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The 2018 Nissan Leaf is hot in Europe, Hopes Charged Up For The U.S.

Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:16 pm

The Leaf has been and will be hot in the US too!
The 2018 Nissan Leaf is hot in Europe, Hopes Charged Up For The U.S.
Forbes Now
David Kiley, Contributor · Dec 22, 2017

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is sleeker, cheaper and with a longer range than the previous model.

Think of the Nissan Leaf as Toyota Prius of electric vehicles (EVs). The hatchback that runs on purely on battery power has sold more than 280,000 worldwide. But with an all-new design and longer range, the company is hoping to get a bigger share of the growing worldwide market for EVs.

The second generation Leaf, which will go approximately 150 miles, compared with 73 miles for the previous version, has already racked up 10,000 pre-sales in Europe, according to Autocar Magazine.

And the new version has more pep, too. It is powered by a 147-horespower motor, 40 more horsepower than the first iteration of the Leaf.

The other big change in the Leaf is styling. While the first version had a bit of an “appliance” look, the 2018 version got a major rethink, with sleeker lines carved in a wind tunnel to reduce wind resistance to make more aerodynamic and thus more fuel efficient. In short, the new 2018 Leaf is a very handsome, sporty looking, practical package that runs entirely on electric power.

To be clear, the Leaf is 100% electric. It is not a plug-in hybrid, such as the BMW i3 or Chevy Volt, which carry the driver on electric power until the battery drains, and then is backed up by a gasoline-fed motor that takes over powering the battery until it can be recharged.

Despite gasoline in the U.S. hovering below $3.00 per gallon in most parts of the country, forecasters are expecting sales to grow in 2017 not only in the U.S., but worldwide. Last year, automakers in the U.S. sold just 158,000 EV units out of a total of 17.5 million new cars and trucks.

Three factors have been holding back EV sales in the U.S.: Short range, which gives non-buyers “range anxiety,” or the worry that they will run out of power and be stranded; persistently lower, affordable gas prices that have been driving preferences for SUVs, pickup trucks and crossovers; lack of re-charging infrastructure. The last factor is especially worrisome to buyers who are interested in electric driving. Today, an EV buyer who has anything but a very consistent, prescribed driving routine has to do a lot of planning to drive an EV everyday to make sure the car is charged up for both end of a journey.

And even test-drivers of cars have different experiences with total driving range. How far you can drive an EV is dependent on weight of passengers and cargo, outdoor temperature, traffic patterns and flow, road conditions and speed. For the 2019 model year, there is a Leaf+ version coming with total range above 200 miles.

The competition for the Leaf going forward are new models like Chevy Bolt and the Hyundai Ioniq at the mass-market end of the scale. Tesla’s new model, too, will compete for those customers the Leaf is after. The new leaf’s price is $30, 875 before available Federal and state incentives for zero-emission vehicles.

If Leaf has a deficiency, it is that it is 100% electric, and not a plug-in hybrid that would have the battery backed up by a gas engine that could optimize sales and minimize range anxiety.

But as far as EVs go, leaf looks and drives like a winner.

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