Next-generation Nissan Leaf will be designed to be more European

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 15, 2012

The next Nissan Leaf electric car will be designed to be more European. It will also priced be lower, according to Colin Lawther, vice president of Nissan engineering in Europe. In 2011, the Leaf was named the European Car of the Year however, many critics regard it as appearing bland and awkward. He said that the driving range of the Leaf will be given a boost from 160km.

To make the vehicle more stable when accelerating, its power has been retuned. Sales of the Leaf last March were launched in certain markets where EV incentives were offered last year.

Nissan said that by next February, the automaker will begin the rollout of the hatchback in its plant in Sunderland, England, instead of importing it from Japan. By transferring the production of the Nissan Leaf electric car in the UK for European markets from the Oppama plant in Japan, costs will be cut by a third.

The Leaf has a starting price of 25,990 pounds (31,148 euros, $41,597) in the UK. The government offers a 5,000-pound government plug-in car grant. The similar-sized Qashqai has a starting price of 16,495 pounds.

Lawther told Automotive News Europe that one of its major problems is that the “initial purchase price is very high." Pricing for the next generation Leaf hasn’t been revealed yet. The Leaf is produced at the same Sunderland, north east England. This is the same production line as the Qashqai compact crossover.

Lawther said that batteries will be coming out very soon at the same factory. He continued that when it comes to percentage, European content will be in the “high 90s.” For now, the electric motor will still be imported from Japan.

But then again, there are currently plans being developed for it to be produced in the UK as well. Lawther asserts that the production cost savings will stem partly from a combination of lower logistics, decreased import taxes and less exposure to the strong Japanese currency. He pointed out another advantage -- ordering will be shorter by 6-8 weeks.

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