Nissan Boosts Range for 2016 LEAF Models to 107 Miles
The 2016 Nissan LEAF will be available with a larger battery pack for added range compared to previous model years. The battery pack for the SV and SL models will come standard with a 30 kilowatt-hour capacity. The entry-level S trim will retain the smaller 24-kWh battery used in all LEAF models since its introduction.
The larger battery, which is 27-percent bigger than before, translates into an estimated range of 107 miles. The 24-kWh S will still carry an official range of 84 miles.
Pricing for the S will also remain unchanged at $21,510—after the $7,500 federal tax credit. The SV will jump from $24,600 to $26,700, while the SL will increase from $27,620 to $29,290. At a premium of $1,670 or $2,100 respectively, the LEAF models with the larger battery pack are affordable options—making the car a practical choice for some consumer that face daily commutes beyond 80 or so miles.
While nearly all charging takes place at home—when drivers are sleeping—and very few American drivers face 100-mile daily commutes, the impact of faster driving and extremely hot or cold weather on driving range, cut the LEAF’s effective range too close for comfort for some drivers. Nissan made tweaks to the car’s battery management over the years to improve its ability to handle an array of real-world conditions. Yet, with the larger battery pack, more drivers can be confident that range will reach or exceed 100 miles.
The 2016 LEAF will also see upgrades to its infotainment system, with the NissanConnect suite becoming standard on all models. Styling and performance will remain unchanged, but Nissan said there will be new premium colors available.
Positioning For a Fight
Introduced in 2010, the Nissan LEAF is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle of all time. Nonetheless, the LEAF will face a growing list of competitors in the coming years—especially as Chevrolet plans to offer the Bolt, a 200-mile EV, in late 2016 or early 2017. The Bolt will cost about $30,000 after incentives.
In that same timeframe, if not sooner, consumers will also be able to opt for the next Tesla offering: the Model 3. It will also boast a 200-mile range, but likely for about $5,000 more than the Bolt. The Model 3 is scheduled to be unveiled in March 2016, with sales likely to follow in 2017.
These two models, plus a bevy of relatively long-range plug-in hybrids, pose a threat to the LEAF’s leadership role.
While 80 or so miles may have been enough for early adopters, who were eager to fit an electric vehicle into their lives, the next wave of consumers (sometimes referred to as “fast followers”) will expect a driving range closer to what’s offered in gas-powered cars. Some observers believe that a range of 150 or 200 miles is the baseline required for mainstream adoption.
By offering the LEAF with the bigger battery back, at a reasonable additional cost, Nissan will argue that the incremental cost provides greater value (and plenty of daily practicality) compared to more expensive upcoming models from competitors. And until those models from General Motors, Tesla and others appear on the scene, the added range might be just enough to convince buyers who have been on the fence about EVs, to take the plunge with a 2016 LEAF.
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