Start with the 2018 Nissan Leaf. Compared to the 2017 (30 kWh) model, the new edition (40 kWh) got an extra 44 miles of range and 40 horsepower. Both were about 40% more.
Meanwhile, Nissan’s exterior updates made it a better-looking car as well. But with Chevrolet Bolt EV at 238 miles of range and the base Tesla Model 3 presumably coming to the market by 2019, the ’18 Leaf’s 151 miles of range and 147 horsepower already began looking dated.
According to a report quoting a source from Nissan, that will soon change. The 2019 Leaf will compete with the top electric vehicles on the market in both range and power.
A Leaf with at least 200 miles and 200 horsepower
At an event for Nissan’s Formula E program, the automaker’s director of sales and marketing told AutoGuide that the next Leaf will have 200 horsepower.
That news follows the safe anticipation (though not confirmed) that the next-generation model will feature at least 200 miles of driving range. Nissan did confirm this Leaf, which will be called the E-Plus, will arrive as a’19 model.
In all likelihood, that means the more powerful, long-range Leaf will make it to America before the end of 2018. If it follows the pattern established by earlier models, it will once again take its place as the most practical EV on the market.
How the ’19 Leaf will compare to Bolt EV and Model 3
While the ’18 Leaf followed the Chevy Bolt EV onto the market by over a year, it had its advantages over GM’s groundbreaking electric car.
In our experience with both models, the latest Leaf had a less fussy infotainment system. However, the biggest selling point was its price: Leaf starts below $30,000 while the Bolt EV remains over $36,000.
Meanwhile, Nissan’s No Charge to Charge program gave buyers two years of free battery charging at Level 2 and fast-charge stations.
Certainly, Bolt EV has a massive advantage in range, but when 151 miles is a solid number for most drivers and charging is free…
As for the base Tesla Model 3, no can say. It won’t arrive to customers until 2019, Tesla confirmed. The 2019 Leaf might actually beat it to the U.S. market.
The remaining unknowns
As we get closer to official announcements from Nissan, pricing is probably the biggest mystery. If Nissan can remain the value play compared to Chevy and Tesla (i.e., stay somewhat close to $30,000), it has a chance to capture a lot of U.S. buyers.
One thing to consider is Nissan still had about 75,000 EV tax credits ($7,500) left for customers as of June 2018. At the start of July, Tesla began to phase out its credits, meaning base Model 3 buyers won’t have access to them. GM is also coming close to running out of credits.
If rumors of a much faster charging system turn out to be true, it would make the next Leaf a competitor on all fronts.
Of course, all these features will be hard to deliver without getting near $35,000, but we’ll have to wait for Nissan to announce it.
So far, what we know about the 2019 Leaf points to a great electric car for the masses. If its price remains the lowest, you might even call it the first of its kind in America. After all, it’s not really affordable until it costs less than $30,000.