On paper, the second generation Nissan LEAF should be a big step up from the current car, which has been soldiering along in the marketplace for more than 5 years virtually unchanged. What was a pretty good electric car in 2012 is now hopelessly outdated. Anyone who thinks electric cars are not progressing very fast only needs to compare the existing LEAF to the Tesla Model 3. One is light years ahead of the other.
The Chevy Volt is already two years into its second generation but the updated LEAF won’t be here until September. The reports are that it will a much improved car, with longer range, more connectivity, and the availability of Nissan’s latest PROPilot Level 2 autonomous driving software. That’s all well and good, but what will it look like?
The LEAF has never been flashy. Its styling has always been a bit of a detraction from the overall goodness of the car. People who drive a LEAF love their cars but even they admit the styling is a bit frumpy. Now, thanks to an alert tourist in Barcelona, we have still photos of the new car shot from the window of hotel during a photo shoot. The photos were first aired by Norwegian news source TV2.
The photos are a bit blurry and only show the car from above, but it appears the new LEAF will have a lot more going for in the looks department than the original. Squint a little, and the new car resembles the Chevy Bolt a bit, especially at the rear where the roofline meets the hatchback. Both cars bear more than a passing resemblance to the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins that used to be manufactured in the Fremont, California factory where Tesla now builds its cars.
Not a lot of details are known about the second gen LEAF as of yet, except that it will feature what the company calls an e-Pedal — one pedal that controls both acceleration and regenerative braking. Other cars require drivers to operate a separate control mounted on the steering column to add more regen or select the desired level of regen on a touch screen while still in the driveway. The new Nissan technology may virtually eliminate the need to use the mechanical brakes at all except in emergencies and is entirely hands free.