This time last year, the Nissan LEAF electric car was flying off dealer lots around the world, enjoying month after month of record sales. But despite bringing a mildly-refreshed version of the LEAF to market last fall with a 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack — 6kWh larger than the original 24 kWh battery pack and offering a total of 107 miles of EPA range — LEAF sales have slumped of late.
The reason? The upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, a car due to launch this fall for a target price of around $37,500 before state or Federal incentives, as well as the 2018 Tesla Model 3, a car which Tesla Motors promise will go on sale late 2017 priced from $35,000 before incentives. With both cars promising ranges in excess of 200 miles per charge, Nissan’s first-generation all-electric LEAF is now looking decidedly long in the tooth.
Of course, it’s no secret that Nissan plans to fight back against the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 with its second-generation LEAF, a car that it has already committed to building but has been reluctant to discuss publicly. Save for the Nissan IDS Concept Car unveiled last fall at the Tokyo Motor Show and a few hints that the next-generation LEAF would include a larger battery pack capable of 200+ miles of range per charge, Nissan has kept us in the dark.
But at EVS 29 — the biggest and best electric vehicle symposium, held this year in Montreal, Canada — Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle engineering, confirmed to Autobloggreen that the next-generation Nissan LEAF, like the IDS concept last year, would come with a 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
“It’s coming,” he told Autobloggreen when asked about a longer-range, 60 kilowatt-hour LEAF. “I’m sorry I cannot say when.
The comments, made during a live Facebook Stream in which Autobloggreen Editor Sebastian Blanco interviewed the Nissan executive, shows that while Nissan is currently suffering in the electric vehicle sales charts it has big plans to steal back its electric vehicle crown in the coming months and years.
Showing Blanco a photograph of the original 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack used in the Nissan LEAF alongside a prototype 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack built to the same physical dimensions, Yajima was careful to reiterate that for now, Nissan’s 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion back was still very much a pre-production engineering prototype.
“Still we are developing this,” he said. “[It’s] not ready to launch to market [yet], but in [the] near future I believe we can produce [an] electric vehicle which does not have any driving range problem.”
Impaired a little by a language barrier, Yajima didn’t divulge any more information during his short interview, reiterating instead that such a vehicle — with a 200-mile real-world range — was part of Nissan’s future electric vehicle plans. While no time frame was given and Yajima said that launch plans “were a secret” we infer from watching the video that we’ll see a 60 kilowatt-hour next-generation Nissan LEAF within the next year or so.
As to what this car will look like? Our friends at Autobloggreen quip that while the “IDS wasn’t exactly a new LEAF preview vehicle, but we know a hint when we see one.”
And while the IDS concept car we saw last year contained a whole lot of advanced autonomous vehicle technology — and wireless charging technology — that we may not see in the next-generation Nissan LEAF, its overall body styling wasn’t overly implausible. Indeed, we think the majority of the IDS Concept’s design fits in nicely with Nissan’s current trend of producing high-waisted sleek hatchbacks that evoke a more coupe-like feeling. Indeed, if the IDS concept’s design were to make it into the next-generation LEAF, we think that it may appeal more to mainstream car buyers than the slightly nerdy anime-style face of the current-generation LEAF.
Do you agree? Do you think Nissan is racing against the clock to bring a 60 kWh next-generation LEAF to market? When will it debut, and how much will it cost? And more importantly, will you be interested in buying one?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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