Nissan has unveiled a new version of its Leaf electric car after delaying its launch amid the shock arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
The Japanese car maker called off key events in the wake of the scandal involving Ghosn, who was the architect of Nissan’s electric-car vision and its pact with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, the world’s biggest auto alliance. Ghosn was arrested on 19 November in Japan on alleged financial crimes. Carlos Ghosn remains in a Tokyo prison as prosecutors build their case.
The new model, launched on Tuesday in Las Vegas, narrows the driving-range gap versus Tesla’s Model 3 and General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt.
Nissan has promised a long-range version of the new Leaf ever since it updated its famous electric car back in 2017, and this week at the Consumer Electronics Show the Japanese automaker finally broke its silence. The new version of the Leaf — dubbed “Leaf e+” — will be able to travel 226 miles on a full charge, Nissan says, which is about a 40 percent improvement in range.
The new Leaf e+ will also be more powerful than its predecessors. It will be available this month in Japan for about $38,300, and will arrive in Europe in “mid-2019,” Nissan says, where it will cost 45,500 euro (about $51,900). The Nissan Leaf e+ will come to the US in the spring, but no pricing has been announced. It will also be sold in three trim levels, two of which will undoubtedly increase the starting price.
It features a 40kWh battery that is good for about 150 miles of range, and it also offers Nissan’s ProPilot driver assistance technology, which handles highway driving as well as parking.
The Leaf e+ boasts a more energy-dense battery that extends its range by about 40%, to as much as 363km. That compares to the 350km to 500km range for Tesla’s Model 3, which starts at US$44 000, and the 380km range on the $36 620 Chevrolet Bolt.
Nissan has always been ahead of the EV game with the Leaf, and despite its typically modest range, the company has sold nearly 400,000 of them globally since the original model debuted in 2010. About 128,000 have been sold in the US, meaning this new version should be eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit for the foreseeable future — something Tesla (and, soon, GM) can no longer offer.