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Nissan Leaf 2 Year Reflections

13 Nissan Leaf S Blink Charging Drivers View Stitch
Plug in, charge, wait, go, electric cars are just like your Smartphone. Electricity becomes your gas station, your never have to go to the real gas station again as long as you drive electric!

Most people will add an EV as a second car to a fleet of two or more vehicles where the others are hybrid or conventional fossil fueled.

Gasoline fumes are neurotoxic carcinogens! No one wants to breath tail pipe emissions! Imagine if your phone ran on gas! Electric is better! The weak link for electric vehicles is battery technology!

Zoom Zoom, I miss the instant electric torque of the Nissan Leaf! My hybrid cars have some of that magic, but nothing like pure electric! Electric motors provide more torque more quickly with greater efficiency than a gasoline or diesel engine, the batteries in an electric car are able to discharge huge amounts of power instantly into the motor for unmatched acceleration, torque on demand reigning supreme in traffic congestion, city driving, where the lack of tail pipes makes a huge difference for improving air quality and therefor the health of all the people in the city.

Charging your EV becomes a focus of owning it. If you have the right L2 charger wired into your home ($1200) you can plug in and pick up 20-40mi per hour of range per hour of charging. The 13 Leaf S had a slower 3.3kw charger onboard for L2 charging. I used the public blink charger in the image above most of the time I charged our 13 Leaf S.

Charging at Blink charging station (image above) in eastern downtown Bellevue WA, near the home depot/ bestbuy/Bellevue botanical gardens. |This station was my favorite Blink L2 EV public charging station because it was always accessible, rarely used, in a rain covered parking structure, always online, clean and safe! I found it with my phone using a EV charger finder app called Plug Share. I spent quite a few evenings after work collecting charge from the station mentioned in this posting as the underground parking at our old Apartment complex lacked any sort of electrical outlet access, except 2 normal 120v outlets near the air conditioning heat exchanger units (service ports) for mechanics to work on the air conditioning. On a few occasions I used the convenience L1 charger cable that came with the Leaf S to charge it overnight using the slowest charging method through an extension cord plugged into the air conditioning service outlets. Shhhh, don't tell anyone :P

13 Leaf S Battery

The 13 Nissan Leaf S combines 24kWh of laminate LiMn2O4 IMR batteries in 2PS2  7.4v 66.2ah modules with a case made of aluminum. 48 modules in series for 360Vdc nominal. The battery was custom made in-house by Nissan and built on top of lithium battery manufacturing tech Nissan has been developing since the 1990's for electric vehicle applications.

Charging the 13 Nissan Leaf S

Charging usually took 2 or 3 hours on a Level 2 charger, the 3.3kw onboard charger of 13 Leaf S takes 6 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. There was an upgraded model available with a 6kw charger and CHADMO L3 charging port, both now standard features on the 2016 Nissan Leaf! On a normal outlet with an extension cord the Leaf S accumulated ~5mi of electric range per hour of 120v 15amp level 1 charging (Level 1)

Electric Launch Unmatched

Off the line acceleration with instant torque electric motors unmatched by any other technology. The fastest guns in the world use electromagnetic fields (EMF) to rail launch projectiles at 3+ km/s, the fastest rollercoasters uses linear induction motors LIM that use EMF to create rapid acceleration. Electric motors are also extremely rugged, simple and enduring. Some electric motors have been running for almost 100 years with high duty cycling, much more reliable, far cleaner and significantly more efficient than any reciprocating piston engine.

The Leaf is quick and takes off with good acceleration, the electric motor so powerful it can screech the front tires. Around town in city driving the instant electric torque is amazing! On the Highway it can speed up from 50 to 90 if you step on it, but it resists going fast, inspiring you to go 50-55mph in order to get better single charge range. The Leaf's utility enhancing compact design creates a huge frontal cross section with drag inducing properties that steal energy a higher speeds as a trade off for more interior space an utility volume. The Leaf did not get as much wind tunnel optimization as the Tesla Model S, nor a lighter aluminum body like the Model S. The Leaf was designed to maximize utility & affordability with a clean electric drive train that is going to become a huge part of our high technology future, something I call the electromotive revolution that is unfolding before our eyes today!

The 1.5 ton Leaf has a well planted feeling, the handling confidence inspiring, wonderful cornering grip and dynamics, it enters and exits corners with a stability that feels great. The ride quality is nice, heated seats wonderful, the range on a single charge is the only weakness (89mi) because of the limited battery technology that also results in slow recharging speeds. On a brighter note, parked for more than 10hr every night, even slow L1 charging on a normal electrical outlet enough to pick up 50mi of EV range, 5miles of charge for every 1 hours of charging on a 120v standard outlet at 15amps.

Peak Range

I was able to get more than 123 mi from a single charge on one occasion, averaging 16.1mph, the Leaf is King of crawling at low speeds, perfect for parking lots, traffic jams on highways for short jaunts between cities, the Leaf is not a road trip car unless your in central Europe where 89mi covers a lot of country. The next Nissan Leaf in 2018 will come with more than 200mi of range using a 60kWh pack, similar to the soon to launch GM Bolt EV.

Electric City Traffic Superior

Electric motors are the king of stop start cycling propulsion energy technology for city driving! The Tesla Model S features the same kind of electric motor as the Nissan Leaf, an AC polyphase traction motor capable of tremendous peak and sustained power output! Electric motors create instant torque when utilizing a motor controller designed for high power traction motor applications in electric vehicles. Pulling a steel air bag crush zone safety box with people and stuff inside is no easy task, but something electric motors can easily handle!

Aluminum vs Steel

Tesla used Aluminiun in the Model S to keep weight down, range up, while also improving performance and handling. Aluminum is a better material for cars, but costs more than steel, limiting aluminums market penetration in automotive manufacturing. Nissan made the Leaf out of steel to keep costs down, primary aluminum construction would have made the Leaf at least $6000 more expensive.

Over 240,000 Nissan Leaf's sold worldwide through November 2016. 
LEAF stands for Leading Environmental Affordable Family car. Steel is the cheap strong core material that was used to build the Nissan Leaf, our 2005 Prius, 2013 Honda PCX-150, 2014 Honda CR-z, my 2001 Schwinn bicycle and Megs 2008 Marin bicycle: it is steel that dominates vehicle material construction because of its strength to cost ratio. Steel is the cheap strong metal that suffers from high weight and rusting!

Steel is an interesting material that comes in many grades, but aluminum was used in Aircraft because it is the strong light metal! Aluminum is more corrosion resistant than steel, giving aluminum machines longer life. Aluminums heat sink performance was one of the key attributes of the Tesla Panasonic NCA battery.

Nissan used aluminum module cases to give light weight thermal and structural performance in the 13 Leaf S battery. This was especially important because of the Leaf's heavier steel body structure, a design derivative of the Nissan Versa Note.

In the future vehicles will be made of lighter materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, metal lithium alloys, silicon alloys and other super light high strength materials that are superior to any grade of steel. Keeping the cost of advanced technology down is the key to creating global scale clean technology changes. If Nissan made a more expensive electric car, fewer people would buy it. Today the Nissan Leaf is the best selling highway capable electric vehicle ever in history, with its steel body frame, lithium batteries and aluminum battery cases. Many metals are used in vehicle construction, today Steel, Aluminum, Lithium, Copper and Lead dominate the vehicle manufacturing sector.

Nostalgic Optimism

I miss our old Nissan Leaf S but look forward to vehicles that it inspired! The Nissan Leaf proved that electric vehicles with highway performance can be build using old lithium ion battery technology! As battery technology improves so to will more compelling electric vehicles be realized. We are heading towards a clean technology future where electromotives forces will slowly displace tail pipe pollution! Upward and onward, together we are stronger!

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