Nissan is biding its time before launching a renewed assault on Australia’s fledgling electric car market, with the next-generation 2018 Leaf green-lit for a local launch.
The second iteration of Nissan’s pioneering EV is expected to premiere in 2017, with the drip-feed of information likely to start trickling out of Japan around April. Given lead-times, an Australian launch in 2018 seems likely.
If concepts are to be believed, and we always take them with a substantial grain of salt, the next Leaf should look a little bit like the slick autonomous IDS concept from 2015, and will naturally sport a much longer range than before.
Reports suggest the next model will come with various battery pack options a la Tesla, with the top version expected to offer a range of up to 550km.
Meanwhile, entry versions will be priced at similar levels to conventional small cars thanks to economies of scale (leveraged by sharing components with the next Renault Zoe and new Alliance Partner Mitsubishi), and government incentives.
We spoke last week with Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery, who said the company was raring to reboot its EV presence now that a host of rivals are either here (one example being the BMW i3), or coming (Volkswagen I.D and Tesla Model 3). “We’re absolutely committed to continuing with the Leaf in Australia,” he said, adding that there’s a level of “romantic” appeal here because some of the car’s components are made at Nissan’s Melbourne casting plant.
“… Nissan Japan remains keen to take advantage of our electric positioning in Australia. The Leaf has been out there for a while and though it hasn’t done a lot of volume, it presents as a key player here.”
Nissan has sold 635 Leafs in Australia since 2011, peaking at 188 in 2013. Tiny numbers, sure, but still more than any mainstream rivals.