Launched at the buzzing 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) in October, the all-electric, best-selling Nissan LEAF electric vehicle (EV) is already making in-roads in the South African motor industry.
Public interest in the Nissan LEAF – the first ever EV to be sold in the country – is already on the rise with the first retail units bringing green motoring to South African customers and paving the way for the spread of zero-emission mobility in the future.
Says Nissan South Africa’s Chief Marketing Manager for Electric Vehicles and New Technology, Ross Garvie: “The reaction of both the media and general public at JIMS was overwhelmingly positive and it’s clear to see that the South African public is ready to begin adopting this new form of mobility. This is in line with other global markets where LEAF is already extremely popular – for example last month LEAF was Norway’s best-selling vehicle overall.
“We are the first manufacturer to retail an EV in South Africa and after meticulous planning and strategic pilot programmes involving Eskom, the Technology Innovation Agency and Department of Environmental Affairs, we believe the Nissan LEAF is reaching the eco-conscious South African consumer at the right time.
“With the first retail units making their way into the hands of private owners, we are already seeing positive steps being taken by the South African market, where EV mobility is being positively received on all fronts. In addition to zero tailpipe emissions, LEAF is sublime to drive with an absolutely quiet ride and comes highly-specced with luxurious extras and top-quality finishes.
“Add to this the overall low cost of ownership and maintenance costs, and the fact that LEAF is available as an outright buy rather than on a lease scheme, the revolutionary Nissan LEAF is a strikingly attractive alternative to conventional petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicles.”
Zero emissions, plenty of good reasons to go electric
Having sold over 87 000 units worldwide and travelled over 472 500 000 kilometres with zero tailpipe emissions in the process, the Nissan LEAF is the embodiment of Nissan’s mantra, ‘Innovation that Excites’. The Nissan LEAF is also the world’s most popular EV by far and has received numerous accolades including the 2011 European Car of the Year award, 2011-2012 Japanese Car of the Year accolade and the 2011 World Car of the Year title.
The fully electric drivetrain which features a 24 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack linked to a front-mounted 80 kW electric motor allows for smooth and silent driving. A punchy 254 Nm of torque is also available and, thanks to the electric motor’s on-or-off nature, the torque kicks in the moment the throttle pedal is depressed for unprecedented driveability in all situations. A switchable eco driving mode is available as standard which reduces throttle sensitivity and mimics the driving characteristics of conventional vehicles while also encouraging economical driving habits to maximise the batteries’ driving range.
Coupled to the driving prowess, an aerodynamically-sculpted body which exhibits special features like LED headlights for efficient energy use at night, eco-friendly tyres with low rolling resistance and a noise-conscious design, as well as a roof spoiler with integrated solar panel which feeds the conventional 12-volt battery with solar power in order to minimise the impact of ancillary systems on the main battery pack – like the high-quality audio system.
Keeping the batteries topped up is also a simple, cost-effective and technologically-advanced process, a fully-charged battery pack able to power the Nissan LEAF up to 195 km. Either via a home charge unit – which is supplied with the Nissan LEAF on purchase and allows the vehicle to fully charge conveniently overnight from empty in eight hours directly from the main electricity supply – or via a quick charge unit located at one of the nine Nissan LEAF dealers in Gauteng which form part of phase one of Nissan LEAF roll-out in South Africa. Each dealer features a specialised Nissan LEAF quick charge station which enables an 80% charge from zero in just 30 minutes, free of charge to Nissan LEAF owners. Cape Town and Durban-based EV dealers will follow in the forthcoming rollout phases in 2014.
Enabling a green lifestyle
Eco-consciousness is a trend the world over and in South Africa, the desire to reduce the carbon footprint of daily tasks and lifestyles in general has led to heightened eco-consciousness in the motor industry. Speaking at the media launch of the Nissan LEAF, renowned Trends Observer and Founder of Flux Trends, Dion Chang discussed the trends of ‘green living’ in the home and office, car sharing or fleet schemes, sustainability in several aspects of daily life, organic lifestyles and buying decisions, and emerging trends – all of which can be linked to the Nissan LEAF.
“Going green has been a growing trend the world over for some years now and in South Africa, an increasingly influential environmental conscience has led to people reacting in their daily lives to reduce their carbon footprint and increase environmental care. Now, thanks to Nissan South Africa, people will be able to take this one step further, into their motoring lives,” comments Chang.
Cost of mobility, convincing people that the world is changing and why an electric vehicle makes sense were also discussed by the South African visionary.
Such exploration of green living and the integration of the Nissan LEAF into a green lifestyle has already been undertaken by Greg Ball, the first Nissan LEAF customer in South Africa. Having purchased two Nissan LEAF EVs in November, Ball has completed what can only be referred to as a truly green lifestyle. Residing in Johannesburg and working in the green energy business, Ball and his family live a completely green life. Both Ball’s house and business run entirely off solar energy and at home – both environments in fact completely free of the national electricity grid – and a water storage system and vegetable garden means the Ball family’s carbon footprint is significantly smaller than that of the average South African household.
The final element of Ball’s green lifestyle has come to life by his purchase of the Nissan LEAF, which delivers zero emission motoring and, thanks to solar electricity generation, a non-existent carbon chain makes a green lifestyle completely sustainable.
Says Ball: “I decided to buy the Nissan LEAF as it enables me to realise my desire to go green and further my efforts to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. Being in the green energy solutions business, I am now also able to set an example to my customers, as well as my two young children who are learning how to approach their future.
“I have developed what I call a ‘green conscience’ towards everything we do – from small actions such as home waste disposal to large actions like how we build houses and commute. Everything we do must minimise our impact on the planet and make sense economically – Earth is the only home we have.
“The Nissan LEAF is the best EV option available for South Africa and I want to support a company that is putting its money where its mouth is by pushing for much-needed global change. I see it as a milestone; my first EV – my small contribution towards a solution to a global problem. The feelings I have when I get into my Nissan LEAF are similar to those I had on the day I switched on my solar electricity power plants at home and at our office.”
Concludes Garvie: “We at Nissan South Africa are of course extremely excited that the first examples of our new EV have made their way into the lifestyle of Mr Ball and his family, where the Nissan LEAF is enabling a truly green lifestyle. It also goes to show that EV technology is not something South Africans are shying away from and we look forward to seeing more and more examples on local roads in the months to come.”
The Nissan LEAF is available through selected Nissan dealers in Gauteng for R446 000 and comes standard with a 3-year/100 000 km mechanical warranty and 3-year/90 000 km service plan.