Nissan Promotes the New LEAF EV by Renaming the Accelerator Pedal

By · July 20, 2017

Nissan LEAF e-Pedal

The redesigned 2018 LEAF will be unveiled in Tokyo on Sept. 6. From all accounts, the new LEAF will shed the first-generation’s high-tech appearance in favor of a more mainstream design. That means the current LEAF’s bulging headlights, bulbous tail and sloped hood will be less pronounced. The interior will also gain simplicity, with an infotainment screen placed in the center stack and driving information displayed behind the steering wheel. But making a new model more humdrum might not be a great marketing angle, so Nissan this week pushed the idea of a so-called e-Pedal.

From what we can tell, the use of the term “e-Pedal” is just another way to convey that the car has a mode for strong regenerative braking. Simply ease up on the accelerator, and the car slows down. If you entirely lift your foot off the pedals, the car comes to a stop—rather than creeping forward.

The ability for an EV driver to use selected modes to bring the vehicle more quickly to a stop without conventional braking—using the motor-generator to reclaim energy for charging the battery—has been around for several years. That’s how the 2010 Tesla Roadster worked. BMW has long pushed the idea of “single-pedal” driving as a key differentiator of electric cars. In fact, check out this six-year-old story on the topic posted to in October 2011.

Aaron Singer, a BMW strategy manager for electric vehicles at the time, told us: “Feedback from the MINI E field trial clearly indicated our driver’s preference for aggressive regenerative braking coupled with the ability for “one pedal driving.” This provides immediate feedback that they are driving something special, and is a unique feature of eMobility. The BMW strategy…is to maintain this aggressive regenerative brake feel as a unique eMobility selling point.”

The 2017 Chevy Bolt does the same thing. When in “L” for low mode, the pure EV employs very aggressive regenerative braking—so the driving experience is single-pedal. Critically, the Bolt not only provides the option for single-pedal driving but offers 238 miles of range. That’s likely to beat the new LEAF, leaving its marketing folks scrambling for some way to differentiate the LEAF.

Marketing for the Nissan e-Pedal

While the driving range of the new LEAF will get a bump, we still don’t know how big—or if rumors about a selection of different sizes of battery packs (at various price levels) will prove true. The current word is two packs: one around 120 miles and another at about 160 miles.

Nissan explained that, with the e-Pedal, the conventional hydraulic brakes are automatically applied to keep the vehicle stationary without the driver having to apply the brake. Nonetheless, the single-pedal regen function is the same. Renaming this ability for an EV driver to minimally use the conventional brakes is distracting. Unfortunately, it could draw attention away from other compelling new features that roll out with the new LEAF in about six weeks.

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