The Nissan Leaf will remain the best selling eleectric car in the world, at least that's the opinion of the Japanese brand.
Speaking at a regional forum hosted by Nissan in Singapore, the brand’s director of electric vehicle business, Nicholas Thomas, said the Leaf is unlikely to be surpassed as the most popular electric car on sale. This is despite an influx of upcoming models from new rivals such as Tesla, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz
“We’ve sold more than 350,000 cars around the world,” Thomas said.
“We are the leading electric vehicle manufacturer around the world – we’ve sold more than anybody else.
“The Nissan Leaf is already the world’s best-selling electric vehicle and now with this new version we’re introducing, we’re very, very confident that we are going to continue that position and keep going with a fantastic product. “
The first-generation Leaf originally introduced in 2010 attracted 300,000 customers – Nissan’s other 50,000 sales stem from electric commercial vans.
Thomas said 40,000 customers have pre-ordered the new Leaf, which arrives in Australia this year.
That pales in comparison to more than 518,000 people around the world who pre-ordered Tesla’s upcoming Model 3, its most affordable model. But Thomas remains convinced the Leaf will outsell competition from Tesla, alluding to the American brand’s well-documented assembly and delivery problems described by chief executive Elon Musk as “production hell”.
“I’m convinced I can build and sell those very quickly,” Thomas said.
“We are delivering cars to customers in Japan, we are delivering cars to customers in Europe, we are just about to begin delivering cars to customers in the US, Canada, the rest of the region as we’ve announced.
“Am I worried about the competition? No, not at all.”
The new Leaf is powered by an electric motor that sends 110kW and 320Nm outputs to the front wheels, allowing for an 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds. Nissan says a lab-tested maximum range of 400 kilometres translates to around 270km of real-world driving. Many customers will be able to go about their business by charging it once per week.
Tipped to be priced between $50,000 and $60,000, the Leaf features a ProPilot driver assistance system Thomas says is ahead of the competition.
“ProPilot is a fantastic system to drive. In city traffic and highway traffic the car will completely steer for you, even around curves. It will stop, it will start, it will hold its speed against a vehicle that it’s following, it will hold its speed on an open highway.
“You have complete control of the vehicle, you’re still in charge of the vehicle. But the vehicle will support you in those driving experiences.
“Of course there are some limits to that, but we really do find in practical tests that the ProPilot system is one of the best.
“It’s able to follow a vehicle around curves - I’ve driven a number of ‘self-driving’ systems that, as soon as you get into any radius of bend, immediately give up and suddenly you have to take over the driving.
“I have not experienced that with ProPilot. It’s a much more advanced system.”
But Drive’s Stephen Ottley sampled the system during a brief steer of the system in Japan, finding that Nissan’s assistance suite is “far from an autopilot system the name implies”.
He found that “far from an autonomous system, like that offered in the latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class or Tesla, ProPilot is closer to an adaptive cruise control system combined with lane keeping assist... those considering ProPilot should be aware of its limitations”.
The new Nissan Leaf arrives in Australia in December.
2018 Nissan Leaf price and specifications
On sale: December 2018
Price: $51,990 plus on-road costs (estimated)
Engine: Electric motor
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive