Now that it's no longer the only electric car in town, Nissan may be looking to upgrade its Leaf hatchback to be more competitive with newer entries in the segment.
According to Japan's SankeiBiz, Nissan is just putting the finishing touches on the 2013 Leaf that will include a boost in range and a new, reduced-capacity model at a lower price. Right now, the EPA has rated the Leaf at 99 MPGe combined and a range of 73 miles. The updated 2013 model is rumored to have its range extended by an additional 30 miles. Nissan is extending the car's range by tweaking the performance of the lithium-ion battery pack, says SankeiBiz. The longer range may also help give Nissan an edge on the 105 MPGe Ford Focus EV and the Honda Fit EV's 118 MPGe rating.
At the same time, it's being reported that Nissan is also contemplating adding a shorter-range Leaf to pull down the car's price. The 2012 Leaf starts at $36,050, including destination, before any government rebates; in Japan, the car retails for closer to about $47,000 and the company is looking at making a model that would sell there for around $31,000. If Nissan decides to bring a cheaper model to the U.S., we wouldn't be surprised to see a pre-rebate price below $30,000 in order to better compete with the $29,975 Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
A drop in the base price of the 2013 Leaf could also help boost sales. In the first seven months of this year, Nissan sold just 3543 Leaf hatchbacks. We've previously reported on potential updates for the 2013 Leaf including leather seats, darker interior trim, and a more efficient heater.
Nissan wouldn't comment on whether or not there were any range or pricing updates planned for the 2013 Leaf, so stay tuned. Production of the 2013 model begins this December at Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee plant.