Nissan doesn’t expect the Leaf to do massive sales
Nissan’s plug-in Leaf is rolling into real-world carports this week.
The five-seater Nissan Leaf has gone on sale with the promise of 170km range from a full 24kWh battery charge – which means a cost from around 2c per kilometre in fuel compared to 11c/km for a comparable petrol car.
The five-seater is priced from $51,500, with a charging station adding from $2800 extra for those who want to cut the juice-up time back to about four hours, rather than the 16 hours needed for a 15amp domestic supply to ‘juice up’ the underfloor battery pack.
A cutting edge telematics system connected to a global data centre allows the driver’s smartphone to remotely set charge options, including taking advantage of off-peak rates. However, the Leaf is launching head-on into the carbon tax -- which will raise electricity costs after July 1.
“The general view is that carbon tax will lead to electricity prices going up around eight per cent,” says Chris Giaoris of Origin Energy, which is supplying the Leaf charge points.
The car also faces an acknowledged resistance to the new technology and concern about plug-in range.
“There is some reluctance, not just in Australia, but in every country,” Nissan’s global head of product strategy and advanced planning, Francois Bancon said at the launch in Sydney yesterday (SUBS: Friday).
“We are improving the technology, we are targeting better economy and we plan to double the range in another four or five years.
“The answer is in the infrastructure, where you can one day drive from one city to another and along the way pull into a station and charge in 10 minutes while you have a cup of coffee.
“But the government has to support this approach and in Australia it has not so far.”
Nissan doesn’t expect the Leaf to do massive sales, saying it is spearheading a push for the range of models coming behind it.
“We’re talking about just hundreds a year,” Nissan spokesman Jeff Fisher said. “At the moment it’s about the whole electric car awareness, so we want to take one step at a time.
“This is basically the thin end of the wedge. We’ve always talked about having a suite of electric vehicles: a family hatch, we talked about a two-seater city runabout, a luxury version that could be under the Infiniti brand for example. We talked about a commercial vehicle… all of those are out there.”