Second Generation Leaf EV Cranks Up in TN Plant
After launching the all-new battery-electric Nissan Leaf in September and starting production in Japan and the UK, the Japanese automaker began U.S. production of the new vehicle yesterday at its Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The automaker said the car will be available at dealerships nationwide starting next month.
The 2018 Leaf will be offered in S, SV and SL trim levels, with the base Leaf S starting at $29,901 plus destination fees before any incentives. Compared to the outgoing model, the new Leaf has a 40 percent longer driving range (at 150 miles) with more power and features, yet its price starts $690 lower.
Standard on all models is the Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility features including: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and e-Pedal technology, allowing drivers to accelerate and stop using a single pedal. Available is the automaker’s ProPILOT Assist technology, which helps drivers navigate stop-and-go traffic by assisting control of acceleration, braking and steering during single-lane highway driving.
Nissan has been manufacturing the Leaf at the company’s Smyrna site, the largest auto assembly plant in North America, since 2013, with more than 114,550 vehicles sold in the United States since 2011.
“We’re committed to vehicle electrification and manufacturing in the United States. With the Leaf’s low starting price and latest suite of Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, we’re excited to ramp up production and bring the Leaf to market next month,” said Jeff Younginer, vice president of manufacturing at Nissan’s Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant.
Already Off to a Good Start
Sales of the new Leaf EV are already off to a good start. According to Nissan at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show at the end of October, Nissan Senior Vice President Asako Hoshino told reporters that sales have exceeded expectations, and that it has received more than 9,000 orders in less than two months of availability. Europe has made up 3,500 of those global sales, according to Automotive News Europe. The Nissan Leaf began sales in Norway in early September, followed by Germany, Austria, France and Holland at the beginning of October. EV-friendly Norway has seen more than 2,000 sales of the 2018 Leaf.
Those wanting a Leaf with more than a 150-mile driving range will have to wait. A second variant with a 60-kW battery pack, called “e-Plus,” arrives in 2019 with an expected driving range of 225 miles.
The question is, will the 2018 Leaf with its longer driving range, new looks and new features be enough to sway buyers away from the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3?
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