In addition to the Nissan Leaf due out soon, the Japanese car manufacturer will be launching an electric Infiniti, a two-seat urban car, and a small cargo van. That makes four electric vehicles total over the next four years.
The Leaf has been something of a hit already, with over 20,000 orders and deposits submitted, mainly from affluent customers in the western United States. With a 100 mile range per charge, a roomy comfortable exterior, and sporty styling, the Leaf does deserve the attention it is receiving. At $32,000 most people are not going to be able to afford one though, especially in a weak economy. One thing making the Leaf more attractive is the potential for tax credits and rebates. A federal tax credit of $7,500 is available for the 2011 Leaf. There are also government incentives which could make the home charger free.
At this point it is not clear if the same incentives will be applied to the next three Nissan electrics, because they aren’t out yet, and two of them are different types of vehicles. The urban two-seater has a range of 62 miles per charge and a top speed of 47 mph. It appears to be more of an around-town car than one you would want to use for longer trips. Also, due to its small size questions arise as to its safety when hit by larger vehicles. If all urban vehicles were small, then it wouldn’t be a problem.
Making a small electric commercial van makes a lot of sense environmentally, because such vehicles tend to be driven many hours a day in urban settings, and gasoline vans obviously are constantly emitting air pollution. Replacing gasoline delivery vans with electric ones could make a dent in reducing air pollution in densely populated areas. The Nissan electric van should come out in 2013.
Considering the Leaf is not your average “nerd-mobile,” meaning it is fast and pleasant in appearance, the electric Infiniti that Nissan will be releasing in the near future is not likely to be one either. This is good news because previously electric vehicles appealed mainly to ardent environmentalists or intrigued technologists who could care less about speed and looks — they were mainly concerned with the smaller environmental footprint or mechanics. Today, however, electric vehicles are designed to appeal to mainstream tastes, and the timing seems to be matched to a growing awareness of climate change and interest in reducing it.
Image Credits: Nissan and Infiniti