On Tuesday evening in Las Vegas, Wednesday morning in Tokyo, Nissan introduced the new generation of its electric car, the Leaf. Already the best-selling electric car in the world, Nissan is betting that a new infusion of design and engineering will help the Leaf weather the rapid expansion of electric car offerings from various competitors in the next few years.
The new Leaf will feature some badly-needed updates to its power and range metrics, with a 40KWh battery pack (replacing a 30KWh one) and a range of 150 miles (up from 107 previously) according to United States EPA tests. For the 2019 model year, the Leaf will also be available with an optional ‘e-Plus’ package that will increase the range of the car to 225 miles – in line with the range of both the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.
Although the current refresh of the Leaf doesn’t extend its power or range to Bolt or Model 3 capabilities, it undercuts them in price by about 15 per cent; probably more for the Tesla, whose feature packages increase its price rapidly.
The design of the exterior of the Leaf, formerly known for its loopy, curvaceous styling, is more measured this time around, with design cues that show the influence of Nissan’s emerging “Emotional Geometry” design language and detailing. Like the Murano and Maxima, the Leaf now features a broken C-pillar motif and a floating roof.
As Nissan said in its press release: “The new Nissan Leaf’s design includes a low, sleek profile that gives it a sharp, dynamic look. Along with excellent aerodynamics, the styling — from the sleek silhouette to the car’s “advanced expression” — evokes the exhilaration of driving an EV.
Familiar Nissan design features include the signature boomerang-shaped lamps and V-motion flow in the front. The flash-surface grille in clear blue and the rear bumper’s blue molding emphasize its identity as a Nissan EV.”
On the interior, the Leaf looks much like a standard car, with just a slight change in instrumentation to indicate electric power – Tesla-style minimalism was obviously not part of the brief. And the Leaf’s touchscreen is only seven inches, as opposed to the Bolt’s 10.2-inch unit and the Tesla’s generous 15-inch touchscreen.
However, the Leaf does bring some important advances to the controls, including e-Pedal, a one foot driving option (it can be switched on or off depending on preference) which engages an advanced regenerative braking system that will stop the car if you remove your foot from the accelerator, even on an incline.
Also available will be Nissan’s ProPilot autonomous driving technology for single lane highways, as well as an autonomous parking feature, ProPark, which will come in the near future. Nissan’s Safety Shield warning system will be a vital part of manual driving , and will have a display directly in front of the driver.
The Leaf goes on sale on October 2nd in Japan, and at the beginning of 2018 everywhere else. We’ll take a closer look at the Leaf with our coverage of the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show in late October.
There’s a large selection of photos of both the American and European versions on the right, and here's a short video of its premiere: