Nis­san plays safe with new Leaf

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

Nis­san Aus­tralia will tar­get gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate fleet buy­ers with its new se­cond­gen­er­a­tion Leaf elec­tric ve­hi­cle, but is not ex­pect­ing a huge uptick in sales vol­ume com­pared with the orig­i­nal model un­til there is suf­fi­cient charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture in place across the coun­try.

Set to hit Aus­tralian show­rooms in late 2018, the new Leaf hatch is likely to be priced at about the $50,000 mark – a leap over the $39,990 drive­away price of its pre­de­ces­sor but closer to its orig­i­nal launch price of $51,500 plus on-roads – with the vari­ant lineup, spec­i­fi­ca­tions and of­fi­cial pric­ing to be con­firmed closer to launch.

The new Leaf is al­ready prov­ing to be a sales suc­cess in its home mar­ket, with more than 9000 or­ders placed since it went on sale in Ja­pan in early Oc­to­ber.

Nis­san Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions Karla Leach told Goauto the com­pany would ac­tively seek out fleet busi­ness for the new Leaf.

“We think that fleet prob­a­bly comes in lots of dif­fer­ent it­er­a­tions,” she said.

“Fleet po­ten­tially is lo­cal gov­ern­ment, state gov­ern­ment and also larger cor­po­rates that have a cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pol­icy as well as smallto-mid-size fleets that want to make a more con­scious de­ci­sion about the ve­hi­cles they buy.”

Ms Leach said Nis­san was not an­tic­i­pat­ing a huge in­crease in sales com­pared with the first-gen­er­a­tion Leaf, given the low take-up of EVS and lack of charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

In Aus­tralia, Nis­san sold 635 ex­am­ples of the Leaf in its five years on the mar­ket. It was dis­con­tin­ued ear­lier this year af­ter launch­ing in 2012 – but glob­ally Nis­san has shifted 280,000 units, mak­ing it the world’s best­selling full-elec­tric ve­hi­cle.

“Based on the cur­rent mar­ket in Aus­tralia and the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment, I don’t think it is prob­a­bly fair to say that we ex­pect a big up­take be­cause some­thing needs to change for that to hap­pen – a fun­da­men­tal shift,” Ms Leach said.

“And it is not only us that is say­ing that, it is most man­u­fac­tur­ers.”

Ms Leach said the com­pany was nonethe­less in a bet­ter po­si­tion to bring the Leaf back to Aus­tralia, with shift­ing con­sumer at­ti­tudes, in­dus­try changes such as elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies get­ting on-board with home recharg­ing units and im­prove­ments to the new model, such as more re­fined styling and bet­ter bat­tery per­for­mance.

Nis­san Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion chief ve­hi­cle en­gi­neer for the Leaf, Hiroki Isobe, said the shift to a more con­ven­tional de­sign for the sec­ond gen­era- tion was a strate­gic move to ap­peal to a wider buyer group as the com­pany wanted to tar­get more than just early adopters.

“This time, our styling de­signer tried to ex­press its per­for­mance, with a low and wide dy­namic feel, rather than the fu­tur­is­tic style,” he said.

“And also, since the bat­tery per­for­mance has im­proved, cus­tomers will choose the Leaf be­cause they have less anx­i­ety about the range.”

Nis­san’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for global mar­ket­ing and sales, zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles and the bat­tery busi­ness, Daniele Schillaci, added buyer sat­is­fac­tion for the Leaf was higher than other Nis­san mod­els.

“Sat­is­fac­tion with this prod­uct prob­a­bly the best,” he said.

“We have statis­tics where in all of our line-up, we have cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion with the prod­ucts, which is good, but with Leaf it is sim­ply out­stand­ing.”

Nis­san Aus­tralia is in the process of de­ter­min­ing whether all deal­ers in its net­work will sell and ser­vice the Leaf, but Ms Leach said this was com­pli­cated by the level of staff train­ing re­quired for the EV tech and in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment at deal­er­ships.

The com­pany is also look­ing into of­fer­ing a home charg­ing sys­tem, po­ten­tially bun­dled into the price of the car, but this is yet to be con­firmed.

Nis­san is also in the process of de­vel­op­ing a wire­less charg­ing sys­tem that will start to roll out in 2020.

The Leaf uses a car­ry­over ver­sion of the EV plat­form that un­der­pinned the pre­vi­ous model, but with im­prove­ments to the bat­tery pack that have in­creased the driv­ing range to 400km, up from 170km in the pre­vi­ous Aus­tralian-spec car.

Nis­san does not think the new Leaf will sell in its thou­sands in Aus­tralia but is con­fi­dent of pulling in new buy­ers this time around. Given it does not look as sci-fi as the pre­vi­ous car it should stand a bet­ter chance of ap­peal­ing to the pub­lic than the orig­i­nal. is

EASY BE­ING GREEN: Nis­san has taken a de­lib­er­ately con­ser­va­tive ap­proach to the de­sign of the Leaf to en­sure it ap­peals to more buy­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.