Nissan Hints at Intentions for the Next-Gen Nissan Leaf EV

Posted by Stephen On Monday, May 12th, 2014

Nissan has big changes in store for their next-generation Leaf even though the new model isn’t due for debut until sometime after 2017. There’s no doubt that the Leaf is an important vehicle for Nissan, so they’re going to take the next few years to improve its foundation – the battery.

2014 Nissan Leaf

The information comes via recent interview between Nissan company executives and Automotive News, as well as an interview with Andy Palmer following last month’s Beijing Motor Show.

Better Range from a Better Battery

The 2014 Nissan Leaf has an EPA-estimated driving range of 84 miles, which is a 9-mile improvement over the previous model year’s 75 mile range. However, even though Nissan credits the improvement to some slight mechanical tweaks, the truth is that the EPA updated their driving range calculation for 2014, so nothing’s really changed. Nonetheless, the fact that Nissan wants you to think something’s changed reveals a truth about electric vehicles – better range equals more sales. Nissan’s executives confirmed exactly that in their interview with Automotive News.

So, how do you get better range from an electric vehicle?

With a better battery!

According to the aforementioned interview with Andy Palmer, “Battery chemistry is all about range and energy density. That’s where you see the technology moving very, very fast. This really is the game-changing technology.”

The next obvious question is, exactly how far will the next Nissan Leaf be able to go?

While Palmer didn’t give us a specific answer, he did estimate that an electric vehicle would need to travel a minimum of 186 miles (300km) per charge to compete with the HFCVs that’ll be on the market within the next few years. That would be a 120% improvement over the current Leaf’s range.

In the meantime, Nissan intends to update current and future Leafs over the next couple years with more durable batteries for increased lifespan.

Next-Gen Nissan Leaf Design

Automotive News also elicited a few hints about the next-gen Leaf’s aesthetics, and they’re actually quite interesting. According to Mamoru Aoki, Nissan’s chief of global design, the Japanese automaker has a new policy for electric vehicle design. “The current Leaf is aiming too much at an EV-like appearance. Tesla doesn’t look EV at all. The Tesla S just looks nice, very sporty, sleek, but very authentic.”

To translate this point of view into possible design projections, you can expect the next Nissan Leaf to retain its hatchback structure, but look a lot less like an EV. That means it’ll probably inherit Nissan’s V-Motion design theme with a classy, premium-feeling aesthetic instead of a bubbly, hipster one.

Speaking of premium, Nissan executives also offered a possible launch date for the delayed Infiniti EV sedan. Palmer had already cited insufficient battery technology as the reason for the wait, so with this news about the next-gen Leaf’s improved range, it’s natural to assume the Infiniti EV will come around the same time. That means it’ll probably arrive in late 2016 or early 2017. However, Palmer did explicitly state that it would come BEFORE the next-gen Leaf, citing that the Infiniti EV’s larger body allows more room for a bigger battery.

As you can see, Nissan definitely isn’t going to rest on their laurels with the successful Leaf EV. Even as sales continue to grow year after year, the Japanese car maker is seeking ways to improve their already top-notch vehicle.

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