2017 Nissan LEAF to battle hydrogen fuel cells with 186-mile range

The Nissan LEAF helped kick off the modern electric car trend when it launched in December 2010 and has since become the world’s most successful EV. Yet every car needs to keep up with the times.

For the next LEAF that will likely be in 2017, when it will get a better battery that could double its range as well as more mainstream styling, Automotive News reports.

While he declined to quote a specific range, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer told Automotive News that the new battery would need to provide at least 186 miles of range to compete with upcoming hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The new battery chemistry will debut on an Infiniti electric car before moving to the LEAF. Infiniti showed the LE concept at the 2012 New York Auto Show, but a production version has reportedly been in a holding pattern since then because the luxury brand wanted to wait for better battery technology.

Launch dates for both the Infiniti plug-in and the next LEAF haven’t been revealed either, but it’s likely the Nissan won’t arrive until at least 2017, with the Infiniti showing up a bit earlier. The Infiniti will most likely be a sedan like the LE concept, while the Leaf will retain its hatchback body style.


Infiniti’s LE Concept was originally touted to launch this year

However, the LEAF’s styling will apparently be quite different from the current car’s. Although some electric-specific styling cues like a grille-less front fascia will be included, the overall look will be more mainstream.

It’s also likely to get the “V Motion” V-shaped front fascia that’s becoming the new face of Nissan, and has already appeared on the 2014 Rogue and 2015 Murano crossovers.

Citing the Tesla Model S, Nissan global design chief Mamoru Aoki told Automotive News that electric cars no longer need to grab attention with unusual styling. The change could help move the LEAF beyond electric car early adopters who want to highlight how different their cars are from the internal combustion mainstream.

“The current LEAF is aiming too much at an EV-like appearance,” he said. “Tesla doesn’t look EV at all. The Tesla S just looks nice, very sporty, sleek, but very authentic.”

Toyota may be thinking the same thing: The next-generation Prius hybrid is also expected to depart from the current car’s styling theme to appeal to a wider audience.