In the 2016 Leaf, Nissan has just announced something that may get a lot more households interested: a longer driving range. Thanks to a battery upgrade, this hatchback will be the first affordable all-electric model with an official EPA range of more than 100 miles on a charge.
The upgraded battery, which offers a 25-percent increase in capacity—to 30 kWh—will be included in mid-range Leaf SV and top-trim Leaf SL models, while base-model Leaf S models will carry on with the existing 24-kWh battery and 84-mile driving range.
The 2016 Nissan Leaf SV with the battery upgrade will start at $35,050, while top SL models are priced at $37,640 and base-model Leaf S models will add up to $29,860. All three trim levels of the Leaf will remain eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, which can bring the effective price with the new battery as low as $27,550.
The new battery, which may help expand the buyer base for the Leaf as well as earn some trade-ups among current owners, is more than just a capacity boost. Nissan says that it’s upgraded the structure of the cells and improved the electrode material with a revised chemistry bringing better battery durability, too. And it weighs just 46 pounds more than the smaller-capacity battery.
Upgraded interface, tooOther changes to the 2016 Nissan Leaf lineup include a standard NissanConnect with Mobile Apps system, with Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, hands-free text messaging, a USB port, and iPod compatibility. There’s a five-inch display screen for this system, but Leaf SV and SL models upgrade to a seven-inch screen with navigation, multi-touch control, voice commands, HD Radio, and Sitius XM Travel Link.
That upgraded system in the SV and SL allows a map showing the “reachable area” on the current state of charge. Those models also get an upgraded (6.6-kW versus 3.3-kW) onboard charger that cuts the Leaf’s charging time on 240V (Level 2) charging to around six hours.
CHAdeMO fast-charging—allowing you to get from near zero up to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes—is also included in those SV and SL models but optional on the S.
Nissan boasts some other changes to the menus and screen graphics for the Leaf’s infotainment screens and interface, and the NissanConnect EV system that’s included in SV and SL models helps you check in on the vehicle’s state of charge or do pre-heating or pre-cooling—as running the heat or air conditioning can significantly cut into usable range.
In either model, the Leaf maintains an 80-kW motor, with output at 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque.
Added assurance on battery
The automaker notes that the Leaf’s battery pack is covered for defects for eight years or 100,000 miles, and there’s also a battery-capacity guarantee on both—assuring that you won’t lose too much usable driving range as the battery ages.
The 2016 Leaf and its battery packs are built in Tennessee, and it goes on sale later this fall.