Turning over a new Leaf
NEW BIGENNINGS: The Nissan Leaf has only seen success since its launch in 2011. A new model is due mid 2013 in Europe with loads of enhancements, and it's coming to SA.
The Nissan Leaf launched in 2011 and found 50 000 homes in Japan, where it was built exclusively. Now North America and Europe has been added to the list for mass production.
Besides the 100 plus changes made to the car in terms of aesthetics, technology and space saving, the car will also be available in Nissan’s three different trim levels: Visia, Acenta and Tekna.
While the Visia will be the most affordable as the entry-level model, the Tekna will include even more equipment than the original model.
The Leaf has been on sale for two years now, but local tree-huggers don’t have to feel neglected any longer since the Leaf is finally on its way to South Africa.
Nissan South Africa’s spokesperson Veralda Schmidt said: “The Leaf will arrive locally in September 2013 and since the models are specified according to each country’s requirements, we do not have any details yet on any specifications.”
The upgraded Leaf will go on sale in Europe by mid 2013.
At the 2012 Geneva auto show, there were only 150 Leaf dealers across Europe and 195 quick chargers. In 2013 there are 1400 dealers, 600 quick chargers and more than 20 000 conventional public chargers.
Nissan's Leaf models will go into production at the Sunderland plant in England, sharing the line with the Qashqai, Note and Juke. The lithium-ion batteries are already being produced at nearby facility on the Sunderland site.
Nissan said these lithium-ion batteries lose a percentage of their capacity over time, but it will be repaired or replaced if it wears down faster than the stated warranty period.
The new Leaf will have a a longer range from 175km to 200km and the charger has been repositioned under the bonnet instead of towards the back of the car. This makes it more practical to charge at home.
Nissan has taken advice from meeting with current Leaf owners.
Additional feedback comes from pulled data from the unique Carwings telematics system. This feature allows customers the ability to control the heating and charging of their car remotely and also logs information on charging, usage patterns and distance driven.
Changes include a new powertrain assembly, quicker charging times, a lot more space and a LED inspection light within the charging port making overnight charging that much easier.
Nissan Europe’s senior vice president, sales and marketing, Paul Willcox said: "Leaf owners are passionate about their cars and their comments and experiences have genuinely influenced many of the changes we have made.”
"In its two years on sale, the global success of the Leaf has shown that electric vehicles offer viable everyday transport for people with a typical daily commute.”
The Leaf will soon be joined by pure electric versions of the NV200, to be called e-NV200, in both light commercial van and seven-seat combi versions. Development is also underway on a dedicated EV taxi based on the e-NV200. An Infiniti EV is expected in 2015.
There’s a new grille to help with aerodynamics, a heavier steering system to enhance handling and changes to the Eco driving mode.
Nissan said: "A new "B" setting on the transmission increases regenerative braking during deceleration while a separate 'Eco' button on the steering wheel extends driving range by altering the throttle mapping to discourage rapid acceleration.
The two systems can be operated independently of one another, unlike in the original Leaf.”
Other key improvements to the LEAF's e-Powertrain include reduced internal friction and a more efficient battery and energy management system.
Charging time has also been reduced from eight hours to four. A new 6.6kW on board charger will permit the use of 32 amp charging using the latest generation of chargers installed in homes or commercial properties. A typical socket delivers only 10 amps. This will allow owners to give their battery a meaningful boost even during short stopovers.
There are better seats with 100% recycled material, a new i-Key that controls the charging port cover and cable lock, as well as a revised Carwings Navigation system. The system has a big colour touchscreen, satellite navigation and Bluetooth connectivity and also incorporates Google send-to-car technology.
Visia models have 16“ steel wheels with full covers, black door mirror caps and halogen headlights, while the Acenta have suede fabric seat trim, body coloured mirror caps and rear privacy glass.
Tekna models have 17” wheels, leather seats, LED headlights, a Bose sound system and around view monitor.
The new Leaf will also be at the 2013 Geneva auto show.
Check out the latest models in our Geneva show section.