It’s official: the 2016 Nissan LEAF will be available with not one but two different battery packs when it goes on sale later this fall.
Based on the same first-generation Nissan LEAF which debuted in 2010 as a 2011 model-year car, the 2016 Nissan LEAF will represent the second and final update to the original Nissan LEAF before the next-generation LEAF hatchback debuts as a 2018 model year car in 2017. But thanks to a host of new features alongside the improved battery pack, Nissan’s five-year old design should have what it takes to remain competitive for the final two years of its life.
As in previous years, the 2016 Nissan LEAF will be offered with three different trim levels, ranging from the entry level S through to the mid-range SV range-topping SL. But while the entry-level 2016 Nissan LEAF S will come with the same 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack as found in last year’s LEAF lineup, 2016 Nissan LEAF SV and SL models will come with a brand-new, 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack which Nissan says translates to an EPA-approved 107 miles per charge.
That’s a full 23 miles more than the 84-mile EPA-approved range offered by the 24 kilowatt-hour pack found in the entry-level LEAF S, and more than enough to cement the Nissan LEAF as the longest-range mid-size electric car out there.
As we and many other outlets predicted, the new 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack found in higher-trim 2016 Nissan LEAFs is based upon Nissan’s latest-generation lithium-ion cell technology. Thanks to improvements in the electrode construction of the individual battery cells within the battery pack, the 30 kWh battery has a far higher energy density per cell as well as improved performance characteristics during both charging and discharging.
While the internal wiring of the battery pack differs from pervious LEAF battery packs, with cells being arranged in groups of eight per module rather than the four per module found in previous generation packs, the new 30 kWh pack has the same number of individual cells as the older 24 kWh pack, uses the same form factor battery casing as earlier models, and weighs just 46 pounds more.
Given the same physical dimensions and voltages as the earlier 24 kWh pack, there’s even a possibility that 2013-2015 model year LEAF owners may even be able to one day replace their original 24 kilowatt-hour packs for the larger, 30 kilowatt-hour units — although we should be careful to note here that Nissan has not confirmed or denied such plans under any battery replacement program.
Along with an increased range thanks to the larger battery capacity, Nissan says the new 30 kWh packs have a much higher tolerance for high-current charging at a far wider range of state of charge. This means despite having a larger capacity battery pack, owners of the new 30 kWh-equipped Nissan LEAFs will still be able to charge their cars’ battery packs from low battery warning to 80 percent full in as little as 30 minutes at 50 kilowatt CHAdeMO DC quick charging stations in an ideal situation.
That, says Nissan, translates to adding 27 percent more range than a DC quick charge-equipped 2015 model year LEAF could in the same time.
But don’t think the improved, longer-range battery pack is the only change coming to 2016 model year LEAFs. As Nissan details in its official release, the 2016 model year LEAF lineup benefits from improvements ranging from the addition of a rear-view camera and 5-inch color display as standard on the entry level LEAF S through to a brand-new 7-inch informatics system for Nissan LEAF SV and LEAF SL customers.
2016 LEAF SV and SL customers also benefit from an all-new telematics system too. Gone is the old, clunky CARWINGs system of previous years and in its place is something Nissan calls Nissan Connect EV.
Essentially offering the same functionality as Carwings — namely remote state of charge monitoring, charger timing and remote climate control operation — Nissan Connect EV comes as standard with all SV and SL models for not extra charge, while a suite of new smartphone and web applications provide what Nissan terms ‘additional functionality’.
Also supposedly improved is Nissan’s on-board ‘guessometer’ range prediction algorithm, which we hope should enable first-time owners to feel more confident about the real-world range of their cars and their own abilities. To help this, 2016 LEAF SV and SL models come with a new display which shows owners how far they can comfortably drive before their car will need a recharge, as well as a new charging information screen which more accurately represents charging station availability in real time.
Other aspects of the 2016 Nissan LEAF, including load bay and interior volumes, remain the same as previous year cars. Similar to 2015 model year cars, there are a choice of different interior trim options, ranging from cloth trim in the entry-level S through to fully-appointed, fully-heated leather interior on SL models. There are three new premium color choices for 2016 however — Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl — giving would-be owners a total of eight different exterior colors to choose from.
As with the 2015 model year LEAF, the entry-level 2016 LEAF starts at $29,010 before Federal or state incentives and excluding any dealer fees. The mid-range Nissan LEAF SV, including the larger 30 kWh, 107-mile battery pack, will retail from $34,000 before incentives, while the high-end 2016 LEAF SL tips the scales at $36,790 before incentives.
Both higher-end cars are an increase on their prices from 2015 ($32,100 for the 2015 Nissan LEAF SV and $35,120 for the 2015 Nissan LEAF SL) but given the additional range and practicality offered by the larger 30 kWh battery pack, we’re guessing most customers won’t mind paying a little more for the 27 percent improved range over last year’s models.
In the meantime, with the new 2016 LEAF now officially unveiled, those who don’t mind the lower-range of the 2015 model year cars may find some unbelievable bargains to be had in the coming weeks as dealers race to clear the lots of 2015 model year cars ahead of the longer-legged 2016s.
Will the new battery pack help keep the Nissan LEAF at the top of the electric car sales charts globally until the next-generation model debuts in 2017? Or is the range improvement just too small to be practical for most car buyers? What about the improvements to telematics, on-board menu systems and of course those three new colors?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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