Nissan Testing 250-Plus-Mile Range Leaf Mule With New Battery Chemistry

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told shareholders yesterday “in the near future” it will offer an electric car with range “comparative to today’s conventional vehicles.”

To prove previous assertions that the next-generation Leaf could get more than “400 km” (250 miles) on Japan’s optimistic test cycle, a video was shown to shareholders of a Leaf driver who goes on an easygoing drive with 417 km on the odometer, and returns with more than 200 km remaining.

Whether Nissan will produce a 250–plus mile Leaf perhaps by 2018-2019 has yet to be announced, but the clear implication based on this and previous reports is it will.

Photo by Bertel Schmitt; Daily Kanban.

Photo by Bertel Schmitt; Daily Kanban.

If so, it will be made possible as the automaker is testing “new materials and chemistry solutions in order to make thinner, lighter weight and less costly batteries.”

The goal is electric cars that do not rank behind internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and recharge time too will be quicker, said Nissan’s technology-chief Hideyuki Sakamoto afterwards, to the Daily Kanban.

“[A] driving range equivalent to that of an ICE,” will be offered, said Sakamoto. “The charging time also will be much shorter.”

Ghosn’s talk, standing before a blue Leaf mule on the speaker’s platform added to previous reports it has a superior battery chemistry to what Tesla or anyone else is now using.

SEE ALSO: CEO Ghosn: Nissan Has Affordable 250-Mile Range EV Battery

Basically, “there are only two reliable ways to increase range of an EV,” Ghosn said making a not-too-subtle reference to Tesla.

“First is to have a massive network of EV chargers. The other option is to put a larger battery pack into the vehicle,” said Ghosn, however “adding more battery means adding more cost.”

The message: Nissan has a new battery to solve this issue, and not long from now could have on the market an EV that will compete in price and range with an internal combustion vehicle.

2015 Nissan LEAF cutaway. The second-generation Leaf is supposed to be more mainstream in appearance. The Japanese test-mule driver shown driving  in the video did so during

2015 Nissan Leaf cutaway. The second-generation Leaf is supposed to be more mainstream in appearance. The Japanese test-mule driver shown driving in the video did so during “a day of scenic drives.” Harder usage, as always, will reduce ultimate range potential. Beyond this, mileage ratings on Japan’s test cycle are typically much more optimistic than by the U.S. EPA.

The 2018/2019 time frame is the read from the meeting by the Daily Kanban’s editor Bertel Schmitt who has lived in Japan, speaks the language, knows the culture, but ultimately Nissan has not said.

Ghosn meanwhile added to hints of a 30-kwh battery possibly for the Leaf pending for 2016. The Leaf, launched as a 2011 model is the global best seller, but no longer the highest range in class, and sales have slowed in recent months.

A slightly larger battery boosting range to over 100 miles for the existing car rated now for 84 miles may effectively be a stopgap measure before a full redesign possibly by 2017.

“Later this year, you will hear more about our initial steps to increase EV range,” Ghosn said, while leaving it in the air that an all-new battery chemistry is not a question of if, but only when.

Daily Kanban