Nissan introduced a 30 kWh Leaf battery this year alongside the existing 24-kWh pack, and more of this practice will be employed in the next 200-plus mile model.
“We have two battery options now, and will grow options, making it more accessible with a longer range and a price to match,” said Gareth Dunsmore, director of Nissan’s zero-emission business unit.
Dunsmore told Autocar in the UK that the 60-kWh battery in the IDS concept shown last November in Tokyo could see production assuming it meets price and durability targets.
The writer took away an implication this could apply to the Leaf, though Dunsmore did not specifically say that. Autocar also wrote a headline we resisted that says “340 miles” range could be possible, but that’s not the writer’s fault, but rather due to European regulators.
In Europe, where apparently miles are longer (or test cycles are more lenient) the Leaf rated in the U.S. at 107 miles is pinned with a “155 mile” seal of approval. The IDS battery is good for “310 to 340” miles in Europe.
Unclear also is how far along Nissan really is in developing its next Leaf, and it has had EV fans wondering as official news has been nil.
Dunsmore’s statements otherwise add pieces to the puzzle that include that Nissan has said range anxiety will be no more an issue, a new battery chemistry will be how it does that, and it will be here in force by 2020.
The carmaker sees the Leaf and its electrification efforts from the ground floor in 2010 also as a credential builder in the tech world.
“Nissan showed bravery 10 years ago to invest $4 billion (£2.77bn) in electric vehicles, and all that bravery has built up expertise that’s unparalleled,” he said to Autocar. “Other brands are now fellow pioneers. EVs are a real and viable alternative, and we’re now heading towards tangible benefits in cities and for the climate.
“We’ve been the leader for five years. Sales and volume is important for business, but driving Nissan as experts in the tech is important, too.”
He tipped his hat toward Tesla as he said this for making EVs as popular and interesting to the public as they have become.
“Having Tesla, the visibility for the technology is a massive benefit,” Dunsmore said to Autocar. “Go to Google, type in ‘EV’ and we’re there. We have expertise in the tech and in making it accessible. We will continue to do that, and the more people that catch up the more visibility there is for us.”
In common also with Tesla’s Elon Musk who has called hybrids “amphibians,” is Dunsmore says plug-in hybrids are a compromise.
“When you are driving a plug-in, you have an electric motor and an internal combustion engine,” he said. “You use the engine most of the time and it makes emissions worse. I see their relevance, but there is a compromise. I’m glad we took the step and built up a leadership in electric vehicles.”
Presently Nissan’s market leadership is flagging however, as it struggles in the U.S. to sell much more than 1,000 units per month.
This fall the 2017 Chevy Bolt is due, Tesla says look out for Model 3 as soon as next year – though it may be longer in reality – and Nissan also will have buyers looking to it.
Perhaps it can’t get here soon enough?