Nissan executives have shared some of their goal for the next version of the popular LEAF electric car. Top of the list are more "mainstream styling" and a new higher-capacity battery that "greatly increases its range". In fact, they see greater range as key to higher sales.
“The battery chemistry is all about range and energy density. That’s where you see the technology moving very, very fast,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president in charge of Nissan’s zero emissions and Infiniti businesses, in an interview last month at the Beijing auto show. “This really is the game-changing technology.”
Palmer wouldn't say how much range the next LEAF will have, but he said that he thought 300 kilometers (185 miles) was a good amount to ensure mainstream appeal. That's quite a jump from the current LEAF with its 84 miles (which is better than the 73 miles that it had at first, before it was tweaked to increase range for the 2013 model).
It's not yet clear what the next-generation LEAF will look like, but Nissan said it will keep the hatchback but try to make it look less "EV-like" and more "normal". They actually name-dropped Tesla as a company that made good-looking EVs that don't look too much like EVs. This next-gen LEAF is expected around 2017.
Nissan showed a concept called 'Invitation' a little while ago that I think has some nice elements. The design could be cleaned up a little and made to look less like a car-show concept car, but overall the proportions and angles are nice. Judge by yourself:
After some work, it has the potential to be better than the current LEAF, in my opinion (not that it's that bad, but it probably turns off some people who wouldn't be turned off by an electric Sentra, for example).
Above is the current LEAF battery. It's apparently quite safe, at least against screw drivers and blowtorches: