Looking back on a big week of progress for electric motoring

Posted on February 22, 2013 by in Latest News, News

leaf-commuteWE recently published a piece from Nissan’s category manager for electric vehicles, Paul O’Neill, in which he told us about his experiences behind the wheel of a Nissan LEAF.

What we didn’t know at the time was that a couple of days later, the LEAF would notch up its 50,000th sale worldwide. And that a couple of days after that, the Government would announce a massive £37m boost for electric motoring, which is sure to broaden the appeal of emission-free cars.

So with all this in mind, we went back to Paul who spared us a few moments of his time to help us acknowledge a big week for electric motoring. We asked…

Do you think the 50,000 mark is a significant breakthrough for LEAF?

It’s a great landmark, and not just because it is a big number, but for what it represents – this makes the LEAF the biggest-selling EV in the world, with a global market share of around 50 per cent. And what’s more, sales are still growing, proving that the LEAF is truly gaining mass acceptance.

Why do you think LEAF has become the best-selling electric car of all time?

LEAF was the first EV designed from the ground up, and that meant it doesn’t have the compromises sometimes associated with EVs. For example, the way the drivetrain is packaged means that there is ample room for five adults and their luggage, and its low centre of gravity means that ride and handling is superb.

It was also conceived as an affordable car from the start, and the fact that you can now get behind the wheel for just £239 per month as a retail customer means the car makes sense for a lot of people, especially when fuel savings are factored in.

Do you think UK interest in the vehicle will increase once production starts in Sunderland?

I think that the localisation of LEAF production is great news on many levels. Firstly, it reinforces Nissan’s UK success story – with 500,000 cars produced each year, Nissan is the UK biggest car producer, and the North-East now produces more cars than the whole of Italy.

Secondly, the fact that NMUK is producing such a technologically advanced product is helping to put the North-East at the vanguard of the technologically driven, low carbon economy that we are all hoping will drive future economic growth. Finally, the fact that the LEAF can be locally sourced further enhances the great environmental story around the zero-emission LEAF.

Would you agree that the network of charging points is improving all the time? This week’s Government announcement was great news!

Definitely, but the work is not done yet – I am hopeful we will see many more chargers installed in the coming years, including Nissan’s own Rapid Chargers which take a LEAF from empty to 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes.

The £37 million of funding announced this week will certainly help us make progress there.

But installation isn’t enough – we need to see a user-friendly experience for consumers, such as web tools which help the customer to find chargepoints and access them easily, to more basic things like sensible locations and clear signage to prevent non-EV vehicles parking in the bays.

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