Backronyms, silent running and daft noise laws #nissanLEAFcar21

When I picked up the Nissan LEAF for a two week test drive on 30 March, I did the typical bloke thing. Yes, I completely ignored the manual and just drove the thing. Two weeks later when I returned the car (*sniff*), I realised I still hadn’t read the manual. Fortunately, unlike some of the other competitors, I didn’t run out of juice or have any technical issues but I did think I should probably read up a bit on the car.

So I have. At length. I don’t just incessently ask people to vote for me you know. (You can vote of course) As well as making me respect the car on a whole new level, there were a few obscure juicy titbits I dug out that I thought I’d share. I mean everyone knows the incredibly low running costs (£1.91 a mile) or how sensible the range is (100 or so miles, when 95% of trips are under 25 miles) but did you know that LEAF is a backronym?!

Welcome to the world of the backronym then. A backronym in a portmanteau* of backwards and acronym, which means that rather than taking the initial letter of a phrase to come up with a word (like RADAR, radio detection and ranging), you take a word like LEAF and come up with a phrase that fits it: Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car.

I was a bit flabbergasted by the whole concept of the backronym to be honest. It turns out I’ve spent the first 5 minutes of every single quiz night we’ve been to trying to come up with the best backronym rather than an acronym. The St Albans Holistic Intelligence Team would be shocked to know…

I’ve had a few people ask me whether the LEAF has an electronic noise system to stop you (me) killing pigeons. Well Nissan actually delayed the launch of the LEAF in the UK in order to remove the Leaf’s electric warning sound for pedestrians. UK law mandates that any hazard warning sound must be capable of being disabled between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, and the Leaf’s audible warning system does not allow for such temporary deactivation. So until UK law catches up with technology, you’ll just have to keep your eyes peeled.

Another great fact I read was the LEAF is going to be made in Sunderland (Why Aye Man!) from next year. Nissan have pumped a considerable amount of money into their plant to produce the car in the UK. Wave the Union Jack chaps.

Okay, pigeons might not be safe, but there is a great safety feature that I spotted when one of my chums who’s an engineer asked me about what happened with all that high voltage electricity in the case of a crash. The Nissan Leaf’s battery pack is shielded from crash damage by structural steel reinforcement. To prevent shock and fire hazards, the Leaf  also has a battery safety system that’s activated in a crash. The airbag control unit sends a signal which mechanically disconnects the high voltage from the vehicle. Apparently, the two dozen LEAF’s that were caught in the Japanese tsunami all made it through without catching fire and with their batteries intact. Obviously they were pretty broken though!

The competition is ending midnight on Monday. According to I’ve generated more buzz on twitter in the last week than the other 9 UK competitors combined. I’m not winning but your vote could help! Thanks.

*from Alice in Wonderland, a word made out of two words put together. This is a minefield of learning isn’t it?