Leaf of faith
By Alvin Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 13, 2019 at 4:26 am

Participants of last weekend’s event also had a chance to test drive the Nissan Leaf around the busy streets and tight hilly back roads of HK

Just this March, the Nissan Leaf became the first electric car to surpass the 400,000 unit sales mark.

By comparison, Tesla was able to produce about half the volume only, cementing Nissan’s leading role as the prime mover in the global shift towards sustainable mobility.

The first generation Leaf was introduced in 2010, and became the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. However this was not Nissan’s first foray into producing electric vehicles.

Its Tama electric vehicle was introduced in Japan in 1947, when Japan was suffering from an oil shortage right after WWII. Since there weren’t many electric home appliances and bulk electricity users for factories at that time, electricity was relatively cheap and in surplus supply.

The Tama EV had achieved a range of 96 kilometers and maximum test speed of 35 km/hour on its first performance test.

Its 4-seater sedan variants were used as taxis. To extend the range, an ingenious battery compartment was designed to have sliding rollers, so changing into fresh batteries could be done quickly.

The Tama EV took top honors in performance tests conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Commerce and Industry. A fully restored Tama EV is part of Nissan’s Heritage Collection.

Very soon the cities of the future will have zero emissions tailpipes that will not pollute the underground tunnels with toxic gases.

Despite warnings about global warming at the turn of the century, electric cars were seen more as a niche product, and Leaf owners were considered as “early adopters.”

A lot has changed since then.

Electric cars are not considered “luxury” products anymore, and a number of car manufacturers have since started developing their electric vehicles (EV).

Even in motorsports, Formula E has been gaining more attention these days.

Globally, there is a growing number of consumers who say their next car may be electric.

Aside from the obvious benefits of sustainable mobility, customers are choosing Leaf for its powerful, agile performance and advanced technologies, like the ProPilot semiautonomous driving system.

“This milestone is a powerful statement that 400,000 customers, and counting, value the Nissan Leaf for the excitement, confidence and connection it delivers,” said Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s executive vice president and global head of marketing, sales and electric vehicles.

“The Leaf remains the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, our strategy for moving more people to a better world,” he added.

During the launch of the first generation Leaf, Nissan already made a pledge to become a global leader in producing and promoting vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions.

Today, Nissan seems to have achieved its vision.

The Leaf is intuitively laid out like a conventional car with ergonomic access to all switch controls.

The company continues to commit itself to working with governments and utility companies to support the adoption of electric vehicles, in making charging easier and more convenient, and developing second-life uses for electric car batteries.

Nissan has formed partnerships around the world under its Nissan Energy initiative. These partnerships continue to leverage the ability of electric car batteries to store energy and share it with homes, businesses and power grids.

Storing power in batteries is not everything, though. The initiative continues to look for ways and solutions for power storage and distribution into an ecosystem that can re-channeling energy within a sustainable community.

This means that electric vehicles of the future will become part of an ecosystem of storage solutions, and can be used as mobile power cells by allowing community power grids to share its storage capacity in the cities of the future.

Nissan Energy is an ecosystem centered on Nissan EVs to make them even more useful to customers by leveraging their batteries’ ability to store and even share energy.

It enables EV owners to easily connect their cars with energy systems to charge their batteries, power homes and businesses and help balance power grids.

As part of Nissan Energy, the company has already started infrastructure pilots in Europe, Japan and the US, and future commercial uses are in development.

Nissan says the it is safe to charge the Leaf even under the rain. And about 80-90% of the time, charging EVs are done at home.

Nissan Energy also includes new efforts to reuse old batteries, a vital step in enhancing the sustainability of electric vehicles.

Along with strategic partners, Nissan has taken Leaf batteries and repurposed them for use in off-grid street lighting, power banks for sports complexes, and more.

In total, Nissan Leaf owners have collectively driven their cars and logged in over 10 billion kilometers. This translates to about 3.8 million barrels of oil annually, and the figure will go much higher when more Leaf units are sold in the coming years.

The Leaf is Europe’s best-selling EV, and environmentally-conscious Norway’s top-selling car (EV, hybrid or internal combustion engine).

The Leaf is now available in over 50 markets globally, and will be sold in six new markets in Latin America in the first half of 2019, and seven new markets in Asia and Oceania by end of the year.

In 2020, the Nissan Leaf will be sold in the Philippines.

It is currently being built at three factories located in Oppama, Japan; Sunderland, England; and Smyrna, Tennessee, USA.

The power train of the new generation Leaf debuted in 2017, producing 110 kilowatts of power and 320 Nm of torque.

This year, a new variant with a new powertrain was introduced. Called the Nissan Leaf e+, it offers increased power and approximately 40 percent additional range.

Sales of the Leaf e+ began in late January in Japan. US sales will begin this spring, and Europe will follow shortly thereafter.

During the Nissan Futures x Formula E weekend event held in Hong Kong last weekend, Saturo Mizoguchi, SVP for Research and Development for Nissan Asia Pacific, said that the Nissan Leaf embodies the three pillars of Nissan Intelligent Mobility—Intelligent Power, Intelligent Drive, and Intelligent Integration.

The car’s innovative electric powertrains exemplify the first, while its ProPilot feature, now available in many markets, showcases the second.

Designed for single-lane driving on the highway, the ProPilot maintains speed and lane position to reduce driver fatigue.

ProPilot Park is available in models in Japan and Europe. It accelerates, brakes and steers the car into a parking spot.

During the weekend event, participants were asked to drive around Hong Kong’s busy streets and mountainous back roads to test the car’s driveability and performance.

The cabin noise was very good, comparable to the best and bespoke luxury sedans, while other notable features like the E-Pedal proved very useful and easy to use, allowing easy stop-and-go in traffic without having to step on the brakes, and without any brake pedal intervention on hilly slopes. The E-Pedal engages the brake system when the foot is off the gas pedal.

Other driving modes like the D/B range of shift and Eco mode system allow customization in acceleration and deceleration, but the E-Pedal mode is basically what you need for about 90 percent of your driving needs.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

View Comments