The second-generation Leaf, which will follow its predecessor that debuted in 2010, signals Nissan’s commitment to electric-vehicle technology, while the Japanese brand also promises to incorporate the latest in its arsenal of autonomous driving systems with the new model.
Specific features for the new model are still to be revealed, however CarAdvice believes there will be significant increases to the car's driving range. A number closer to the 400km mark could be on the cards, allowing the Leaf to better compete with the upcoming Tesla Model 3 and the coming onslaught of electric vehicles from the Volkswagen Group.
No firm date is yet set for the new Leaf, although a world premiere is expected to occur sometime in the second half of 2017. Nissan Australia remains tight-lipped about the model’s future, although it has indicated a local debut could occur next year.
In the lead-up to that launch, Nissan Australia has elected not to take the model year updates (better range) that were revealed in 2015.
Nissan’s latest iteration of its autonomous driving technology, labelled ProPilot, will allow the Leaf to have full autonomous drive functionality for single-lane highway driving. The company plans to have full autonomous capable cars on the road by 2020.
Above: the IDS concept is expected to preview the new Leaf's look
Nissan says the Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, with over 250,000 units sold and more than 3 billion kilometres travelled (a roundtrip to Saturn, if you’re doing the sums).
The next-generation of the Leaf is expected to be a more diversely capable offering than the current model, engineered with the ability to take its energy from a range of sources, whether that is pure electricity to the battery or via fuel cell, or other means. This, Nissan says, is to meet different market and customer needs.
The batteries from the previous-generation Nissan Leaf are already being put into other uses, such as providing emergency power for stadiums and other large sites.
Nissan is also set to invest further into its Leaf platform by bringing new generations of vehicle-to-home (V2H), vehicle-to-building (V2B), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies that are already being used in Japan and other markets. The idea would be to allow the car to power your home (or business) when electricity prices are peaking, then recharging when demand has slowed.
It remains unclear whether Nissan’s commitment to the Leaf will see further global pure electric models from the brand, however the confirmation of the second generation is a welcome sign for electric mobility.