Last weekend Nissan announced the LEAF (see Nissan announces the LEAF, an affordable zero-emissions electric car), an all-electric sedan slated to go on sale sometime between 2010 and 2012. Today the Auto Express is reporting that Renault (Nissan’s partner) seems to be preparing itself to only produce electric cars. They expect at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show (September 17-17 in Frankfurt) that Renault will only show electric cars, none with liquid fuels.
Renault’s statement on their website is: “Renault aims to become the first full-line manufacturer to market zero-emission vehicles accessible to the greatest number, by 2011. Electric cars emit no CO2 in use. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is developing a complete range of 100% electric powertrains with power ratings of between 50 kW (70 hp) and 100 kW (140 hp).” They go on to describe the complete range of electric vehicles they will bring to customers as early as 2011:-
- an electric version of new Kangoo (light commercial vehicle) for professionals and fleets;
- an electric version of a family car, launched first in Israel and then in other countries;
- in 2012, a full-electric city car measuring less than four meters long and with five seats, ideal for commuting;
- also in 2012, a new type of urban vehicle;
- beyond 2012, Renault will continue to extend its electric car range to cover all segments.
The Auto Express article claims at least one of these vehicles will share the Nissan LEAF platform, and indeed the Motor Trend blog entry just before the LEAF announcement made it clear this platform can is easily adaptable for use with different passenger compartments. Back on the Renault website they discuss innovative services making the electric vehicle easier to use. The Nissan LEAF announcement certainly demonstrated innovative services.
Renault claims “technological innovations now make it possible to mass market an electric vehicle at reasonable cost“. The core technological innovation has to be battery technology advancements, the higher energy and power density of todays lithium batteries are the main differentiator from prior electric vehicles. Renault also makes the following vows: 1) Their electric vehicles will retail for the same price as equivalent diesel models (without the battery), 2) cost of operation is roughly 20% lower, 3) maintenance costs are half the equivalent internal combustion vehicle, 4) electric motors have equal or better performance to internal combustion vehicles, 5) electric cars are easily recharged at home or charging stations.
An important question is whether the battery pack is leased to the car owner or purchased as part of the car purchase. Battery pricing is still pretty high and to a large extent the price is the main barrier to electric vehicles selling for a similar price as their internal combustion counterparts. Renault here is saying the battery pack price will be separate from the vehicle price, and that they will lease the batteries to their customer. While this is akin to selling an internal combustion engine car without a gas tank, if battery pack cost was included it would cause sticker shock.
According to sources with Nissan they do not have a firm answer to this question. Several news reports have claimed the Nissan LEAF will come with a leased battery pack, however these sources say the is not settled at this time. It may go either way with the Nissan LEAF.
That aside, this is very exciting news.
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