Nissan has more invested in its electric vehicle program than any other major automaker. By some estimates, the Japanese automaker has invested about $4 billion into the Leaf electric car, a staggering number when you consider that Leaf sales have been in something of a slump.
But the 2013 Leaf could give buyers another reason to check it out. New reports suggest that the next Leaf model could get as much as a 25% improvement to its range. Additionally, Nissan may also launch a cheaper model with a smaller battery.
Good Idea, Or Desperation Move?
Upgrading the Leaf’s range is a no-brainer. The EPA rates the Leaf at just 73 miles per charge, though many real world driving experiences put the number between 60 and 90 miles, depending on a wide range of conditions. From out of Japan though comes this report from SankeiBiz that suggests the Leaf could see its mileage jump as much as 25% for the 2013 model.
On the Japanese test cycle, that would bump the Leaf’s range from 124 to about 150; here in the U.S., it would give drivers a consistent 90 miles of driving range on the EPA test cycle. While still not quite at that magic 100 mile mark, that extra mileage may help a few buyers who are on the fence.
Less Range, Less Money
What may be even more convincing, however, is a cheaper Leaf model with a smaller battery pack. Nissan has reportedly toyed with the idea of offering a battery leasing program, like its French partner Renault. Perhaps afraid that American buyers won’t go for such a gimmick, Nissan will reportedly offer a Nissan Leaf Lite (not its real name, though I think it has a ring to it). Then again, this Leaf Lite might only be for sale in Japan, where tax subsidies differ from America.
More range, a lower price…Nissan clearly isn’t ready to give up on the Leaf, despite slower-than-expected sales. Electric car fans still have their halo car…for now.