TOKYO – Nissan's Leaf may be the world's best-selling electric vehicle. But the automaker is pitching the second generation as all that and much more.
The redesigned Leaf achieves a full-charge driving range of 400 km (249 miles), up from 280 km, under Japan's testing cycle, Nissan said. The range is 240 km (150 miles) under the U.S. EPA testing cycle, up from 172 km (107 miles).
That is enough to eliminate range anxiety, CEO Hiroto Saikawa said at the car's Tokyo unveiling on Wednesday.
Japanese sales of the new Leaf start in early October followed by Europe and the U.S. in January.
A performance-oriented Leaf with a more powerful motor and higher battery capacity will arrive in the fiscal year starting in April 2018. A premium edition will also follow.
On the outside, the new Leaf dumps the old bulbous profile for a sleeker, more conventional hatchback design tweaked to appeal to the masses.
The updated EV also loads up automated driving features and connected-car functions. Under the banner of Intelligent Mobility, Nissan is trying to eclipse the electric vehicle segment with new technologies as competitors pile into the market with rival offerings.
“To call the new Nissan Leaf just an EV does not tell the full story of the ingenuity behind the vehicle nor does it represent its massive potential,” said Daniele Schillaci, Nissan's head of global marketing and sales.
The Japan-market version was unveiled at a carnival-like, laser-lit event outside Tokyo. It promises peppier pick up. It upgrades to a 40 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, from a 30 kilowatt-hour one. Maximum motor output climbs to 110 kilowatts, from 80 kilowatts, and top torque increases 26 percent. Next year’s performance edition will get a 60 kilowatt-hour battery.
Saikawa said the 60-kwh version will deliver a range of more than 480 km (300 miles), enough for nearly every driving need in key markets such as the United States. But he did not specify a testing cycle. Japanese testing cycles are more lenient and allow for longer EV ranges.
A Nissan official later said the bigger battery wouldn’t reach 300 miles under the U.S. EPA testing but that it could deliver that kind of extended range in real-life driving.