First Drive: Nissan Cube EV Prototype, 100 miles of pure-electricity

The big news out of the Dodgers stadium yesterday didn’t have anything to do with the win over the Giants, instead it was our Electric Vehicle future as envisioned by the power that be at Nissan. I’ll spare you the many baseball analogies circling the bases of my mind and just get to it. 

The black and white Nissan Cube EV Test Car was one of only two in existence. Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning, made a point to mention the only other one is in Japan. Basically, if you bang up the EV during test driving, he’ll probably make you swim to Japan and bring back the other one. But I did test out the EV (more on that later), and I did not bang it up, which is lucky since I don’t think I’d make the swim out to Japan.

The 2010 Nissan Cube EV (yet unnamed, but Mark did mention he’d be willing to let us drop our ideas a suggestion box on our way out), will be a 5-door, 5-passenger hatch that will get 100 miles to the charge. On a household 110V, it’ll be 14-hours from empty to full (about 10 hours for 80% fill), and 8 hours on a 220V. There will also be a rapid recharger that can do 80% in 26 minutes, but those will be on some sort of freakishly awesome industrial strength units that won’t be available for household use. If you think that’s badass, just wait till you see Mark’s vision of a smart grid enabled future with online vehicle charging control, and cross-powering sharing between your car and the utilities.

Follow the jump to keep reading and to view the high-res image gallery.

First Drive: Nissan Cube EV Prototype:


Nissan is working with the multitude of utilities and numerous business models they have to get some sales plans for the home charging box for your Nissan EV. The infrastructure, Perry says, is key to the viability of the Nissan EV’s future in the retail market.

The price range targeted is somewhere in the “$25,000 to $33,000” range, and that’s before the $7,500 tax credit. Its key targets include the Honda Insight, Toyota Prius (particularly the future plug-in version) and of course the Chevrolet Volt. Key to the strategy of the Nissan EV will be a zero-payback period. This means unlike say a hybrid Escalade, there is essentially no price premium over gasoline electric cars to amortize and fuel savings start on day one.

The Nissan EV’s design is optimized around the current powertrain and packaging, which by the way, is pretty much in its final form in the Electro-Cube I tested (I just made that up, if you didn’t notice). This means that unlike the Tesla Model S, you probably won’t see any bigger range battery packs on the options list, but according to Perry, this does ensure that the EV’s cost, range, power and space efficiency are as splendid as Nissan engineers could make it. Also, Perry mentioned that a 100-mile range does cover the needs of 98% of the driving public. For those that tow fastboats or like taking long road trips, they could easily rent a car for the once a month or so that they need to take a trip to Grandma’s house up north with all the money the save in operating costs.

Since the Electro-Cube had what will essentially be the same powertrain as the future EV, Nissan let me take a spin around the Dodgers stadium in order to get feel for what we’re going get. Power was smooth and linear and thanks to electric motor torque, felt quite fast. For any sort of local driving, you will hardly feel like you’re driving this thing for fuel savings. This bodes well for mainstream adaptation. Expect to see the Nissan EV available for fleet/commercial sales sometime in 2010 with limited retail sales as soon as the end of 2010. Assuming infrastructure issues are addressed, you (yes you) could even pick one up for the 2012 model year. By then we’ll know if the non-Cube’d EV is truly a home run (I tried so hard to resist, really…).

First Drive: Nissan Cube EV Prototype:


– By: Kap Shah