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By Bayside Group Automotive

Aug 7, 2019

Second generation Nissan turns industry over new leaf

In July, Nissan Australia launched its second generation all-electric Leaf in Melbourne – the first EV to ever receive this honour. The car is now the second pure battery electric vehicle priced under $50,000 released onto the Australian market.

While the second generation Nissan Leaf has been available for sale in overseas markets for a year, the introduction of Nissan’s flagship electric vehicle is a welcome addition to Australia’s limited choice of battery electric vehicles.

Global sales of the Leaf have now topped more than 41,000, seeing drivers save more than 3.8 million barrels of oil every year by choosing this environmentally-friendly model. The car’s success demonstrates the growing demand for electric technology over oil-fuelled automotives, and its release into the Australian market shows that EVs are now capturing the attention of our mainstream market.

The new Leaf has at least double the driving range of its first generation predecessor, with a real world range of 270km. Given that most Leaf’s will predominantly be used in urban settings, this range should be ample for most drivers.

The powertrain is a heavily evolved version of that found in the first-gen Leaf, and includes a 40KWh lithium-ion battery that improves the energy density by upwards of 67 percent. Nissan’s R&D chief Takao Asami says the company’s priority will be improving the efficiency of these batteries year-on-year, before beginning the move towards solid-state batteries.

This solid-state technology is tipped as the next possible breakthrough, with BMW, Fisker and Dyson among those heavily investing in this area. While other car manufacturers say this advancement is decades away, it has the potential to triple the range of EVs once it reaches maturity.

 

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Aside from its environmental benefits, perhaps one of the main reasons the new-gen Leaf has become so popular on the mainstream market is that it looks like a completely conventional modern hatch – not an EV.

Furthermore, it finally presents the Australian market with an affordable electric car. While a small number of EVs have previously been sold in Australia, these sales have been a blip in the total sales for the automotive industry, perhaps largely due to the hefty price tag that has been attached to these models. BMW’s i3, the 2014 Car of the Year winner, may be excellent in many ways, but at a cost of $64,000 it’s certainly beyond many people’s price point. Tesla, meanwhile, focuses even more on the upmarket segment, meaning affordable EVs have been almost non-existent before now.

With Nissan’s new Leaf and other rivals rolling out from the likes of Hyundai and Kia, the impending wave of affordable, mainstream EVs now finally seems to be breaking on Australia’s shores.

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