Nissan is planning to introduce an updated LEAF in around two years' time. Talking at the Oppama facility in Japan where the Leaf is made, and where Nissan revealed more about upcoming hi-tech charging systems for the EV, a source told Auto Express: "We are hoping to bring the cost of the batteries and electric components down to make the Leaf more affordable."
Currently the Leaf costs around £26,000 after a £5,000 Government grant is taken into account in the UK. Our source wouldn't be drawn on exactly how much cheaper the revised car would be as a result of reduced component costs, but even a reduction of around five percent would drop the price by almost £1,500. And it could be even more.
As well as being more affordable there are also expected to be gains in range and performance when the revised car arrives in 2014. Before then, though, Nissan's luxury arm, Infiniti, will launch an electric compact hatchback using technology from the LEAF and with a design inspired by the Etherea concept car.
The next electric vehicle in the line-up will be a light commercial vehicle – similar to Alliance partner the Renault Kangoo EV – with a 'luxury' electric car also on the drawing board too. And that's not it, either. Our source also revealed that a small, supermini-sized electric car was in "the planning stages".
Nissan has ambitious plans for electric vehicles and has a target of selling 1.5m EV models by 2016. Currently, the firm has sold just 15,000 Leafs throughout the world since its introduction in December 2010.
Nissan plans to offer special charging systems to allow Leaf owners to power their homes via their car from Summer 2012. 'Home Smart Charging' sees a special box installed at the owner's home, which allows the Leaf's battery to be used to store energy from the grid and power the house. It makes use of cheaper overnight electricity.
The system will cost around 500,000 Yen to install in Japan (around £4,000). Nissan says that the average house typically consumes 10-12kWh per day, while the Leaf has a 24kWh battery – making it powerful enough to supply home electricity.
Nissan has also developed a wireless charging system, whereby owners simply drive their car over an induction coil which charges the battery. This can be installed at owners' homes.
It takes the same time to deliver a full charge as a conventional plug (around eight hours) but no leads or plugs are required. The only change to standard Leaf is the addition of a pad on the battery system and some updated software.
The system is only available on new Leafs and cannot be retro-fitted. Owners must pay extra for the pad and the charging system to be installed at their homes. It will be available from 2013. Nissan is currently working with Toyota to standardise induction systems to reduce their cost.