SILVERSTONE, England – Nissan has added a bit of range to its Leaf electric car but the outlook for battery-only vehicles looks grim as sales, in Europe at least, only seem to react to tax payer handouts.

Nissan says its new Leaf sedan has been given a more powerful 30 Kw battery, which increases range by at least 25 per cent. The trouble is, this is 25 per cent on top of not very much so the claimed range in Europe is 155 miles, up from 124 miles with the previous 24 Kw battery. This means that in real world use – air conditioning and heating and infotainment switched on, four sturdy passengers, highway driving, a cold or a hot day with hills to climb – the usable range is now probably close to 95 miles, compared with 75 miles for the previous model, according to those who drive the old car regularly. In the U.S., the official range figure for the new car is 107 miles versus 84 miles.
Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe is excited about the progress made.

“The Leaf, the best-selling EV (electric vehicle) in the world, just got even better. And up to 155 miles opens the world of EV to thousands of drivers across Europe who before just weren’t completely confident that an EV would work for them. This extra range will make Leaf ownership an easy first choice, for many, many more drivers,” Willcox said.

The ability to offer about 20 more miles isn’t going to stimulate a rush to electric car showrooms, and the range issue won’t be solved until it offers more like 250 to 300 real miles on a charge, while prices need to fall by about half at the same time.

The Leaf, a four-door family sedan, retails in Britain at the equivalent of $37,300 including taxes, and after a government grant of $7,900.

According to Peter Schmidt, editor of British-based Automotive Industry Data (AID), demand for battery only vehicles in Europe and America reflect subsidies above all.


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