Low cost LEAF in our future
According to a report in the Japanese press the 2013 Nissan LEAF will offer more range and a lower price. Of course, they are writing about the Japanese model, but it is not out of the question to expect similar improvements in the American built 2013 LEAF.
The “Janglish” is difficult to make out, even given Google’s translation services, but one thing seems clear – a gain of 25 percent range, which given American’s taste for driving as much as they want to, should prove beneficial. It seems that there will also be a lower cost model available, which in our view is already overdue. Mitsubishi offers an i without a navigation system. Remove the technology from the LEAF and you have a lower cost vehicle ready to offer to your customer. It seems that, at least in Japan, a partial reduction in cost will come from a lower capacity battery. This will not fly in the US. Take away CARWINGS, take away navigation, take away fancy dashboard displays, but don’t take away battery capacity (otherwise known as driving range). The one overriding concern of American drivers is electric car range. A reduction in range to reduct the cost of the car will not be seen as an acceptable tradeoff.
In our discussions with savvy electric vehicle (EV) supporters, along with those that have just expressed a curiosity in the upstart technology, the fundamental discussion always comes back to range. Battery size? Who cares. Power? Will it go 80 miles per hour? Great! Americans do not want to have to change their driving style. Early adopters are one thing. Many early adopters that we speak to are willing to change their driving habits, commute route, and take even more drastic measures to accommodate their EV. Most of the general public? Not so much. To much of the American public, a car is a car is a car. Price. Economy of operation. Reliability. As we have said so many times before – it is an appliance – a tool to get the job done. Get me back and forth to work without me having to contribute anything at all, if possible. In that sense, the EV is the perfect answer. We know lots of folks that have grenaded an engine due to lack of regular maintenance. Remove oil changes from the equation and the EV becomes a lot more interesting to these folks. The 2013 LEAF looks like it may expand the appeal of the EV to a much broader market – one that isn’t looking at the LEAF as an electric car, but one that is looking at the LEAF as their next car. We’ll find out in a few more months.