The world’s first mass-produced all-electric passenger car, the Nissan Leaf, has had its second coming – or perhaps its third, in Australia’s sluggish market – with the faster, flasher, more powerful and, most importantly, extended range Leaf e+ finally arriving Down Under this week (apart from a few private imports).
The new Leaf will also cost more money, with Nissan announcing the manufacturer suggested retail price for the e+, with its 62kWh battery pack, at $A60,490 before on-road costs. This compares to the standard second generation Nissan Leaf, which will sell for $A49,990, before on-road costs.
In Australia, this puts the Leaf e+ in the same price-and-range ballpark as the Hyundai Kona electrics and even the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus, leaving it to consumers to decide which has more bang for buck.
In terms of the Leaf, though, the roughly $10,000 mark-up for the e+ delivers quite a lot, starting with a more than 40% increase in driving range of up to 385km (WLTP combined mode) on a single battery charge – which is an additional 115km over the 40kWh Leaf’s capability.
(Speaking at a launch event last week, Nissan Australia’s national manager for electrification and mobility, Ben Warren, quipped that the extra 22 kilowatt-hours was the equivalent of 11,785 AAA batteries, which based on current retail prices was about $16,500 worth of batteries, so … “probably not a bad deal!”)
The e+ battery pack also offers a roughly 25 per cent improvement in energy density to a regular Leaf, which unlocks quicker acceleration and faster charging capability. Maximum power and torque outputs offer an “exhilarating” 160kW and 340Nm and 0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds.
Nissan notes that acceleration from 80km/h to 120km/h is also nearly 13 per cent quicker than in the standard Leaf, a feature that might come in handy when driving longer distances, which after all is the point of the bigger battery. Top speed has also increased by around 10% to 158km/h.
On charging, Nissan says the e+ can charge from 20% to 80% in 45 minutes using a 100kW DC fast charging (90 mins for a 50kW charger), despite 55% more battery storage capacity. On trickle charge when plugged into a type 2 socket, a full recharge takes roughly 11 hours.
To the controls, the car’s e-Pedal allows the driver to start, speed up, slow down, and stop using only the accelerator, using much the same regenerative braking technology now seen in most electric vehicles.
Nissan does claim, however, that it has reprogrammed its e-Pedal software for “smoother operation and enhanced pedal feedback,” particularly for use in reverse, and for smoother and more rapid deceleration, making it easier to come to a full stop without using the brake.
Warren also noted at the launch that using ECO mode in the Leaf in combination with B mode level of regenerative braking – the highest level of the e-Pedal – could add up to 30% more to the car’s battery range.
The entire Leaf range comes standard with the NissanConnect infotainment system, with an 8-inch touch screen, and smartphone connectivity. A nice touch is the addition of heated seats and steering wheel, which as Nissan points out is a more energy efficient way of warming up than using the heater, so can also help extend range.
Finally, both the Nissan Leaf and Leaf e+ are capable of bi-directional charging, meaning that energy can not only flow from charger to vehicle, but can also be returned back to a home or other load when required – a feature Nissan claims as unique to its EVs, direct from the factory.
Nissan demonstrated this at a launch event last week by powering the very big TV screens at its presentation using one of the new cars, pictured below. But of course, there’s much work to do – and regulations to change – before this feature can be put to good use on the Australian grid.
“The Nissan Leaf is one the world’s most popular electric vehicles, the new Nissan LEAF e+ will only further that appeal by delivering more of what our customers love about their EV,” said Nissan Australia Managing Director, Stephen Lester.
“With more power, more range and more performance, as well as full bi-directional charging capability, the e+ is simply more Leaf, and helps ensure there really is an EV to suit every need in Australia.
“From zero-emissions commuting in the city to weekends away and everything in-between, the Nissan LEAF and LEAF e+ have you covered.”
*The Driven was last week invited to drive a Nissan Leaf e+ over quite a long distance to quite a lovely place where very lovely food was consumed. That trip will be reviewed in tomorrow’s edition.
You can also read this review, written last September by one of the owners who imported their own model privately. See: It’s a game changer”: First Australian 62kWh Nissan Leaf review