Nissan to Unveil 2013 Leaf

NSSANleaf
NSSANleaf

The Detroit Auto Show is the venue where the 2013 Nissan Leaf would be formally unveiled. A sneak peek though has been scheduled this weekend for the Bay Area Nissan Leaf Owners Association. The new version promises to provide better range, faster charging, and a lower starting price; specific areas that Nissan’s market research have identified as problem areas for the company.

Nissan is listening, according to Gary Lieber, co founder of the Bay Area Nissan Leaf Owners Association, who added, “I can point to half-dozen things on this 2013 car that directly resulted from meetings this group had with Nissan.”

That specific meeting was held at Luscious Garage, a service shop that specializes in hybrids and electrics located in San Francisco. Nearly sixty (60) owners or lessors of Nissan Leaf cars attended.

For its part, Nissan, through its spokesperson Tim Gallagher said, “The 2013 enhancements were simple, small changes, a nice generational move of the car.” The increase in content and the decrease in the sticker price became a possibility through the production of the 2013 Leafs from Japan to its assembly plant located in Smyrna, TN.

When inquired about the price change, Mr. Gallagher stated, “I was impressed. It’s a good number.” He did decline as to the exact figures before the official announcement. The process of decreasing the price was made possible through the stripped down S model, which comes without a navigation system or a Quick Charge port. These features were available only in the SL model and comes basic in the SV version, currently the cheapest model in the line.

The new features in the 2013 Leaf include LED headlamps, fog lighting, and 17 inch alloy wheels, as well as leather seating for the SL model. There are also optional premium upgrades including a seven speaker audio system from Bose and an ‘around view monitor’. This is a system has cameras upfront, back and side mirrors for parking assistance.

Another major area would be ‘improvements for range management’. Instead of installing bigger battery in the Leaf, the current eighty (80) mile range would be extended but Nissan would remained mum as to the farther range available on a single charge. One of the identified improvements include an aerodynamic change from the front fascia, a more power efficient heater and a B-mode that increases regenerative braking. There is also a display for the charge state of the battery by percentage.

The charging time for the 2013 Leaf when utilizing the 240 volt charger would have an upgrade to a 6.6 kilowatt onboard charger from the 2012’s 3.3 kilowatt charger. This would result an additional twenty (20) miles for charging, instead of just twelve (12) miles. The 2013 Leaf would be able to fully charge in just four (4) hours instead of the current seven (7) hours.

Simple improvements include a light for the charging port as well as the function to open the charging port door from within the car or through the key fob.

Increasing Market Share for Hybrids in 2013

hybridcarsign
hybridcarsign

With more and more environmental issues becoming headlines, the integration of that thought in major choices such as purchasing vehicles become more paramount in the marketplace. There are increasing numbers of purchasers opting for green vehicles as their transportation of choice.

This has translated to an increase in demand and number of units purchased in 2013. This comes as a watershed moment as the very first hybrids were introduced in the late 90’s, yet were only given serious thought twenty years later. There are many reasons that lead to the long delayed integration and acceptance of hybrids are the higher costs, technological demands, and many other factors.

This change in paradigm has been observed by the research firm Mintel, as it observes the sales of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars reached a total of 440,000 units for 2012. This is a jump of 73% from the figures found in 2011. This increase was still quite high, even if there was a slowdown during November 2012. The major automakers are expecting to sell about 50,000 units as a whole for this year.

Aside from this environmental consciousness, other factors fueled the increase in demand. These include the increasing number of options and varieties of alternative fuel cars made available in the market in 2011. Mintel notes that there are nearly four times as many plug-in and electric car models available in 2012 alone. Some carmakers had just three models in 2011 but now have eleven separate models in 2012.

According to Mintel automotive analyst Collin Bird, “New midsize hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius V and the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, have proven popular with consumers, in particular families, who want to buy green without sacrificing other features that fit their lifestyles.”

Bird added that the demand for alternative fuel cars would just continue on its growth in the near future by saying, “The segment will grow even further in 2013, with the launch of several new models, including the full Ford Fusion Hybrid series and the Honda Accord Hybrid, which will fulfill a wider variety of needs then conventional compact hybrids. Midsize plug-in hybrids will also enter the mainstream in 2013, with the introduction of the Ford Fusion Energi and the Honda Accord Plug-In, which will further improve mainstream acceptance of this, still, fairly novel powertrain segment.”

One of the fastest growing markets is the younger generation that is environmentally conscious as to their carbon footprint. Mintel found that nearly 34% of the purchasers in 2012 were aged between 25 to 34. Many in this age bracket believe that it would be easy to get their returns on the investment in the hybrid car as gas prices continue to rise. The trend is further expected to rise in 2013 and the years to come as innovations and improvements in the technology and design continue for the hybrid market.