Now into its second generation, the Nissan Leaf has finally made it on the South African market after a drawn-out wait in expectation of electric vehicle infrastructure. On sale at selected dealers starting in the Highveld, South Africa’s first full EV costs around R450 000. The home charger supplied as standard recharges the car in about seven hours; charging can also be done at one of the free quick-charging points at some Gauteng-based Nissan dealers. Cape Town and Durban infrastructure will follow in 2014.
The 5-seat LEAF, a standard-sized compact hatchback, has sold more than 80 000 globally. According to Nissan, although significantly more expensive than similar-size cars, it has an overall cost of ownership that’s competitive. How’s that? Apparently, electricity’s price advantage over liquid fuel, plus the LEAF’s ability to optimise and regenerate power, savings of close to 90 per cent over petrol, diesel or hybrid are possible at the Reef, driving an average of 2 500 km a month. Over six years, the Nissan is said to provide a cost-effective alternative to petrol, diesel or hybrid competitors. Of course, the car comes fully loaded with all the bells and whistles – including a rather important Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) system to warn people of the almost inaudible approach of the LEAF. Incidentally, up to 99 per cent of the Nissan LEAF is recyclable, and more than 60 per cent of plastics used in its interior are made from recycled materials.
Our electric future
Besides being highlighted on the Nissan stand for the second consecutive JIMS, the LEAF also raised its pro le by acting as shuttles within the showgrounds.
Addressing the infrastructure issue and the importance of greener cars, trade and industry minister Rob Davies said at the of official opening of JIMS that the Department of the Environment and Water Affairs was embarking on a programme to build charging stations for electric vehicles to encourage their increased use.
At the same time, standards regulating vehicles such as EVs were being compiled. Initiatives include a research programme at the University of Port Elizabeth and a commitment that the government would buy electric vehicles where appropriate.
“In the medium term South Africa must become a manufacturing base for energy efficient, green vehicles,” Davies said. “Global trends indicate that this is where growth will be in the future.”
LEAF – in brief
Boot size 370 litres
Battery pack 192 cells, 24 kWh
Output 80 kW/254 N.m
Acceleration 0-100 in 11,5 s
Top speed 144 km/h
Range up to 195 km; 50 km on 10-minute charge
Charging slow 7 hours; fast 30 minutes
Price R446 000