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Test drive a Leaf at Jones Beach

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf Photo Credit: Nissan

Historic Jones Beach, designed for cars of the 1930s, is the setting this weekend for a glimpse and even a drive of the one of the newest models available in the United States --  the Nissan Leaf electric, deliveries of which begin this fall to Long Island buyers who have reserved one.

Beneath white and blue tents in Parking Field 4, near the Wantagh Parkway entrance, are displays and a short pylon course for test drives. The program, which began Friday night, runs  from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

With a range of as much as 100 miles between rechargings — closer to 73 miles in EPA testing — the Leaf has seating for five in a nicely finished cabin and prices starting at $33,720, less a $7,500 federal take rebate. Recharging of a completely depleted lithium-ion battery pack takes eight hours using an optional home-installed 220-volt charger. It takes twice that with an included portable 110-volt charger.

The Leaf is front-wheel driven, peppy in local driving, with a 107 hp. motor, and has a top speed of 90 mph and some visibility issues in cornering because of a sharply raked windshield. The Leaf has been a hot seller in other markets; Nissan says 4,000 have been delivered to customers since the car went on sale in December.

For now, the car is assembled only in Oppama, Japan, and Nissan isn’t accepting any more reservations. But additional production is to begin in Smyrna, Tenn., next year, after which the company will have a total annual capacity of 150,000 Leafs and will resume accepting $100 refundable deposits to reserve cars.

The Jones Beach event kicks off the second nationwide tour of the vehicle, covering 26 locations.  The Leaf also is being sold in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, Oregon and Washington, with additional markets launching later this year.

Further information and reservations of cars are at Drivers interested in the test drives at Jones Beach are asked to register in advance at
Nissan says about 50,000 people have taken test drives during the tour. Tour director Mike Mowat said at Jones Beach Friday that he hopes for 800 to 1,000 visitors each day Saturday and Sunday.

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