Test drove Leaf during first indoor test drives SF auto show

Discussion in 'Nissan/Infiniti Hybrids and EVs' started by cycledrum, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    So, I went to the SF auto show Sunday, last day of the show without much agenda, or so I thought. Just to the side of the ticketing gates, Nissan had a table about the Nissan Leaf Electric Drive Tour. Then I realized, aha, that's what I came here for, to drive the Leaf.

    It wasn't too much wait at all to drive it. Registered, sat for 10 minutes, then our nice hostess came out to escort the group. First she presented a cutaway chassis with the Leaf's Li-Ion battery, saying this 24 kWhr battery was 18 years in the making. There were also pictures of other Nissan electric cars. They've made a lot, even before the 1970's.

    Went to another display area where she told how internet phone apps can be used to communicate with the car for range available, or to pre-heat or cool the car (I think that's an option on some models), and more.

    Next display area, we looked at a nav map of how you would plan a trip, select destinations, see where nearest charging stations are at, etc...

    After that it was only a 5 minute wait to get in the car (well, I was pretty close to front of line). The most noise you could hear outside the car was tires on the saran wrap like stuff covering the indoor floor. No problems with the cars being driven indoors, they have zero emissions!

    The displays are pretty cool in the car. IIRC, it has the split level like the civic with MPH up top and other panel straight in front. There's a fancy touchscreen for audio, navigation, info, and more.

    I made a point to stop on the short straightaway (where the lady said 'need you to keep moving :) then punched a little gas and the car has nice pickup from standing start. She said it has 200 lb.ft. of torque, which is a lot.

    The car had been driven on the loop since 10am and it was still showing 95 miles or range left. They gave us 3 laps around the small circuit which is cool.

    After driving I sat in the floor model and really tried it on for size. The Leaf offers a little more headroom than the Prius in front and back due to its tall roof. Judging driver's seat legroom and the important feel while using brake pedal, the Leaf does not quite match the 3rd generation Prius. I would say Leaf legroom is about 1" less, but that's not bad as the Prius is very good now. Leaf does not have telescopic steering wheel.

    PG&E had a couple reps with brochures about a dual or single meter setup for home and charging times, rates.

    So, it was a very well run affair, and there were many people checking in to test out the Leaf. The car could be a smash hit. We shall see!
     
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  2. pEEf

    pEEf Engineer - EV nut

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    Here's my report from the same drive on 11/22 (made to another list):

    I just test-drove one this morning. Very impressive drive, quiet and torquey. The test drive was actually held INSIDE at the Moscone center, so it was limited, but I got a good feel for the brakes and acceleration. The feel of the brake pedal is excellent, much better than my Prius as far as the change from Regen to Hydraulic. Steering has been widely reported to be
    too soft, but while it was softer than my Prius, I didn't find it bad. Maybe at highway speeds this is different.

    I also got a good look inside the "example" battery pack and under the hood. In the under-floor pack, they are using 48 rectangular "cans" that each contain 4 pouches. The propaganda minister present claimed the voltage was 406v, but that doesn't seem to make sense using any kind of series/parallel combination I can come up with unless the cell voltage is really strange
    (like less than 2.2 or more than 4.2v!)

    Under the hood there are 2 main big aluminum modules which I was told are the "inverter", when I asked what the second one was, he said "that's the Inverter", so I asked "are they both inverters" and received a nod. He clearly knows nothing.

    To me, it looks as if they are using a boost converter. The thick battery leads go into the rear of the rear-most module, and then a thick cable comes out if it and into the front module, and then the motor connections come out if it. The 2 modules are similar in volume and have water connections of the same size. What else would it be? Maybe this is where the 406v figure
    comes from and the actual pack voltage is ~172.

    The main contactors and precharge system are inside the under-floor pack. It all looks like the same engineering department (Denso?) that made the Prius pack made this pack. Lots of similarities, just bigger in the Leaf.

    The charger is apparently located over the rear axle and is 3.3kw. There is a $700 option which brings the high-current DC lines to a much larger "level-3" DC charge port located next to the J1772 port. If I was buying a leaf, I think I'd want this.

    There was a small lead-acid battery under the hood much like you'd see in a Toyota Hybrid, but curiously, it was disconnected in the demo car, even though everything was up and running. The DC-DC must be hard-wired on in that car.

    There is a service plug under a small carpet flap on the tunnel just behind the front seats. It has a steel cover blocking access that's secured with 10mm head bolt. So in an accident, you have to have tools to "safe" the car unlike in a Toyota.
     
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  3. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    What about the driver's seat? Is it adjustable for height? Legroom? :madgrin:
     
  4. pEEf

    pEEf Engineer - EV nut

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    I found the car to be quite comfortable, but then again, I'm not tall. Just on casual observation (which is really all you have time for in such a rushed environment), it seems better than the Gen II Prius as far as driver room goes.
     
  5. pEEf

    pEEf Engineer - EV nut

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    Apparently Hertz car rental is buying a large number of units, so this is probably the best way to test these kinds of things. Go rent one for a day and take a long drive. That will reveal all these things!
     
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  6. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Ok, I'll play along. The seat has a knob that makes the seat bottom act as a see-saw - the front edge goes up while back edge goes down and vice versa.

    I wouldn't buy the car due to the fit, but that's just me. No surprise there 'eh. 3rd gen. Prius still tops, just a matter of time.
     
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  7. pEEf

    pEEf Engineer - EV nut

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    Obviously I'm not buying one. I've owned many EV's so I'm well aware of the compromises. If I was commuting daily with a range within the Leaf's, I would seriously consider it.

    Currently I have no daily commute (self-employed) so my driving patterns are irregular, but I also like to take a lot of out-of-town road trips. I believe I've finally found the ultimate vehicle for myself, without spending too much money. I feel the compromises are the least and I get the most benefit from my Gen II PHEV.

    I also see a future where we solve the current battery deficiencies and charging stations are as plentiful as petroleum stations are now, and you can charge your pack in 5 minutes or less. At that point I will swear off ICE-based cars!

    I most definitely champion EV's and whole-heartedly recommend them to my friends and peers. But they are not for everyone! (yet) If you have a daily commute that fits the range and can still keep another ICE-car around for longer trips, then I encourage you to get an EV. You will not regret it!

    If you can only have one car (as me) then I'd say look into a PHEV Prius. The word is still out on the Volt. I don't think I'd ever want to be the first-on-the-block with one, but time will tell. It may very well turn out to be a great car. I don't have a lot of faith in GM, but I'm always ready to form a new opinion. Nissan has clearly done a great job on the Leaf, now if they can get them out there and drop some cost, I see it being very successful.
     
  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web i3 and Prime

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    Did anyone hear the 'pedestrian noise generator?'

    Bob Wilson
     
  9. cwerdna

    cwerdna Senior Member

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    None of the cars at the Seattle area Leaf drive event had the pedestrian noisemakers. I asked about that before driving. I played the YouTube videos of the noises to some attendees. And no, I heard none of them emit those artificial sounds.

    Cycledrum's summary of the event is very similar to what they presented at the Seattle event except ours started on a parking lot which took awhile to exit due to distance and traffic then was on the open road. At the Seattle event, they made a big deal about the SF drive being indoors and (IIRC) them boasting about it being the "first" indoor test drive. That's definitely not true as at the Detroit auto show (NAIAS) in January 09, all the alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell) were driven indoors. I was there as were a couple of Priuschatters.

    As I mentioned in another post, the Leaf event presented a lot more info to everyone in a consistent fashion than the Volt drives and was more well organized.
     
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  10. pEEf

    pEEf Engineer - EV nut

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    I didn't hear it, even after hitting the switch on the left side of the dash that enables/disables it. Word is you can disable it, but it auto-re-enables each time you turn the car on. I assume the speakers were unplugged or something.

    I was able to routinely trip the traction control which limited acceleration so I couldn't get any wheel slip either. It's a smooth reduction in power unlike the the way the G2 Prius works.
     
  11. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Well, OUR propaganda minister claimed the voltage was 340v. That'd be s scosh over 1.5v ... that'd seem to work.

    .
     
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