GM has done with, unveiling the Chevy Bolt electric car concept, and Tesla’s well known aim is to produce an affordable electric car with over 200 miles of range. Outside of those two companies, we’ve heard tantalizing talk from Nissan and Volkswagen regarding long-range electric cars… but without much detail. The exciting news is that we’re not far off from another big unveiling in this field, and we have some strong words from Nissan CEO & Chairman Carlos Ghosn to give plenty of confidence.
At Nissan’s annual meeting the other day, Ghosn made several statements about a long-range electric car. Additionally, he had two cars on stage with him: the “Advanced R&D” Nissan LEAF pictured and discussed below, and a white Nissan LEAF fitted with “the latest versions of [autonomous driving] hardware and software that Nissan is developing.” And he played the video that follows the picture of the Advanced R&D LEAF.
As you can see, in the video, the LEAF shows a range of 544 kilometers (338 miles) at one point. Naturally, based in Japan, Nissan can show the range based on Japan’s overly generous system, but even adjusted to the US system, that probably means 220–260 miles of range, according to Green Car Reports. But anyhow, that crushes the current LEAF’s 135 kilometers (84 miles) of range. The video highlights that a longer range is achieved through “increasing battery capacity, reducing weight, [and] improving aerodynamics.”
Quotes From Carlos Ghosn & Hideyuki Sakamoto Regarding A Long-Range Electric Car From Nissan
Increased range is, of course, the biggie, but here are some more quotes from Ghosn that are worth brooding over:
- “The vehicle that stands to my right is another advanced technology breakthrough. It explores how far we can extend electric vehicle range by making changes to the battery…. Nissan is exploring new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries”
- “We foresee the day when you leave your home with a full charge, and are able to go about your day with no concerns…then return home with ample charge.”
- “Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase EV range.”
- A coming electric vehicle (whether it is an updated Nissan LEAF or new vehicle) will offer “comparative mobility to today’s conventional vehicles” and “peace of mind” with regards to range.
Another thing to highlight is that Nissan seems to be rushing this project forward, as Ghosn said, “But we will not wait for … completion [of advanced battery research] to move forward.”
Nissan’s head of technology, Hideyuki Sakamoto, also later talked about the work, noting that the Advanced R&D LEAF on display had “a driving range equivalent to that of an ICE” and adding: “The charging time also will be much shorter.”
As a link at the top shows, this is not the first time Carlos Ghosn has highlighted work on a long-range electric vehicle. Toward the end of last year, he noted on television that Nissan would introduce an electric vehicle with over 400 kilometers of range within a few years.
The statements this week also follow Nissan Chief Planning Officer Philippe Klein’s comments earlier this year that Nissan would be introducing a long-range EV “relatively quickly,” so there have been several hints up till now.
What About Price?
One of the big remaining questions is whether or not a long-range LEAF or other electric car model from Nissan would be affordable, or if it would be in the upper price range of mass-produced cars, like the Tesla Model S is. Of course, Tesla and GM aim to put their Model 3 and Bolt offerings in the price range of $35,000 to $37,500 (before the US federal tax credit for EVs), making them affordable for hundreds of thousands of people (though, GM only intends to produce about 30,000 Bolts a year… presumably because of battery supply constraints, but perhaps also out of a conservative estimate of demand). But that doesn’t mean Nissan is prepared to match them.
Ghosn in the annual meeting this week noted that, “there are only two reliable ways to increase range of an EV…. First is to have a massive network of EV chargers. The other option is to put a larger battery pack into the vehicle.” However, Ghosn also stated the obvious: “adding more battery means adding more cost.” This was apparently a lead-in to the vague announcements of a battery breakthrough at Nissan, but it still makes me wonder, “Will Nissan’s long-range electric car be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range? The $40,000 to $50,000 range? The $50,000 to $60,000 range?” I am presuming it will also be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range, but Ghosn’s lack of comments on price do make me worry that it won’t be as competitive as the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt aim to be. Or maybe Ghosn and crew are just being cautious about their statements for now?
Effect On Nissan LEAF Sales?
Presumably, the earlier vague hints of a long-range electric Nissan arriving “relatively quickly” and being just around the corner have hurt current Nissan LEAF sales. Many people who have caught word of this and aren’t in urgent need of a new car would probably opt to wait a bit longer for a long-range LEAF (or other model) than drop down $29,010 on a Nissan LEAF with a range of 84 miles… even if we don’t yet know how a long-range EV from Nissan will compare price-wise.
As such, I think it would be wise of Nissan to not just provide exciting statements like those above, but also give some more details on how the long-range EV will compare to the current LEAF on price. Well… unless doing so would really hurt LEAF sales. Of course, Nissan does need to get a solid idea of cost before throwing numbers around — something I may be taking too lightly.
The Future Of Cars?
All in all, I was very excited to see that Nissan’s leadership didn’t just make these positive comments and video about long-range electric vehicles, but also that it chose to feature on stage at its annual shareholder meeting two all-electric Nissan LEAFs — and no other cars. To me, that is an indication that Nissan sees electric cars as the future of transport.
And let’s be honest: Once electric cars in the $30,000–40,000 price range have a driving range on a full charge comparable to a gasmobile with a full tank of gas (or at least good enough to drive practically all day without recharging), what do gasmobiles have left to stop the revolution? Electric cars can recharge at night while you sleep. Electric cars cost much less to operate and maintain, and require a ton less of your time for “refilling” and going to the auto shop. Electric cars have instant torque and, thus, far superior performance. Electric cars offer a much smoother and quieter drive. Electric cars offer energy independence, and end to oil wars, clean air, clean water, and a livable climate. What do gasmobiles offer?
The future is electric — I can’t see it any other way.