Friday, 19 March 2010

I'll be Leaf-ing It Alone

This is the new Nissan electric car. It's been named the Leaf and hopefully it's not because it wilts and drops once a year.

It is a five-seater electric car and will be built in Sunderland from 2013 on the back of a £420 million investment from Nissan.

More than half of the investment will come from the state, with the Department of Business granting £20.7 million towards the project and the European Investment Bank loaning £197.3 million.

About 50,00 Leafs (or Leaves) will be built a year Nissan say. The car has a range of 100 miles and can travel at a top speed of more than 90 mph. A hundred miles is useless for me. To journey to any city, with the exception of Dundee or Perth, would require me to recharge the battery and I believe a recharge takes some hours.

I'll be Leaf-ing it alone because I'm happy with my present car, although I can see the benefits of such a vehicle if you live in a city and public transport is unsuitable.


Uncle Marvo said...

The investment will not come from the state, as the state does not actually generate money. It only borrows it, steals it and spends it.

Just to correct a minor point.

Still, I am a big fan of the Northeast. It will hopefully create jobs for Brits.

It will certainly create votes.

subrosa said...

I sit corrected Marvo. :)

Expensive jobs but yes, it will create jobs in the NE. Whether this car will 'take off' I'm doubtful as I believe the initial cost is expensive.

Certainly I won't be buying one. I have a car to get from A to B in the quickest manner that is convenient for me and I don't see this being superior to my present mode of transport.

douglas clark said...


I think you meant 90 mph, not 90 mpg.

Apogee said...

The reported range of 100 miles is not brilliant. Look at the average distance a user covers in a day, and many people will find this is too short.
And add into the equation the charging time and the life span of the batteries, I wonder how may people can really use this vehicle.
And how much to replace the batteries, that could be the real killer, as any one who has had to replace a laptop computer battery will know!


Surreptitious Evil said...

But I'll quite happily take a Porsche 918 - 94mpg, 198 mph (obviously not at the same time!) Though they won't be made in the UK.

Anonymous said...

They'll all be on the bonfire by Autumn

Richard said...

A range of 100 miles is pathetic. It may be OK for city dwellers, I suppose, who can get home to recharge every night. The battery cost is a major show-stopper, too. They will need to be replaced at possibly 30,000 miles, and are likely to cost £6000. That will make the high price even more eye-watering, as the value of a 2.5 year old car will be next to nothing. Until these two issues are resolved, there is no future for the electric car as a mainstream form of transport.

And of course there is the downright lie plastered down the side of the car - zero emissions. Electric vehicles have emissions too, except that these are not at the exhaust pipe, but at the power station that supplies the charging electricity, which is likely to be sited next to a run-down housing estate. Still, if it makes the midle-classes feel better ...

William said...

Oil won't last forever so we need to look at alternatives, whether we like it or not.

Like all developing technologies, it will have its limitations and problems. It's only through further investment and continuing development that these can be overcome.

This is the future for us, not digging stuff up from the ground and burning it.

Anonymous said...

Electricity usually comes from digging stuff up from the ground and burning it.

Anonymous said...

I think steel used in making electric cars and their components is created by digging stuff up from the ground and burning it.

Uncle Marvo said...

I'm going to drive 100 miles tonight, and then again (back) on Monday.

The rest of the time I do about 50 miles a week.

But I can't afford two cars. If public transport wasn't a complete joke unless you want to go to/from London, I'd be able to have one of those.

Mind you, if they manage to crap up the motorways round the M25 much more than they have done, I might as well walk.

William said...

"Electricity usually comes from digging stuff up from the ground and burning it."

There are ways to generate electricity without doing so, though.

Of course, we can never completely move away from using finite resources. It's inevitable. That doesn't mean we don't bother trying to adapt where and when we can.

RantinRab said...

We could generate electricity by burning Nissan Leafs/Leaves.

Richard said...

Hence the madness of paying people to scrap cars which have already created the majority of their pollution in the past. It's estimated that 80% of the pullution caused by the use of a vehicle over its lifetime are in the manufacture. The benefit of new 'cleaner' cars is marginal compared to that.

The only truly green way to keep motoring will be a massive investment in nuclear. Which ain't gonna happen, thanks to the green lobby. Clean cars with fully-developed technology, run on nuclear energy, and we are getting somewhere. The poor old Chinese workers will still be exposed to the extremely nasty stuff we need to dig up for the batteries, but who cares about them, eh?

Scrub that - the only really green transport is a bicycle. Mobility restricted to the young and fit. That's fair, isn't it?

subrosa said...

Douglas yes I did. Amended now thank you. That's what happens when I'm tired - which is often. :)

subrosa said...

Apogee, don't you think this is a scam to create jobs in the NE? I doubt if they'll last long.

subrosa said...

Evil, bum's too near the ground for me these days in Porsches. Not only that I can't get out of the things! That's why my wee car has a REALLY high seat so I just step out. :)

subrosa said...

I wonder if they'll ever green up Lorenzo. ;)

subrosa said...

Jings Richard, £6000? Who's going to pay that money other than city tooter arounders?

It's for votes I think Richard, nothing else. Wasn't there are electric car before which didn't sell?

subrosa said...

Yes William I agree, but putting a car like this on the market in any volume is foolish.

subrosa said...

Ah Marvo, at least we can drive up here. No or few traffic jams and those which do happen last usually around 5 minutes.

One great reason for me never to consider living south of Preston again.

subrosa said...

Oh Rab, tut tut. Mind you if they don't sell they may have to be melted down.

subrosa said...

Let's start at the end Richard. Fair? I can tell you're far too young to even think you'll reach pension age. :)

China is a law unto itself. They don't want to participate in any green issues or discuss emissions. That doesn't mean to say we shouldn't look at pollution closely because, although I disagree with the climate change propaganda, I do feel pollution is a problem is parts of the country.

Richard said...

"Let's start at the end Richard. Fair? I can tell you're far too young to even think you'll reach pension age. :)"

Now I know you're kidding! I'm not all that far away from it now, more's the pity.

I know China aren't too fussy about pollution or even human rights, but the health risks to the miners are huge, and it's just another example of the smug West salving its conscience by appearing green, when what results is a lot of disease and suffering elsewhere. Look at biofuels - people in developing countried are going to starve so that Islington greenies can drive their 4x4s with a better conscience. Only connect, and all that.

I'm not in the slightest bit convinced by the climate change scaremongering, but I still think that a clean planet is better than a dirty one. When they come up with a 'solution' that doesn't dump all the bad effects on brown people far away, I will support it.

Apogee said...

Don't know if this is an employment scam or not.Might be vote buying?
Point I was getting at is the specification is too low. 200miles range at battery mid life and a 3 hour discharge to full charge time might make a useable vehicle but total purchase price compared to battery replacement price is the real hidden killer of sales.
Not so much the actual cost but finding it in one hit.
Also , if this takes off, the cost of recharging is one point, second point is can the power systems sustain the load? Lots of unknowns!
Remember that the cost of the batteries and charging them is the cost of fuelling these vehicles, not just the cost of the electricity!


DAD said...


Further to your blog on electric cars.

I have never seen any comments by manufacturers or government about how the electric car will cope with the following items that we take for granted in petrol or diesel cars.

Car heaters and demisters. As someone who is old enough to remember cars with no heating I find that it incredible that this has not been brought forward as a great concern. Is the driver going to use some of the precious energy stored in his battery to heat the car? Even the heat to demist the windscreen would reduce the battery life considerably. Windows iced-up; you can forget about de-frosting them with battery power.

Headlights. How much will the use of headlights reduce the mileage that the vehicle can travel?

Air conditioning. Forget it. Just get used to sweating like a pig. No such comforts in an electric car.

I can see that a modern storage type heater can be installed in the car. It would be possible to charge this overnight whilst the battery is being charged. The problem is in the weight of the mass of thermal blocks necessary. This weight will reduce the total mileage of the vehicle.

What happens one (or perhaps, many) winters night. The car has been parked in the company’s car park all day with no possibility of powering a heater in the car (if one is fitted). A 6PM you leave work to go home. It is freezing. It is dark. The windows are covered with ice. You scrape them before driving off, but as you drive (using you headlights) the condensation of your breath freezes on the interior of the windscreen. You use the de-icer. The interior of the car stinks with the smell of the volatile ingredients. Perhaps they cause you to be light-headed. If you open the window (electrically operated?) you will be even colder. You know that the chemical efficiency of batteries (i.e. the power available) reduces with lower temperatures. All the time this thought will be going thought your mind, “Will I have enough power in your battery to get me home?” The stress and cold will, almost certainly, make you make stupid decisions. WHAT A NIGHTMARE!

Have the folk at Nissan thought about this?

William said...

It's possible, and I might be wrong, that Nissan know something about building cars. They might even employ a guy to consider the various technical obstacles.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Are we going back to arguing whether the moon's made of cheese?

Nissan has made a car or two in their time and have probably learned a few things along the way.

The price, range, life and cost of batteries, even performance are all factors to be considered - but for some it could be ideal, for others, a reasonable compromise while it won't float the boat for long haul enthusiasts and petrol heads.

There's one thing for sure, it beats first class walking. That alone will ensure it gets some sort of market, and I'm sure there's a bloke in Nissan with a stubby pencil who's had a stab at working that out.

subrosa said...

Apogee, cote buying is a scam is not not? ;)

Of course the spec is too low for anyone who wants a car for convenience and to reach a destination without hassle.

Aye I see that. The batteries and charging costs are extra, even although charging seems to be self-service (from the videos so far).

Naw I'll pass on this idea.

subrosa said...

What an excellent comment DAD. I have no idea if your points have been analysed but I'm sure some of my readers will know.

Thank you anyway for highlighting these issues.

subrosa said...

Auch William, Nissan build petrol and diesel cars. Are you saying just because a TV manufacturer can build TVs then they know all about satellite navigation?

I know that to be untrue.

subrosa said...

I've said it could be fine for city dwellers and those who only do around 100 miles a week or so RA. Just had a thought, if you're held up for a while for some reason of course your car will be discharging. (I'm thinking of jams etc).

Oh I'm sure someone at Nissan is writing the advert now if he/she hasn't already done so.

subrosa said...

Sorry Richard, missed your comment.

I do connect where pollution is concerned and I'm all for modern technology to help anyone anywhere we can.

The problem is our small islands are being milked for monies by those who couldn't care less and as taxpayers I think we should object - I certainly do.

Some of the brown people's problems are caused by their own brown people - in fact most of them.

Until the west stops ploughing vast sums of money into these countries where governments are completely corrupt then there is no hope for them sadly. It's up to the 'brown' people to resolve that before anything else but of course they won't, because that would be biting the hand that feeds their lavish lifestyles while their population die.

Anonymous said...

A huge number of the car driving population have no access to a plug socket near where they have to leave their car overnight. Not everyone gets to park outside their home.

Billy said...

Funny how this government is suddenly interested in electric cars when they refused LDV Vans a paltry £50 million to keep them going in this environment. They were about to bring out an electric version of their new van but it seems this government only gives aid to foreign companies.

I also think that this car will be a big flop for the same reasons as everyone else. This car is built on a Renault Megane platform so who is going to pay the crazy price for the Leaf when you can get the Megane or Nissan's version of it for much cheaper.

subrosa said...

Yes Lorenzo that's another factor which comes into it. Imagine the melee with more than one of two of these cars in residential carparks.

Will anyone really bother to go to their local charging station then return a few hours later?

Richard said...

SR, I wasn't criticising you. I just feel that all these 'green' initiatives are often pretty suspect when you open them up, and serve more to assuage the consciences of the liberal left than to do any real good. My comment 'only connect' was rhetorical.

Dabs said...

The very first cars were horrendously expensive, unreliable and impractical. The roads were not up to much. Fuel station networks were not extensive. We have to start somewhere.

I read about the place about efforts by commercial companies to set up battery exchange systems. You wouldnt charge up the battery, you just pitstop and replace it with a fully charged one. That seems sensible. But innovation is a great thing. If there is a market for these vehicles then the market will be innovative. I remember being shown a Sinclair ZX compuer as a lad. Who would have imagined I'd spend my evenings typing comments on weblogs?

We have no idea what marvels will be commonplace in the future.

subrosa said...

Richard, criticise me all you like. I'll just defend my corner. :)

subrosa said...

That's true Dabs but electric cars have been on the go for some years now and development hasn't moved much, whereas with computers for example, we've gone from a ZX to the likes of this iMac in less than 25 years.

Ah so that's the idea - a pitstop. Already I see problems with that. The battery you may pick up might be on its last legs and you're the one who is going to have to replace it. No?

Richard said...

The idea of a pitstop, where you exchange your part-used battery for a fully-charged one is the closest to the current model of fuel availability, and would probably work better than having to pull over for 3 hours every 100 miles to recharge. The cost of the batteries (including replacement at end-of-life) would be built in to the hire charge, so the individual motorist wouldn't have to worry. It works well with portable gas cylinders, after all. With an intelligent metering system, you would only pay for the difference between the full battery and the remaining charge in the old one, so it would work exactly like filling a petrol tank. I'm a bit of a petrolhead, but I could see that working.

subrosa said...

Richard, you've put a lot of thought into that and yes I too could see that working.

Intelligent metering system with our present politicians? That's the stumbling block.

Richard said...

The politicians wouldn't be operating it; that would be a commercial operation. It would therefore work. Cynical, moi?

subrosa said...

Sorry Richard, I didn't make my point clear. Politicians will have an input because taxation will be involved.

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