January 18, 2012
Chilling with the Nissan LEAF
Shibetsu, on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, is where a team of Nissan engineers is setting up a cold weather test drive for the LEAF. In all, they have readied 12 of the all-electric cars and invited a group of journalists to put them through their paces on a series of icy courses.
Nissan’s Technical Meister, Hiroyoshi Kato, who has test driven almost all of the company’s car models, says the freezing weather and road conditions here are ideal to see how vehicles perform in severe cold. Temperatures average around minus 13 degrees Celsius (8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) during winter with snow blanketing the hilly test area.
“These journalists are mainly based in Tokyo, which rarely sees snow, and they have limited opportunities to test cars thoroughly on the ice or snow,” Kato said. “There is still a limited number of electric vehicles globally, so we want to prove that EVs are able to perform quite well on ice and snow.”
At Shibetsu, three courses have been laid out to allow drivers to experience a range of cold-weather situations in a limited time.
The first two, the Skid Pad Course and the Pylon Slalom Course, primarily test the LEAF’s handling, braking and steering as well as the overall balance of the car.
On the Skid Pad Course, the LEAF is driven around a large, flat circular course to see how the car handles turns under acceleration.
On the Pylon Slalom Course, the LEAF weaves through a line of cones to assess its behavior amid repeated acceleration and braking.
The third and final test, the Country Road Course, replicates a naturally twisting road, with uphill and downhill sections.
Will the Nissan LEAF meet the expectations of the group of journalists? What were their experiences getting behind the wheel of the pure electric car and driving it in these cold conditions?
Find out in our next story.
Producer, Nissan Global Media Center