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Nissan Leaf to arrive in 2010

The Japanese company has opened its new global headquarters in Yokohama and unveiled the new platform on which its first production electric vehicles will be based.

Nissan has been developing its electric vehicle program through a Tiida-based prototype with a compact lithium-ion battery under the floor.

Nissan Australia senior corporate communications manager Jeffrey Fisher said the dedicated new electric vehicle to be unveiled today would go into production next year and be available in Australia in 2012.

The electric vehicle features an IT system which integrates satellite navigation and the internet to ensure the car is always charged and available for use.

This includes a display on the car’s satnav map that shows the maximum range of the vehicle for the current state of battery charge and the location of recharging stations within the range radius.

It also features a timer function which will start the car’s airconditioner or battery charging at a specified time.

The air-conditioner can be programmed to cool the cabin to a set temperature while the vehicle is being charged so that it doesn2t drain the vehicle's battery.

Charging can be set to start at a specified time at night to benefit from cheaper electricity rates and can be programmed and monitored by mobile phone or the internet.

A text message can be sent to the driver when the battery is fully charged and the vehicle is ready for use.

The electric vehicle is powered by a Nissan-developed electric motor delivering 80kW of power and 280Nm of torque. The 24kWh laminated compact lithium-ion battery pack is housed under the floor so it doesn2t compromise cabin or cargo space.

The battery layout also allows smooth air-flow under the car, reducing aerodynamic drag.

While electric vehicles are quiet, Nissan’s model could be even quieter as the additional frame for the battery pack improves rigidity reducing vibration and external sounds.

The electric vehicle uses a system of regenerative braking which recovers power from the brakes to recharge the battery as used in Toyota’s Prius hybrid car.

Nissan claims the regenerative braking system extends the driving range to more than 160km, depending on how hard it is driven.