LEAF Goes Farther
One of the ostensible consequences of reduced gasoline prices in the U.S. is a reduction in the number of alternatively powered vehicle sales. After all, if gas is cheap, then thinking about, say, an electric vehicle isn’t necessarily as compelling as it might otherwise be, such as when gas is bumping up toward $4.00 per gallon, not flirting with $2.00
For example, Nissan LEAF sales are, according to Autodata, down 34.6% through August year-over-year, to a total of 12,383.
However, there is also the argument that after the early-adopters and environmentally sensitive buyers have bought their LEAFs, regular people might be a little skittish about not necessarily having the sort of range that they’d like.
So for 2016 Nissan is addressing that concern by providing a 30-kWh battery, in addition to the 24-kWh battery that it presently has available.
The 24-kWh battery has an EPA-estimated range of 84 miles.
The 300-kWh battery bumps that up by 27%, to 107 miles.
Which is a huge difference when you’re keeping an eye of that battery meter.
The powertrain remains the same, a 80-kW AC synchronous motor that generates (a word that actually is appropriate in this EV context) 107 hp and 187 lb-ft of torque (and if you’ve never had the opportunity to drive an EV, know that you have that torque from the proverbial get-go, so environmental is not synonymous with poky, anemic or otherwise plodding.)
Said Andrew Speaker, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle (EV) Sales & Marketing, "Since Nissan LEAF launched in December 2010, we've become the global leaders in electric vehicle (EV) sales with an all-electric car specifically designed for the mass market. We know that to maintain that leadership, we must continue developing battery technology that strikes that ideal balance between capacity, packaging, durability and affordability."
(As for the latter characteristic: taking into account a $7,500 federal tax credit, you can get into a 2016 LEAF S (with the smaller battery) for just $21,510, not including the $850 for destination and handling.)
Making improvements to existing engines, as well as working toward something entirely different.
The 2016 model is all-new. As in platform and everything else. And the platform—which will have global use—was developed in North America.
Lithium-ion batteries have become the technology of choice for EVs, and falling costs and rising energy levels could keep them on top for nearly two decades.