2012 Nissan Leaf: Test Drive


The stuff under the hood actually looks more like a real engine than some cars with real engines.  Alas, that is not a valve cover in the middle.  But there are a few familiar things like the 12V battery and A/C lines.


It's a little difficult to see, but there are two fans sitting down there.  In front of the fans are two heat exchangers.  One for the A/C condenser and I think the other is for a battery coolant system (EDIT: the other coolant system is for the power electronics.  The batteries are air-cooled on the Lear).


To be an efficient car requires a low drag coefficient.  The Nissan Leaf has a drag coefficient of 0.28 from what I can find which is pretty darn low.  Anywhere below 0.30 is pretty good for modern cars.  To achieve low these low drag coefficients, aerodynamic devices come into play.


A pretty standard feature most cars nowadays is the air deflector in front of the tires.


The front underbody is almost completely flat.  It seems the electric cars do not require as much cooling as their fossil fuel burning counterparts which means they need less cooling air to heat exchangers along with needing less area to dump the cooling air.  So high-drag heat exchangers can be made smaller and flat underbody panels can be used, thereby reducing aerodynamic drag.


An electric car doesn't have an exhaust, so the whole bottom of the Leaf is basically flat reducing aero drag.  The Leaf also has a rear diffuser to help reduce the size of the rear wake behind the car and reduce drag.


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