Nissan unveils new Leaf electric car

SEOUL • Nissan Motor Co Ltd unveiled a new version of its Leaf electric car after delaying its launch amid the shock arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The new model, launched on Tuesday in Las Vegas, narrows the driving-range gap versus Tesla Inc’s Model 3 and General Motors Co’s Chevrolet Bolt.

The Japanese carmaker called off key events in the wake of the scandal involving Ghosn, who was the architect of Nissan’s electric-car vision and its pact with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, the world’s biggest auto alliance. Ghosn was arrested on Nov 19 in Japan on alleged financial crimes. He remains in a Tokyo prison as prosecutors build their case.

The auto industry’s increasing focus on automation and new-energy vehicles, along with the aggressive push into both areas by Tesla and scores of start-ups from China to Germany, has added to Nissan’s challenges.

The Leaf e+ boasts a more energy-dense battery that extends its range by about 40%, to as much as 226 miles (363km). That compares to the 220to 310-mile range for Tesla’s Model 3, which starts at US$44,000 (RM180,840), and the 238-mile range on the US$36,620 Chevrolet Bolt. While the Leaf starts at about US$30,000 in the US, Nissan isn’t releasing the price of the e+ until it’s closer to starting sales this spring.

The new Leaf will be available at dealerships in Japan starting this month, followed by the US, then Europe in mid-2019, Nissan said in a statement. — Bloomberg