It’s the world’s best-selling electric car with more than 100,000 examples now being driven around the world, despite having a real-world range somewhere between 70 and 90 miles, depending on how it’s driven.
In the past few months we’ve heard rumours that Nissan was planning to extend that range in the future with improved battery technology and perhaps bigger battery packs, but now it appears the Japanese automaker is getting serious about offering a longer-legged LEAF in a future model year lineup.
Nissan is even asking existing LEAF customers how much they’d pay for a 150-mile LEAF — if it were to make one, that is.
The survey was first reported over on the popular MyNissanLEAF owners forum on Tuesday, where various LEAF owners in the U.S. said the Japanese automaker had contacted them via email to ask them their thoughts about future LEAF models. Part of the survey form focused on a hypothetical 150-mile EPA-rated LEAF, presumably to gauge interest in a longer-range version of the popular electric hatchback.
“Just got an email from Nissan asking me to take a survey,” said one forum member. “The interesting thing about this survey is they use a theoretical ‘150 mile range Nissan Leaf’ in many of the questions. They also asked lots of questions about charging stations.”
Thanks to another forum member, we’re able to share with you the email inviting owners to take part in the survey, but because each participant was given a unique ID for taking part in the survey, we can’t show you the exact survey questions.
Nissan North America is grateful for your active participation in shaping the way we do business. Your feedback is helping revolutionize the growing Electric Vehicle Industry and most importantly shaping how we continue to market the Nissan LEAF and all Nissan communications.
We’re conducting a short 10-15 minute survey on public charging infrastructure.
The information gathered from this survey allows us the opportunity and privilege to serve you, the consumer, with the best experience possible now and in the future. This survey is to learn more about expectations around electric vehicles (“EV”) charging infrastructure as the vehicle technology continues to evolve, and help ensure that Nissan’s efforts to expand charging infrastructure align with those expectations.
The survey should take between 10 – 15 minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your feedback.
Follow this link to the Survey:
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Thank you again for your time.
Nissan North America
Perhaps the most interesting part of this hypothetical 150-mile car however, is that Nissan asked the owners it invited to take part in the survey to choose how much more they’d be willing to pay for the extra range. The most expensive choice was $5,000 more than the current model, indicating that Nissan may have dramatically reduced its battery manufacturing costs in recent months.
We already know that Nissan employees have built at least one longer-range LEAF by combining an existing stock battery pack with another one to give around 150 miles of useful range. At the time we reported it however, it was portrayed as something of a skunworks project for engineers at Nissan’s Barcelona Technical Centre, with the vehicle being built for a long-distance eco competition, before being more firmly postulated as a future option by Pierre Loing, Nissan’s Vice President of Product and Advanced Planning and Strategy.
The survey, which was part of an ongoing dialogue between Nissan and its LEAF customers in order to better understand what people want from an electric car, also asked other questions which did not focus on an increased range, but focused on charging time. Again, these questions were posed in a hypothetical context but were engineered to ascertain if owners wanted — and were willing to pay more — for faster charging capabilities both at home and on the road. Speaking as LEAF owners, the Transport Evolved team have to admit that faster charging is on the top of our priorities list for a future plug-in car, even though our current LEAFs can charge from empty to 80 percent full in around half an hour.
Of course, Nissan hasn’t confirmed any future product changes in terms of range or charging capabilities, but the fact that its marketing department is asking the questions tells us that Nissan probably already has the technology in development. It’s just trying to figure out if it’s worth pushing that technology to reach a production-ready phase — and if people will pay extra for it.
We hope, as we suspect existing LEAF owners do, that those changes will be manifest in the next-generaion LEAF, which Nissan has tentatively promised as a 2016 model year, perhaps for launch in Summer 2015.
Are you a LEAF owner? Would you like more range, or faster charging capabilities? How much would you pay for it? And what would you like to see in a next-generation LEAF?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.