Nissan unveils new Leaf

Latest offering: Nissan Leaf e is on display at Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama. Nissan is showing the beefed up version of its hit Leaf electric car as the Japanese automaker seeks to distance itself from the arrest of its star executive Carlos Ghosn. — AP

SEOUL: Nissan Motor Co has unveiled a new version of its Leaf electric car after delaying its launch amid the shock arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The new model, launched in Las Vegas, narrows the driving-range gap versus Tesla Inc’s Model 3 and General Motors Co’s Chevrolet Bolt.

The Japanese carmaker called off key events in the wake of the scandal involving Ghosn, who was the architect of Nissan’s electric-car vision and its pact with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, the world’s biggest auto alliance.

Ghosn was arrested on Nov 19 in Japan on alleged financial crimes. He remains in a Tokyo prison as prosecutors build their case.

The auto industry’s increasing focus on automation and new-energy vehicles, along with the aggressive push into both areas by Tesla and scores of startups from China to Germany, has added to Nissan’s challenges.

The Leaf e+ boasts a more energy-dense battery that extends its range by about 40%, to as much as 226 miles.

That compares with the 220 to 310-mile range for Tesla’s Model 3, which starts at US$44,000, and the 238-mile range on the US$36,620 Chevrolet Bolt.

While the Leaf starts at about US$30,000 in the US, Nissan isn’t releasing the price of the e+ until it’s closer to starting sales this spring.

Nissan has sold more than 380,000 Leaf vehicles globally since its model first went on sale in 2010, with over 128,000 in the US.

The new Leaf would be available at dealerships in Japan starting this month, followed by the US, then Europe in mid-2019, Nissan said in a statement. — Bloomberg


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