Nissan Leaf range evolution

Nissan Leaf range evolution in Japanese JC08 Cycle

 

Nissan wants to improve the range without increasing the price.

 

Kazuo Yajima is the Alliance Global Director of EV and HEV Engineering Division of Nissan and recently gave Nikkei Automotive an interesting interview. Unfortunately, only the first part of the article is available without subscription.

 

From this interview I conclude that:

  1. Nissan will prioritize BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles) as their eco-friendly cars.
  2. Nissan will increase the range of electric cars without increasing the price.
  3. The upcoming Nissan Leaf will have 350-400 km range in the unrealistic Japanese JC08 Cycle.

 

For Nissan, it doesn’t make much sense to bet in plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) now that electric cars are starting to have higher ranges. It seems that Nissan is going for full electric cars and hybrids – such as the Note e-Power -, while not seeing much future in something in between (PHEVs). I tend to agree with this approach since PHEVs are very complex and expensive machines, it’s best to have either an efficient ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car such as a hybrid, or go for a fully electric car (BEV).

 

As for the approach of gradual range increase, while maintaining or even dropping the price, I also find it reasonable. While we all were excited to see the arrival of the Chevrolet Bolt EV, let’s face it, it’s not a mass market electric car, at least not until it gets a considerable price cut. As much as we try to convince ourselves, the 40.000 € price-tag for the Opel Ampera-e doesn’t make it an affordable car, not even 30.000 €… at these price-tags electric cars will never compete with ICEs, and the ICE car to beat in Europe it’s the Volkswagen Golf which has a starting price below 18.000 €.

As a side note, the press release World champion (Volkswagen), does say that its electric car to be released in 2020 based on the ID concept will have a similar price to the Volkswagen Golf. When it happens, we’ll have a truly mass market electric car.

 

Finally, 350-400 km range in the Japanese JC08 Cycle might seem very little – now that every automaker is announcing electric cars with higher range -, but the upcoming Nissan Leaf can shine in other fields such as affordability, build quality or safety features.

In September we’ll see if the upcoming 2018 Nissan Leaf is a step in the right direction of delivering zero-emissions and zero-fatality mobility, which should be the objective of every automaker and was the moto of Carlos Ghosn. A simple and cheap thing like a heads-up display helps to keep the eyes on the road when driving and greatly reduce fatalities, its presence in a modern car tell us a lot if the automaker is determined or not to reduce road deaths.

 

Possible 2018 Nissan Leaf interior with heads-up display

 

To sum up, it seems that Nissan will continually increase electric cars range while trying to keep them affordable, which is a honorable thing to do. Electric cars with great range that few people can afford won’t do much to reduce emissions, this was what the former Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn said and I completely agree. This being said, I’m not yet convinced that the 60 kWh battery will only be available in 2020, but I do understand this assumption is required to keep the current Leaf’s sales going…

 

What do you think about Nissan strategy? What is the best trade-off between range and price?

 

Thanks Adrian for the heads up!

 

 

More info:

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/atcl/mag/15/397260/040300156/

Pedro Lima

More than natural resources, are wasted human resources that bothers me the most. That’s why I’m a strong advocate of a society based on cooperation, not competition, that helps every individual to reach his full potential so that he can contribute back to society. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”.

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7 Responses

  1. sapcmc says:

    Carlos Ghosn is a true strategist and in long term his plans will provide considerable returns. As for VW they didn’t specify which Golf version they were referring to leaving lots of headroom for the price range …

  2. Robert Malcolm Kay says:

    I’m delighted with my 30 kWh Leaf, which has served me well for 15,500 miles this last year. Obviously I’d love to have twice the range, but an affordable and universal rapid charging network is probably more important to me in the meantime.

  3. RNMentropy says:

    In Portugal, a new Golf starts at almost 25’000€. I would say that with less then 30000, you can’t buy a decent Golf. And with 18000, you can’t buy a decent Polo…

    Come on Pedro, watch those comparisons, seriously mate!

    • Pedro Lima says:

      In Germany the starting price of the Volkswagen Golf is 17.850 €, this is what matters for European car sales and emissions in general. Portugal is a drop in the ocean regarding car sales in Europe.

      A low starting price is very important, this way Nissan for example, can advertise the Leaf with a starting price of roughly 22.000 € – even if almost nobody buys a Visia.

      Only having one or two very expensive trims is not the way to get people start considering an electric car. This is what Volkswagen does wrong and Nissan does right regarding electric cars.

      • Ricardo says:

        O que mostra bem a dificuldade em vender EVs. Se em Portugal os achamos caros, que dirá um alemão?

  4. Leafer says:

    Reveal is on 6th September, its writen in the US Leaf board.

  5. Terawatt says:

    I’ll be bitterly disappointed if the new LEAF in September only gets 40 kWh or so, almost regardless of what other snacks they may throw into the bargain…

    Granted, if they give us a much cooler design, much more modern interior, much better infotainment system, much better software in general (the charging programming could so easily be so much better, it annoys me almost on a daily basis) AND 40 kWh AND a significantly LOWER price, then I will not be disppointed.

    But that obviously won’t happen.

    Regarding the charging programming: IDK if any of the others are any better, but I really find it hard to describe how poor I think Nissans scheduling software is. The LEAF lets the user define two timers, Timer 1 and Timer 2, and then choose which of the two timers should be used on each day of the week. Each timer is defined by a target SOC, either 80% or 100%, and a time window with start time and end time. You can set start time and leave end time undefined; charging will then start at the scheduled time and continue until the target is met. Or you can set the end time and leave start time undefined, in which case the car will start in time to reach the target by the scheduled end time. Or you can set both; charging will begin at the scheduled start time and continue until either the target or end time is met, whichever happens first. It is also possible to get the car to charge whenever it is plugged in, to either 80% or 100%, by setting the start time and end time to the same value (making the charging window 24 hours).

    The problem with this system is that it only really works well if you drive very little all the time. Then you can just program one timer to charge to 80% every morning and use that seven days a week.

    For anyone who frequently uses more than half the range in a day, this system doesn’t work well at all. If you set the car to charge to 100% whenever it is plugged in you needlessly stress the battery. Most take some very short trips every week, like going to the supermarket to get the eggs you forgot to buy. With this schedule you will be recharging from 95% to 100% all those times, and that gives you little extra real mobility but does stress the battery.

    I now have my car set to charge to 100% in the morning Monday to Friday, and to 80% whenever I plug it in during the weekend. My commute isn’t long (13 km each way) but I can’t charge while at work and when I get home I haven’t got much more than half left (according to the car’s indicator – the fast charger always says I have much higher SoC than the car indicates to me). That means I will probably be fine, but if suddenly I need to drive a bit extra it’s going to be at least range anxiety, and I might need to fast charge as well.

    So now I basically have to do a routine where I put the car on Timer 1 Mon-Fri and Timer 2 Sat-Sun, but each day when I park at work I have to go Menu => Charging Timer => Set Timer 1 => Assign Days => change the timer for that day to Timer 2, and, on Tuesday through Friday, the previous day back to Timer 1, then press “save” and then confirm that I really want to save..! It’s tedious stuff, and the slow menus don’t exactly help.

    There is an “override scheduled charging” or “charge now” hardware button that makes it fairly easy to tell the car to start charging immediately towards 100%, which is a good idea, but doesn’t really solve my problem. I don’t want to charge to 100% after I get home from work and leave the car at 100% SoC perhaps 50% of the time (if I don’t drive more that day it’ll be at max from early evening until I leave for work next morning)…

    I do realize that scheduling is already a somewhat complex subject for consumers and the screen size and resoultion doesn’t lend itself to super complex solutions. But the complexity would not be much different if you could freely set whatever SoC target you wanted instead of restricting you to 80% or 100%. It is just stupid!

    But what is really missing is a threshold SoC below which the car should start charging (to the threshold) whenever it is plugged in. If I could have the car charge to 90% each weekday morning, and to 70% whenever I plugged in, I would be able to program it once and then forget about it. And despite added convenience I would stress the battery LESS than I have to do now.

    Of course, just having much more range would also mean much less need for brilliant scheduling. But I think being able to configure this so that you get maximum convenience while also preserving battery longevity as much as possible is always a good thing. So I really hope my next EV will have a “threshold charging” feature, regardless of how much range it has, even if it would probably kick in much less often than it would if the feature existed on my current car (that would be most days).

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