC plug. They recommend having a 240 volt charging station put in your house though. This is around $2k. These methods take from 6-8 hours to charge fully. The other method of charging is through a special high speed charging port which can handle a lot higher voltage and amperage. This would be used by fleet vehicles such as Taxis. This high speed port would allow the car to be charged in as little as 30 minutes.

Overall I was very impressed. Nissan seems genuinely committed to making this technology work. As a side note, all of the dealerships will have charging stations. I wonder if they will be kind enough to share a few electrons with other EVs who come to visit?

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