Nissan Leaf

The next-generation Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle will look better and go farther on a single charge, company executives tell Automotive News. How much better and how much farther remains to be seen, as does the timing on when the new version will be available to the public.

Nissan executive Andy Palmer, speaking recently at the Beijing Motor Show, implied that an electric vehicle would need to have a 185-mile single-charge range to be competitive with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, once those arrive in larger numbers. While Nissan boosted its single-charge range by about 15 percent for the 2014 model-year Leaf, the automaker would need to double it to reach that competitive threshold. This seems unlikely for the next-gen model, but we can start making our guesses as to how many more miles Nissan will put into the pack.

Regardless, the next-generation Leaf, which may come out around 2017, will at least look a bit more mainstream while it reaches for more range, Automotive News says, citing Nissan global design chief Mamoru Aoki. Indeed, the car, which will keep its hatchback layout, will likely look less angular, said Aoki, who complimented Tesla for the way it styled its Model S luxury electric sedan. Nissan's Infiniti arm could also debut its delayed luxury electric vehicle in 2017, complete with the improved battery pack.

Angular looks and all, Nissan continues to increase sales in the US. Leaf sales through April were up 33 percent from 2013, to 7,272 units after more than doubling sales last year to 22,610 vehicles.
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