With cars like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 stealing Nissan’s thunder, a second-generation Leaf is needed, and its CEO Carlos Ghosn has suggested something big is coming at next month’s CES in Las Vegas.
The head of the Renault-Nissan – and now Mitsubishi – Alliance wasn’t giving away all his secrets however, as he teased reporters with hints from Nissan’s 22nd floor headquarters in Yokahama this week.
“I am not giving you advance notice of what we’ll be showing at CES in Las Vegas. I want people to go to the show,” said Ghosn, but the implication is something big is pending.
Whether, as clues suggest, it be an initial Leaf reveal with longest-range version to come later, or something else, Ghosn said the CES show will be a must-see.
At the very least, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has something it thinks will impress.
And this, Nissan knows, is expected. It has already revealed a next-generation battery in its Renault ZOE good for 250 miles (400 km) by European estimation – or 186 miles of “real world” range. It’s also shown a better battery in versions of the Kangoo Z.E. light van, but it’s kept its audience hanging on the revision disclosure of its world’s-best-selling Leaf.
Nissan’s implications are the company will show enough near-future tech at CES to bring some limelight back on itself given just this week Chevrolet delivered its first 238-mile Bolts and Leaf sales are in the dumps.
“It will be a substantial presentation. We will show the public how much our cars are going to change with the technology we are going to be implementing,” said Ghosn, adding “We are not going to CES just because everybody is going there. This is about substance.”
Attending the show was Bertel Schmitt, editor of the Daily Kanban, and contributor for Forbes. Schmitt, who is on familiar terms with certain Nissan higher-ups and feels positive the Leaf will be shown well before next October’s Tokyo Motor Show.
Indications have been that this will be the place Nissan unveils its heir to its ground-floor EV launched in December 2010 – now nursing along after two range upgrades, and expected to ditch the frumpy look for something more trendy.
Believed possible is the Leaf may even get a healthy infusion of style from the IDS concept shown last year to overcome the former look that an Amazon tree frog could love, and making the green car statement that focus groups once asked for.
But when will they show it?
Schmitt reports he let loose his speculation to “insiders” in Yokohama he thinks the next long-range Leaf will be shown at Tokyo, and for this he was corrected.
“I think you’ll be hearing about the car much earlier than that,” he was told.
Other major auto shows could include the one in Shanghai – not likely, and Frankfurt – home to the ZOE, and also less likely, and maybe Detroit.
But then you also have the CES – formerly Consumer Electronic Show – which is becoming a venue to display consumer electronics we all can drive. Last year the Chevy Bolt was shown there, and CES is increasingly becoming automotive-centric, as those two technological worlds merge.
As close as Schmitt could get to a confirmation was a non-answer you can read any way you wish.
“So, do I have to assume you’ll announce the new Leaf at CES?” he asked Nissan’s global PR chief Jonathan Adashek who, Schmitt wrote, “put on his best poker face, and sybillinely answered.”
“We shall see,” said Adashek which translated means: yes or no or maybe.
Aside from when they’ll show it, Ghosn and Nissan personnel have also teased several times the new Leaf would get range competitive with the Bolt, Model 3, and presumably others coming along.
“Our electric cars have the world’s highest share of market, but maybe not the highest share of voice,” Ghosn said adding the ZOE “is not two, or three years down the road, it is now.”
So is the revised Leaf almost “now” too? Schmitt read this as meaning CES is the most likely reveal point, but whether the new Leaf is shown sooner or later, it appears the longest-range versions will be shown later – as an option next year.
The first Leaf revelation, it’s believed, will show its style and direction, and it’s been rumored more than one battery option would be offered.
A source at Nissan implied as much saying that the gen-two Leaf reveal could lead to “to a little disappointment” for what to expect in year one.
Asking Adashek whether this was the case, the implication was the answer could very well be yes, the longest-range Leaf planned could come later.