Many years ago, back when full-on electric cars were rare oddities, I drove an early first-generation Nissan Leaf in power-sapping Eco mode. It was, to this day, the slowest vehicle I have ever driven. The driver of a 1980s Tercel with a three-speed automatic could have handed me my ass in a stoplight drag race.
That was then, and this is now. The second-gen Leaf, which bowed for 2018, offers buyers 142 horsepower and a generous helping of low-end electric grunt to go with their 151 miles of range. But there’s another beast arriving for 2019 that should satisfy those looking for more miles and more horses.
According to AutoGuide, the long-awaited long-range version of the Leaf won’t just go the distance — it’ll do so in a much swifter manner.
Said to possess over 200 miles of all-electric driving range, the Leaf gains an E-Plus variant for 2019, which means additional power. Some 58 extra ponies, Nissan says. Speaking at a Formula E event, Brian Maragno, Nissan’s director of EV Marketing and Sales Strategy, said the Leaf E-Plus will arrive with 200 hp on tap. The extra output is the product of not having to worry about draining a considerably smaller battery.
“A larger capacity battery lends itself towards two things — one is obvious — more range,” said Maragno. “The other one, which is maybe a little less obvious, but equally as true, is additional horsepower and output.”
The new variant should join the stock 40 kWh model in the Nissan line late this year or early next, allowing the automaker to properly challenge Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3. Whether or not the upgraded Leaf also arrives in performance-minded NISMO form remains to be seen.
“We haven’t made any announcements in the U.S. relative to a Nismo version of the car, so who knows what will happen, but there’s really no announcement there,” Maragno said.
Leaf sales fell to a trickle during the changeover period between the two models, a period spanning last October through this January. Because of this, year-to-date volume shows a decline of 8.1 percent. Still, the new generation didn’t result in a large uptick in sales once a critical mass of vehicles made it to dealer lots. June volume fell 9.2 percent, year over year.
[Image: © 2017 Matthew Guy/TTAC]