When the second generation of the Nissan LEAF – the world’s best-selling electric car – was launched in September 2017, the company mentioned that a high-powered, longer range version was also under development and would join the range in due course. 17 months later, that variant is now ready for the market and to differentiate it, the badge carries ‘e+’.

The ‘e+’ refers to the increased energy density of the model’s 62 kWh battery pack and the higher output of its powertrain. The new powertrain extends the car’s range by approximately 50%, with estimated range of up to 360 kms with a fully-charged battery pack. That range would be enough for someone in Kuala Lumpur to visit Melaka and return without having to recharge while in Melaka, or for a journey from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur with no worries about running out of ‘fuel’. Of course, as with petrol or diesel engines, the range is also dependent on driving style and conditions.

The more powerful electric powertrain has a high-capacity battery with a more powerful 160 kW motor that generates 45% more power and 340 Nm of torque. This quickens acceleration at high speeds and the LEAF e+ can go from 80 km/h to 120 km/h nearly 13% quicker. This allows more confident overtaking of slower-moving vehicles and easier merging onto highways from ramps. The top speed has also increased by approximately 10%, it is claimed.

With the optional new 70 kW (100 kW peak) Quick Charging system, the LEAF e+ can be recharged more efficiently. Based on early testing, similar charging times can be expected when hooked up to a 100 kW charger as current LEAF owners do with a 50 kW charger, despite a 55% greater battery storage capacity.

Even with a 25% increase in energy density and the increase in energy storage capacity, the battery pack is almost the same size and configuration as the pack in the LEAF. Other than a 5 mm increase in overall height, the car’s exterior and interior dimensions are unchanged.

Understanding that consumers are still concerned about the costs of replacing a battery pack if it is defective, Nissan offers a limited warranty (market-dependent) of up to 8 years/160,000 kms (whichever occurs first) with all versions of the LEAF.

The new variant will be sold as the LEAF PLUS Series in North America and LEAF e+ in all other countries. Depending on the market, it is around 14% more expensive than the other variants with prices in Japan starting from 4,162,320 yen (about RM157,000). Nissan has said it wants to sell the LEAF in the ASEAN region but so far, Edaran Tan Chong Motor has not talked about its plans regarding this although it did display the latest model at the KL International Motor Show 2018 last month.

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[Chips Yap]

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