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Nissan bids to keep the LEAF ahead in EV game

A Nissan LEAF is seen connected to a recharging station. — Picture courtesy of NissanA Nissan LEAF is seen connected to a recharging station. — Picture courtesy of NissanDETROIT, March 21 — As electric cars race ever faster towards the mainstream, Nissan has lifted the lid on the upgrades it’s planning to include with the next generation of its market-leading LEAF.

The 2013 LEAF, set for launch later this year, will get a serious set of improvements to help it compete against a rapidly expanding field, Nissan’s Mark Perry has told the Detroit News this week.

Chief among them will be an overhauled heating system, with the aim of combating one of the real problems of electric vehicles to date, the drain of power-hungry climate control systems on the battery.

Armed with the new system, Perry told the Detroit News that the LEAF’s range could be boosted by up to 40km in cold-weather conditions, a jump of 25 per cent on the current maximum range.

The interior decor will also receive an overhaul, becoming darker and with leather seating replacing the green materials used in the model to date in a bid to give it a more premium feel.

Nissan’s refresh comes on the back of falling sales figures this year, the LEAF finally giving way to the Volt in February, having outsold it in 2011.

However, it also signals the need for the vehicle to stay ahead of other competitors such as the Ford Focus Electric launched this year, and the hybrid Prius C, a compact version of the wildly popular Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid.

According to Toyota, the Prius C sold 1,201 units within just three days of its March 12 launch in the US, eclipsing Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF sales for the entire month of February.

Now, reports suggest that Toyota will boost production of the Prius C to over 30,000 a month to keep up with global demand. — AFP/Relaxnews

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