Nissan is certainly playing its part in trying to push the idea of Electric Vehicles (EV) in Ireland. The first generation of their Leaf was introduced in 2010 and was reasonably successful; now the company has great hopes for the second generation of the electric Leaf.
There are two reasons for the slow roll-out of electric cars in this country, range anxiety and the lack of charge points. Nissan say in their new model you should allow you be able travel 378 kilometres, without a charge. That should get you from Dublin to Cork, which up to now seems to be the barometer for EV’s.
We now have 1,200 charge points in the country, which seems a lot, but spread over 32 counties it’s not great. Up to now Electric Ireland charge points have been free. But it’s anticipated that other suppliers will get involved in providing charge points and a Government decision on who will manage all the various charge points is awaited with interest.
Nissan took the Irish motor writers to Brooklodge Lodge hotel in Macreddin village for the launch of their new car which was very appropriate as the Wicklow hotel is famous for its organic food. Coincidentally on the day of the launch the Leaf was named ‘World Green Car of the Year.’
The new car has a new look at the front with a more vertical look to the bonnet. There is lots of technology available such as e-Pedal which allows accelerating and breaking with just one pedal. Also available is ProPilot, a driver assistant which includes intelligent cruise control and lane intervention. Basically the car will drive itself once you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Nissan did a comparison between the Leaf and a 1.2-litre version of one of their own best-selling Qashqai and found that there was a saving of €1,350 per annum in running costs with the Leaf.
Various grants are available. You get €600 for a home charge point and Taxi drivers get a €7,000 grant. I have seen Leaf taxis in use in Dublin and they make sense as an EV works better in stop-start traffic rather than on the open road. When you factor in the €5,000 Government grant, the price of the new Leaf starts at €26,290. That’s for the XE version, while the higher speced SV version will cost you €28,690.
There is a decent sized boot and aware of the Irish love of spare wheels, Peter Dynan , Head of Product at Nissan Ireland, told us that we are the only ones to get a proper spare. Peter also said that Nissan expect to sell at least 1,000 units of the Leaf this year. Their previous best for any 12 month period was 406.
The company has been lobbying the Government to allow Electric Cars use bus lanes. It seems a good idea, but that plea may have fallen on deaf ears for now. However, Nissan say they are hopeful of reduced prices on Toll Roads in the near future. White with a black roof seems to be the most popular colour.
Also Nissan recently joined forces with Tayto Park to offer children an opportunity to learn the rules of the road and test their driving skills on a purpose built, traffic course at the County Meath adventure park. Nissan CEO James McCarthy said: ‘‘The thousands of children who will enjoy this new family attraction are the EV drivers of tomorrow.’’