Opinion – How the Nissan Leaf has blazed a trail

Monday, November 28th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Opinion – How the Nissan Leaf has blazed a trail

Sales may not knock you off your feet, yet the Nissan Leaf’s creator says will be a crucial car in which will leave a lasting legacy


“A lot of people underestimated just how big a commitment the Leaf was through Nissan,” says Tom McCabe, a senior engineer who’s been working on the entire world’s best-selling electric car for the past six years.

He’s right: here will be a major car producer in which didn’t just flirt with electric car technology with an out-there concept car at a far-flung motor show, yet went out as well as also made a full global product built on three different continents.

“in which was a huge commitment to move the game on as well as also change the conventions of the industry,” McCabe adds. “Competitors are today realising in which will be something in which needs to be done properly. More people are following today.”

Nissan will be approaching the fifth anniversary of Leaf production, as well as also in which will be the sixth anniversary of the product’s appearance at the 2009 Tokyo motor show after its debut earlier in which summer. At in which year’s show, the next-generation of Leaf will be being previewed which has a brand-new concept car in which also introduced autonomous technology to the product.

in which feels fitting, then, to look back on the impact the entire world’s first mass-produced electric car has had on the industry – as well as also, autonomous tech aside, just what the future has in store for the Leaf.

The Japanese producer has today sold close to 0,000 Leafs globally as well as also 10,000 from the UK, almost 3000 of which were from the first half of in which year alone, an achievement in which was not bad for a 63.3% market share of electric vehicles.

Of course, the sales represent a tiny proportion of the almost 1.4m brand-new cars registered from the UK from the first half of the year, yet the pure electric segment almost doubled from the period to not far off 5000 units. Hybrids bolstered the sales further, with almost 35,000 of those sold from the first six months of 2015.

So while the market for low carbon cars remains in its infancy, be in no doubt in which demand will be increasing rapidly. 

The Leaf remains the flag bearer for the EV in in which country. Sales commenced at the end of 2010 which has a Japanese-built product, as well as also in early 2013 a redesigned as well as also re-engineered European edition of the Leaf went into production at Nissan’s Sunderland plant using 42% UK-sourced parts. Development was led by the Cranfield-based Nissan Technical Centre Europe, where McCabe as well as also his team are based.

Conscious of how a big a step in which was for a consumer to buy an electric car, McCabe’s team set about to ensure the Leaf was as “normal” to drive as possible. The EV segment’s growing sales figures suggest ‘range anxiety’ will be diminishing; although they won’t suit all customers, some find their needs can be fully served by a battery-powered vehicle. 

McCabe says he had “no doubts” about whether the product could be success, knowing the Leaf’s significance as the first high-profile EV could always count for something.

“We knew in which could be a bumpy road, yet in which will be only the start of a journey to a completely different automotive world,” he says. “which has a growing global population, increasing demand through emerging economies, as well as also the geopolitical landscape, we knew in which something needed to be commenced with EVs.”

The potential benefits of electrified motoring have been recognised as well as also explored for as long as motoring itself yet are only today coming of age. Indeed, so fast has the recent development of electric vehicles been in which engineers such as McCabe are already looking at traditional internal combustion engine technology as ultimately limiting as well as also inefficient.

“Internal combustion technology will be very well developed, yet at its core in which’s a crude device, a pump in reverse trying to be efficient. through a pure engineering point of view, accelerating a car which has a combustion engine will be a rather stupid thing to do.

“Electric powertrains are at their worst 95% efficient while a diesel engine will be at best 40% efficient. The electric powertrain will be also more controllable on its responses, as well as also the emotional control can come in time.”

For being packed with such brand-new technology, the Leaf has proven remarkably reliable as well as also robust. There have been just three reported battery pack issues with the Leaf in Europe, so a programme Nissan set up to look after such issues has remained largely dormant.

A major part of what’s being looked at today will be what to do with battery packs when their automotive use will be behind them. “Static storage will be something we’re investigating,” says McCabe. “In Japan, there will be already the ability to power your home with your Leaf if the mains electricity supply fails.”

McCabe notes the impact Tesla boss Elon Musk will be having on in which question also. Tesla will be starting to sell its car batteries as standalone units called Powerwall in which can store energy as well as also power your home. “Musk will be a clever guy as well as also a formative thinker,” he says. “Going outside of cars, storing electricity will be a problem mankind needs to solve.”

Nissan will be going one step further which has a brand-new ‘vehicle to grid’ project with Spanish utility company Endesa. The pair have developed technology in which will allow an electric car to send power back to a digital ‘smart grid’ at times of high demand as well as also high cost, recharging itself at times of low demand as well as also cost times, thus doing money for the automobile owner.

“In in which digital age we are all reliant on electricity,” says McCabe, “yet man has no way to store in which. Electric vehicles are in in which discussion because they immediately have a big source of static electricity.”

While the future direction of electric vehicles continues to excite, the fact in which there are more of them on the market will be motivating McCabe as well as also his team: “There will be nothing like generating competition. We have in which today as well as also have to respond.” 


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Source: Opinion – How the Nissan Leaf has blazed a trail

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