We like the Leaf. It’s not a good choice for everyone, but it’s a great second car or city car, set back the most perhaps by the trouble one has to take in charging it. At home you are advised to spring for a high-capacity outlet, and abroad you must plan your trips to coincide with existing charge points. Anything that can make adding power to these cars easier will increase their marketability.
To that end, Nissan has announced that the next generation of Leafs (Leaves?) will feature a wireless charging mechanism that, they say, will charge as fast as a normal wall outlet.
That’s still 8 hours for the fast charger, of course, but it’s something an average consumer will enjoy: park the car and it’s already charging. More importantly, it means that Nissan, a major force in the electric car market right now, has chosen a style and vendor for wireless charging, and others may follow suit. You’ll notice that cars all have the same size fuel intake, so you can fill up at any gas station. Why should it be any different for wireless electrical charging going forward?
We’ve seen solutions of this type before, even some that seemed outlandish (a charging lane?), but Nissan hasn’t dropped any names, nor, on the other hand, implied that the technology is internal. But whatever it is, it will have a competitive advantage in being one of the first to hit the consumer market. Unfortunately it will not be able to be installed on old models. Early adopters take note.
Another improvement for the new Leaf is a mode where it stores energy at night, when the rates are cheaper, and uses it to power your home during the day. It will be too expensive for most to install at first (probably around $7500-$8000) but it’s an interesting idea. The range should be increased as well, and lower costs for batteries and components should bring the price down a grand or two.
The changes are expected to be rolled out in the 2013 model. We’ll be seeing many other full-electric vehicles debut before then, including Tesla’s affordable Model S and lots of entries from Nissan’s other branches and other vehicle makers as well. Whether inductive charging and home power plant capability will become standard is a question to revisit in a few years’ time.
Here’s a vehicle explaining things in a little more detail: