The Nissan LEAF does not only look different, the Leaf IS different.
First about the spelling: The first version of the world’s most purchased electric vehicle (EV) means Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable Family car. That’s far too complicated; so everyone just calls it the green Leaf.
Now, about the looks of the Leaf: Some say it reminds them of the Pontiac Aztec, the harbinger of the crossover genre. It would be easy for Nissan to design and build a ‘beautiful’ car – remember the Murano crossover? Have you seen the new one yet? Other companies tried to come close and are still trying.
Some pundits are of the opinion that, if an automaker produces different types of cars, an electric car just has to look different to show that it IS different. Tesla builds a beautiful car, but the firm does not produce any other types, and therefore has no need to distinguish their EV.
In North America we have Nissan, in Europe their twins / cousins are Renault. The Renault-Nissan Alliance came into existence in 1999, and is the fourth largest carmaker with 8.3 million vehicles sold in 2013.
The Nissan Leaf is the most popular EV not just because it is electric, purely electric, but also because it uses one quarter of its weight from recycled materials. Leaf was voted World Car of the Year 2011, and by 2014 has reached sales of more than 100,000 zero-emission cars.
It was a leap of faith for Nissan to go fully electric without a range extender. Other pure EVs have been made before, but Leaf is the first affordable EV for the mass market.
Its popularity is also for ecological reasons, and the fact that many of its components are produced from recycled materials; the seats are made of Polyethylene Terephthalate – re-fabricated plastic containers.
Resins used in the making of the dashboard and door panels are gained from recycled materials; sound-absorbing materials — even in very quiet electric vehicles some sound-frequencies need to be suppressed — by using re-manufactured clothing. One quarter of the car’s weight is made up of recycled materials, and that makes Leaf unique.
The link at ‘recycled materials’, four paragraphs above, shows the process from start to finish in a six minute video. ‘Recycled’ may have had a negative meaning in the past, but we all have used recycled paper of the finest quality, just one example.
Nissan’s Chief Vehicle Engineer for the Leaf, Hidetoshi Kadota, makes sure that any recycled components are of the same high quality as any made from new materials.
Not only Nissan, but other automakers, including Rolls Royce, use recycled materials wherever possible and practical.
In any case, even cars of the highest quality look different, but all fulfill their intended purpose with the highest degree of efficiency during this time of alternative transportation.