For the skeptics who still want to dismiss theLeaf as a glorified golf cart, I have three words: electric light bulb.
Thomas Edison’s development now is regarded as one of mankind’s greatest inventions, but many thought it was a terrible idea when he first launched it in the late 1800s.
It was sheer lunacy to introduce technology that required a vast new infrastructure to supply energy, argued critics, including the producers of gas lamps and the Lamplighters’ Union.
While Edison often is credited with inventing the light bulb, he actually did not. He developed a long-lasting incandescent bulb that could be mass produced, plus a system for generating and distributing electricity that allowed his bulb to eventually replace gas lamps.
Like Edison,Motor Co. Ltd. did not invent the electric vehicle. But it has developed the first “pure” EV with the potential for mass acceptance. The auto maker also has the resources and global reach to help create a recharging infrastructure in key urban areas.
Lots of auto makers have developed battery-powered vehicles over the years, but the Nissan Leaf is the first tested for Ward’s 10 Best Engines that is really fun to drive, can transport more than two passengers, has decent range and is affordable.
The car still needs improvements to mitigate the nervous emotion called range anxiety, which every Ward’s judge experienced to some degree. Most of us agree the Chevy Volt has a more practical strategy for alleviating this stress.
But when I look at the Leaf parked in my garage, plugged in next to my battery-powered lawn mower, I see a bright future.
When I bought the electric mower, it was far more expensive than comparable gasoline models, and I was unsure it would do the job.
That was a dozen years ago. I have a small yard, and the electric mower is so convenient and maintenance-free, I’ll never buy another mower with an internal-combustion engine.
There are millions of consumers in the world today, mostly city dwellers, with short commutes and an interest in driving something different. I am sure many eventually will make the same decision I did with my electric mower.
It may take a decade or more for a proper recharging infrastructure to be developed, but I’m proud Ward’s put the Nissan EV on our Ward’s 10 Best Engines list. I do not want to share a place in history with the Lamplighters’ Union.
Ward's 10 Best Engines is a copyright of Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward's Automotive Group.