You don’t have to hold your breath any longer. Nissan has finally put us out of our misery. After teasing the notion of an all-electric Leaf complete with a 60kWh battery for the last eight months or so, the automaker has finally made things official. The next-generation Leaf will feature a new and improved battery, which also means that the electric car should have a range of over 200 miles, putting it neck and neck with both the Tesla’s Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt.
“It’s coming,” Kazuo Yajima, Nissan’s global director of EV and HEV engineering, told AutoblogGreen in reference to the 60kWh Leaf. “I’m sorry I cannot say when.”
This new battery is more than double the capacity of the current 24kWh model, which grants today’s Leaf a range of about 70 to 80 miles. And with the rise of electric cars from competitors, this longer range comes as a needed improvement to stay competitive. “In the near future, I believe, we can produce an electric vehicle that doesn’t have any driving range problem,” Yajima said.
Demand for the Nissan Leaf appears to be on the rise, especially as the green movement gains traction across the world. According to Nissan’s Gareth Dunsmore, director of the automaker’s zero-emission business unit, there are strong hopes that up to 20 percent of European Nissan sales will be electric vehicles within the next few years (specifically, by 2020). As of March of this year, 6 percent of total sales in Europe were EVs. And if the company can come out with a car with a better range, this increase just may be possible.
But don’t expect Nissan to get into the plug-in hybrid model anytime soon. As Dunsmore noted, “When you are driving a plug-in, you have an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. You use the engine most of the time and it makes emissions worse. I see their relevance, but there is a compromise. I’m glad we took the step and built up a leadership in electric vehicles.”