Nissan’s new 62kWh LEAF powertrain was announced at CES 2019 in Las Vegas and is coming to the U.S. market this spring.
The new hatchback is powered by a 62kWh battery pack that is only 5mm bigger than the 40kWh pack in the current LEAF. Its 160kW motor (215hp) offers a 226 mile estimated range.
The high-capacity battery and more powerful, 160 kW motor in the LEAF e+ combine to produce 45 percent more power and 250 lb-ft (340 Nm) of torque, enabling faster acceleration when driving at high speeds. According to Nissan, accelerating from 50 mph (80 kph) to 75 mph (120 kph) is nearly 13 percent quicker. The top speed has increased by approximately 10 percent for comfortable cruising.
The new Leaf e+ will be available this month in Japan for ¥4,162,320 (about $38,300), and will arrive in Europe in “mid-2019,” Nissan says, where it will cost 45,500 euro (about $51,900). The Leaf e+ will come to the US in the spring, but no pricing has been announced.
Nissan is using the same LG cells but has them packed tighter. The battery pack cells are passively cooled, but Nissan believes that, even with the tighter pack, batteries will keep their capacity longer than ever. Nissan offers a 8 years/160,000 km (whichever occurs first) warranty on the battery.
The Battery Management System or BMS controls the charge and discharge of the battery which is integral not only to acceleration but also charging. Nissan’s own motor and motor controller also play a big part in acceleration and Nissan brings a ton of its variable speed transmission experience into play here.
Nissan also offers ProPILOT driver assist:
"Playing a leading role in Nissan Intelligent Driving is ProPILOT Assist, an in-lane semi-autonomous driving technology that can automatically adjust the distance to the vehicle ahead, using a speed preset by the driver (between about 18 mph and 62 mph). ProPILOT Assist can also help the driver steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, ProPILOT Assist can automatically apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full halt 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 steering wheel-mounted ProPILOT Assist switch again or lightly presses the accelerator to activate the system. All these functions can reduce stress when driving on the highway in both heavy and fast-moving traffic," Nissan says.
Although the new LEAF has tough price/specs competition in the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai/Kia Kona/Niro in the US, it does extremely well in Japan and the EU.
There’s also the Tesla factor in terms of EVs. The base Model 3, while significantly more expensive, also has a significant power advantage – 283 hp (211 kW) vs 215hp (160kW) for the LEAF Plus. The LEAF being a larger hatchback, more capacity and different styling will mostly appeal to a different type of consumer obviously.