Category: ‘Electric Cars’

Infiniti’s Luxury EV Facing “Not Significant” Delays

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 19th, 2013

Okay, okay, maybe “plans” isn’t the right word here. At least, we can safely assume that Carlos Ghosn didn’t WANT to postpone the release of the Leaf-based Infiniti LE, but such is life. With no major updates planned for the Nissan Leaf in 2014, it’s looking like next year might be the first uneventful 365 days for Nissan’s all-electric game-plan in several years.

For those of you who need a refresher course, Infiniti first debuted the LE concept last year at the 2012 New York Motor Show. We saw the concept again earlier this year, this time with the extra detail that in no way, shape, or form would the Infiniti LE ever be released without wireless induction charging. In other words, Ghosn (rightly) feels that a luxury EV should be hands-free and devoid of the normal hassle of charging.

The Infiniti EV was originally scheduled for a 2015 model year, however, earlier this week Andy Palmer told Autonews Europe that there would be some “not significant” delays. Palmer, who is Nissan’s head of global planning, emphasized that this delay is NOT in any way indicative of a decreased interest in electric vehicles, or in delivering those vehicles to luxury drivers. Instead, he cites that, “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.”

Furthermore, Palmer hinted that Ghosn and co. had expected a more dominant induction charging system to emerge from the many competing technologies. But, as of right now, they’re still scrambling.

Or could it be that Tesla’s Model S is already well ahead of where Infiniti want to be and their supercharging system could also make their induction charger look old hat before it’s even out of the development stage.

On the other hand, the delay isn’t all bad. In addition to solidifying the use of induction technology, Infiniti also plans to use the extra time to incorporate several new technologies into the Infiniti LE. In fact, Palmer went so far as to state that upcoming developments in lithium ion batteries alone would justify the delay; apparently these improved batteries will allow significant savings while simultaneously increasing driving range and battery capacity. In addition, Infiniti may take this time to incorporate things like water-cooling into their powertrain, which would make the aforementioned improved batteries last longer and perform better.

Even though the Infiniti LE and Nissan Leaf may take a backseat during 2014, that doesn’t mean Nissan won’t be doing anything interesting.

For one, Ghosn will still maintain his goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2015, and Nissan Leafs will continue to sell extremely well. In fact, right now Leafs are selling faster than Nissan can make them.

For two, Nissan has at least one arguably more interesting car coming next year in the form of the new Nissan GT-R, which is getting tweaked, tuned and hybridized. And we haven’t even touched on the next-gen Nissan Rogue or the upcoming Pathfinder Hybrid (although we covered the latter during the 2013 New York Motor Show).

Well, there you have it – consider yourself updated and in-the-know about Nissan’s all-electric plans. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to chime in below. Otherwise, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Japanese car-related news coming soon.

Source: Car Scoops


Nissan Updates Us On The Future Of Their Twizy-Based Mobility Concept

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Regular readers will recall an article we published a couple months ago about Nissan’s new Mobility Concept. At the time, we didn’t really get it. As far as we knew, the NMC was simply a Japan-only re-badging of the already existing Twizy. Don’t get me wrong, the Twizy is a great car and I duly noted why Nissan would want one of their own in a market like Japan. But still, I was expecting something more. In the article, I even predicted that we’d be seeing improvements from Nissan before the expected launch in 2015.

Well, earlier this week, we found out exactly what those improvements will be. Basically, Nissan confirmed that their version of Renault’s best-selling city car will address many of the car’s built-in weaknesses in order to move upmarket and eventually sell internationally. More specifically, Nissan says they want to offer drivers the agility and convenience of a motorcycle coupled with the safety and weather-resistance of a car. How do they do that? With a weather-proofed and re-styled Twizy, of course!

Looking Back to the 2008 Land Glider Concept

Nissan Land Glider concept car

The folks who broke the story at Auto News Europe made an interesting connection between the Renault Twizy and an old, easily forgotten Nissan concept from for years past, the Land Glider Concept. The car was originally shown back in 2009, and shows a clear resemblance to the one-year-old Renault Twizy.

What does this mean? Simply that Nissan has been thinking about a city car for at least four years.

Check out this video and see the Land Glider in action:

When questioned about the similarities between the Land Glider Concept and a possible Nissan Twizy-based vehicle, Etienne Henry, Nissan’s head of product strategy and planning, simply replied that, “It was a very interesting concept with very challenging and meaningful technology.” Meaningful? I bet it was, Mr. Henry.

Why Nissan May Not Have a Choice

You might think that this this is a clear act of genius on the part of Nissan. They listened to the masses, heard that the Twizy had a few select problems (such as a harsh suspension), and are now producing a perfectly amended vehicle that everyone will love. They’re moving upmarket because they can make more money that way, or because they know people will pay for their superior city car car, right?

While that very well may be the case and I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, I suspect that the terms of the Renault-Nissan alliance were the primary motivation. Basically, if Nissan wants a Twizy of their own – and they do – then their agreement prohibits them from selling at the same or lower price than the Twizy. So, they’re being smart and making the car better, hopefully enough so that moving upmarket won’t hurt sales too much on a car that’s primary selling point is affordability.

Obviously, all of this makes Nissan’s testing in Japan with the NMC a lot more sensible. You might remember that Japan’s Ministry of Transportation is going to prohibit Nissan from selling their version of the Twizy until they feel that the average driver could handle it safely. The NMC is paving the way for something better.

Even more than last time, I can say with confidence that we will see a lot more improvements between the NMC and the eventual release (hopefully in 2015) of Nissan’s own three-wheeled city car. Rest assured that you’ll get updates as soon as we do. As always, thanks for reading!

Sources: Green Car Reports, Auto News, Car Scoops, Auto Evolution


Honda and Toyota Getting More Aggressive With Hydrogen Fuel Cell Future

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 5th, 2013

Hydrogen fuel cell cars have had a surprisingly controversial history. Ultimately, it comes down to a weird pseudo-rivalry between HFCs and EVs…

On the one hand, you have brands like Toyota who’ve been very aggressive from the start that H2 cars are the future of the automotive industry. They’ll cite the built-in advantages that come with hydrogen, such as gasoline-like range, more power, and a more convenient refueling time, in addition to zero-emissions and infinite renewability.

Honda hydrogen car

However, on the other hand you have brands like Tesla, who’s CEO swears that hydrogen technology is a dead-end, and that EVs will dominate the near future of the automotive world because of cheaper development costs and current technology.

Now, regular readers will know that we’ve talked quite a bit about the Nissan Leaf, as well as a couple other Japanese all-electric cars over the past few months. So, today we thought it’d be a good idea to check-in on the other side of the argument and identify where our favorite Japanese brands stand in their progress towards HFC viability. More specifically, we’re going to discuss two recent developments from Toyota and Honda.

Honda & GM’s Definitive Master Agreement

On Tuesday of this week, it was officially announced that Honda and GM would be partnering up with a brand-new “definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel-cell systems and hydrogen storage technologies.”

Quite a mouth-full. To give you a basic rundown of the press release, both GM and Honda recognize that to some degree, the skeptics are right. Hydrogen technology IS expensive, and development WILL take longer simply because of the complex nature of a viable H2 solution. So, the two powerhouse automakers are partnering up to share expertise, leverage economies of scale, and eventually utilize common manufacturing strategies.

Specifically, this master alliance aims to accelerate the development of a widespread refueling system, which stands as one of the biggest hurdles to the widespread use of hydrogen. One of the key ways they’ll do this is through improved hydrogen storage, which currently inhibits the acquisition of commercial hydrogen. Both automakers desire to implement these new technologies by 2020.

But, as promising as this new alliance sounds, there’s one Japanese brand that’s getting even more aggressive, and it’s doing so all by itself.

Toyota Bringing 2015 Lexus FCV-R to 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Last week, Bloomberg filled us in on a few juicy details regarding Toyota’s promised 2015 hydrogen car. Since we haven’t heard very much about it up to this point, we’re pretty excited to delve a little deeper into Toyota’s plans.

So, here’s what we now know:

* Toyota’s first HFC vehicle will be a Lexus sedan
* It will cost between $50,000 and $100,000
* It will offer a range of 300 miles
* We will definitely see a concept at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show
* We might see a production model in 2014, labeled as a 2015MY

As you can see, the future is getting closer. These next five years seem like they’ll be make-or-break time for hydrogen advocates everywhere, as commercial production becomes more and more viable. 2020 will mark roughly 25 years of dedicated HFC development, depending on which brand you’re looking at, and if the cars aren’t getting competitive by then, chances are the technology really is a dead-end.

As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear your own thoughts, comments and opinions below.

Sources: Autoblog Green, Bloomberg, Carscoops, Autoblog Green


Toyota Gets Kid-Friendly With Customizable Camatte57s Concept

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Toyota is really into customizable cars lately. Several weeks ago we saw the Toyota ME.WE concept, a very interesting car designed to encapsulate the individuality that future drivers may seek from their vehicles. As we reported last year, Toyota is taking a new spin on customizability with kid-friendly concepts. This year it’s the Camatte57s and the Camatte57s Sport, distinguished from each other only by their exterior.

Camette57s

In case you’re wondering about the name, let’s get that out of the way up front: Camatte stands for “caring”, 57 refers to the number of body panels that make up the cars’ exterior, and the s at the end apparently means “touch” (perhaps from the Japanese sawaru, which means “to touch”).

We’ll see the Camatte57s concepts later this week at the 2013 International Tokyo Toy Show. They’re actually the sequels to a Camatte concept shown last year, but the new versions offer more body panels and they come in two new flavors. The regular Camatte57s gets sky-blue vintage body panels reminiscent of an old Model A, while the Sport looks more like a modern day roadster. Both cars look really sweet, and I’m sure that any kid would be happy to trade up their Big Wheel for one of these bad boys.

Unfortunately, however cool they may be, neither Camatte57s concept is likely to ever see serious production. At least, not without some serious changes. The Camatte57s is not street legal, so it would have to be driven exclusively up and down the driveway or on a dedicated track. Not exactly convenient in the eyes of your average parents.

Even though the Camatte57s likely won’t see actual production, I can still appreciate the concept because it’s so rare to involve kids in the automotive industry. Really, ignoring kids is a huge mistake because it’s proven that the best car salesmen (or saleswomen) are the ones that involve the wife and kids, not just the father figure. Drivers with families want their children involved, so Toyota is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

For those of you who’d like to know a bit more about specs, the Camatte57s is all-electric and measures about 3m long by 1.5m wide, so it’s not exactly tiny. It features a 1+2 seating arrangement that allows the child to sit in front while mom and dad sit in the rear. The seating is configured so that it’s easy for parents to handle either steering or the gas and brake pedals while the child handles the other… According to the press release, this way “youngsters can make an early start on developing their driving skills and appropriate, safe places, off the public highway.”

Or perhaps Toyota is simply poking fun at rivals Nissan who are betting everything on an all-electric future? As the main driving force behind hybrid cars, Toyota is famously skeptical about the near-term prospects of pure EVs. Perhaps making toy electric car concepts is just another way of making this argument.

All in all, the Camatte57s is a really neat concept that I’m happy to see returning from Toyota. If you’d like to see the kid-friendly concept in action, check out the video below to see a team assemble the body panels on a regular Camatte57s. As you can see, it really is Legos meets Big Wheel meets high-tech unaffordable super-toy. No doubt this will be one of the star attractions of the 2013 International Tokyo Toy Show.

Sources: Autoblog, Carscoops


Nissan Leaf Selling Well, Charging Smarter… Still Losing Value

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

As our regular readers are aware, Nissan is putting quite a lot of faith in its all-electric Leaf. CEO Carlos Ghosn wants to put 1.5M electric vehicles on the road by 2016, and the Nissan Leaf is how he’s going to do it. In addition, the Leaf is an important car simply because it’s one of the pioneers for the automotive industry. For those reasons and more, we figured today we’d check in on the little EV and see what’s new.

Nissan Leaf

2nd Best Month for the 2nd Month in a Row

While we can all acknowledge that 1.5 million total sales in less than 3 years is probably unrealistic, the Nissan Leaf is still doing extremely well. It seems like it’s broken a new sales record every month this year. The best month ever was March with 2,236 sales. Then, Nissan had an awesome month in April with 1,937 Leaf EVs sold, the second-best month ever. But, the new second-best month ever was May with 2,138 Leaf sales, over 300% more sales than in May of 2012.

Nobody can deny that the Nissan Leaf is selling well. The car continues to gain popularity as it begins moving up the product diffusion curve from Innovators to Early Adopters – a 500% larger market, statistically. My guess is that these record-setting months will continue throughout 2013.

My Electric Avenue

In addition to improved sales, Nissan continues to refine their product offer with new innovations. Today, Autocar published a very interesting article detailing Nissan’s new My Electric Avenue project in the UK. This project is aimed at exploring relationships with electric companies that will become necessary if EVs ever gain widespread popularity.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but basically, My Electric Avenue will allow a small community of 10 drivers in the same neighborhood to lease a Leaf for £100 per month for 18 months. The goal of is for all 10 vehicles to charge on a regular power grid without overloading it, even if all 10 vehicles are plugged in at the same time (for example, in the evening after work). This will be accomplished by reallocating power distribution throughout low-use periods each night.

Okay, okay, My Electric Avenue isn’t the most exciting project in the world, but it’s a necessary one nonetheless. Plus, it just goes to show that Nissan is definitely playing a long game. And yet, despite this commitment to innovation…

KBB Projects Decreased Value for 2013 Leafs

Obviously, all cars decrease in value over time, but the difference is how much. At the end of 2011, Automotive News reports that Kelley Blue Book projected the 2012 Nissan Leaf to hold 40% MSRP after three years. However, the 2013 Leaf is only expected to retain 35% of its value.

This isn’t all gloom and doom, however. The decrease in projected value isn’t so much because of the Leaf itself, but because of the nature of used car buyers. KBB says that these economically-focused drivers just aren’t into electric vehicles yet. This makes sense, since if you’re buying a used car, you probably care about price more than emissions. Since electric vehicles are more expensive by default than their internally combusted counterparts, it’s to be expected that they wouldn’t do very well in that market. So, disappointing, but not really surprising.

At the beginning of this article we set out to update you on the Nissan Leaf, and as you can tell, all is going well. And, as an added bonus, while Nissan Leaf sales continue to improve, Chevrolet Volt sales continue to remain steady or decline. For those of you with a vested interest in Japanese cars, this is worth at least the smallest of fist pumps. Huzzah!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more Japanese car news, and thanks for reading.

Additional source: Autoblog Green


Honda Fit EV Gets More Competitive With Cheaper Lease Agreement

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

As electric vehicles begin to gain more momentum among consumers (sort of), their market space also becomes more competitive. Honda certainly doesn’t mind this trend, as it has an excellent EV in the all-electric Honda Fit. However, even though the Fit is undoubtedly a top-tier EV, it doesn’t match up very well to the leasing options available from other manufacturers. For example, Fiat, Chevrolet AND Nissan all offer lease contracts for $199 per month, while Ford offers $284 per month. $200 per month seems to be a very reasonable price for many city drivers.

How much would it cost to lease a Honda Fit?

As of right now, $389 per month, almost double the price of its competitors. Obviously, this is a problem. Fortunately, it’s an easy one to fix. All Honda has to do is lower the price. So, as of June 1, you’ll be able to lease a Honda Fit for just $259 per month, a full 30% reduction in price.

Why $259 is Cheaper than $199

Our more mathematically skilled readers will notice a small problem here – $259 per month is more expensive than $199 per month. You may be asking, why reduce the price at all if you’re still going to charge 30% more than the competition?

The answer is twofold.

First, while the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500 and Chevy Spark all come in at under $200 per month, they each require a signing fee of either $999 or $1,999. The Ford Focus e isn’t much better with a fee of $929. The Honda Fit EV, however, only requires $259 paid upfront. Already, you can see that this would make up for several months of slightly higher payments.

But there’s more…

In addition to a cheaper signing fee, Honda will also offer several benefits to tenants that you won’t find when leasing any other electric vehicle. First, there is no mileage limit. No other EV lease agreement allows unlimited mileage; the maximum is 12,000 per year. Second, the Fit EV comes with collision coverage. This releases you of some potential financial responsibility. Lastly, the all-electric Fit comes with a free 240V charger unit (although installation is the buyer’s responsibility) and complementary routine maintenance by the local Honda dealership.

So, even though the monthly fee for the Honda Fit EV is about $60 more than the most competitive options on the market, it actually works out cheaper when the other factors are taken into consideration. If you want to see all of this data presented side-by-side, I highly recommend you check out this handy chart the folks over at Autoblog Green put together:

If you currently lease a Honda Fit EV, you’re in luck. This new rate will automatically be applied to any current lease agreements, starting June 1.

While the market for electric vehicles still has a long ways to go, this is a very encouraging sign for the industry. The fact that EVs are important enough to manufacturers to engage in a bidding war for best price can only be good for the consumer. And if you haven’t bought an EV yet (I’m guessing that’s most of us), maybe if you wait another year they’ll be even cheaper. Only way to find out is to wait and see!


Toyota Prius is Most Popular Hybrid Online – Nobody’s Surprised

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 30th, 2013

As new technologies develop, the auto industry is able to access data that it’s never had before. For the most part, this data is used to better familiarize automakers with their target customers. Sometimes, though, it’s used just to see who’s better.

20 years ago, automakers relied on surveys and focus groups to learn more about customers. But, those proved unreliable because respondents have a tendency to exaggerate if they think it’ll earn approval.

Then, the Internet happened and authentic customer reviews began to dominate the consumer experience. This resulted in some major innovations… For example, this is when automakers figured out that the interior matters just as much as the exterior design or technical specs, at least to most drivers.

Today, the newest pool of data is social media. With this new resource come new companies ready to analyze it, and that’s where GenSent Insights comes into the picture. According to Automotive News, this New York-based analytics firm performed an extensive study using social data from the months of January through April of this year. Their aim in this study? To assign a dollar amount to the social network exposure of the top 5 most frequently mentioned hybrid cars on the Internet.

So, all of that introduction to say this – the Toyota Prius is the most talked about hybrid online.

GenSent Insights says that Toyota’s “total media value” for the first four months of 2013 comes to $14.5 million. The second most popular hybrid came to $4.5 million. However, since this is so completely to be expected, we’re going to move on and discuss the other hybrids in the top five, two of which are Japanese … and one of which isn’t even a hybrid.

Here’s the list, complete with total media values, for the top five most frequently mentioned hybrids online. (For some reason they seem to think the Tesla is a “hybrid”):

1. Toyota Prius – $14.5 million
2. Honda Fit – $4.5 million
3. Chevrolet Volt – $3.1 million
4. Tesla Model S EV – $3 million
5. Honda Insight – $2.9 million

So, three out of the top five hybrids are Japanese-made, which is pretty neat. More impressively, if you look at it from a total media valuation standpoint, Japanese hybrids accounted for 78% of the total worth shared by the top 5 vehicles. Interestingly enough, GenSent says that the Nissan Leaf was the most well-liked low emissions car, but it didn’t have the widespread frequency to back it up.

For those of you skeptical about how you could assign real dollar value to a completely digital currency – if you can call social mentions currency – I assure you, there is a very complex formula. And I’m also sure that I don’t understand it at all. But I do know that it involves tracking the sentiment, frequency and source of social media mentions.

Obviously, this isn’t an exact science. There’s no way of knowing whether Toyota got $14.5 million worth of real exposure thanks to social media mentions alone. It would probably be safer to call it a points system than a valuation system, but nonetheless, the end result is the same – no one can dispute that the Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid in existence.

Source: Autonews, Autoblog Green


Infiniti’s Own EV Gets a Prerequisite Disclaimer: Induction Charging

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Nissan Leaf has been picking up steam for the past six months. CEO Carlos Ghosn continues to maintain an optimistic stance towards the eventual dominance of EVs. Therefore, it was no surprise when Infiniti showed us the Infiniti LE – a luxury sedan version of the Nissan Leaf – at the New York Auto Show last year. What’s more surprising is the news that Infiniti’s Executive Vice President, Andy Palmer, revealed earlier this week: production of an Infiniti EV hinges on the accessibility of induction charging.

Induction charging, which is when an electromagnetic field is used to wirelessly transfer energy between two objects, is currently more available than you might believe. It’s just not present in the automotive industry. Think of all of the wireless charging pads for things like smartphones and video game controllers. The technology is there, it just needs to be magnified to bigger scale. Carscoops reports that there are induction experiments being performed around the world on anything from a quad-bike to a city bus, so it may not be far off.

Still, however far off widespread induction charging is, that’s how long we’ll have to wait for the Infiniti LE Concept to become reality. For Infiniti, there is no such thing as a luxury wired EV. Palmer explains, “The whole concept of not having to couple up cables to a plug socket, dragging them on the ground and on you as you go, is in keeping with luxury motoring.” In other words, no luxury car driver in his right mind would EVER want to deal with the hassle of manually charging an electric vehicle, which seems a bit silly when:

- The Tesla Model S is incredibly successful and relies on wired recharging.
- Even Bugatti owners are quite happy to put a petrol nozzle in their fuel filler cap to, so what’s the big deal about having to plug a car in?

More important than the development of induction charging, though, is the acceptance of induction charging. If the technology is not widespread, then it defeats the purpose. Palmer reiterates, “There is no world standard on methods, the roll-out will be dependent on region.” This would explain why Infiniti is so gung-ho about open source research when it comes to induction technology. They’d like the auto industry to collectively develop a solution to accelerate its acceptance across the globe.

Whether or not Infiniti ever gets to produce the LE Concept, I don’t actually think it’ll have a big impact on Nissan’s EV-related goals. The bulk of their sales will still be Leafs. But, I don’t blame them for trying to get more mileage out of their hard-earned Leaf architecture, which is what would be used in any Infiniti offspring.

Do you think that induction charging would make a difference in the acceptance of EVs as a whole? Or is this something that will only ever matter for luxury brands?

Or do you think that Infiniti is just scrabbling around for an excuse to avoid going head-to-head with Tesla?

Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Sources: Autocar, Carscoops


Live Japan Car Auction Sheet Translation Video #4

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

In today’s video, I take a look at a Nissan Leaf — the first electric car I’ve tackled in these videos. I also explain why the “ETC” you see in the sales points of the auction sheet doesn’t stand for “et certera”, as well as why it can be handy when the auction notes the dimensions of the car on the auction sheet.

Enjoy, and make sure you tell me in the comments what kinds of cars you would like me to cover in future auction sheet translation videos.

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Previous videos:

- Video #1 Mercedes SLK
- Video #2 Grade R Skyline
- Video #3 Toyota Prius


Ghosn Still Believes 1.5M EVs by 2016 – The Leaf Proves it

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 16th, 2013

In case you didn’t already know, Nissan is dead serious about electric vehicles. Not hybrids. Not fuel cells. Pure electric vehicles, that’s where it’s at. Or at least, so Nissan is convinced. They were convinced back in 2011 when they originally pledged to sell 1.5 million EVs, and they’re still convinced now after 62,000 total Leaf sales by the end of April, 2013.

The bold face of Nissan’s confidence? Passionate CEO Carlos Ghosn of course!

Carlos Ghosn still sees 1.5 million EV sales by 2016

Carlos Ghosn Still Says ‘Yes’ to 1.5 Million EVs

At a conference in Nissan’s Yokohama headquarters last Friday, Ghosn emphasized the Leaf’s acceleration in sales as the important variable to look at. He acknowledged that, yes, 62,000 sales isn’t very many, but the Leaf is on an upward trajectory – sales have doubled since this time last year. That’s where Ghosn is choosing to focus.

Still, even a man as determined as the CEO of the second largest Japanese car brand can be realistic. He knows that 1.4 million Leaf sales in 3 years is unlikely. He tactfully acquiesced, “I maintain the 1.5 million. I think it will be difficult to reach in 2016, but without any doubt it’s still on the radar screen.”

While anything more than 400K to 500K units is probably unreasonable to expect, Ghosn does have a point. Sales are increasing consistently, and the Leaf continues to become more affordable and more efficient.

2013 Leaf Gets Official EPA 115 MPGe Rating

Nissan independently estimated the 2013 Leaf’s fuel economy when the vehicle was first released. However, it’s taken several months for the EPA to do its undoubtedly vigorous testing and come to an official conclusion. The verdict? The Nissan Leaf is officially 15% more efficient than it was last year at 115 MPGe. On top of that, the new Leaf has a 5% larger single-charge range than the old one, and it does so with a 90% charge.

In addition to heightened efficiency, the 2013 Nissan Leaf is also safer than ever. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety it’s one of the safest vehicles currently on the market. Last Thursday the Nissan Leaf joined its distant relatives, the Altima and the Infiniti M37, on the IIHS’s Top Safety Picks for 2013.

And let’s not forget the most important improvement – the 2013 Leaf is cheaper than ever with a base price of $28,000. Depending on where you live, you can now get a brand-new Leaf for less than $20,000. There’s no denying that the improved economics have had an effect on sales.

In the end, I think we all know that 1.5 million Nissan EVs by 2016 isn’t going to happen. But, I like that Nissan and Ghosn are still fighting for it. 2016 is a long shot, but 2020… Who knows?

Sources: Autoblog Green, Autoblog Green, The Truth About Cars