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Nissan puts Leaf on a diet to increase range

Weight watcher: Nissan’s Leaf has been given a makeover, including measures to reduce its kerb weight for improved range.

80kg chopped out of Nissan Leaf to help stretch driving range by 28km

Nissan logo21 Nov 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

NISSAN has squeezed an extra 28km of driving range out of its pioneering Leaf electric car without increasing the battery size.

While the original Leaf was said to be capable of covering 200km on the Japanese JC08 test mode, depending on driving speeds and conditions, the latest updated model is said to travel 228km on a full charge – an increase of 14 per cent.

Weight-saving measures, improved regenerative energy capture under braking and more efficient ancillary equipment such as the cabin heater are the keys to the improved range.

The new version went on sale in Japan this week, but Nissan Australia is yet to announce if or when the latest model will go on sale here.

Nissan says its engineers and designers have stripped about 80kg out of the 2013 Leaf, contributing to more efficient operation.

These measures included integrating the electric drivetrain components – the motor, inverter and DC/DC converter – into one unit, with a 10 per cent weight saving.

A streamlined battery module and lighter parts such as new Bose sound system contributed to the savings.

Although no overall kerb weight was given by Nissan for the new version of Leaf, an 80kg cut from the current 1521kg car would mean the new one will tip the scales at 1441kg – down 5.2 per cent.

The regenerative braking system is said to be more efficient, while power consumption has been reduced by installing a new heat-pump cabin heater and better seat heaters.

The electric drive motor is said to be newly designed, delivering “more responsive and exhilarating acceleration feel”. No power or torque figures were given, presumably meaning overall power stays at 88kW and torque at 280Nm.

As well as technical improvements, the Leaf gets a range of other enhancements including improved steering response at medium speeds, an extra 40 litres of luggage space (now 370 litres) and new instruments with an array of functions to predict and monitor battery use and help locate public charging points.

The interior is now black, with leather an option, while an upper spec model in Japan gets Nissan’s around-view monitor for all-round parking ease.

The charging port has been improved with an electro-magnetic lid release and LED lighting for night charging.

The so-called long-life charging mode – in which the lithium-ion battery is charged to only 80 per cent to extend battery life – is now available in all charging modes.

Nissan says more than 43,000 Leafs are on the roads around the world, making it the number one full EV in the world.

In Australia, Nissan has registered 68 Leafs since it went on sale here in June at $51,500.

The all-new Leaf is believed to be due in about 2017, apparently with a bolder design.

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