The Nissan LEAF has earned a place of high honor in the plug-in pantheon. Until Tesla’s Model S started to take off, it was the unchallenged top seller among pure EVs, and it remains the only mid-priced EV to achieve anything resembling mass-market sales.
However, the respected elder statesman has been overtaken by younger rivals. Chevy’s new Bolt and Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 both offer double the current LEAF’s range at a similar price point. For at least a year now, the EV world has been expecting Nissan to announce a next-generation LEAF, but the company has kept its hand close to its corporate chest, lest it spoil sales of the current model.
The EV press expects a redesigned LEAF, with more mainstream styling and at least 200 miles of range, to make its debut later this year, as a 2018 model, but that’s about all we know.
Now MotorAuthority reports that it has spotted a prototype version of the next LEAF, releasing ten images of a black vehicle with similar doors and roof to the current model, but with front and rear styling influenced by the IDS concept car that Nissan revealed at the 2015 Tokyo auto show.
Green Car Reports points out that carmakers often cobble together test mules from bits and pieces of other models, so we can’t be sure this is what the new LEAF will look like. However, the appearance of a test mule indicates that a launch is probably less than a year away – GCR expects an “autumn LEAF” to fall [sorry, couldn’t resist].
When Nissan “turns over a new LEAF,” [long-time readers know I never can resist], it will probably have a range between 200 and 250 miles, and thus a 60 kWh battery pack with similar dimensions to the current 30 kWh pack. Nissan has hinted that a lower-priced battery option, perhaps 40 kWh, will be offered as well.
The revamped LEAF will surely add some self-driving features, based on Nissan’s ProPilot technology.