For the few of us who travelled all the way from India to Tokyo to witness the World Premiere of one of the most recognised electric vehicles (EV) in the world, it was a moment of shock. Had we heard wrong or had Nissan really just said that the new generation of the Leaf is not an EV?
The Leaf, in its new generation avatar, is a lot more than just an EV you see. According to the Japanese auto giant, the Leaf is actually a mobility solution – a car, if you like – that will resolve mobility, connectivity and integration challenges for the modern global citizen. The fact that it is powered by a 110kW electric motor drawing it’s power from a 40kWh battery is purely incidental.
The bigger question is why would Nissan draw attention away from the Leaf’s USP and focus on everything else also? In the words of the company’s top management, focusing on zero emission and eco-friendly propulsion alone would be much too limiting. Manufacturers have to look at the larger picture and realise that EVs need to fit into people’s lifestyles. Lifestyles that are continuously changing in a world of flux. Nissan says, the Leaf (and vehicles like it) is the answer.
To align the product with Nissan’s vision of Intelligent Mobility, the Leaf is equipped to offer some amount of autonomous driving and parking. The most significant technology on offer however has to be the e-Pedal that marks the start of a paradigm shift from two- and three-pedal technology to one-pedal technology!
The Leaf is kitted with ProPILOT, which is a single lane autonomous driving technology that can automatically maintain a preset distance from the vehicle ahead by using a pre-determined speed – between 30 and 100kmph. In case the vehicle in front stops, ProPILOT brings the Leaf to a complete stop by applying the brakes automatically. Meanwhile the ProPILOT Park assists drivers in parking their vehicles by completely taking over acceleration, braking and steering inputs. The revolutionary e-Pedal however is the Leaf’s party piece. Once activated, it allows the driver to start, accelerate, decelerate, stop and even hold the car by using the accelerator pedal alone. By simply releasing the accelerator, the car will come to a smooth and complete stop and hold without the need to press the brake pedal. With a deceleration rate of up to 0.2 g, the e-Pedal eliminates the need for drivers to constantly move their foot from one pedal to another. The Leaf also gets the more mundane e-bits, like intelligent lane intervention, lane departure warning, intelligent emergency braking, blind spot warning, traffic sign recognition, rear cross traffic alert, intelligent around view monitor with moving object detection and emergency assist for pedal misapplication.
The Leaf’s electric motor produces 110kW, which is 38 per cent more than what the motor was capable of producing in the previous generation of the same car. Torque, which is available from get-go, has also increased by 26 per cent to a peak 320Nm. As a result of these improvements to the e-motor itself, a change of components in the larger battery and improved aero efficiency – the Leaf has a drag coefficient of 0.28Cd – the new Nissan Leaf is capable of travelling upto 400km on a single charge under test conditions. With that one jump the Leaf becomes instantly more viable as a feasible commute option for families in rapidly developing urban areas around the world.
The Leaf will go on sale first in Japan on October 2, 2017. A country that has prepared for the arrival of this car (and other EVs) with 7,200 quick charging stations and 28,000 regular charging stations across the nation. Quite frankly, we would love to see the Leaf in India for it makes perfect sense; it is good looking and stylish, it is well laid out inside with high quality materials and the highest level of fit and finish. It is spacious too and filled with all the gizmos that a modern tech-savvy consumer would want. It’s zero emission too. But with practically no infrastructure to support the advent of EVs it is difficult to say when the Leaf will debut in India, if at all.