As early as October 2019, the Nissan IMk was unveiled as concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show, expressing its intention to launch a small electric car. However, the development of zero-emission kei cars was not officially announced until late August 2021, as part of a 50:50 joint venture with Mitsubishi.
Fast forward to November 10, and the concept car has morphed into a prototype. Of all the places, the cute little electric car with a right-hand-drive layout has been tested on a Michigan manufacturer’s license plate. It’s worth pointing out that the road car will be smaller than the IMx, as the concept is too long and wide to be a kei car in Japan.
We already know the exact dimensions of the production model, as Nissan says it will be 3,395mm (133.6 inches) long, 1,475mm (58 inches) wide and 1,655mm (65.1 inches) tall, so its small proportions will make it easy to manoeuvre on busy streets typical of Japan. Another important piece of information revealed by the Japanese brand is the 20 kWh capacity of the battery pack, which will have enough juice “to meet the daily needs of Japan”
Like many other recent Electric Vehicles, the Nissan IMk (the production model’s name may change) will support bidirectional charging, meaning owners will be able to use the battery’s energy to power external devices in case of emergencies like a nearby power outage. Nissan also promises “smooth ride” and “instant acceleration,” though we don’t expect the electric kei to break any lap records…
As for the prototype, the heavy camouflage doesn’t hide the fact that it’s very similar to the previous IMx, not only in terms of size, but also in terms of headlights and taillights. It has some of the shortest overhangs we’ve seen, thanks to a dedicated Electric Vehicle platform that allows Nissan to fit a wheelbase that’s sizable relative to the IMk’s petite dimensions.
We couldn’t help but notice the roof bulge, and we also wondered if the architecture would work well for larger vehicles, since kei cars are too small to be sold outside of Japan. If Nissan makes it clear that electric vehicles are the future, don’t be too surprised if the next Micra supermini will be electric.
Meanwhile, the Nissan IMk production version will go on sale in the Land of the Rising Sun from next year, with an asking price of around 2 million yen (about £13,000 at current exchange rates), taking into account local Electric Vehicle subsidies.
Nissan Leaf – a history. The Nissan LEAF is a compact five-door hatchback battery electric vehicle built by Nissan. It was launched in Japan and the US in December 2010 and is currently in its second generation, which was launched in October 2017.
The Leaf’s range on a full charge has gradually increased from 73 miles to 226 miles thanks to a larger battery pack and some minor improvements.
Worldwide sales totaled 500,000 by December 2020.
As of September 2021, sales in Europe totaled more than 208,000, more than 161,000 in the United States, more than 150,000 in Japan.
Nissan is trying to make the Leaf appeal to mainstream drivers by giving it a familiar five-door hatchback design. The body features a sharp V-shape with large upward-sloping headlamps that split and redirect airflow from the door mirrors, and aerodynamic panelling on the underside of the car. The battery is the heaviest part of most Electric Vehicles and sits under the seat and rear footwell, lowering the center of gravity as much as possible and giving the car better structural stiffness than a conventional five-door hatchback.
The Leaf is powered by an electric synchronous motor driving the front wheels. The Leaf initially came with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery, which was later increased to 30 kWh. The battery is manufactured by the Automotive Energy Supply Company. It is guaranteed for 8 years or 100,000 miles in the United States, and 100,000 kilometers or 5 years in Europe.
There is no active cooling of the battery pack, only passive cooling by radiation.
According to a 2015 report by Warranty Direct, three of the 35,000 Leafs sold in Europe suffered battery failures, compared with a 25 times higher failure rate for combustion engines.
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