The world’s best-selling electrical automobile joins the 200-mile membership.
The Nissan LEAF hit a tough patch in early 2017. That’s when it was upstaged by the 238-mile Chevy Bolt, which scored greater than twice the LEAF’s gross sales within the US that 12 months. The second-generation LEAF upped its vary to 151 miles in 2018 – and improved its design – however Nissan was nonetheless not aggressive on vary. Eventually, Nissan will put the previous two years within the rear-view mirror when the brand new, big-battery 2019 LEAF Plus goes on sale in March.
Final week, InsideEVs took a primary drive within the long-awaited 62 kilowatt-hour Plus model of the Nissan LEAF. Our route was a mixture of metropolis, freeway, and meandering coastal roads close to San Diego. The day shifted from sensible California sunshine to a February drizzle. However our top-of-the-line 2019 LEAF Plus SL steadily delivered on the anticipated vary – utilizing lower than half the pack’s power for the 112-mile journey.
I used to be mild on the accelerator for essentially the most journey and engaged the automotive’s heavy-regen e-Pedal perform. Different journalists on the occasion pushed the efficiency of the LEAF’s motor and kept away from e-Pedal – burning by way of greater than half the pack in the identical distance. Related aggressive driving may cut back the LEAF Plus’s vary to the sting of the 200-mile mark.
The story of the LEAF Plus, imminently arriving at dealerships throughout the US, will not be solely about its spectacular 50-percent improve in vary. There’s additionally a 46-percent improve in output from its motor. The bounce from 147 horsepower to 214-hp was visceral throughout our drive, particularly throughout freeway passing maneuvers at pace.
The additional oomph was much less evident on the town. Maybe the extra 345 kilos of weight in comparison with the usual LEAF – of which 300 kilos come from the growth from 192 to 288 cells within the pack – minimized the influence of the added horsepower. Nissan officers stated the LEAF Plus’s zero-to-60 time is about seven seconds, a one-second benefit over the usual LEAF.
With the introduction of the LEAF Plus, Nissan is overtly focusing on the 238-mile Bolt, in addition to the 239-mile Kia Niro EV and the 258-mile Hyundai Kona Electrical. “We see the LEAF Plus as a conquest automobile,” stated Jeff Wandell, supervisor of EV communications for Nissan. “We’re within the sport now.”
The Value Is Proper
Official pricing for the LEAF Plus will not be but accessible, however Wandell stated that the LEAF Plus can be “very aggressive from a pricing standpoint.” That most likely means the LEAF Plus base S trim will begin round $36,000 with the higher SV and SL variations topping out within the mid-$40,000s.
Additionally, think about that the Bolt’s $7,500 federal tax credit score will likely be phased out over the following 12 months as a result of Basic Motors reached the 200,000-sales restrict. And Hyundai-Kia will not be promoting its advantageous EVs throughout your complete nation. So the usual and Plus variations of the LEAF are properly positioned.
Any conquests will likely be gained based mostly on value and availability – regardless of the LEAF Plus nonetheless barely lagging within the vary sport. Official EPA vary numbers aren’t but printed. However Nissan stated the goal for the LEAF Plus S is 226 miles – whereas the better-equipped SV and SL variations are focused at solely 215 miles.
Nissan defined that diminished vary within the higher trims is because of a mixture of added weight, the usage of 17-inch fairly than 16-inch wheels, and adjustments in rolling resistance between the S’s Bridgestone Ecopias and the SV/SL’s Michelin Vitality Saver tires.
“We’re within the sport now,” stated Nissan.
Drivers of the LEAF Plus will simply make up these previous few miles of vary by participating Nissan’s aggressive e-Pedal perform. If I owned the LEAF Plus, I’d use it on a regular basis regardless of how the e-Pedal makes the accelerator pedal feels too restrictive (virtually sticky) in stop-and-go site visitors. However, in San Diego, the e-Pedal made for pleasant cruising alongside sweeping roadways above 30 miles per hour. When engaged, e-Pedal removes automobile creep.
Similar On The Inside
The LEAF Plus’s cabin is unaltered from the usual model, regardless of the larger battery pack. Nissan cleverly altered the battery’s configuration with cells positioned three (fairly than two) in parallel. “We now have a versatile structure with modules of various sizes,” stated Nate Herbrandson, supervisor of sturdiness and reliability at Nissan. The LEAF Plus additionally makes use of 4 millimeters of the usual model’s “useless area” beneath the cabin – and lowers the journey peak by about six millimeters.
The LEAF is true in line when it comes to passenger and cargo quantity in comparison with its chief opponents. Regardless, there’s one thing concerning the LEAF’s structure that doesn’t fairly work for my 6-foot-Four-inch body. The motive force’s seat doesn’t journey fairly far sufficient again for me to increase my leg – due to this fact it digs into the middle console. On the similar time, my seating place behind the steering wheel is just too excessive for preferrred visibility ahead and thru the tapered windshield. Most grownup passengers will likely be cosy within the rear seats.
The LEAF’s seats and the skillful mixture of laborious and gentle plastics, and racing-style steering wheel, are arguably nicer than what GM affords within the Bolt. The Plus’s bigger Eight-inch display, now with pinch-and-zoom gestures, is a welcome improve. (Primarily based on my current drive of the Niro EV, the Kia electrical crossover is best appointed than both the Nissan or Chevy.)
Nissan is sticking with the CHAdeMO quick-charging normal and the usage of passive air cooling of the battery (fairly than liquid-cooling). Herbrandson, who is predicated at Nissan’s Arizona testing heart, advised me that liquid cooling “wasn’t crucial” for this automobile. The larger battery will likely be taxed much less. “You’ll be able to’t by accident harm this battery by overheating it,” he stated.
The Nissan Plus can now accommodate as much as 100 kilowatts of juice – a measure of future-proofing for the EV. Though Nissan executives admitted that solely about 10 CHAdeMO stations within the nation are actually geared up for 100 kilowatts. On a extra sensible word, the LEAF Plus’s normal transportable charging unit can now deal with Stage 2 240-volt charging. So buying a separate dwelling charger may be averted.
Key phrase: Affordability
The 62-kWh LEAF Plus handles with confidence whereas checking off all of the important packing containers for good, dependable transportation in a compact electrical hatch. When it hits dealerships in a couple of weeks, Nissan will uniquely be capable to compete at two value ranges.
The present 150-mile LEAF, which begins just under $30,000, stacks up properly in opposition to the likes of the 124-mile Volkswagen E-Golf and 124-mile Hyundai Ioniq Electrical. And the brand new competent, high-tech, long-range LEAF Plus can go up in opposition to the Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Kona EV, and the Kia Niro Electrical. This strata of EV roughly sells within the low-$40,000s.
“The motto for Nissan at all times been to mass-market a very good electrical automobile at an reasonably priced value,” stated Jean-Phillipe Lattes, senior supervisor of EV advertising and gross sales for Nissan North America. In my chat with Lattes, he threw in an obvious dig at Tesla for not but attaining its affordability objectives. “It’s virtually simple to make a $60,000 or $70,000 EV,” he advised me. Lattes stated Nissan is dedicated to persevering with to supply the 40-kWh mannequin for round $30,000.
Lattes added that there’s a “big market” for customers that insist on an EV with at the least 200 miles of vary. Our temporary first hours with the LEAF Plus revealed that Nissan now has a compelling possibility for these consumers.