Better Place & the Nissan Leaf. What we didn’t have time to say!

Better Place and the Nissan Leaf | Written by Ash Davies | This is a big topic. We could have filled an hour of television, but obvious time restraints meant we had to condense one of the most paramount topics in the modern motoring world to about 12 minutes. Here then are a few extended thoughts on the electric car and the Nissan Leaf.


The Nissan Leaf

We were impossibly lucky to have a hands on look at the Nissan Leaf for this segment. It was seven months prior to the car’s release in Australia and we only had a few hours.

Now, to clarify, I could never see myself buying or owning an electric. I like driving a little too much. When considering the Leaf though it’s worth to detaching your own mindset from the contention. Not everyone is a motoring enthusiast. Most people just like to move around in comfort and ease.

It seems obvious to point out the Leaf’s silence, but this is a big characteristic to highlight. The electric car rudely exposes the mechanical hinderances of the everyday petrol car. Regardeless of the petrol car’s refinement there will always be a light reverberation and sound from the engine and a momentary hesitation during gear changes. We live with them – they’re no real issue – but the Leaf shows that even the best petrol cars are still inherently mechanical.

It’s silent, completely smooth due to the single gear, naturally torquey due to the electric engine and in truth, a real wonder to drive. It’s in the nature of the electric car to be refined and comfortable. The everyday driver will love it.

The only real deficiency of the Leaf we picked up in our short time was the steering. The steering is irrationally light and slow. The car’s range really confies it to be a city car, but it feels nothing like one.

Better Place

I really hope this concept works. This mobile phone approach to the electric car is beautifully simple but has incredible potential. Most importantly though, it feels like a much needed 21st century take on a traditional, almost vintage concept.

The struggle will be sourcing capital and building this network. It’s a chicken and egg game. There will only be demand for their network when there are electric cars, but people will only buy the car’s when there’s a network to support them.

I’ve spoken to our contacts at Better Place and noted that we’d like to interview Shai, the company’s CEO, whenever he’s both in the area and available. It’s a bit of a long shot, but I know he has seen our film and likes our contention. If ever we do have a chance to talk the big questions relate to the business model. That’s what the future will come down to really. How do you build a much needed network for a product that barely exists yet?

I do hope you enjoyed the piece then. It was a complex idea to work with and we could really keep on talking. What are your thoughts? Do you think the Leaf or Better Place are headed in the right direction?

You can contact Ash directly via email or through Twitter.

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