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Nissan Leaf uses no gas, has zero emissions

July 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands of people are on the waiting list to own the Nissan Leaf, which is expected to hit the road later this year.The all-electric Nissan Leaf is one of the most anticipated new cars in quite some time. Why? There is no gasoline required.

"You come out of your car, you plug in and you go inside your house. That took five seconds. No longer five minutes at a gas station," said Nissan spokesman Paul Hawson.

Electric cars have come and gone over the years with limited success and some drawbacks.

Nissan says the time is now right for a mass-produced electric car that deals with those drawbacks including cost. The starting price for the Leaf is about $33,000.

"With the federal tax credit - that's $7,500 - that's now a $25,000 car," Hawson said.

California residents can also get an additional $5,000 back.

What about range?

"One hundred miles is easily achievable. We've gotten it up to 130-something miles, so it just depends on how you drive," Hawson explained.

Deliveries will start in December, but Eyewitness News got a sneak preview.

For an electric car to be viable it has to have good acceleration, and the Leaf scoots along quite nicely. It's also capable of freeway speeds and then some.

Whenever new technology like this comes along, people wonder what it's like to drive it. It's pretty much like any other car. The beauty of something like the Leaf is that there's no adjustment to driving it. You just get in and drive like you normally do.

For example, the car rides and handles very well, and has all the creature comforts.

It's also quiet. Nissan's measurements show less interior noise than their Infiniti division's newest luxury sedan.

As for operating costs, a home charger will make it less expensive to drive than even the most efficient hybrid on the market. And the Leaf can be programmed to charge off-peak during overnight hours since electricity is often cheaper then.

There will also be a network of public charging stations.

"While you're watching a movie, you're refueling. While you're eating, you're refueling," said Hawson.

According to Nissan, the lithium-ion battery should last a long time, but they aren't quoting an actual warranty period just yet.

Nissan says this is not a limited production car, so if you'd like to go electric next year, you can. Already, 16,000 people are in line to get a Leaf.


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