Japanese giant Nissan Wednesday unveiled a new electric car with an extended range and semi-autonomous driving functions, as it seeks to battle off competitors in a sector it once pioneered.
The second-generation Nissan Leaf has a potential range of 378-kilometres between charges, compared with 250-kilometres for its previous version. This is down to a new 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack that, although the same size as the less potent 30kWh battery in the old car, is far more energy dense.
There will also be a more powerful high-capacity version of the second-generation Leaf capable of covering 500km.
Performance in the standard model has been beefed up with the front-mounted electric motor now delivering 110kW – an improvement of 30kW. As such the 0-100km/h sprint will now take in the region of 8.0-seconds.
The new Leaf also boasts semi-autonomous driving capabilities such as keeping the vehicle automatically in one lane on the motorway or parking without human intervention.
Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, said in a statement that the new vehicle “strengthens” the firm’s “leadership” in the electric car sector.
Nissan was an innovator in the sector seven years ago when it unveiled its first Leaf – which has sold 280 000 units – but has since had to contend with fierce competition from General Motors and Tesla among others.
Faced with tighter global environmental regulations, most carmakers are investing heavily in the electric car sector, sparking a ferocious race to create the next green vehicle.
The new car will be available next month in Japan, followed by the United States, Canada and Japan in January 2018. – AFP Relaxnews/Thomas Falkiner