New Nissan Leaf goes farther, faster

This time, Nissan is going head-to-head with General Motors and Tesla.Nissan unveiled a new, more pow...

Posted: Jan 9, 2019 1:36 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 1:36 PM

This time, Nissan is going head-to-head with General Motors and Tesla.

Nissan unveiled a new, more powerful version of its Leaf electric car Tuesday that will compete more directly against cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and, eventually, the base version of the Tesla Model 3.

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While a major selling point for the Leaf has been its relatively low price, at thousands of dollars less than the Bolt EV, it also offered less power and driving range. The new Nissan Leaf Plus (or e+, depending on where it's being marketed) will be closer to the Bolt EV in range and, presumably, in price. The final price of the car will be announced later.

The Nissan Leaf Plus can go 226 miles on a single charge, which is much closer to the Chevrolet Bolt EV's range. It can also go faster and accelerate more quickly than the base model Nissan Leaf.

Its price will probably be considerably closer to the $36,000 starting price of the Bolt EV. (The Tesla Model 3 has a theoretical starting price of about $35,000 for a version with a range similar to that of the Leaf Plus, but Tesla has not yet started producing that entry-level car.)

The $30,000 base Nissan Leaf will still be available for customers who want to spend less and who are just fine with going 150 miles between charges. That is, after all, much farther than the average person drives on a typical day. But the new Leaf Plus will allow Nissan to attract those customers willing to pay for a little more performance and less worry about range.

In addition to a more energy-dense battery pack, the Leaf Plus also has a more powerful electric motor producing up to 160 kilowatts, or 215 horsepower, compared to 110 kilowatts in the base model. Accelerating from 50 to 75 miles an hour can be done 13% more quickly, according to Nissan, and the top speed is also increased from 90 miles an hour to 100. The battery pack is almost the same size as the one used in the base model Nissan Leaf.

Like the base Leaf, it will be available with Nissan's ProPilot Assist system which combines adaptive cruise control, in which radar is used to maintain a safe following distance behind other cars on the highway, and a lane-keeping assistance system. Like many other electric cars, including the base Leaf, it will also be drivable with just the accelerator pedal alone most of the time, with the brake pedal needed only for emergency stops.

The Nissan Leaf Plus will be available in Japan this month and in the United States and Europe later this year.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the range the Leaf Plus can go on a single charge.

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