The 2018 Nissan LEAF had its official introduction just yesterday but already there are reports circulating in the automotive press that two other models based on the new chassis are planned — one an electric SUV and the other a sedan. Styles come and go in the car business as quickly as the do on the fashion runways of Paris. One year, everyone wants a hatchback, then minivans, then sport utility vehicles, then crossovers. It’s enough to drive a marketing person insane.
Elon Musk may be the most brilliant business leader of the past 100 years, but even he can get caught out by the marketplace. By all accounts, the new Model 3 is a spectacular car but it has one problem — it’s a sedan in an age when sedan sales are collapsing. To fix that issue, Tesla is feverishly working on an SUV similar in size to the Model 3 that will be called the Model Y. When it will get here is a matter of some conjecture. Nissan says its LEAF based electric SUV will be presented at the upcoming Tokyo auto show and go on sale sometime in 2019.
Nissan’s head of design, Alfonso says the new electric SUV — which will not share the LEAF nameplate — will be “a little bigger” than the Nissan Qashqai, an SUV sold in Europe and other markets but not in the US. The Qashqai is smaller than the current Rogue, so presumably the new car will be somewhere between those two models in size. That should put it into direct competition with the Volkswagen’s ID Crozz, an electric SUV planned for introduction before the end of the decade.
The new Nissan and its sedan sibling will both feature the same powertrain and technology found in the second generation LEAF. That means a 40 kWh battery with a range of about 150 miles measured by EPA standards and the ProPILOT suite of lane keeping, side collision avoidance, automatic forward emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking and the innovative E-Pedal system.
The 40 kWh battery used in the 20128 LEAF is the same size as the one used in the current generation Renault Zoe and Renault’s latest version of its Kangoo ZE electric van. Using the same size battery likely allows the company to trim its battery costs — one reason why the second generation LEAF with larger battery, lots more high tech features, and a more powerful motor retails for a few dollars less than the old car. Nissan says that a larger battery with more range will be available later in 2018.
The company has announced that is wants 20% of the vehicles its sells to be electrics by 2020. Having an electric SUV available for sale should help it meet that ambitious goal.