Nissan Unveils LEAF Improvements, New Pricing
At an event in Japan today, Nissan announced a host of changes for the 2013 edition of the LEAF, including new pricing for a stripped-down version of the car and 15-percent more range. Though the announcements officially pertained only to Japan, Nissan officials told reporters there that similar changes can be expected for other markets as well.
In Japan, a less-expensive new trim level will now sell for 16-percent less than the current starting price of 3 million yen (or roughly $37,000.) A proportional price drop here would translate to a starting price of just under $30,300.
According to the AP, range increases for the car will be obtained through "streamlining" the battery system and shedding weight from the vehicle. In addition, the LEAF's dashboard display will now express range as a function of remaining battery charge as well as the mileage estimate that LEAF owners currently rely upon. The the charger has also reportedly been consolidated and moved to the front, making room for more cargo storage space.
Other improvements include smaller charging cable nozzle, a new navigation system feature showing the most energy-efficient route, and 40-percent less rare earth magnet content in the LEAF's motor.
It should be noted that these early reports should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Not only has Nissan made no official announcements regarding the North American version of the car, but its possible that some of the details have been confused in a haste to report them. We've already received confirmation of cold-weather range improvements for the LEAF, so it seems at least possible that the first media outlets to report this story have confused statements about some added capacity for a 15-percent overall range increase. It should also be pointed out that rumors of a 25-percent range increase were already floated back in August.
If the reports do prove true, the LEAF's range could increase from 73 miles to as much as 84 miles, pulling the LEAF well ahead of the Ford Focus EV's 76 miles of official range.
We'll continue to monitor this story and update you as soon as more is known. Does a 15-percent range increase from the same battery pack sound plausible to you? If it is, it would represent a significant leap forward for Nissan's EV technology program—one that could be the game-changer the carmaker needs to deliver the big boost in sales recently promised by CEO Carlos Ghosn.
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