Yes, our approach to designing the interior is different from what Nissan has done up till now. Because of the need to express the essence of an EV, for example, LEAF uses two costly digital meters. The meter on top incorporates the speedometer, clock, and an "eco indicator"-with functions linked to the navigation for enjoyment of ecologically responsible driving-positioned for easier visibility. The meter on the underside displays things found only in an EV, such as regenerative energy [a boost in charge when the wheels rotate] or remaining battery level indicators.
The center cluster, a new unit that controls the car's navigation and air conditioning, also evokes the design of the newest electronic devices, with a flat panel that eliminates dials. Between the meters and center cluster, LEAF will have a built-in link to facilitate round-the-clock IT support. Also, while many engine-driven cars utilize a stick-type shift knob, LEAF has adopted a shift switch that resembles a hand-held computer mouse and affords virtually effortless operation. LEAF projects a completely different dimension in cars, and even when people see or touch its interior I think they will immediately grasp that it's an EV.
One is the start-up sound used. When traditional cars start, their engines make a sound that signals they're ready to move. Many EVs and hybrid cars produce an electronic beep when the system comes on. But LEAF produces a pleasant sound in synch with the meters coming on that convey the thought "Let's go!"
There was a big barrier to this, however: At present, many cars have a sound control system that includes car navigation and audio. A car navigation system takes eight to ten seconds to boot up, and does not produce a sound until that sequence finishes. If it takes that much time, the start-up sound has no meaning. LEAF, however, has a completely separate circuit dedicated to its start-up sound, which works much like the sound that a Mac makes when the power is turned on.
Along with prompting the driver that it is ready to roll, we wanted to give LEAF a sound that would make people keenly sense that this is an EV car.