May begin shipping early in 2019
If you like the Nissan LEAF, but were put off by its current 40-kWh battery, you may soon be in luck. A bigger, better battery option is coming if you don't mind a bit of a price hike. The base version of the current car (no pun intended), with its EPA range rating of 151 miles boasts an MSRP of $29,990. When it debuts sometime next year, the upgraded 60-kWh version may well cost an additional $5,500, which would bring its starting price to $35,400 (excluding destination and handling charges, tax, title, license, and options).
The numbers come to us from Alex Bernstein, the senior pricing analyst at CarsDirect, who has seen Nissan's preliminary pricing sheets. His calculations show the longer-range LEAF will more effectively take on the Chevy Bolt (starting MRSP $36,620), or more importantly, the base (and still unavailable) $35,000 Tesla Model 3.
Bernstein offers up some other interesting projections as well. The 60-kWh variant, which he claims will return 225 miles of range — a 50-percent bump, may be available early in 2019. According to the analyst, production of the bigger pack will begin in January, which would likely see the higher-spec car arriving at stores sometime in the first quarter.
Besides range, the optional 60-kWh pack may provide other benefits. Expected to feature a temperature management system (TMS) with liquid cooling, the new battery may negate a limitation the 40-kWh pack suffers from. Popularly referred to as Rapidgate, the car will throttle back charging speeds after being successively plugged into DC fast charge stations. This can increase charge times considerably, making long distance journeys inconvenient.
Speaking of faster charging, the new battery option could increase the amount of energy the car can handle from stations, allowing it to suck up electrons at a rate of 102 kW, which would seriously reduce charging times at DC fast charge stations capable of dishing out the higher flow.
Also, a pack with active temperature control may decrease the rate of capacity degradation, especially in hot climates. This means the range of the vehicle will decrease more slowly over time. Not only will this increase the confidence of owners, but it may also improve resale prices, as prospective buyers will worry less about the need to replace the pack, at considerable expense.
All we can say is, bring it on!