After several teases and the general antecipation of the EV World, the new Nissan Leaf was presented.
Well, it's not really a new generation, more a deep restyle of the previous generation than the full blooded Leaf II (Available in 2020?), which is good and bad at the same time.
Which begs the question: "Why didn't Nissan presented this redesigned Leaf a year ago?"
In September 2016, it would be moving the game forward, now it's just trying to keep up with the best.
Anyway, let's focus on the bad stuff first, leaving the juicy part for the end:
- Range: The 40 kWh provides some 240 kms (150 miles) EPA range, which is better than the present-day 115 miles BEV average, but falls behind the Chevrolet Bolt of Tesla Model 3. Blame it on the old platform, with not enough space for larger batteries. This will be certainly a Leaf-bashing point to be explored by Tesla and Chevrolet fans and a deal breaker for other would-be customers. The promised longer range version, coming in late 2018, might come too late to regain these customers;
- No TMS: Another legacy problem, this time not from the platform itself, but from the battery provider, the new battery is an evolution of the current AESC battery, present in the current Leaf. Considering the battery degradation problems that several Leaf owners had, this could be another deal breaker for current owners, looking to trade their old Leaf's;
- Charging capabilities: Nissan is possibly the only brand capable of replicating (To a point) Tesla's Supercharger network, thanks to "No charge to charge" programs and the Nissan dealership fast chargers, but because the new batteries lack TMS (Blame it on the AESC old technology), the much whispered 150 kW fast chargers are not an option for now, leaving Tesla with this unique selling point.
- Design: While not the production version of the stunning IDS concept (Maybe for the 2020 Leaf II?), it is amazing the magic that Nissan did with the looks, from a geeky-looking car, it redesigned the car to look ok, and in the right spec, it's as characterful and sporty as only the best Nissans are.
- Technology: The updates (e-pedal, ProPilot, etc) are impressive and with the promise of OTA updates, it places the Leaf only behind Tesla in this aspect;
- Price: With roughly the same official prices as the current one, the 30.000$ starting price (Thank the old platform for this) not only undercuts the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 prices by a large margin, (Although the Model 3 is not really in the same league, as it plays in the segment above), but also puts pressure on the remaining competition, which have less range and have worse value for money.
With a promised long range version coming a year from now, if they can in fact cram a 60 kWh battery in the old platform (To the expense of trunk space?), probably coming from LG Chem, then Nissan will truly add the "wow" factor that the 40 kWh misses, as the larger battery would allow to reach Bolt/Tesla levels of range (220-240 miles EPA), while the TMS that comes with LG Chem batteries would allow increased reliability and finally open the door to those 150 kW chargers.
Now imagine in December 2018, a 60 kWh Leaf, with 230 miles range, 150 kW-rated charging speed for some 36.000$...
Tasty, isn't it?
And possible, considering the previous Leaf battery upgrades, expect the 2019 60 kWh version at the price of the current top-of-the-range 40 kWh, while the old platform will allow Nissan to discount at that time the 40 kWh versions to current levels (Think low 20's prices).
It could well be the first mainstream EV to reach price parity with ICE cars, possibly in early 2019.
As for sales levels, the new 1.5 Leaf will build on the current sales, maybe reaching 10.000 units/month next year, with the final 2018 numbers reaching over 100.000 units, running with the Prius PHEV and a couple others for Silver (#1 will be for the Tesla Model 3), with the 1.5 Leaf probably ending its career with growing sales, as the current one is doing.