300 Mile Nissan Leaf?

The 300 Mile Nissan Leaf

In disbelief you read the title, likely thinking, “No, it was a type-o.”  But you’d be wrong.  Nissan announced to an exclusive party of reporters and guests last Friday the future of the Nissan Leaf.  Not merely with a drastically improved range, but improved charging times and autonomy.

The second generation of the Nissan Leaf (not the 2016, that’s 1.5), will have not just double the first generations’ battery, but the middle; going from 30 kWh to 60 kWh.  Many Leaf drivers get at least 4 kWh / mile, but it is entirely possible to score 5+ kWh / mile putting this new generation into the range of 300 miles per full charge.  And seeing that the Leaf is a bit lighter than the Tesla S, it’s obvious why the efficiency works to it’s advantage.

Nissan seemed all too excited to demonstrate that the new battery technology, known as NMC or Nickle-Mangan-Cobalt.  It appears to be a conjoined operation between LG Chem and Nissan to produce this super battery. But most EV drivers will take what they can get when it comes to improved range, outside the price-range of a Tesla S.

Additionally, this new Leaf will sport autonomous driving, likely updated OTA like the Tesla models. Any owner of a higher-end Nissan of just about any model can attest to the nifty bird-eye view of the vehicle when maneuvering for parking.  This concept will be enhanced with a 360-degree RADAR system surrounding the vehicle

We can expect to see this new model and its features sometime in 2018. And it can’t come too soon.  Once it becomes apparent that driving electric (and autonomously), we may see a very large swing toward it.  Efficiency, range, acceleration, maintenance, and quietness are all benefits of the electric car.  Not to mention raw power and torque that almost no internal combustion engine can muster.

New Smart: Big City Car (w /Video)

Big City Car

 Big City Car

Smart is attempting some new strategies on selling the brand in the US, and one of them is the Big City Car.  Rather than just innovate, Smart has gone overboard to the point of ridiculous.

Of course it is possible to sling mud at one’s opponents, but why not just make fun of yourself?  The new Big City Car is real, at least as a prototype, but it is unreasonably large.   And it is merely a 1.5 scale model of the current Smart City car.

The videos that have been made to ridicule the concept of this mega car are truly aimed at all makers of cars that are roughly equivalent to  the Big city car.  But I’m not sure if the campaign is more functional, or just funny.

Google Self-Driving Vehicle (w/ Video)

Google Self-Driving Vehicle

Google is taking it to the next level by skipping the process of modifying an existing vehicle, but rather building their own.  I’m not even quite sure what to call this new EV, except as the Google Self-Driving Vehicle.

It’s pretty cool, if you get the chance to see one of the many Google self-driving cars around the San Francisco Bay Area.  They’re adorned with a cylindrical spinning device on the roof and are often either a Lexus RX or a Toyota Prius.  But this new little car is neither made by a major manufacturer nor is it a mock-up of some other car (although it does resemble the love child of a Smart Fortwo and Fiat 500).

These tiny EVs are capped to a maximum speed of 25 MPH to take excited visitors around a custom built track on Google’s campus.  Google needs these car to help them better develop the end-product of the true self-driving car.  While they may have logged half-a-million miles of auto-pilot miles on the streets of the SF Bay, it still needs more work. And this microcosm of the world might just do the trick.

Google plans to build a hundred prototype vehicles and test them over the next few years.

If you want to learn more about this project follow their Google+ Page

Fiat 500e w / Video

The Truth About Cars

The latest EV to the low-end side of the market, the Fiat 500e which has the appeal of not looking at all like an EV.  Without the rather tiny EV badges and rather odd-looking golfball patterns on the front and rear of the body, you might never know it was electric.

If you’re those who thought that the Fiat 500 was cool or cute, then the 500e will not disappoint.  But it may be important to note that you will be paying a particular premium (before tax credits and discounts), the 500e costs nearly twice that of the gasoline version. The gasoline base price starts at $16,750 whereas the electric starts at $32,500.

One of the most impressive distinctions between the gasoline and electric versions of the 500 is that the electric is actually more powerful and quite a bit faster in the 0-60 MPH trial than the gasoline.  However, as is the case with 90% of electric vehicles on the market today, the 500e has a very limited range and is still best used for daily commuting or city driving.

Although electric cars have neither the price nor the expected range of the typical family sedan, they are making strides into the market and may soon be comparable.

Below is an impressive video from “The Truth About Cars”, offering a very thorough review of the Fiant 500e. The speaker explains some key points about fueling the 500e and gives some very helpful, personal experience points about the vehicle.

The Leafs are falling up in France in 2013

Credit: Renault

In the last six months the number of electric vehicles sold in France has doubled.

France is leading the way in Europe offering the largest vehicle incentives topping €7000.  In the first six months of 2013 nearly 5000 electric vehicles were sold in France besting the entire year of 2012 (just under 2300) Although the Nissan Leaf is fairing well in the European Market, France’s own Renault Zoe is still leading the pack with 75% of all EVs sold.  The Leaf does hold the position of second most EVs sold in France but by a large margin, standing in at barely more than 10% of the market.

At this rate France could very well hit the 10,000 sold mark by years-end.