back to article Britain takes delivery of first Nissan e-cars

The first batch of Nissan's Leaf battery powered e-car have arrived in Blighty. Not that our allocation is a large one - just 67 of the zero-emission motors, Nissan admitted. It said some 270,000 27,000 of the cars have been reserved by punters around the world The company describes the Leaf as "the world’s first affordable …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oil

    So while the oil is running out (I don't buy in to the climate change myth - did cavemen drive Range Rovers to end the last ice age?), we can at least re-open the mines that maggie shut to burn in the coal fired power stations to power japanese hatchbacks with a 40 mile range.

    1. Phil Hare 2
      Troll

      This will be fun to watch

      Icon says it all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Sir Wiggum

      No, cavemen didn't drive Range Rovers (though that probably would have been one of the very few options to get you around in that rough, tarmac-less world). The last ice age surely was ended due to dinosaurs' fart.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bleh

      The idea is that cars and other chargeable products will work more like storage devices for renewable energy. When people start charging their cars at night then wind and water power generation tend to make a lot more sence.

      Hopefully we'll see the grid network information fed back to car charging stations, so "refueling" can take place during excess generation.

      The country will not open up to Shale exploration (For natural gas) so moving onto something that can at least use renewables is a postivie step.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Well the point is

      Electric is electric is electric as far as the car is concerned. It could come from coal, oil, gas, hydro, solar, wind, nuclear, wave and it doesn't care. The only option with a combustion engine is hydrocarbons. Centralizing the generation also means all pollution can be captured, heat can be captured, trucks don't need to thunder around the country delivering fuel to filling stations etc.

      Obviously the electricity does need to come from somewhere though and some of it will be fossil fuel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: well the point is

        "The only option with a combustion engine is hydrocarbons"

        It will run on any flammable liquid, that doesn't have to mean petrol/diesel. You could run a car on vegetable oil quite easily if you really wanted to!

        It's probably not much cheaper than petrol though, even without all the tax!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 1540

          Vegetable oil is a hydrocarbon. Ok, it's a hydrocarbon with less of an environmental impact to petrol/diesel, but it's still a hydrocarbon.

  2. JDX Gold badge

    Nissan reckons that's sufficient for 80 per cent of the trips Britons make

    Maybe so, but people often make several trips in one day and you really don't want to suffer iPhone syndrome where you forget to plug it in overnight and it goes flat at work the next day.

    1. Chris Harrison
      Stop

      One Way only?

      Do Nissan include the trip back in their calculations or are you expected to wait until the next day?

      Stop - because thats what your lovely 20 odd grad lump of metal is going to do - very often.

  3. Sean O'Connor 1
    Alert

    Typo

    Spotted a typo in your article. Shouldn't:

    > though you currently get £5000 of that paid by the government.

    read "paid by tax payers"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sorry to sound like a Daily Mail groucho

      But I somewhat agree. I mean saving the planet, reducing emissions is all very laudible but I can't see why my taxes have to go towards funding someone else to buy an electric car, I work hard, very hard (60+ hour weeks at the moment) and still drive around a clapped out F reg car. I hope to change that soon as I have been saving all year to buy a half decent car (ok, not megabucks still) whilst in some small way I'm allowing somebody with the most of the money to buy an electric car, to buy one! I'd love one, but I don't have the money, so therefore never in my wildest dreams would I expect the taxpayer to cough up so I could afford one.

      More fool me I guess, maybe I should just throw myself onto the entitlement bandwagon and be done with it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      another typo

      £29,000, or with taxpayer rebate - hence £24,000 for a small town car that can do just over 100 miles is not affordable. Well, not to most of the population. So for affordable, read unaffordable.

      Makes me wonder about this Conservative governemnt - I reckon 99% of those who get the rebate will be well-off - more money than sense - Conservative voters :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ... who'll have paid the tax that pays for the tax credit

        That's what tax credits are for: getting people with money to spend their money the way the government* wants them to spend it.

        * And sometimes, just sometimes, that's the same as society.

    3. FrancisKing

      Yes.

      Yes. It's a car aimed directly at the rich, yet all taxpayers will be subsidising it.

      So much for progressive policies.

  4. MJI Silver badge
    FAIL

    You can buy a proper Nissan for that

    370Z for similar money

    Skyline for quite a bit less to £10,000 more

    Half a GT-R

    Can I have the funding for two please and get a GT-R

  5. Peter Storm

    I'm not sure, but..

    I think that if Nissan had tried really really hard, they might just possibly have been able to make this car even uglier.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Aesthetics

      Yes, Nissan has really shot themselves in the foot here. Who's going to spend £24,000 on a practical car that actually looks like a car, when they could give just £100 more to Mitsubishi and get a tin can with a shorter range that looks like a bulldog's arse?

  6. Peter Bond
    Thumb Up

    To all the nay sayers

    It's so simple -

    If you need to drive more than 80 odd miles in a 24 hour period, you can't have an electric car.

    If you can't park off road or at least very close to a potential charge point, you can have an electric car.

    If you even irregularly need to travel long distances you can't have an electric car.

    Frankly if you are a one car household you can't really have an electric car.

    But for the two million or so people / households for whom the above caveats are not an issue the Leaf may not be a bad option, purchase price notwithstanding.

    One day the oil will run out, and when it does we are stuck with batteries, hydrogen or horses. The evolution of the e-car has to start somewhere.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Down

      But that's just it.....

      ***"But for the two million or so people / households for whom the above caveats are not an issue the Leaf may not be a bad option, purchase price notwithstanding."***

      But the price *is* withstanding. You can buy a new conventional car in a similar size class for around £10k less than this (even if you include the subsidy). Even if fuel prices *double*, that still buys you a lot of miles.

      At 8 years old, the Leaf's battery warranty runs out. A new battery will cost around £6k. An 8 year old conventional car of similar size is probably worth £2k -£4k. How much would you pay for an 8 year old Leaf knowing it is likely to cost you £6k to keep it on the road fairly soon? I'd hazard a guess that, at that age, the car would be just about unsaleable and, hence, worthless.

      What about when its 4 years old. How much would you pay for a car that may be worthless in another 4?

    2. Sean O'Connor 1

      nah

      > One day the oil will run out, and when it does we are stuck with batteries, hydrogen or horses.

      Or we could use all those GW of electricity our windmills are creating to make a synthetic high energy density fuel. Like petrol maybe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Sean

        But you can't make the wind turbines without some oil, so you'd better hope that there is some crude left over.

        People always forget that the vast amount of plastics and lubricants come from crude oil.

  7. Ian North

    At least...

    it doesn't look like complete arse which is unusual for an electric car. And Nissans in general at that...

    I can't help but agree with James May about electric cars. They will undoubtably the future in some form but the current implentations are too limiting.

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    I'd love an electric car or hybrid

    The Leaf looks like a great car. So does the Chevy Volt. But there is also the adage that you never buy version 1 of anything. I've learned from bitter experience this is true for cars which tend to have recalls galore and glitches. I think electrical vehicles will be especially prone to software faults, short circuits, fire hazard etc. so I'd prefer to wait. Current models are too complex and/or too expensive.

    I am very enthusiastic about the tech in the longer term. Turbines combined with an electric motor look like an especially promising way to reduce the complexity, weight, and cost of vehicles. I think once they appear on the market the case for a hybrid will become compelling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hybrids

      Which is why hybrids are the best way forward at the moment. Toyota are years ahead of the field, with 10 year old Prius cars still on their original batteries at 100,000miles in Japan.

  9. Elmer Phud

    £28,900

    That's not exactly cheap, even with the 'discount' that we will be paying.

    You could buy a cheap petrol car and still have enough money left to fuel it for years.

  10. LPF
    Thumb Up

    About those coal mines

    I think you will find it is Labour who shut down more coal mines than the conservatives FACT!

  11. Chimpofdoom!
    FAIL

    When....

    did £28,900 become an affordable car?! Especially this day in age with high unemployment

  12. Neil Milner-Harris
    FAIL

    Misleading Statistic Again

    "sufficient for 80 per cent of the trips Britons make"

    This is almost certainly true, in my case it is probably true for over 90% of trips that I make. Unfortunately I also make trips outside of this range at least 3 or 4 times a month, so hiring a car capable of the range for those would probably cost more than the monthly payments on a second car anyway.

    80% of trips is most definitely not 80% of Britons.

    It would be much more valuable (and therefore highly unlikely to ever surface) to see stats for the % of Britons that would be capable of making 80% of their trips in a Leaf.

  13. Chris Miller

    80% of trips

    40 miles probably is sufficient for 80% of my trips, but that leaves 20% of them where I need an alternative. I could always run 2 cars, of course, but what's the eco-impact of building a second car? Far greater than any savings from running a Leaf, I suspect.

    This type of car is only suitable for individuals for whom >> 90% of their trips are <40 miles, and I suspect that's a rather small number.

  14. Eponymous Cowherd
    Unhappy

    Valid point

    The people who can afford to pay £24k on a toy like this could likely afford the full £29k anyway.

    So why are those of us who can only afford 10-year-old sheds subsidising rich-kids toys?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    A big con

    Electric cars take up the same amount of space as conventional cars. On the roads, and parking. They cause the same amount of congestion, still struggle to park in the keep-clear zones of schools for the kids dropoff. Oh, and with the current green power supplies in the electricity grid, it's not zero CO2, just "CO2 elsewhere" at about the same amount as current Class A and class B VED cars.

    The fact that the rest of the country is subsidising these cars with 5k kickback on pricing, free congestion change in london and no VED, is appalling. Yes, the politicians will say, "it's to kick start the industry", but even if everyone with a car switched to one of these, we'd have just ended up paying a lot for new traffic jams.

    If the government thinks this will solve the country's transport issues, they don't understand what the problems are, and are just dreaming of a world where our flying cars can take us from our suburban homes to our offices in the sky.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Fallacious reasoning

      "Oh, and with the current green power supplies in the electricity grid, it's not zero CO2, just "CO2 elsewhere" at about the same amount as current Class A and class B VED cars."

      There is obviously pollution somewhere. That doesn't mean it's the same amount as a bunch of cars belching out fumes. For starters pollution can be more easily captured in a power station, and an increasing amount of energy is produced by renewables anyway.

      "even if everyone with a car switched to one of these, we'd have just ended up paying a lot for new traffic jams."

      They won't and even if they did, local authorities would just change how they deter cars entering the city or find new ways to collect money. e.g. putting a minimum passenger restriction, or a hybrid restriction, or closing roads to private traffic, reintroducing congestion charges etc.

      "If the government thinks this will solve the country's transport issues, they don't understand what the problems are, and are just dreaming of a world where our flying cars can take us from our suburban homes to our offices in the sky."

      Wow you've gone off the deep end now. No one thinks so simplistically as that. The UK has carbon emissions targets to reach and encouraging electric vehicles is one way of many to reach those goals. It also means in the long term a lower reliance on oil which virtually every country should regard as a good thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        no, you are missing the point

        we all agree that electric cars are no use for long haul trips. Right? So these are in town toys, second cars where you can drive round feeling smug.

        But regardless of what they do to our oil or CO2 dependencies, they do nothing at all for our cities congestion and parking issues. Because they are still one car per commuter. The government is funding small town electric runabouts, while reducing support for alternatives like mass public transport (train, bus, underground, etc), killing off the Cycling England work. yet when anyone asks the government (in the form of Hammond or Pickles) what their story is, they say "electric cars! electric cars!" and then "sustainability", before discussing how you can describe round town bypasses as sustainable.

        Furthermore, if you look at the miles a second round town car would do (max, 30-50 miles, day, no long-haul use), and the fact that battery lifespan is a function of time and recharge programs (fast charges worse), funding such commuter toys doesnt make sense.

        Now, what would be good would be to move the taxi and minicab fleets to rechargeable hybrids, with charge points where the taxis loiter. Because in places like central london they are the main cause of pollution and motor vehicle miles, and they do have designated places where they end up waiting around during the day, so recharge points here may be viable. Which would you rather be picked up by at St Pancras: a 12 year old london cab or a GM volt?

  16. yoinkster
    FAIL

    title

    £28,900 and affordable in the same sentence? What planet are they on? Oh yeah, one that's affected by car emissions, which is not the one that the rest of us live on.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Over 100 miles range huh? What about when it is freezing?

    There's a lot of talk about the range capability of electric cars but that's not the only thing to think about. 100 miles range is all well and good under favorable conditions. Lets say if you normally do a 20 mile commute that takes 30 minutes. But today it's minus -5 and there is a dusting of snow outside. Your normal 30 min commute turns into an hour long commute most of it siting in stationary traffic or at a crawl, due to traffic congestion. Because it's freezing you turn on the heater and fans (1 hour of heating). Being a battery powered car, everything runs off the battery and we all know that generating heat from electricity is a surefire way to consume lots of electrical power. In addition, cold temperature is generally not conducive to helping batteries hold their charge...

    The question is, under these not so uncommon conditions how does the battery life stack up. Aside from costs, I'm not so optimistic that cars powered only by battery are suitable for northern climates. Anybody seen any performance/endurance tests for battery powered car in the cold climate?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ok...

      That is a consideration, but in my petrol car I don't get any heating without the engine switched on, moving or not, so I'd say it's not that great a consideration.

    2. Aaron 10
      Thumb Up

      Shrinks in the cold

      A Mini-E driver reported that, when the temperature is below 30'F (-1'C), he lost around 5% of the battery power. Not too bad.

  18. Martin Howe

    Why the sniping and canards?

    Ever since I first read it in Elektor as a teenager, ye olde canarde about gas/coal/oil power stations rears its tired old head again. Oil, Gas and Coal will run out. A switch to renewable will be required in the future.

    A generation of electric cars needs to be bedded in by that time. Having them run (ultimately) off fossil fuels in the meantime does not make pollution any worse but does facilitate it getting better in the long-term.

    This is no different to refactoring a large software system under the hood so that when "The Great Event" occurs, the internal infrastructure is already in place.

    1. Charlie van Becelaere

      Indeed -

      as I recall, the oil we use will have run out by 1977. We're driving on borrowed time, my friends, so please cherish each mile (or kilometre, should you be so inclined) while you can.

      Now, where's my flying car powered by a micro-thorium reactor?

  19. Hammeroid
    Joke

    Impact on rail transport

    At least now the rail companies will be justified in complaining about the effects of a Leaf on the track...

    How long before someone's battery runs out on a level crossing ?!

  20. Nick Davey

    affordable

    I think the Leaf is affordable if you compare it to the competition, the competition being the £80k Tesla! Still for most of us while we'd like to get a leccy car if only to stop burning through our cash at the pumps, rather than out of concern for the environment, it'll be a while before this technology is mainstream enough for us to actually afford the car.

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Folks look on the bright side.

    It'll bring a l battery plant to Sunderland and (slightly) up production at their Sunderland factory.

    Jobs in the North East of England (this is quite a good thing to have given the rather heavy dependence on local authority employment).

    As Dick Jones would say "Who cares if it doesn't work?"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    How much!

    I had a Clio diesel once, hateful little car but I average 66mpg in it. It cost me £7000 new and £35 to tax. It would do 700 miles on a tank. That's £17000 cheaper than the Leaf even taking the £5k the Gubbermint will give you. Even at £1.33 a litre that's a lot of diesel. Also even the French lump under the bonnet would outlast the battery in the Leaf.

    I think I'd rather buy an old V8 for £5k and spend the rest on baby rabbits' tears, I mean petrol.

    If I could buy a usable leccy car for £8k to commute I'd think about it.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Megaphone

    In all honesty if the UK govt really gave a stuff about carbon emissions.

    They could.

    1) Re-instate the car scrapage scheme for cars > 10 yrs old but extend it to 2nd cars < 5 yrs old. This would get the 2nd hand market moving.

    2) Include an element of engine testing in the MOT

    3) Offer free tune ups or perhaps penalty points on your license if the vehicle fails this area of the MOT.

    It's know modern car engines are better than older ones and people rarely tune their cars (Remember the Top Gear 2nd hand cars tests when they put them on a rolling road and find out how many HP they "lost." How many people have their engines re-built every say 3 years)

    The ultimate problem is this. Very few people want to spend 100% of their budget to buy a vehicle they *know* will cover 80% of their journeys, not in terms of what it carries just in the shear *range*.

    The economic model is simply *wrong* and I say that as someone who thinks extending the charging infrastructure across the UK is a good idea.

  24. Aaron 10
    Thumb Up

    Drive one!

    I drove the Nissan Leaf at a free drive event. It's quiet -- almost too quiet (damn Tinnitus). We got to drive it on real roads at real city-driving speeds. The car is remarkable in that it is completely UN-remarkable. It feels like a real car (sans ICE noise). The switches feel good and are in the right places; the seats are comfortable and the interior feels "expensive" with good soft-touch surfaces, not hard plastic.

    Round-trip for my daily commute is 18 miles. This, and the other electrics, are perfect for me. If they're not for you, that's fine, but don't go damning the electric cars or call me a tree-hugger. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I want my electric car because of a lack of maintenance and trouble.

    1. Homard
      Grenade

      Cycle

      Lazy bastard. Cycle if you're only commuting that distance and you care enough about the environment to buy one of these things at the stupid price tag.

      In the winter, use your normal car.

      I cycle a similar distance most days.

      Simple.

  25. Homard
    Grenade

    Batteries - included ?

    The price is too high.

    The charging point is on the front of the car with a shitty little flap over it. How long will that stupid arrangement last with northern hemisphere winter salted roads coupled with humidity when a warm spell starts ? Not long ! The diesel engine rules in the salty marine environment for a reason.

    Have you ever left your laptop in the garden (ok cold place) overnight in the winter, and then gone outside and used it in the morning ? It doesn't last long.

    So you want to leave your lovely little leccy car inside (in your integral garage) to avoid this by keeping it warm ? What happens when the batteries do a 'nokia' ? A small battery going up is scary enough. Now think of the batteries in the leccy car, and I'm sure you'll be parking it as far away from your house as possible. So out in the cold it is.

    Second hand value ? Especially with huge battery replacement cost ? How do you really gauge remaining charge cycle life so the value can sensibly be established ? Dealer takes the hit ?

    Lots of very heavy cars and lorries still driving about. How much crash protection from the leccy car as it has to be light ? Do you really want chemical burns in the event of an accident ?

    These cars are not zero emission. Do the math and bring back the horse and cart as it's more practical.

    This car is a starting point but you'd be an idiot to buy one.

  26. DEAD4EVER
    Go

    electric cars

    thease are the future i think its time for people to start thinking about there miles of what they every day of the week diesel and petrol are just becoming to exspensive to run. though 28 grand pluss 5 grand nocked off is still pretty high. pluss there gonna have to put more charging stations around rural areas to cover everywhere. nice one nissan

  27. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Jesus...

    ...it's ugly.

  28. Mr Mark V Thomas
    Coat

    It's not the point...

    I wonder how much Renault (the other half of Renault-Nissan) are going to charge (Sorry, but I couldn't resist) for the "All-electric" version of the Kangoo van/people carrier, (due some time next year), as I have the suspicion that the Kangoo, rather than the Leaf, will be the vehicle that determines if electric vehicles will be a commercially viable concept (in cities, at least), or just a passing transient "Green Fad", adopted because it's trendy, (thus replacing the SUV/"Chelsea Tractor" currently used), by a minority of upwardly mobile middle class people.... ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Delivery van?

      Used to be a Rep in London. Doing a day's normal work in south London with 15-30 minute vists to clients would see me do about 70-80 miiles, which is about the range of these dinosaurs.

      Enjoy!

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    There *is* a way to do electric cars without batteries

    It's to use a pair of high speed contra-rotating flywheels with integral motor generator system in an evacuated shell.

    Industrial versions use carbon fibre or metal tape for the rotors. If damaged the rotors either fragment into small pieces (containable by the casing) or disperse the energy in unwrapping the tape.

    AFAIK the French have been using this for emergency power in telephone exchanges since the 1980s.

    If the electronics fail or the casing looses vacuum you have a problem but otherwise there is *no* degradation mode in the same way as chemical batteries have.

    Naturally regenerative braking can be incorporated and the charge/discharge rates are set by the power electronics (which can range from silicon based devices to silicon carbide in exotic architectures) rather than innate chemistry or surface structure. Proper electronics design also can make it compatible with the planned UK plug and power standards.

    Downside is it's less well known and the form factors can be awkward (best is large dia cylinder with some spokes but most mass in the cylinder to increase moment of inertia).

    A mechanically driven system (brought up to speed by a roughly a 1.6l car engine running LPG) drives a 1 coach shuttle between 2 train stations at Stourbridge in the West Midlands).

    Electric <> batteries. But will anyone bring it to market?

    <sign>

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