Nissan hopes to boost LEAF Sales with Greater Range
Though Nissan has yet to confirm or deny reports, SankeiBiz, a Japanese business website, reported that the 2013 Nissan LEAF will have a longer range and Nissan will offer a cheaper base model with a smaller battery pack.
With the ever-increasing electric competition, the LEAF upgrades are a good move for Nissan. Conventional cars come in a variety of trim levels and it's about time electric cars join suit. If smaller battery options can provide a reasonable range, choosing battery packs could become the EV equivalent of choosing between a four-cylinder or a V6, according to Digital Trends.
The report states that the LEAF will increase its maximum driving range from 200 kilometers to 250. Because the Japanese car testing methods differ from the stricter U.S. standards, this can be misleading. Conversion rates translate 200 km to 124 miles – a range that is well beyond the capability of the LEAF's current 24 kilowatt/hour pack, according to Plug In Cars.
LEAF drivers more commonly get about 80 miles of range in everyday driving, with an EPA-rated range of 73 miles. The presumed 2013 model will get an extra 30 miles because of its more efficient motor and upgraded lithium-ion batteries, bringing the total range to 103 miles, which meets Nissan's original target for the LEAF.
This possible 25 percent range increase may be great for future LEAF owners, but early adopters could be left in the cold as Nissan's rhetoric all along has been that the car delivers 100 miles of range. According to Brad Berman from Plug In Cars, this leaves current LEAF owners disappointed and guessing what the new Nissan ads will say – maybe something like “This time, we mean it,” he wonders.
If the new model offers all it says it can, used car dealers in Phoenix and all around the nation will be filling up their lots with the older model as EV drivers make room for the new changes. Especially now that the LEAF isn't the only electric car available, a boost in range can only help keep Nissan at the forefront of the purpose-designed zero emission electric vehicle future.
Nissan's current LEAF starts around $36,500, before any government rebates, but the company reportedly wants to bring the price down to $31,000. That price range would put the LEAF closer to the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the cheapest mass-produced electric car, according to Digital Trends.
EV competitors the LEAF is faced against include the Ford Focus Electric, which has an 80-mile range and is more powerful than the LEAF (141 hp in the Ford versus 107 hp in the Nissan), and Honda's smaller Fit EV with a range of 82 miles.
Digital Trends says it is unclear whether the 2013 model will earn any extra MPGe in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy tests. The EPA compares energy consumption of plug-in electric vehicles to the fuel economy of conventional vehicles. The 2012 LEAF is rated at 99 MPGe, falling behind its Ford and Honda counterparts, which rate at 105 MPGe and 118 MPGe, respectively.
When Nissan chooses to come forward with more details, no one knows, but for now it's apparent that they need to act fast to maintain a reputation as EV leader.