The new 62kWh LEAF powertrain from Nissan was announced today at CES 2019 in Las Vegas and we are on hand to get every detail.
The new LEAF is now entering a more crowded EV market than when the LEAF debuted nearly a decade ago, but Nissan's long track record with EV buyers will surely help win customers. But is this the EV that Nissan should have created a long time ago?
We knew for a long time that Nissan was planning a 60 + kWh version of its LEAF, but today at CES we are getting all the details you are looking for. Nissan invited us to CES with flight and hotel to check out their newest EV and interview some of the people who created it.
Here are the goods from the specifications department:
- 62kWh battery which is only 5mm larger than the 40kWh package in the current LEAF
- 160kW motor (215hp)
- Estimated range of 226 miles
- 70kW CHAdeMO charging with 100kW peak
Also some PR that dance around a few things like the price (which we hear is about $ 36,000) and 0-60 time (which I heard is 6 "plus" -ish seconds).
The high-capacity battery and most powerful LEAF and + 160 kW engine combine to produce 45% more power and 250 lb-ft (340 Nm) of torque, allowing faster acceleration when driving at high speeds. Accelerating from 80 km / h and 120 km / h is almost 13% faster. This allows the LEAF and + to confidently transmit slower vehicles, get off faster and more evenly, and easily attach to fast-moving traffic. Maximum speed increased by approximately 10% for comfortable cruises.
These new, faster LEAFs will go on sale in Japan from a few weeks and will hit the US shores in the spring. The vehicle will hit the EU this summer. The marketing of the vehicles gets a bit confusing, so I'll let Nissan speak here:
LEAF and + will be sold under the LEAF PLUS series in the USA and Canada, with each level of finish being given its own designation of S PLUS, SV PLUS and SL PLUS. Overall, the vehicle will be referred to as the Nissan LEAF and +.
More than 380,000 LEAF Nissan vehicles have been sold globally since the 100% electric model went on sale in 2010, with more than 128,000 sold in the US.
The new powertrain adds not only the 160kW speed, but about 40% more with only a tiny amount (5mm) of additional space occupied. Nissan is using the same LG cells, but packed them harder. I had the opportunity to talk to Kazuhiro Doi, director of global research at Nissan's alliance on the new drums. Some details:
- The cells of the battery pack are manufactured by LG and are still passively cooled, which has been a problem in the past. However, Doi says that Nissan has learned a lot in the near decade of the LEAF and now believes that even with the tighter package, the batteries will keep their capacity longer than ever. Nissan offers a warranty of 8 years / 160,000 km (whichever comes first) on the battery
- The battery management system or BMS, which is the most important and proper factor of Nissan to maintain the load, in addition to powering the engine. This is the great advantage of Nissan, as they have a decade of experience in the real world here. This controls the charging and discharging of the battery, which is an integral part not only of the acceleration, but also of the charge. Nissan's engine and engine controller also plays a major role in acceleration and Nissan brings here a ton of its variable speed transmission work.
- Nissan has recently switched from its own battery to those supplied by LG and the open market. Nissan did the math and decided that batteries were becoming a commodity and could save time and money on suppliers from other suppliers. The other side is that they are now in debt to the same battery market as their competitors and can not innovate there.
Ivan Espinosa, vice president of global product strategy and product planning at Nissan, told me that some other upgrades include OTA upgrades on the central stack. This means you no longer need to go to a reseller to get updates for items like maps and services. Espinosa also alluded to the fact that Nissan will have some great new EV releases, including the Nissan iMX concept we saw again in the showroom.
Although the new LEAF has tough price / specification competition on Chevy Bolt and Hyundai / Kia Kona / Niro in the US, it does very well in Japan and the EU.
The LEAF is one of, if not the best-selling EV in the EU's heavy nations like Norway. With the relatively long history of the vehicle and the brand in these large markets, Nissan hopes to capitalize on its established brand and brand to outperform newcomers.
In the US, Nissan still has some quarters of the $ 7,500 tax incentive, which should provide a price advantage over GM and Tesla in the near term.
First of all, it was great of Nissan to invite us to the show and introduce us to CES 2019. I do not think there's another automaker that really wants to sell more than Nissan – even though its former president and the EV's Carlos Ghosn was removed from the company.
In the US, the 62kWh Leaf Plus models will face fierce competition from the already established smaller Chevy Bolt and the extremely restricted Hyundai Kona. Both vehicles are solid, but seem to be limited by their manufacturers to ZEV status, rather than being equal status cars. Nissan will be marketing these new LEAFs, as well as the 40kWh versions, just like any other car, if not more. I love this.
Nissan will sell these products across the country in its established dealer network. These dealers have been selling electric cars for a decade, so they are versed in EVs much more than the Hyundai / Kia and as they really want to sell the vehicle, the buying experience will be much better than in Chevy or BMW Dealership , generally.
Nissan also offers assistance to the ProPilot driver, which other mass-market vehicles do not offer. Nissan describes ProPilot:
Playing a leading role in Nissan Intelligent Driving is the ProPILOT Assist, a semi-autonomous on-road driving technology that can automatically adjust the distance to the vehicle ahead, using a preset speed of the driver (between about 18 mph and 62 mph ). The ProPILOT Assist can also help the driver to drive and keep the vehicle centered on its track. If the front carriage stops, the ProPILOT Assist can automatically apply the brakes to stop the vehicle completely if necessary. After stopping completely, the vehicle can remain in place even if the driver's foot is off the brake. If traffic is resumed, the vehicle will resume driving when the driver touches the steering wheel-mounted ProPILOT Assist switch or lightly depresses the throttle to activate the system. All these functions can reduce stress when driving on the road in heavy and fast traffic.
Nissan LEAF Plus Concerns
Some concerns arise however. I would like to see Nissan further recognize the problem of battery degradation and expected to hear about the active cooling / heating of the battery. Talking to the chief of research on this, he did not seem to care, but I'm still a bit suspicious. O 8 years / 160,000 km battery warranty helps. I also wish I had learned a little more about this car since I got here. I still do not have a price or a 0-60 in a car that has its speed and power over the previous models and the competition.
In addition, Nissan is the last hope for the fast loading standard CHAdeMO in the USA, in what I consider a losing battle. Even Electrify America is only launching a 50kW CHAdeMO charger in their recharging stations, so it will be increasingly difficult to find a fast charging location in the US, let alone the announced top speed of 70-100kW. Nissan deferred when pressed on this, but I expect to see a CCS-CHAdeMO adapter one day.
There is also the Tesla factor in terms of EVs. The Model 3 base, while significantly more expensive, also has a significant power advantage – 283 hp (211 kW) vs. 215hp (160kW) for LEAF Plus. The LEAF being a larger hatchback, more capacity and different style, most of the time, attracts a different type of consumer.
The other thing to consider is Nissan Energy's car for grid technology, which we envisaged last month, but is not yet available to consumers. Theoretically, the amount of money you earn from reverse demand charging can more than pay energy costs.
To conclude, I love what Nissan is doing here. The LEAF and + or PLUS is a mass-appeal car I wish Nissan had built a long time ago.