The Nissan Leaf electric hatchback is on its way, and it's bringing iPhone integration with it. You'll be able to use a special app to communicate with and control some of the vehicle's features, Nissan has promised.
All Nissan Leafs (Leaves?) will come with a cellular data radio built in. While the vehicle is at a charging station, it'll be able to send updates to your phone, telling you when it's finished suckling go-juice. Before heading back to the car, drivers can remotely adjust the Leaf's climate control to specify what temperature they want the cockpit to be when they climb in.
During this process, power is drawn exclusively from the recharging point, reducing the initial burden on the car's own batteries.
The Leaf's cellular system will also be linked to its sat-nav. Together, they can tell the driver where to find the nearest charging station.
Sadly, that appears to be the limit of the Leaf's smart-phone integration. For safety (and common sense) reasons, the Leaf cannot be driven or steered with a phone. Those sorts of shenanigans are best left to German university students with too much time on their hands.
The Leaf, which has a top speed of 90mph and a 100-mile range, is set to debut in the UK in early 2011. Nissan reckons it'll cost in the region of £20,000, but it should pay for itself in the long run. Running costs are said to be as low as 2p per mile, and it's exempt from road tax and congestion charging.
Our colleagues over at CNET.com got a chance to play with one not long ago and they tell us the Leaf can be charged from a standard household plug in approximately 4-8 hours. Better still, the car has an input for three-phase, 400W DC outlets, which can provide 80 per cent of a full charge to its lithium-ion batteries in just 25 minutes.
We're hoping to have a go in one pretty soon, so with a bit of luck, we'll tell you whether it's worth investing in. Watch this space for more as we get it.
Update: The Leaf will cost an eye-watering £23,350 in the UK, Nissan has announced. That's much more than in the US, but less than elsewhere in Europe, as you can read in our full story here.