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Vol.01 Oct.21,2009 LEAF Design Masato Inoue Product Chief Designer

02 Special features of LEAF's design

LEAF Design Masato Inoue Product Chief Designer
Why was LEAF given an exclusive body and design?
Nissan initially considered making an EV version of an existing model, but since LEAF will be launched as a completely revolutionary zero-emission vehicle, we decided to come up with an exclusive design that only an EV could boast. Because there was a more compact motor instead of an engine, we could have a new layout with a flowing and elegant shape. We situated the recharging port in the front grille, creating a shape that anyone would recognize as an EV. We also fashioned a front grille for air intake that masks its presence, a completely distinctive diffuser shape since there is no muffler, and so on. These were all extremely rewarding challenges for our designers.
LEAF Design Masato Inoue Product Chief Designer
What are some distinguishing traits of LEAF's design?
Since the hood can be lowered, the first point we can raise is how that was harnessed to create the new "face of the Nissan EV." The large front headlights have been positioned in a longitudinal configuration that forms an elongated "V" shape. These longitudinal headlights are particularly conspicuous in the Nissan lineup. I think we can say that the face of the EV is the forerunner of the shape Nissan cars will assume in the future.
LEAF's headlights are LEDs, and those "blue eyes" will make the car distinctive and recognizable at a glance. The distinctive character line along the center of the midline that runs up the body-combined with the continuity of the flowing lines from the low hood to the roof and to the large spoiler-truly reflects a design expressed by the term "smart fluidity." In the rear, numerous LEDs are used for the taillights and stoplights. The taillights take on an extremely slim boomerang shape. The previously mentioned diffuser beneath the bumper and so on also project the look you'd expect from an EV. In addition, zero-emission badges on the side and rear announce LEAF's "no-CO2" status.
LEAF Design Masato Inoue Product Chief Designer
What initiatives have been pursued in the area of aerodynamics?
LEAF will be mass-produced on a scale not seen before, and we want many customers around the world to enjoy driving it. In the realm of everyday usage, importance is placed on convenience. When only the car's aerodynamics are considered, lowering the rear section of the roof is certainly better, so many hybrid cars today follow such a design. But that sacrifices room in the rear seat. A great deal of effort was devoted to improving LEAF's aerodynamics while retaining rear-seat spaciousness , as shown in the photo here. The large rear spoiler and fin-shaped taillights , character line that follows the curve of the body side panel to the rear and others control the airflow.
Also, unlike a car with an engine, an EV has no exhaust system, so the undercarriage is flat. This also helps to maximize airflow. As a result, the new aerodynamics succeeded in achieving standards that satisfy the standards of a real car.
As previously mentioned, this also has to do with air acoustics. Wind noise is mainly generated from around the door mirrors, but since we have produced a specialized body we wondered if we couldn't come up with a completely new idea for changing the way the wind is met to reduce noise. We adopted a radically low hood on which we mounted elongated, protruding headlights.
Normally headlights are from 20 to 30cm in length, but on LEAF they are approximately 80cm long, and protrude 10cm above the body. By means of this shape, wind coming from the front is deflected and dispersed in a tunnel shape. Since the door mirror is situated right in the center of this "bulge" of wind, the wind's impact is reduced. We have succeeded in lowering resistance by about 50 percent, as well as significantly reducing wind noise. We put priority on EV-related issues, and were able to come up with solutions because it was an EV.
Vol.02 Oct.28,2009 LEAF Technology Hidetoshi Kadota Chief Vehicle Engineer