One of the biggest stories in the auto world next to Porsche returning to Detroit and one of the biggest auto shows around, the Nissan Leaf is finally for sale after seemingly endless buildup and no that the first owner has won the race to get that set of keys, all that is left is to hear reports back from drivers on what they like and love about the vehicle. It remains to be seen what cars like this are going to do to car insurance rates, but they are certainly going to do some things to change the ownership experience for motorists. That much is certain, especially when you factor in features like CARWINGS, developed for the Leaf and actually in use in Japan for some time now, but never available in the U.S. until now.
CARWINGS is a navigation system for the driver. It gives some of the things that many of us are now used to seeing in our GPS and other devices. For example, it can give you a report on your location and its relative position to your eventual destination. And it can help you to find the way by giving the usual turn by turn directions. It is amazing how quickly this sort of thing goes from revolutionary to routine.
But the routine part stops there. The Leaf is equipped through this system with a way to let you know as a driver how far it is to the next place where you can charge up and where that location is. This feature alone is going to make CARWINGS worthwhile, especially for those who are very intent on getting the most they can out of the electric vehicle feature and spurn fossil fuels to the greatest extent that they possibly can.
Another excellent feature that people are going to probably have a fun time with is energy usage information that tracks your efficiency on a trip by trip, daily, or monthly basis and gives you readouts on how you are doing with efficiency as far as energy consumption is concerned. But this is not even the fun part. CARWINGS actually allows Nissan Leaf owners to track their own efficiency against that of any other Leaf owner in the world. For those who really have a strong desire to get their energy usage down (and surely this has to describe a large segment of the Leaf driving population), that feature is going to be very enjoyable to group auto insurance customers. Taking this desire to the next level and turning it into a game seems like a great way to really encourage car owners to make the most of their ownership experience and really focus in on what they can do to maximize the performance of the car in terms of energy usage (or lack thereof, really).
Future of Electric Vehicles
Between the Nissan Leaf, the Chevrolet Volt, and other competitors coming into the market, it is clear that EVs are going to start becoming a part of life on the American road. As technology and production methods improve and as prices for these special vehicles stabilize, it will be interesting to see how much of a market develops for electric cars - new navigation systems like the Nissan Leaf CARWINGS aren't the only reason people are interested in these vehicles. Part of the answer to that question rests with the buying public, of course. The preferences of those in a position to make a purchase will go a long way toward determining these things.
But another part will be in the hands of the automakers. It is upon them to produce vehicles that wide segments of buyers want to drive and can afford to buy if they want to drive up sales for electric vehicles. Time will tell whether this is the case.