Renault and Nissan are unlikely to achieve a goal of selling a combined 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2016, according to the chief executive of both carmakers, Carlos Ghosn. He said that Nissan has sold just 62,000 Leafs since its debut in late 2010. As for Renault’s four electric cars, the carmaker has only sold 24,688 units of them through April 2013.
The combined sales of those electric vehicles would not be enough to achieve the target that Ghosn announced in 2011 – to sell 1.5 million units by the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. According to Ghosn, the carmaker will reach the target but maybe not on the original timetable.
He reiterated the 1.5 million EV sales target but admitted it would be difficult to achieve in 2016. To increase its EV sales, Nissan plans to launch three more models by 2016, including an electric version of the NV200 van. The carmaker has launched low-trim, entry-level variants of the Leaf to capture a lower price point.
In March 2013, Nissan commence producing the Leaf for European markets at its Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom. According to Nissan, it has implemented 100 changes to the Leaf, like increasing its range from 175 km to 199km.
Nissan also made changes to the EV’s suspension to bring the driving dynamics "more in tune with European tastes." Nissan has managed to trim the Leaf's manufacturing costs by a third.
One of the carmaker’s strategies to trim production cost is changing the material of the Leaf’s door from more expensive aluminum doors to less-expensive steel. According to David Moss, Nissan's head of vehicle design and development, said that transferring the charger assembly under the hood cut the Leaf’s weight by 30kg.
The new Nissan LEAF is produced on a bespoke Electronic Vehicle or EV platform with a 2700-millimeter wheelbase. It has a length of 4445 mm, a width of 1770 mm, and a height of 1550 mm. It has a distinctive shape, which is also highly aerodynamic, featuring subtle visual changes to the original LEAF's grille as well as a new 17" wheel design. These have contributed to a reduced drag coefficient figure of just 0.28.
Moreover, the new LEAF's front is framed by slim and almost-vertical headlights, and on top models, these headlights have LED lighting. These lights also direct the airflow away from the doors' mirrors in order to reduce wind noise and help aerodynamics.
Nissan LEAF's body was designed using the brand's 'smart fluidity' principle, reflected in its kicked-up roofline that blends into a large spoiler and its wind cheating shape that is further enhanced by its flat and smooth underfloor. Meanwhile, thin and gently curved vertical taillights dominate the car's rear view. The absence of exhaust pipes is also notable.
Additionally, the LEAF's color palette was expanded to seven available exterior colors. Grey, solid white, black metallic, and red pearl metallic now join white pearl, blue pearl metallic, and metallic silver.
Furthermore, the car's cabin features significant changes such as new seats. Aside from being redesigned to provide better support, the car's front seats now have height adjustment and they have been reshaped in order to provide a maximum of 53 mm more leg room for passengers at the rear. To achieve this, the driver's and front passenger's seats have been reprofiled to allow those sitting in the rear to position their feet under the front seats, therefore increasing leg room.