Nissan Leaf gets big tech, range upgrades

Nissan is counting on its sleeker, more technologically advanced, longer-range Leaf electric car to lure new buyers in key European markets.

The second-generation Leaf has a bullet-like profile, a more powerful battery that boosts the hatchback’s range to up to 415 km in the city on a full charge and an updated version of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving technology. A key first for the Leaf is the introduction of Nissan’s e-Pedal, which turns one pedal into a combined accelerator and brake. The solution can reduce use of the brakes by up to 90 percent, the automaker said.

“With Nissan’s intelligent mobility technologies, we can expand over the next 18 months in markets that are just taking their first steps [toward EV acceptance],” Nissan Europe Electric Vehicles Director Gareth Dunsmore told Automotive News Europe. “This includes Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. They offer huge growth potential for us, which is largely untapped.”

The arrival of the new Leaf is a key reason why European sales of full-electric cars are set to surge to 200,000 this year, LMC Automotive predicts. In 2017, Europe’s EV sales rose 48 percent to 163,591, according to JATO Dynamics.

The Leaf was the No. 5-selling EV in Europe last year as demand for the first-generation model dipped by about 7.9 percent during the run out of the model. The new Leaf is on track to turn around those sales figures.

Since the Leaf’s European unveiling in October 2017 until late February, Nissan had 14,000 orders for the car across the region. The automaker expects that number to top 15,000 by early this month.

Dunsmore said that the Leaf’s extended range means that many European customers will only need to charge the car once a week. He added that the Leaf has also proved its durability. The car has completed more than 3.5 billion kilometers of combined worldwide driving with zero battery failures since the model’s launch in 2010.

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