MUCH-IMPROVED LEAF FIRST ELECTRIC VEHICLE MODEL IN THAILAND FROM A MAJOR AUTOMAKER
NISSAN HAS just announced that it would sell the LEAF electric vehicle (EV) in Thailand, apart from 48 other countries around the world.
This would be the first time that a major automaker will offer an EV model in the Kingdom, which has seen popularity of eco-friendly and fuel-efficient hybrid models rising in recent years.
While Toyota, the largest auto maker in the country, had made it clear that it would rely on hybrid technology for now, Nissan, which gained a strong following with the first-generation LEAF that was introduced in 2010, decided to go all out with its EV drive.
Nissan executives say that while the first-generation Leaf, with a total of 280,000 units sold, was more or less a pioneer for Nissan in the EV field, the new model will turn into one of its core models. Sales of the LEAF are expected to double or even triple, according to Nissan president and CEO Hiroto Saikawa. He said the new LEAF is the latest representation of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility concept, which is the core brand strategy for Nissan's future.
"The new LEAF strengthens Nissan's EV leadership, as well as expansion of EVs globally, said Saikawa. He points to the improved autonomy ranged, evolved autonomous drive and parking technologies, and the simplicity of its "e-pedal".
Saikawa predicts that the car's core strengths will be used by future Nissan models.
The global unveiling of the new LEAF was held at Makuhari Messe, the former venue of the Tokyo Motor Show, and although a media test drive was not included in the programme, details of the new LEAF appear highly interesting.
While the new car shares the same floorpan as its predecessor, virtually everything else is new, Nissan said.
The biggest improvement is the operating range, which is claimed at 400 kilometres in Japanese tests, up
40 per cent from the previous model. The new powertrain gives the LEAF 110kW of power and 320Nm of torque, which is available right from standstill.
Thanks to the new lithium-ion battery that's about the same size as in the previous model but has more capacity (40kWh). Charging from a 3kW outlet takes as much as 16 hours, but the time is reduced by half (8 hours) with a 6kW outlet. With quick charging, it takes about 40 minutes to achieve 80 per cent capacity.
An interesting feature in the LEAF is Nissan's first-stage ProPILOT autonomous system that was previously equipped in the Serena MPV and was highly successful, with more than 50 per cent of Serena buyers opting for this feature. The system uses cameras and sonar to read lane markings and help the LEAF drive itself on highways.
Drivers who have difficulty with parking manoeuvres can also rejoice, as ProPILOT Park does everything for you - steering, accelerating, braking, shift changing and engaging the parking brake. It's totally automatic and you don't even have to press the accelerator.