The Nissan Leaf (sometimes formatted as "LEAF": Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) is an electric car announced by Nissan in 2009. It is expected to be marketed in North America, Europe, and Japan, beginning in … see full wiki
Modern electric cars are neat alternatives for people who want to be environmentally responsible and don't mind keeping fairly close to home, but they do have one significant drawback: they're either gobsmackingly pricey two seat sportsters (Hello, Tesla Roadster!) or larger-than-normal golf carts made just beefy enough for 35 mph-and-under street duty. Not terribly appealing to the majority of American motorists, eh? Thankfully, Nissan has seen fit to create an EV that, aside from being powered by lithium ion batteries driving an electric motor and having a roughly 100 mile range, is a pretty normal front-drive, 5-door, 5-passenger subcompact called the Leaf.
As a purely electric vehicle, the Leaf does without any internal combustion engine, giving it a serious leg up on other green cars like the Honda Insight, the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the upcoming Chevy Volt. Granted, there is still a little pollution released somewhere else (the exact amount depends on what kind of power plant the electricity comes from), but if for some reason you want to end it all by locking yourself in the garage with the car running, the Leaf will definitely leave you disappointed (read: alive).
But the Leaf's cleanliness isn't its only calling card; it also has many cutting edge tech toys inside the cabin, like Sirius/XM satellite radio, keyless ignition and Bluetooth connectivity. And speaking of connectivity, you can actually use your iPhone or other smart phone to remotely tell the Leaf to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior, and you can program the Leaf to send you a message when it's done recharging.
So how much will this electrified runabout cost? About $32,000, but that's before a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. Many states will offer further incentives that could bring your net cost very close to $20,000. You'll also be able to lease the Leaf for $349 per month. An optional 220V home charging station, supplied by a company out of my home town called AeroVironment, will run you about $2,200 before tax breaks. (You can charge the Leaf from a 110V wall outlet, but - surprise! - it takes about twice as long.)
Will the Leaf fill everyone's automotive needs? Of course not. But sooner or later, cars that run on electrons and other alternative fuels instead of fermented dinosaurs will be the norm rather than the exception, and if you ask me, the Nissan Leaf seems like it will make that transition quite a bit more bearable.
For more on the Nissan Leaf, check out the full-length article at sub5zero.com.