The Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric car in history. But after a long period of increased sales, US sales have been dropping in recent months. I’ve postulated that the biggest reason for that has been the promise of long-range, affordable electric cars (like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3), or perhaps the hope that the next version of the LEAF will be the one to break through into the attractive market segment. We’ve been itching to hear more about the 2016 Nissan LEAF, but Nissan has been very tight-lipped. Looks like we have our first big clue, though….
The 2016 Nissan Leaf redesign will bring a first to the electric car: your choice of two different batteries.
- The standard Leaf will come with the same battery as the 2015 model, featuring an EPA-estimated driving range of 84 miles.
- Drivers of higher trim levels will enjoy a battery with as much as 25% increased capacity, delivering a driving range of as much as 110 miles.
The majority of electric cars only feature one battery option, and by providing drivers with their choice of a lower capacity battery if they don’t intend to drive long distances, the new Leaf can find a home in even more garages.
Indeed! This is a biggie, imho. 110 miles is a lot more than 84, and could make a lot of owners or potential owners much happier. Plenty of people are still going to want longer range — 130 miles, 150 miles, 200 miles — but as I’ve argued before, the vast majority of our trips are under 80 miles. Go up to 110 miles and it’s almost 100% of our trips. In fact, we drive under 110 miles ~99% of all days. That means a car with 110 miles of range can basically be charged at home almost every single day of the year. I do think the “sweet spot” between cost and range for most people will ends up at ~150 miles (down the road, once people have gotten plenty of electric driving experience under their belts and the infrastructure is a bit more built out), but there’s a humongous portion of the population that should never bat an eye at 110 miles. Take a look at these charts from Rob van Haaren for some visual perspective:
And let’s not forget that most households have more than one car… for those few times a year when you might need a longer-range vehicle.
In other words, I think a 2016 Nissan LEAF with 110 miles of range should be a big seller. Hopefully, a ton of people will realize they don’t need a car with over 110 miles of range. And, hopefully, they won’t delay joining the electric game till the Tesla Model 3 comes out.
Of course, this is not the long-range electric car Carlos Ghosn has previously mentioned, whether that will be a 2nd-gen LEAF or an entirely new electric car.