Nissan to launch new Leaf this week
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will launch its redesigned Leaf this week, with all eyes on how the all-electric vehicle’s battery range will stack up against its Tesla Inc. and General Motors Co. competitors.
Claudia Assis of MarketWatch.com had the news:
The Leaf is the reigning EV champion in sales — Nissan says it sold more than 280,000 Leafs worldwide, from the car’s debut in December 2010 to last month.
It remains to be seen whether the battery range will go up, or whether Nissan will offer options in battery size at different price points, offering a larger range on costlier trims. The 2017 model, which starts around $31,000, offers a range of 107 miles.
“If the range goes up and the price remains the same, the new Nissan Leaf will continue to offer one of the least expensive and practical ways to own a pure electric car,” said Ed Hellwig, a senior editor with Edmunds.
The car probably won’t offer as much range as the Chevy Bolt, but if the Leaf delivers even a modest bump over its current range, it will be enough to get the attention of most mainstream EV shoppers, he said.
“The original Leaf was easily recognizable, but not very attractive. This time around Nissan is promising a more conventional design that should make the Leaf more appealing to a wider range of buyers,” Hellwig said.
Jie Ma and Masatsugu Horie of Bloomberg News reported the new Leaf needs to regain some of Tesla’s market:
Fast-forward seven years, and the Leaf’s early lead seems set to vanish. These days, shoppers for EVs are generally drawn to a different automaker: Tesla Inc. That brand’s global cachet and the rock star status of co-founder Elon Musk have made its name almost synonymous with electric cars. More than 450,000 people have put down deposits on Tesla’s new Model 3, with a range more than double the Leaf’s and a $35,000 starting price — about $5,000 more than the Leaf.
In an attempt to defend its position in the EV market, Nissan on Sept. 6 in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo — and simultaneously in Las Vegas — is set to unveil a Leaf with snazzier styling and greater range between charges, with a base price analysts expect to be about the same as the current car’s $30,680 starting price. It remains to be seen whether Nissan can slow the momentum of the Model 3 or even General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt.
“It will be tougher for the new Leaf than for the first generation, as it’s no longer the only mass-market EV, or monopolizing public attention,” says Tatsuo Yoshida, a senior analyst at Sawakami Asset Management Inc. “Tesla’s brand is more alluring even if Nissan comes close to its technology.”
Sean McLain of The Wall Street Journal reported that the new car will come with an autonomous driving option:
The vehicle will also come equipped with Nissan’s ProPilot autonomous driving suite, which can navigate the vehicle within a single lane and in stop-and-go traffic. The new Leaf will be the first model to get Nissan’s self-parking system. And Nissan has hinted it will perform more like an electric car than the old Leaf, which was tuned to resemble a conventional gasoline-powered family car.
The focus on performance points to Nissan’s biggest threat, one it didn’t face in 2010: a mass-market car from Tesla Inc. Tesla has begun production of its $35,000 Model 3 sedan, a vehicle that has more than double the range of the current Leaf and a cool factor that has eluded Nissan with a 0-60 mph time of around five seconds.
Around a half-million people put down a $1,000 deposit to reserve the Model 3. Meanwhile, Tesla’s Model S, which starts at around $70,000, is already selling nearly as many vehicles as the Leaf despite the higher price.
“Now if people think of electric cars, they think of Tesla,” said Julie Boote, an auto analyst at Pelham Smithers Associates. “It must be disappointing for [Nissan].”