Nissan Launches 2018 Leaf, The Semi-Autonomous Driving Electric Vehicle

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Brian Maragno, director of electric vehicle marketing for Nissan in the USA, said the 2018 Leaf will start at $29,990 before a $7,500 federal tax credit, an important price point to current Leaf owners, many of whom will be repeat buyers.

The new Leaf could evolve into a mainstream model for Nissan thanks to its eco-friendly and advanced technologies.

But the Australian division of the Japanese brand is still keeping its sales expectations in check, acknowledging the new model is likely to cost more and will only sell in limited numbers unless government incentives are introduced for electric vehicles.

However, the new battery-powered SUVwill only go on sale in the year 2019.

Nissan Motor Co.is staying out of the battery range arms race.

George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, an automotive marketing research firm, told Consumer Reports the new Leaf has only one chance to make a good first impression. The flash-surface grille in clear blue and the rear bumper's blue molding emphasize its identity as a Nissan EV. A 7-inch touchscreen with the usual "infotainment" features is standard. While the conventional brake pedal must still be used in aggressive braking situations, the e-Pedal lets drivers use a single pedal for more than 90 percent of their driving needs, according to Nissan.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf includes ProPilot Assist, which is a driver convenience and safety feature that you use while on the highway. And while a little way off a fully autonomous setup, ProPilot "can also help the driver steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane".

Second-gen model gets horsepower and range upgrades. Improvements to the chassis over the current Leaf, including lighter weight and improved structural rigidity, will therefore be seen across the electric model family.

The all-new LEAF features two new intelligent driving technologies in the North American marketplace. The new Nissan Leaf Electric vehicle will go on sale starting Europe from January 2018.

It's improved, but is the new Leaf starting from behind?

. Peterson added that his firm's research has found the "EV range sweet spot is 225 miles", which is well above the 2018 Leaf's capability.

He admits the 60-kWh system will drive up the sticker price, but he believes that price will be "fair, not out of the realm of what others are doing". The base version has an advertised range of 220 miles and starts at $35,000 before incentives. That puts the 150-mile Leaf more than $5,000 below the Model 3 and more than $6,000 below the Bolt EV.

We'll give the new Leaf a thorough going-over in the coming months, but in the meantime our man got behind the wheel of a prototype in Japan.

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