Nissan Takes Wraps Off its 2018 Leaf
On Tuesday night, Nissan set the glitzy Tokyo stage on fire after it pulled the wraps off its new electric vehicle offer, the 2018 Leaf, while being streamed live on the Internet worldwide.
The 2018 Leaf is expected to go toe-to-toe against its competitors, bragging a price amounting to only about $31,000, which is well below rivals’ prices.
The revamped model of the Leaf is set to go on sale in Japan next month, and worldwide sale will eventually follow. It will attempt to lure car buyers away from other vehicles with its improved range of 150 miles, while its buffed 40 KWh lithium-ion battery is expected to give it a higher energy density and power-storage capacity. The previous model only had a 107-mile range and a 30 KWh battery.
However, these figures don’t guarantee an easy lead for Nissan’s 2018 Leaf, with Chevrolet delivering a remarkable 238 miles of range for its $37,500 Bolt EV. Tesla has its Model 3 pre-orders that are enough to cover one whole year of sales, while Volkswagen is giving its e-Golf a larger battery. Hyundai is set to release its Ioniq.
2010 witnessed the introduction to the world of Nissan’s Leaf, which was proclaimed as the world’s best-selling electric vehicle during that time. The Leaf was awarded several automotive awards, including the 2011 European Car of the Year, and the 2011 World Car of the Year. However, it has been dethroned by the arrival in the market of its aforementioned competitors. Consequently, the pioneering Leaf lost its luster.
In the small but increasingly competitive market for electric vehicles, Nissan has decided to stay a little conservative in its 2018 Leaf’s design, while trying to reach the top again.
The 2018 Leaf uses the so-called e-Pedal, which allows the driver to handle the car’s starting, accelerating, decelerating, and stopping using only a single pedal. When the driver releases the pedal, it will apply friction and regenerative brakes making it easier for the car to halt even on steep roads.
Nissan has also blessed its 2018 Leaf with its new ProPilot autonomous driving technology, which is for staying in a single lane, and ProPilot Park, which is in-charge of parking maneuvers.
The electric motor generates 147 horsepower, while its Torque is 236 pound feet.
The 2018 Leaf’s appearance garnered generally positive reviews from those who have seen it firsthand. Its predecessor’s goofy curves are gone and are replaced by more angular looks. As a result, observers say that it makes the electric car appear more in-line with Nissan’s previous designs. The grille is V-shaped with a 3D blue mesh pattern, which is also found on its rear bumper. The roof appears to be floating because of the blacked out pillars. Another design typical to Nissan cars is the boomerang-shaped lamps. Photos of these features have been used to tease the audience before the vehicle’s complete unveiling.
Upon looking at the inside, the car’s blue stitching silently reminds the driver that it is an electric vehicle. The dash encloses a 7-inch touch screen, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
“The Leaf was the original polarizing aesthetic design of its generation,” said Chelsea Sexton, an electric car advocate.
A Niche Market
Based on the figures and features, analysts suggest that Nissan’s chance in reclaiming its throne depends on the customers’ choice to have a “pay less” approach when it comes to electric vehicles, given the fact that the 2018 Leaf’s rivals, particularly Chevy’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3, offer better features with a higher price.
“The market is pretty small, and still growing, so there’s space to see different market strategies to play out,” said IHS Markit’s automotive market analyst Stephanie Brinley.
Takeshi Miyao, the managing director of consultancy Carnorama, said that Nissan has to offer more than better battery-range function if the Japanese company wants to stay on top of the market.
When it comes to the collective electric vehicle market, analysts agree that the current offers given by automakers are still inadequate to convince many drivers to ditch their regular cars and transfer to electric vehicles. This means that only environment-conscious drivers are the ones riveted into driving cars like the 2018 Leaf.
“Until we see a significant improvement in range and/or economics that feed through to a rise in gasoline prices, EV buyers will be buying for environmental and altruistic reasons,” said the head of Asia transportation research at Macquarie Securities, Janet Lewis. She also described the market as a “very, very niche market.”
Although the sales of electric vehicles have been growing, it still represents only a fraction of total car transactions. Last year, an automotive analysis firm named Edmunds reported that electric-battery cars only occupied 0.5 percent of the total US car sales.
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