PHOTOS: There’s Something New Quietly Roaming The Streets Of Burien


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You know we here at BTB love our technology. So when we heard from Michael Lafreniere — Director of Burien Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services — that he had picked up his shiny new Nissan Leaf, we just had to check it out right away!

The new Nissan Leaf is the first production, all-electric family car coming to market from one of the big name car companies. Limited deliveries started in late 2010 with expanded availability in early 2011.

With a base price of just over $32,000 the Nissan Leaf has a claimed range of around 100 miles on a full charge, though real-world testing has demonstrated that this can vary by up to 40% based on actual driving conditions.

Michael is confident the car will perform well for his 60 mile round-trip commute and expects to see his current weekly transportation expenses cut by 75% with the conversion to electricity.

The home charger will top off the batteries in around 7 hours, but starting later this year if he needs a little extra juice he’ll be able to take advantage of the charging stations available in the new Burien Transit Garage.

All that aside, the part we really like is the technology built into the car beyond its electric power train.

The Nissan Leaf comes with an onboard system called “Carwings” that allows the car to communicate wirelessly using a built-in GPRS radio over the cellular network. Among other things this system allows the owner to pre-heat or pre-cool the car from their cell phone. This reduces the need to use the climate control system, saving power.

The onboard computer also recognizes voice commands and will even let you configure RSS feeds from your favorite news sites and will read you the latest updates while you’re driving. Of course, the system includes features like Bluetooth and GPS navigation.

Like a typical car, most accessories are operated by a separate 12-volt auxiliary battery. In between full charges a solar cell built-in to the rear spoiler helps keep this accessory battery charged.

Michael sent us this video demonstrating how quiet the car is underway. The whistling sound you hear in the video is an artificial, safety feature audible at low speeds that is intended to alert pedestrians that the car is in motion.

BTB photographer Michael Brunk stopped by and shot a few additional photos of the car. You can click on individual images to view them larger.

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