Saturday, January 23, 2010

Turning Over a New Leaf

Last weekend, we went to Nashville to see the sights and to see the Nissan Leaf:
It's an electric car with a range of 100 miles on one charge. One hundred miles may not sound like much, but your average commuter drives less than fifty miles a day. So, it would be a really good commuter car, but not particularly useful for long trips.

Here are some pictures of the car from different angles:

As you can see, it's a regular sized car -- it can hold up to five people. The trunk is pretty large.
This place in the front of the car is where you plug it in to recharge it. The recharge from completely empty to full takes 8-12 hours at 110 V (regular outlet) or 4-6 on a 220 V outlet (the kind your range or other large appliances are hooked up to).

You can get this 220 V recharger for extra, plus you have to get an electrician to put in a 220 V line out to your garage:
Here's what the charger looks like:

I'm on Nissan's mailing list for the Leaf. In the spring, they'll send me a message letting me know when I can sign up on the waiting list (and put down a deposit). I'm very interested in buying one of these cars, because it will eliminate all the carbon emissions from my commute to work. Of course, that will mean we'll have to continue making car payments when we could just be done paying for a car (the Beetle will be paid off next year). But I think it will be worth it to encourage the production of cars like these that eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and reduce carbon emissions. Oh and it's also going to be built right here in Tennessee -- another reason to buy one!


EcoGeoFemme said...

Looks very cool! And very cool to be an early adopter of a product like that. I'm glad to see progress on electric cars. But there's still some C emissions from them, just at the power plant instead of the tailpipe, right?

Will the battery last the lifetime of the car? My laptop battery doesn't hold more than about 10 min charge anymore, compared to the 4+ hours when it was new 6.5 years ago. Will the car be susceptible to the same problem, or is it a different type of battery or something?

Rebecca said...

EcoGeoFemme, you are correct that there's carbon emissions from the power plant, especially since my local power supplier is big on coal. But if they used renewable sources, those emissions would go away.

I think the battery is guaranteed for a certain number of years, so if it doesn't stand up to time and usage very well, you can get a new one in that time frame or replace it after a certain point at your own expense. But yeah, all rechargeable batteries eventually wear out like you're describing

Something I didn't mention is that my employer and my local power supplier are both partnered with Nissan to develop a charging infrastructure and to determine what people's charging patterns are. If people charge the cars overnight, then no new power infrastructure is needed, but if they do it during the day and times of peak load, we'll need more power generation to meet demand.

EcoGeoFemme said...

And I guess it's better to have centralized emissions sources that can be controlled somewhat rather than pollution from individual cars. We all super focused on C now, for good reason, but there are still the other nasties in car exhaust. Anyway, I hope you blog about it when you get one! It's probably really important that people in your area buy them given the usage research you described. Awesome.