Nissan releases longer-range revamped electric car

Nissan has launched a longer-range version of its electric vehicle, The Leaf, as it fights growing competition in the electric car market

New Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is displayed after the world premiere in Chiba, near Tokyo, today. Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press
New Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is displayed after the world premiere in Chiba, near Tokyo, today. Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

Nissan’s new Leaf electric car will run about 150 miles (240km) on a single charge, approximately 40 miles more than its previous model, the company claims.

But that still falls short of ranges offered by rivals Tesla and GM.

The Leaf, the world's best-selling electric car, is facing increasing competition in the fast-developing green car market, fuelled in part by tightening emissions standards around the world.

What can be expected?

The new Leaf, which will be on sale in Japan from October and around the world early next year, has a longer range due to a bigger 40 kilowatt hour battery.

Content manager for the Next Green Car news site, Chris Lilly, said while the new model is not "groundbreaking" it should be more appealing to drivers as "it takes every element of the old Leaf and improves upon it, and adds a whole lot of new features."

Such improvements include parking assistance and single pedal driving. One pedal controls starting, accelerating, decelerating and braking, while the automated parking system will guide drivers into the trickier spots.

The model also automates single-lane highway driving.

Prices will start at 3,150,360 yen (€24,300), Nissan said. The Japanese carmaker said it would offer higher priced model, with more power and range, next year.

How does it compare?

Competition in the electric vehicle market is rife and increasing as major automakers join specialised manufacturers to develop high-tech, low-emission cars.

"Electric vehicle technology is advancing rapidly - costs are falling quickly and range is improving," said Professor David Bailey, an automobile expert at Aston Business School.

Despite boosting, rival models can go much further than Nissan's latest offering.

The Tesla Model 3 can run at least 220 miles on a single charge and starts at $35,000 (€29,350), while General Motor's Chevy Bolt - with a range of 238 miles - starts at about $38,000 (€31,850), according to the companies.

The Nissan Leaf faces more direct competition from models including the Volkswagen e-Golf, BMW i3 and Hyundai's Iconiq.

"The Leaf is not going to challenge Tesla," Next Green Car's Mr Lilly said. "But the Leaf has price and manufacturing capacity on its side."

"You're getting a lot less range but you're paying a lot less," he said.

The electric future

Nissan was one of the first automakers to market an electric vehicle to the general public, when it launched the first Leaf back in 2010. It became the world’s best-selling, all-battery car, with over 280,000 units sold.

Electric vehicles still only represent a fraction of conventional vehicle sales with just over 2 million electric vehicles being registered worldwide as of 2016, according to the International Energy Agency.

In China, on the other hand, automakers are fighting for a piece of the world’s biggest car market ahead of the introduction of new rules aimed at combatting pollution. It is China’s aim to have electric battery cars and plug-in hybrids to account for at least one-fifth of its vehicle sales by 2025.