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Nissan LEAF, Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell acclaimed

UK Fleet World awards honour EV and FCV for green-tech development, but Aussie market doesn’t want to know
Nissan’s LEAF EV and Hyundai’s hydro-electric powered ix35 Fuel Cell have collected environmental and technology honours respectively at this year’s Fleet World Honours ceremony in London.

Judged by Fleet World editorial staff in consultation with representatives from leasing and fleet data companies, the awards are given considerable gravitas for reflecting the needs of the large and important public sector and private fleet market. Criteria include total cost of ownership (TCO) and how well each vehicle fulfils the fleet-specific functions for which it was bought.

Nissan LEAF
The LEAF has embarked on what will likely be a period of regular incremental improvement, given the billions of dollars Nissan and other major players are pouring into boosting the viability and consumer friendliness of battery powered vehicles. For MY13, it’s gained an extra 25km of range, up from 175km (109 miles) to 200km (124 miles), with charging times reduced by as much as 50 per cent (to as little as four hours using a 32A fast-charge station with the optional 6.6kW charger).

Adding temptation for fleet operators, Nissan UK has also opened up a battery lease program for the first time.

On presentation, Fleet World editor Steve Moody acknowledged the place Nissan has come to occupy in the burgeoning EV market. “Nissan has almost single-handedly [driven] the electric vehicle market forward in the past few years,” he said, pointing to the LEAF’s clear sales dominance. “With its recent enhancements, the LEAF is more viable than ever.”

For Australian buyers, the improvements are likely to be a long time coming. Asked when the new, improved LEAF will arrive Down Under, Nissan Australia spokesman Peter Fadeyev said there’s no word yet. With EV sales still miniscule here – 128 for 2012, of which 77 were LEAFs – the company’s local operation is giving priority to the next-gen Pathfinder SUV, the Juke crossover and the Altima mid-size sedan. “All of those we’ll see in Q4, but while we’re talking with Japan about the next-gen LEAF, we’ve yet to schedule its arrival.”

With the battery leasing package not integral to the car, the company is still assessing its worth and viability Down Under, he added.
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