Second generation Leaf looks much more like a conventional C-segment hatchback; redesign cloaks numerous technology updates including a longer range

Second generation Leaf looks much more like a conventional C-segment hatchback; redesign cloaks numerous technology updates including a longer range

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Nissan Motor has launched its fully redesigned, all electric Leaf at events in Japan and the US.

The car has been fully restyled inside and out, has a much improved interior and a longer range (about 150 miles) than its predecessor.

At the launch in Las Vegas, chief performance officer Jose Munoz, also chairman of Nissan North America, said sales in all 50 states start in early 2018. Sales in Canada and Europe will begin at the same time and the car will eventually reach 60 markets.

"When we launched Leaf in 2010, it instantly became the most affordable, mass market EV in the world. We are not walking away from that proposition," said Munoz. "The value equation is even stronger than ever before – beginning with a starting MSRP under US$30,000. That's a lower price than today and it includes more power, range and technology, all wrapped in a beautiful new exterior and interior design."

New technology for the Leaf includes ProPILOT Assist (single lane driver assistance), which the automaker has been introducing worldwide, and previously announced e-Pedal for one pedal driving. This first step in the relaunch of the automaker's EV platform will be followed in model year 2019 with a high power version with increased motor power and battery capacity.

"This new Leaf is not just the latest symbol of Nissan's global leadership in the EV segment, it is the culmination of everything we've learned from more than 2bn miles of real life, on road driving and from the feedback of hundreds of thousands of owners around the world," added Munoz.

To date, Nissan has sold over 112,000 units in the US and around 283,000 worldwide. The current Leaf is built in Japan, the US and England.

Launch promotion will include the first public appearances next week at National Drive Electric Week events in eight US cities. The EV is the official sponsor of the week for the third consecutive year.

Technology

Among the technology updates, Nissan highlights ProPILOT Assist, e-Pedal and Safety Shield.

ProPILOT Assist is a single-lane driving assistance system which can automatically control the distance to the vehicle in front, using a speed preset by the driver (between about 18 mph and 62 mph).

It can also help the driver steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, the system will automatically apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop if necessary. After coming to a full stop, the vehicle can remain in place even if the driver's foot is off the brake. If traffic restarts, the car will resume driving when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator.

E-Pedal, which will be standard on all grade levels in the US, allows the driver to accelerate, decelerate and stop the car by using the accelerator pedal alone. It's an enhancement of the current model's regenerative braking system which, in the B transmission selector position, offers more rapid deceleration ideal for stop-start city traffic (and activates the brake lights as needed) but still requires normal use of the brakes and park brake.

In the new car, releasing the accelerator will bring the car to a smooth and complete stop without the need to press the brake pedal. With a deceleration rate of up to 0.2g, e-Pedal eliminates the need for a driver to constantly move their foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal to slow down or stop which Nissan claims helps reduce fatigue and increase enjoyment.

Studies in Japan, Europe and the US have shown e-Pedal reduces the number of times the driver must apply the brakes while commuting in heavily congested traffic. While the conventional brake pedal must still be used in aggressive braking situations, e-Pedal lets drivers use a single pedal for more than 90% of driving.

Other safety kit will include Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection.

'Intelligent power'
The e-powertrain has been improved for the redesign with improved energy efficiency and increased torque and power output - 147hp, 38% more than the previous generation car. Torque has increased 26% to 236 lb ft.

A new lithium ion battery pack delivers an estimated range of 150 miles.

The new battery design adds storage capacity without increasing size. The battery pack occupies the same dimensions as that of the previous generation model. The individual cell structure of the laminated battery cells has been improved, giving a 67% increase in energy density versus the original 2010 model.

Enhanced electrode materials with revised chemistry deliver higher power density while contributing to greater battery durability upon charge and discharge.

For those who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a new higher power, longer range version at a higher price for the 2019 model year.

Intelligent integration

Depending on market and local infrastructure, the new Leaf can link drivers, vehicles and communities through the NissanConnect feature and systems that share power between electric vehicles and homes, buildings and power grids.

Using vehicle to home systems, the battery makes it possible to store surplus solar power during the daytime and then use it to help power the home in the evening. The customer can also recharge the battery in the middle of the night, when prices are lowest in some markets, and then use the electricity during the day to reduce energy costs.

In some countries with V2G (vehicle-to-grid) systems, EV owners can get incentives from energy companies to improve power grid stability by absorbing demand fluctuation. The system is not offered in the US (or the UK) currently.

A newly designed interface on the smartphone app allows users to monitor the vehicle's state of charge, schedule charging to benefit from optimal energy tariffs, find the nearest charging station, and pre-heat or cool the car before getting in.

Chassis and body

To match the improved output of the electric motor and inverter, Nissan enhanced the car's chassis for better stability. Heavy components, including the battery, are placed in the centre of the body, helping achieve smaller yaw moments of inertia compared with front engine vehicles and thereby improving directional stability, enabling smoother cornering.

The new electric power steering system has a more linear feel that enhances confidence, especially on highways, with enhanced feedback from the road surface. This is thanks to a software upgrade, new control logic working in conjunction with the steering angle sensor, and a 10% increase in steering torsion bar stiffness. Additionally, the urethane bump stop for the rear suspension has been replaced by a rubber stop to reduce shocks and bumpiness when driving on uneven roads.

The redesigned EV also comes with Intelligent Ride Control for more precise electric motor torque control generation when cornering, reducing vibration while simultaneously improving ride quality and steering control.

Redesign

A full body redesign brings Nissan's latest 'V-Motion' grille, just introduced in Europe on updated Qashqai and X-Trail SUVs, a boomerang light signature and floating roof. The Leaf now looks much more like a conventional C-segment hatchback.

New projector beam headlights with dual, direct-lens low and high beams are a Nissan first. Various aerodynamic measures, including a rear bumper with a clear cut curve and aero design wheels, result in a 0.28 coefficient of drag.

The angle of the charging port at the front has been reconfigured for greater convenience, letting the customer connect the charging cable without bending down. Ergonomic testing by Nissan shows that this new 45-degree angle allows drivers of all heights to easily and comfortably connect the charger.

Interior

Nissan said the brand's 'Gliding Wing' design language was used as a framework. There's a new 'floating' central touch screen (numerous makers are adopting this style at the moment) and a redesigned driver information display that is half analogue (speedo) and half digital (everything else). This shows the power gauge by default but the driver can change information displayed/

Blue stitching is used in the seats, door trim, armrest and steering wheel and the start/stop button and shift knob finisher are illuminated in blue.

When the car is activated, a start-up movie is displayed, intended, the automaker said, to give the driver "a sense of excitement about driving an electric car".

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added to the infotainment system in cars equipped with navigation. Audio and navigation functions can be controlled by a steering wheel switch, allowing hands-free use..

Overall interior quality has been enhanced. A matte chrome finish has been applied to the rim of the steering wheel, wrapped in genuine leather, and the centre display. Matte and glossy shades of black are used in the air conditioner control panel and the vent grille.

Using NissanConnect, the driver can search for continuously updated information such as the location and operating hours of free charging stations and charging station availability. Owners can also access their smartphone to check the car's battery status.

Along with producing less drag, aerodynamic upgrades and exterior refinements have led to a reduction in wind noise. Other noise-reduction measures include optimisation of the redesigned inverter's structural rigidity, and a noise-isolating cover on top of the PDM. The noise from the electric motor itself has also been reduced.

The front console has been completely redesigned. The dual cup holders, in a tandem configuration, are now between the driver's seat and front passenger seat. This allows for a new stowage area at the base of the centre console – ideal for a smartphone or wallet – as well as a power switch, a 12-volt power outlet and a USB port. This new console design gives easier access to controls and switchgear in the lower portion.

Energy-efficient air-conditioning and heating systems provide elevated comfort inside the cabin for all occupants. A smartphone app provides convenience features such as remote pre-conditioning of the vehicle's interior temperature and wireless remote charging.

Interior dimensions essentially are unchanged and Nissan claims five people will fit. Increased luggage space now provides 23.6 cubic feet claimed to now accommodate two large suitcases or three medium size, airline carry on suitcases. It also allows for easier charging cable storage.

Japan sales start on 2 October.