New Leaf Doubles As Blender With Beefed-Up Battery

Although Nissan claims the 30-kWh battery pack gives the ’16 Leaf 107 miles of range, compared with the 24-kWh version’s 84, the automaker puts the extra juice to work powering mixers that whip up smoothies served at a recent media event.

Jim Mateja, Correspondent

June 1, 2016

3 Min Read
Leaf sales down 34 YTD but overall EV segment growth encourages Nissan
Leaf sales down 34% YTD, but overall EV segment growth encourages Nissan.

ELKHART LAKE, WI – Nissan rolls out a bowl of strawberries, raspberries and spinach and parks them alongside a Leaf.

The Leaf is the automaker’s all-electric vehicle with a beefed-up 30-kWh battery pack for ʾ16. The 24-kWh battery pack achieved 84 miles (135 km) of driving range while the new pack raises the bar to 107 miles (172 km).

Rather than provide a range demonstration at the Midwest Automobile Media Assn.’s spring rally here, Nissan shows off the more-powerful battery pack’s capability by using electricity from the Leaf to power the mixers that blend the fruit and vegetables into smoothies.

Nissan’s point is that the Leaf not only can transport a driver and up to three passengers, but also can generate emergency energy to light your house in the event of a power outage – or make smoothies when the kids are thirsty.

Andrew Speaker, director-EV sales for Nissan, says the version of the Leaf sold in Japan can supply household power in an emergency at home. “We’re exploring doing it in the U.S., but there’s no timetable as yet.”

Speaker acknowledges low gasoline prices have curtailed EV demand in the U.S. of late. Nissan sold 3,718 Leafs in the year’s first four months, down 34% from 5,638 in like-2015, WardsAuto data shows.

“We aren’t seeing rapid growth in EV sales, but we are seeing more EV players in the market and the more interest there is in EVs, the more it will help,” Speaker says. “We are committed to EVs for the long term.”

Speaker says Nissan has sold 93,000 Leaf EVs in the U.S. and more than 220,000 worldwide since it was introduced in 2010. Initial buyers were environmentalists interested in clean air and conserving petroleum, he says, adding, “Buyers are still interested in the environment, but there is broader appeal now among those who simply don’t want to have to stop and buy gas.”

Speaker says the Leaf is offered in S, SV, and SL models. The S comes with the 24-kWh battery pack, while the SV and SL use the 30-kWh battery, which costs an additional $1,670.

“About 60% of our cars are being sold with the 30-kWh battery,” he says.

Nissan also has developed an EV concept called the IDS and is using it to showcase its progress in sharing autonomous-vehicle technology with Renault.

Later this year Nissan will roll out ProPilot 1.0, an autonomous car able to drive on a single lane on the highway. It can be driven hands-free and will stop if the vehicle ahead of it stops, but a driver still is needed to recognize stop signs and make right or left turns. It will first be offered in Japan, then appear in Europe in 2017 and sometime after that in the U.S.

Nissan will follow up in 2018 with ProPilot 2.0, which will be able to operate on multiple lanes on the highway and switch lanes on its own, but like ProPilot 1.0 it won’t be able to recognize stop signs or when to make a turn.

Speaker says in 2020 ProPilot 3.0 will be ready. It will be able to operate on city streets and recognize stop signs and when to make turns.

About the Author(s)

Jim Mateja

Correspondent, WardsAuto

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