The Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric car in the world, but sales have been slowing in the US. Some have assumed this is due to historically low gas prices and competition from other electric and plug-in hybrid cars, but others have postulated that the prime reason has been anticipation of the 2016 Nissan LEAF, expected to be much better — and it is much better. Nissan says it is working on cars with 300, 400 and 500 kilometers of range (equivalent to 180, 240, and 300 miles), but those cars are still in the future. For now, its 2016 Nissan LEAF will offer a new 30 kWh battery with a range of 107 miles.
That’s a 25% battery size improvement and 27% range improvement over the current LEAF, which has a 24 kWh battery rated at 84 miles of range. The base model LEAF S will continue with that battery for the 2016 model year. The S will be priced (after federal tax incentives) at $21,510. The mid-level LEAF SV is priced at $26,700 and the top of the line SL model starts at $29,290 (all after the $7,500 US federal tax credit).
“Since Nissan LEAF launched in December 2010, we’ve become the global leaders in electric vehicle (EV) sales with an all-electric car specifically designed for the mass market,” said Andrew Speaker, director for Nissan electric vehicle sales. “We know that to maintain that leadership, we must continue developing battery technology that strikes that ideal balance between capacity, packaging, durability and affordability.”
Nissan has agonized for weeks about pricing for its 2016 cars. Naturally, the larger battery costs more money, but how much more? By the time you add in all the extra features and accessories that come with the SV and SL models, it’s hard to figure out precisely how much the new battery adds to the price of the cars.
Nissan is experimenting with a new sales strategy for electric cars — a choice of battery size. Years ago, customers could choose either a 6 cylinder, base V8, or high-performance V8 for their family ride. In the future, will other manufacturers follow Nissan’s lead and offer their customers a range of battery choices, one for every budget? That policy actually makes a lot of sense.
The 24 kWh battery with 84 miles of range is more than adequate for the majority of American drivers. Statistics show most of us drive fewer than 30 miles a day. But the larger battery gives drivers freedom from range anxiety and that alone may be worth the extra money.
The 2016 LEAF comes with an improved version of the NissanConnect system that includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, streaming audio via Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging assistant and a USB port. SV and SL models get a 7.0-inch color display with multi-touch control, Nissan voice recognition for navigation and audio, HD radio, and SiriusXM Travel Link™ for weather, fuel prices, movie listings, stock info, and sports.
Will buyers flock to the 2016 LEAF or wait for the second generation car due in 2017? The new model is supposed to have better styling and up to 180 miles of range. Decisions, decisions.
For a sneak peak at what seems to be a 2016 Nissan LEAF, see: 2016 Nissan LEAF Spotted At Nissan Headquarters?