When it debuts this fall, the Nissan Leaf will have more than just a dramatically reimagined exterior. it will be capable of driving itself in single-lane highway situations thanks to the company’s ProPILOT technology — a system that until now was only available on Nissan cars sold in its native Japan.
All of which, according to Gareth Dunsmore, the company’s Director of Electric Vehicles for Europe, means: “The new Nissan Leaf will be the most advanced, accessible EV on the market.”
When it launched in 2010, the original Leaf was the first proper plug-in electric car from a truly mainstream carmaker and while competition is finally catching up — over the past seven years BMW, VW, Mercedes (via its Smart brand), Hyundai, Honda, Ford, Kia and Chevrolet have all made their first moves into the market — the Leaf is still the world’s most popular highway capable electric car, having clocked up sales in excess of 260,000.
But this momentum will not continue indefinitely. This summer will see the Tesla Model 3 finally hit the road with a $35,000 price tag and a 215-mile+ (364km) range between charges. Likewise, Chevrolet’s Bolt, which narrowly missed out on being declared the North American Car of the Year 2017 is already finding a strong following in its native US thanks to its $30,000 sticker price and 238-mile (383km) range on a single charge.
The current-generation Nissan Leaf is only capable of 107 miles based on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s current measurement system. And unless it can bring its battery density technology in line with the competition, the promise of a ProPILOT system may not be enough to convince new buyers to go with the Leaf, rather than a Chevy.
Therefore, expect a car that could conceivably cover 250 miles before needing to return to a power socket as that’s the range Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault, has achieved with the latest generation Zoe — an electric car sold in Europe and the Middle East that shares platform and technological elements with the Leaf.