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2018 Nissan Leaf2018 Nissan Leaf.Nissan

LAS VEGAS — Nissan, the Japanese automaker best-known for its
fuel-efficient, reasonably priced sedans and crossover SUVs, and
the race-bred 370Z and GT-R, also has the best-selling electric
car on the planet: the Leaf.

The company unveiled the completely redesigned 2018 Leaf on
Tuesday night at an event on the Las Vegas Strip.

Here are some quick specs on the car:

  • 150-mile range on a full charge
  • 40 kWh lithium-ion battery
  • 147 horsepower
  • 236 pound-feet of torque
  • Comes with ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous technology
  • Features Nissan’s “e-Pedal” feature, which lets drivers
    start, accelerate, decelerate, and stop using just their right
    foot.
  • Starts at $29,990

The new Leaf goes on sale in the US, Canada, and Europe in early
2018. Japan will get them sooner, starting October 2.A
high-performance Leaf with an upgraded, longer-range battery will
show up for the 2019 model year, according to Nissan. The car
will be sold in 60 markets worldwide.

Nissan’s chief performance officer, Jose Muñoz, said the company
sought to upgrade the Leaf for 2018 in four key ways, “beginning
with a starting MSRP under $30,000. That’s a lower price than the
Leaf in market today and it includes more power, range and
technology, all wrapped in a beautiful new exterior and interior
design,” Muñoz said at the reveal event Tuesday night.

While the base car’s battery range falls short of its closest
rivals in the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3, Nissan insists that
150 miles is a sweet-spot range that should meet most driver’s
needs.

2018 Nissan Leaf2018 Nissan LeafNissan

Still, that number could be a let-down for some potential
customers. Coming to market in 2018 with a 40 kWh battery and a
sub-200-mile range is risky, considering the Chevy Bolt’s 60 kWh
battery offers up to 239 miles of range and the Tesla Model 3
will get you at least 220 miles in base form, and 310 miles at
the top-end.

The Leaf seems to also trail Tesla on in-car technology. The 2018
Leaf does offer
Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist
, which is
essentially an advanced cruise-control system, and it comes with
an “e-Pedal,” which Nissan says lets drivers start, accelerate,
decelerate, and stop using just their right foot, but those
technologies, at first glance, are nothing close to Tesla
Autopilot.

The Leaf comes with much of the intelligent safety equipment
typically found on modern vehicles, like blind-spot monitoring,
lane-departure warning, auto-emergency braking, rear
cross-traffic monitors and a 360-degree camera.

A saving-grace for Nissan in an increasingly competitive EV
market may be the new Leaf’s starting price, which comes in at
about $5,000 less than a base Model 3, and about $7,500 less than
a Bolt, before federal tax credits.

First introduced in 2010, the Nissan Leaf became the world’s
best-selling electric vehicle at a time when it had little
competition in the EV market, and before Tesla came and rewrote
the entire car industry’s playbook with the Model S in 2012.

Nissan has sold nearly 300,000 Leafs worldwide since its
introduction — an impressive feat considering EV sales accounted
for only 0.5% of the global auto market in 2016. As the
mass-market EV segment continues to evolve, it remains to be seen
whether Nissan can keep up that momentum.

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