The Nissan Leaf was a pioneer for modern electric vehicles when it first arrived in 2010, way before the influx of ‘green’ cars we see in front of us today. Seven years later, and when the rest of the automotive industry had finally started to get involved, the second-generation arrived with a completely redesigned look, inside and out. Many argue that this car was the first ‘usable’ EV in day-to-day driving, thanks to its range, price and usability. Fundamentally, it set the benchmark for mass-market EVs.
Despite impressing many people, especially with the latest addition of semi-autonomous software, most of the public were still unsure about making the switch over to electrification, as range anxiety continued to unsettle them. Due to this, OEMs have been under constant pressure from the public to provide EVs that are equal to – or better than – conventional vehicles. With the Leaf e+, Nissan can once again spearhead the drive to increase the adoption rates of EVs around the world.
New and Improved
So, what is Nissan’s answer to this? Well, the Japanese automaker was hoping to unveil a new and improved Leaf at the LA Auto Show back in November, before the grand unveil was halted due to the speculation of CEO Carlos Ghosn’s future following his arrest. Now that the news surrounding Ghosn has died down, despite making his first public appearance in a Tokyo court this week, Nissan has finally revealed the highly-anticipated EV to the public at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, boasting vast improvements across the board.
The new Leaf uses a 62 kWh battery pack, a significant increase over the previous generation’s 40-kWh battery, which sees an increase from 151 miles range to an impressive 225 miles as the race to the 300-mile mark heats up. Despite rumours surrounding a new liquid-cooling system, the EV uses next-generation pack architecture with passive air cooling.
Although the new, more powerful motor now produces 200 horsepower, the most interesting feature is one that is brought over from the previous model. Nissan has decided to bring back its e-Pedal system that regenerates power to the battery by decelerating without the brake pedal. When first introduced in the last model, this was the world’s first one-pedal operation that allowed drivers to bring the car to a complete stop even on hills, stay in position, and resume driving instantly. What was once perceived as a highly-illogical process has become a key feature for future Nissan vehicles, as the automaker continues to push into an autonomous era.
“The new Nissan Leaf e+ offers all of the style, convenience and electric vehicle benefits that have helped make Leaf the best-selling electric vehicle in the world, plus even more driving excitement, range, power and choice,” says Denis Le Vot, Senior Vice President and Chairman, Nissan North America. “Customers now have a selection of powertrains and models to best suit their driving needs.”
Thanks to the new 70 kW quick charging system, the Leaf e+ can charge more efficiently than ever. Based on early testing, owners can expect similar charging times when hooked up to a 100 kW charger as current Leaf owners do with a 50 kW charger, despite a 55% larger battery storage capacity. With the current Leaf reaching 60% in 30 minutes, around 90 miles, the Leaf e+ should be able to reach 135 miles of range in half an hour.
Even with a 25% increase in energy density and the increase in energy storage capacity, the battery pack is almost the same size and configuration as the pack in the existing Leaf. Other than a five millimetre increase in overall height, the car’s exterior and interior dimensions are unchanged.
Pricing of the e+ will be released nearer to its launch date, but many predict that prices will start at around $36,500, demanding a $6,500 premium over the base 40 kWh Leaf. This would price the e+ in the same ball park as its rival, the Chevrolet Bolt.
The unveil is part of Nissan’s “See the Invisible” showcase at CES this year. With 11 automakers bringing new vehicles and technologies to CES, Nissan will be hoping to steal the show with, arguably, the most important vehicle the market has seen in recent years.
“Nissan Intelligent Mobility is at the core of everything we do and the new Nissan Leaf e+ takes this vision even further,” Le Vot continues. “EV’s will play a significant part in our product lineup as we move forward and will lead the way to providing an efficient and sustainable future for the world.”