Executives have not been shy when discussing the sales performance of its Nissan Leaf EV. They know that they need to offer more car for a lower price if they really want to spur the sales they were hoping for, and the next Nissan Leaf could do just that. Nissan has unveiled the new Leaf model for the Japanese market, and it includes more range, a lower-priced model, and a host of improvements aimed at making the driving experience more pleasurable.
Most importantly is the improvement in range. Nissan announced that on the Japanese JC08 testing cycle, the Leaf’s range will rise from 124 miles to 141 miles. But don’t expect an extra 20 miles here in America. Rather, the next Nissan Leaf should improve mileage by about 14%, which in America would add perhaps an extra 10 miles at the end of the day.
The battery pack remains unchanged, though improvements in weight reduction have dropped almost 180 pounds from the Leaf. A new motor uses 40% less rare earth elements, and while horsepower remains unchanged, torque has suffered a slight drop.
Other improvements are aimed directly at customer gripes, and include more cargo space, a locking charger door, and a battery-life-extending charge mode where the battery is only filled up to 80% capacity. Nissan is also introducing a lower-priced Leaf “S” model, which does away with such niceties like aluminum wheels and LED headlamps. While this will shave a few bucks off of the MSRP, Nissan says it will have no effect on range, despite rumors of a lower-priced model with a smaller battery pack.
While all improvements to be sure, I’m not convinced this is enough to convince fence sitters to go out and buy a new Nissan Leaf. Instead, we’re going to have to wait for a complete remake of the Nissan Leaf that is started from the ground-up as an electric car platform. I am convinced that is the only way to make EVs work. But maybe Nissan can prove me wrong.