As customers in the UK begin taking delivery of Nissan’s next generation all-electric LEAF, news has emerged that the latest version of the world’s highest selling EV is due to arrive on Australian soil sometime after July this year, and before the end of June 2019.
In a statement published on the Nissan website on Tuesday, the Japan-based auto giant said the new LEAF would go on sale in seven markets in Asia and Oceania during the coming fiscal year, including Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.
The company is also exploring introducing the zero-emission car in other markets in the region, including Indonesia and the Philippines, it said.
As noted above, Nissan has led the global electric vehicle market on sales since the first model went on sale in 2010, with more than 300,000 cares sold over the past seven years.
But with competition increasing from both established auto makers and EV-only upstarts like Tesla, the company unveiled a “completely reinvented” version of its best seller in September last year. So far, orders for the new model have totalled more than 40,000, it said last week.
As we reported at the time, the new improved LEAF includes a 400km range – more than double the 172km range of the previous model – boosted acceleration and a range of new drive technologies, for a price starting at $US28,992. (RE asked Nissan for an $A price on the new LEAF, but was told this was “a long way off,” and wouldn’t be announced until launch.)
Among the new car’s features are ProPILOT Park, which is an automated parking function, guided by four high-res cameras and 12 “ultrasonic” sensors.
News of its arrival in Australia in the 2018-29 fiscal year will be welcomed by consumers and industry, as a much needed boost to the local market, which has lagged embarrassingly behind the rest of the developed world on EV uptake.
And while the exact date of the car’s arrival on the market remains vague (we asked Nissan if they can narrow it down a bit – they can’t), delivery before 2019 could give the LEAF the jump on the much awaited Tesla 3 – Elon Musk’s first attempt at a mass market electric vehicle that is not expected to arrive in Australian before 2019.
The Tesla Model 3, which began shipping to US customers in late July, has a price tag of between $US35,000-$US44,000, and a range of 354km or near 500km, respectively.
The standard Model 3, with 354km range, has acceleration of 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds while the model with a 498km range can get from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds.
But a bit of competition shouldn’t be a problem for Nissan or Tesla in Australia, considering the virtually untapped market and forecasts of huge underlying demand.
According to Nissan commissioned research released by Frost & Sullivan, also released on Tuesday, one in three consumers in south-east Asia are open to considering an electric vehicle as their next car buy.
The study found that across the region, two out of three consumers identified safety standards as the most important factor if purchasing an electric vehicle, while charging convenience was identified as the second-most important.
Interestingly, cost was not identified by respondents as a deterrent – rather, the survey found that customers were willing to pay more to own an EV, compared with a comparable conventional car.
However, the study did suggest that lower costs would prompt more people to consider electric cars. Three in four respondents said they were ready to switch to electric vehicles if taxes were waived.
Other incentives that would sway consumers include the installation of charging stations in apartment buildings (70 per cent), priority lanes for electric vehicles (56 per cent) and free parking (53 per cent).
Australia, of course, has none of these incentives, although all of them – and more – are being pushed for by EV advocates and in various industry reports.