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ICE vs FCV vs EV, page-11

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    "So let’s embrace our sense of wonder for everyday electric cars while we still can; another decade, and they’ll be the norm"


    Nissan launches new Leaf, second electric car in Australia under $50,000

    Nissan Australia has launched the second generation all-electric Nissan Leaf in Melbourne this Wednesday morning, introducing what is now the second pure battery electric vehicle priced under $50,000 onto the Australian market.

    While the latest Nissan Leaf has been available for sale in overseas markets for a year, the introduction of the second generation of Nissan’s flagship electric vehicle – with a 40kWh battery and a real world range of 240km – is a welcome addition to Australia’s limited choice of battery electric vehicles.

    Available from a starting price of $49,990 before on-road costs – a cost that is likely to put making the switch to electric vehicles within reach of more Australians – the new Nissan Leaf will be released on the Australian auto market from August 2019.

    With Australia’s transport emissions continuing on an upward trajectory with no signs of slowing down, the introduction of the new Leaf, which has at least double the driving range of its first generation predecessor, presents another step towards making EVs more affordable.

    Speaking to media at the event in Melbourne today, Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester outlined the Leaf’s leading role in Nissan’s vision for the future of mobility, which it calls Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

    “We are at a moment in time that is undergoing a tremendous amount of change,” said Lester.

    “We’ve got increases in air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion and global warming…and of course fatalities on our roads.

    “What’s also changing is the way we connect and integrate with the world around us – that’s where Nissan is really starting to shape our future.

    Nissan Intelligent Mobility allows us to foster some of these changes and enables us to tackle challenges head on. We want zero emissions and zero fatalities.”

    The Nissan Leaf is the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility – technology has progressed through this vehicle and its recent incarnation is a second generation vehicle, and Nissan is the only manufacturer with a second generation electric vehicle on the market.”

    The first generation Leaf was introduced by Nissan in 2010 becoming one of the world’s best selling electric vehicles, passing 400,000 units sold worldwide in March 2019.

    While the modest range (compared to other, higher specc’d models such as Tesla vehicles and the Hyundai Kona electric) of the second generation Leaf may not be quite enough to alleviate “range anxiety” for those keen to traverse long distances, it is more than enough to service an average daily commute of 40km.

    A maximum charging rate of 50kW allows the vehicle to charge from 0-100% in under 50 minutes on a DC fast charger, using the CHAdeMO plug that comes with all Leaf vehicles.

    All new Leafs to be sold in Australia will also come standard with what could also be a game-changer not only for the automotive industry but the energy sector – bidirectional charging capability.

    More on that later – enough to say for now that it was confirmed by Nissan’s global head of electric vehicles Nic Thomas that testing of specially designed chargeboxes to meet local grid requirements and regulations is underway.

    Jetcharge CEO Tim Washington, who also spoke at the event, said he expects that bidirectional residential charging – otherwise known as V2H (vehicle to home) charging – could be available in Australia by the end of the year.

    EV charging network provider Chargefox, which last week opened the southern hemisphere’s largest DC fast-charging site in Melbourne, has also inked a deal with Nissan that will see new Leaf owners able to recharge their vehicles at a discounted rate.

    According to Nissan Australia’s corporate communications manager Tony Mee, the exact nature of this discount has not yet been decided and will be announced in the near future.

    Thanks to another recent deal that will see Chargefox oversee management of the Queensland Electric Super Highway, new Nissan Leaf drivers will be able to access discounted charging all along the eastern seaboard, across Victoria and over to South Australia
    With 22 EV ultra-fast charging sites sites slated for completion later in 2019, the Chargefox network will soon extend all the way from Cairns to Adelaide with secondary networks in the Perth surrounds and Tasmania.

    “Nissan is considering every aspect of electric vehicle ownership, and reducing the cost of charging makes Nissan LEAF even more enticing,” said Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester in a note by email regarding the deal.

    “We are delighted to partner with Chargefox – which has a considerable network and impressive infrastructure plans – so we can keep Nissan LEAF owners on the road for longer for less.”

    Receiving a five-star rating from the Australian car safety assessment body ANCAP in May, the Leaf received a top score for side and oblique impacts, resulting in a 95% overall rating.

    A boosted Leaf with 62kWh battery and up to 363km real world driving range was announced for US markets in March 2019, however there is no word yet from Nissan Australia on its introduction locally.


    181bhp, 144-mile range: this is the new Mini Electric

    Production version of Mini's all-electric supermini is here

    Want to know how far electric cars have come in the last decade? Just ask the Mini Electric. Both of them.

    The first arrived in 2008, a test bed rather than a production car, Mini built 500 and leased them to human guinea pigs in the US – the beginning of a data and opinion harvest that would inform the launch of the BMW i family five years later and every electrified BMW since.

    Fast-forward 11 years and you might expect performance and range to have grown handsomely, but I’m staring at the spec sheet for the new 2019 Mini Electric, and you’d be wrong: 204bhp (2008) plays 181bhp (2019); the range was 150 miles then, 144 miles now; 0–62mph in 8.5secs in the old one, 7.5secs today.

    What has changed is price and practicality – the batteries on the old one were, er, chunky. Chunky enough to swallow the entire boot and back seats. The new Mini Electric, with its 32kWh T-shaped lithium-ion battery slipped under the floor is still 160kg heavier than a Cooper S, but you get the same (read: still cramped) boot and rear seat space, and with prices starting at £24,400 (or £299pcm) after the £3,500 government grant, it costs £500 less than an equivalently specced Cooper S, too. This is significant.

    There’s a reason why there’s an armada of small, affordable, everyday electric cars – the majority with ‘e’ grafted onto their badges – coming our way in the next six months. Stuff like the VW ID.3, Peugeot e-208, Corsa-e and Honda e – y’know, the ones we might actually be able to afford.

    We’ve reached a tipping point, where battery size and cost has reduced to the point where cars like this, with a little help from Her Majesty’s Government, can be priced in line with petrol or diesel equivalents.

    And because most people with an interest in EVs have been ogling I-Paces, Teslas and e-trons, without the wedge to actually buy one, there’s pent-up demand.

    It’s taken a while, then, but Mini has made the sums add up… but only by positioning this car carefully.

    Firstly, you’ll only be able to buy it as a 3dr – Mini’s best-selling body style. Fair enough. There will be only one power and performance level – 0–80 per cent top-up in 35mins from a 50kW DC charger, 181bhp, 199lb ft, FWD, totally insignificant 93mph top speed, which puts it in the Cooper S bracket for performance. That explains the bootlid’s Cooper S badge (despite it not actually featuring anywhere in the car’s name) and the fake air-scooped Cooper S bonnet.

    Then we come to the WLTP range of 144 miles, only a handful more than the Honda e. In the real world it’ll be less than that, of course, because most of us won’t have the bottle to ever dip below 20 per cent charge. It’s the same thinking as the Honda – fit a smaller battery and spend the money on stuff that matters, like interior quality and equipment – but when you can have a recently updated Renault Zoe with a 242-mile range for less, or an electric 208 or Corsa with over 200 miles for a couple of grand more, the range feels a little mean.

    Mini has resisted the temptation to over-tinker with the design. Want a spaceship? There’s already the BMW i3 for that. Your opportunity to make a statement is the optional 17-inch, asymmetrical Corona wheels, lifted straight from the concept (anyone else seeing a three-pin plug?). Smaller changes include a new largely blanked-off front grille, protruding by an extra 17mm and striped in Energetic Yellow, although you can switch back to body colour if you suffer from sensitive retinas.

    The front and rear bumpers are a unique, slippery design to eke out a few extra miles – no splitters or Sport packs here – and you get LED lights front and back as standard. Get your ruler out and you’ll note the car rides 15mm higher than standard – a necessary evil to fit those batteries in – although extended wheelarches disguise the damage.

    Inside, it’s the first Mini with a new floating digital instrument screen behind the wheel – something that’ll be rolled out on all its models when their replacements arrive. A consumption dial, to let you know how leaden your right foot is, sits on the left, battery charge is on the right, and the whole thing is wrapped in an anti-glare coating that, while necessary on a sunny day, is a bit like looking at your vitals through a frosted bathroom window.

    A mildly different centre console features an electronic handbrake – a first for the 3dr – while the dashboard houses toggle switches for adjusting the level of brake regen, flipping between Sport, Mid and Green driving modes and turning the traction control off.

    Mini is open about this being very much a chassis designed for a combustion engine, modified to make batteries and motors fit… fortunately that made its goal of making it drive as close to a Cooper S as possible infinitely simpler. There are tweaks to the suspension to account for the extra height and weight, and a new ARB system that’s supposedly three times faster than traditional DSC to eliminate wheelspin when you stomp on it at the lights, but the fundamentals are shared.

    Frankly, I’m amazed I’ve managed to find quite so many words to talk about a car that’s familiar in every regard, besides a powertrain transplant. Hell, Mini’s even found a way to build it on the same production line in Oxford as the petrol and diesel versions – marrying the batteries, motor and power electronics in the exact same way the engine and transmission meets the chassis.

    So let’s embrace our sense of wonder for everyday electric cars while we still can; another decade, and they’ll be the norm.

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