They are only selling the Leaf in fairly mild or hot climates (Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Tennessee, etc.) Speculation is that they will include a cold weather package in their 2012 model
The quoted range is 100 miles but that figure depends on extreme heat or cold and how one drives the car in terms of speed and acceleration. Based on what I experienced, the range was slightly lower because it was cool. I think if I was trying to "hypermile" the car, driving slower with easy acceleration, the estimates would have climbed once the computer "stored" my driving style to use in future range estimates.
Regarding computers hanging, I think it's important to not equate Automotive computer systems with Windows PCs. That's an apples-to-oranges comparison, if not apples-to-sea-urchins.
Availability and Reliability in PC OSes and applications is at best a fourth-order concern, whereas, in Automotive, Safety is a higher-priority concern even than Functionality. If there's ever a conflict between correct functionality and safety, safety always wins.
Really excellent "first look" review of the Leaf, so thank you!
Although I don't claim to be an expert on the topic, I'm a Prius driver, and have read a bit about EV technology (notably, James Larimie's Electric Vehicle Technology Explained - good book, although a little out-of-date in spots).
Between the fact that I live in a hot climate (Austin, TX) and what I read there about how deadly critical it is to keep batteries cool, what I have to really wonder about is Nissan's claim that their battery system doesn't need a cooling system. I'm guessing that, in hotter climates, the battery modules will start failing toward the end of the warranty period, and will pretty much all need to be replaced shortly thereafter.
I would be interested in knowing how the real life range compares with the marketing & predicted values. Also the practicality of partial recharging whilst at work or visiting family/friends etc. Does this usefully extend the practical usage range.
Can you tell us if the car is rated for -30C temperature or even below? Some of us drive in cold climate and I'm wondering if the maker specified something like recommended operating conditions...
Nissan says it costs $2.64 for every 100 miles to operate, based on an electricity cost of $0.11/kWh x 24 kWh. The battery has an 8-year, 100k mile warranty. I am not fond of the Versa for several reasons. You can read my review here: http://www.examiner.com/automotive-in-boston/car-locks-pose-accident-hazard