Autonomous Vehicles

Published on September 5th, 2017 | by Kyle Field

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Nissan Unveils Redesigned 2018 Nissan LEAF With 240–400 km Range & ProPilot Autonomous Driving Features

September 5th, 2017 by  

Update: This article has been updated to clarify that the 400 km range Nissan mentioned is apparently on the Japanese testing system, which probably means something closer to 240–300 km (150–190 miles) in the real world.

Nissan just unveiled its new 2018 Nissan LEAF, which features a completely new exterior design that is sure to be less polarizing and more in line with the look and feel of the rest of the Nissan fleet. Following the event, Nissan launched the official 2018 Nissan LEAF website to lure the thousands viewing the livestream in with all the juicy details.

The additional details highlight just how much Nissan has done to round off the edges on the first-generation LEAF that made it a less attractive option for mainstream consumers, while also adding exciting new autonomous vehicle technology to ensure it would continue to be relevant in light of the onslaught from the Tesla Model 3.

Longer Range

The 40 kWh battery pack affords the new 2018 Nissan LEAF an impressive 400 kilometer (249 mile) range that puts it at the top of its class in range, but seemingly on the unrealistic Japanese system. [Edit: Presuming the 400 km estimate is on the Japanese system, the EPA rating should be considerably lower, likely even putting the figure below the base Model 3. But we have to wait for the EPA rating to confirm how much different the rating will be. That said, the Nissan press release mentions 150 miles of range at one point. The Tesla Model 3 has an EPA rating of 220 miles of range and the Chevrolet Bolt has an EPA rating of 238 miles of range.]

That battery is able to be refilled at an impressive rate as well, with a 40 minute charge time from the built-in low battery alert back to an 80% charge. That will not break any speed records and likely still feels slow to mainstream consumers, but it shows that it’s possible to keep quick charge times down as 200+ mile EVs drive battery sizes higher and higher.

The longer range on the new 2018 Nissan LEAF — nearly triple that of the first-generation 85 mile LEAF — was done without tripling the capacity of the battery. This impressive feat is a testament to Nissan’s expertise in electric powertrains, especially when considering that Nissan made the powertrain even more powerful with a new 147 horsepower | 236 lb-ft torque electric motor. What’s more, Nissan brought all of this new technology and efficiency into the new 2018 LEAF while keeping the MSRP under $30,000!

Mainstream Vehicle Design

Anyone who has driven the first generation Nissan LEAF knows the looks others give the car. It’s a funny looking vehicle with strange headlights that protrude from the front of the car like bug eyes sticking out from the front. I distinctly recall the looks my coworkers gave it when the first saw it in the parking lot, laughing at how silly they thought it looked while I looked on from the distance. I personally like the look of the first-generation LEAF, but at the same time prefer EVs with more mainstream appeal simply because they are more likely to be adopted by mainstream consumers. We have to save the planet here, people.

For that reason, I am thoroughly satisfied that Nissan went back to the drawing board with the redesign of the 2018 Nissan LEAF, which has a much more mainstream look to it while still holding onto some of the fun design cues of the original. The high, awkward, first-generation LEAF has had its top chopped, leaving behind a lower, sportier LEAF that carries forward some of the design elements from the Nissan IDS Concept without similarly alienating consumers by going full-bore modern.

The nose of the new LEAF is striking and aggressive, sharpening up the round, bubbly curves that defined the first generation and tightening up the edges. It is almost as if the first-generation LEAF went away for a boot camp for the summer and has only now taken off the wraps to reveal its new hardbody.

Autonomous Driving Features

Nissan didn’t stop there with the new LEAF but instead took on the competition head on with the intentional inclusion of the Nissan ProPILOT Assist solution that brings along a smattering of autonomous driving technologies that aim to compete with Tesla’s Autopilot solution.

“The new Nissan LEAF drives Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is the core brand strategy for Nissan’s future,” said Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan. “The new Nissan LEAF, with its improved autonomy range, combined with the evolution of autonomous drive technology, such as ProPILOT Assist and the simple operation of the e-Pedal, strengthens Nissan’s EV leadership, as well as the expansion of EVs globally. It also has the core competency of future Nissan models.”

ProPILOT Assist is Nissan’s implementation of one of my favorite autonomous driving technologies — Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) — which allows the driver to set the cruise control speed and adjusts dynamically to traffic conditions as they change around the vehicle. If the driver in front of the vehicle slows down quickly, ProPILOT will accordingly decrease the speed of the vehicle to maintain a preset buffer distance (or time), set by the driver.

Nissan pushed beyond mere intelligent cruise control with the ability to actually steer the vehicle, keeping it centered in the lane. The combination of these two technologies will make freeway driving much less stressful as the driver hands over control to ProPILOT. As it is not a fully autonomous driving solution, the driver will be required to maintain a presence in the driver’s seat and ready to takeover for the system, but it represents a step change improvement compared to other Nissan vehicles. With that in mind, expect to see ProPILOT making its way into other Nissan vehicles.

ProPILOT can bring the vehicle to a complete stop and resume driving without any input from the driver for an experience that should drastically reduce the strain on drivers during stop-and-go driving. ProPILOT also includes many other active safety features, like: Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection.

Single Pedal Driving with e-Pedal

When ProPILOT can’t be activated, Nissan has designed its new e-Pedal system to make single-pedal driving a reality in the new LEAF. e-Pedal allows a driver to use the accelerator pedal to accelerate as normal by depressing the pedal, but it changes the behavior of the pedal as it is released, gradually applying a stiff regenerative effect to slow the vehicle as if it were braking. Nissan believes that its intelligent implementation of this system will allow drivers to perform more than 90% of driving with just one pedal.

Summary

Overall, the new LEAF is a game changer for Nissan, with nearly 3 times the range of the first-generation LEAF, a more mainstream design that is sure to appeal to a larger segment of consumers, and autonomous driving technologies that will make driving safer and easier for drivers. Offering these step change improvements at a price point under $30,000 USD makes the new LEAF extremely competitive compared to its peer group and feels like a great spot compared to the new Tesla Model 3 as a lower-priced alternative with more range.

Chevy is surely not excited about the news, as the base price of the new LEAF undercuts the base price of the Chevy Bolt by a staggering $7,500 while offering autonomous driving features that simply aren’t available in the Bolt. Looking to the future, the LEAF sets a very high bar for other automotive manufacturers looking to compete in the $30,000 electric vehicle market.

Scroll down for the full specs on the new LEAF as well as the full text of the press release.

Source: 2018 Nissan Leaf Press Kit

Exterior (inches)
Overall length 176.4
Overall width 70.5
Overall height 61.4
Wheelbase 106.3
Track width front/rear 60.6/61.2 (S model)
Minimum ground clearance 5.9
Coefficient of drag (Cd) 0.28
Wheels/Tires

Cargo area (cu. ft.)

16-in. steel with 205/55R-16 or 17-inch aluminum-alloy with 215/50R-17
23.6
Weight/capacity (lb.)
Curb weight 3,433 – 3,508
Capacity 5 passenger
Gross vehicle weight 4,453
Battery
Type Li-ion battery
Capacity 40kWh
Electric motor
Name EM57
Maximum output 147 hp @ 3283~9795 rpm
Maximum torque 236 lb-ft @ 0~3283 rpm
Performance
Cruising range 150 miles1
Charging time (normal charging) 16 hours (3kW)
8 hours (6kW)
Charging time from alert to 80% (Quick Charging) 40 minutes

See below for the full press release from Nissan.


  • Greater range and advanced technologies make new LEAF the ultimate electric vehicle
  • 2018 LEAF offers a longer range at a lower price – with stronger performance, striking new design and cutting-edge technologies
  • Since its launch in 2010, LEAF has been the #1 affordable, mass production EV in the world
  • LEAF’s advanced ProPILOT™ Assist and e-Pedal technologies offer a look into the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility

LAS VEGAS – The all-new Nissan LEAF sets a new standard in the growing market for mainstream electric vehicles by offering customers greater range, advanced technologies and a dynamic new design.

Drivers will feel more confident, excited and connected thanks to the new Nissan LEAF’s ProPILOT™ Assist driver assistance technology, e-Pedal, increased power and range, and improved refinement, comfort and convenience.

The new, zero-emission Nissan LEAF embodies Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the company’s approach to changing the way cars are driven, powered and integrated into society. The three key aspects of Nissan Intelligent Mobility exemplified by the new Nissan LEAF are Nissan Intelligent Driving, Nissan Intelligent Power and Nissan Intelligent Integration.

Nissan Intelligent Driving
Headlining the new LEAF’s Nissan Intelligent Driving technology are ProPILOT™ Assiste-Pedal and the company’s heralded Nissan Safety Shield. ProPILOT Assist is a single-lane driving assistance technology. Once activated, it can automatically control the distance to the vehicle in front, using a speed preset by the driver (between about 18 mph and 62 mph).

It can also help the driver steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, the ProPILOT Assist system will automatically apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop if necessary. After coming to a full stop, the vehicle can remain in place even if the driver’s foot is off the brake. If traffic restarts, the car will resume driving when the driver touches the switch again or lightly presses the accelerator to activate ProPILOT. All these functions can significantly reduce stress when driving on the highway in both heavy and flowing traffic.

Another innovation that enhances the LEAF’s driving experience is the e-Pedal, which is offered as standard equipment on all grade levels. It allows the driver the simplicity of accelerating, decelerating and stopping the car by using the accelerator pedal alone — a revolutionary innovation that can change the way people drive.

By simply releasing the accelerator, the LEAF will come to a smooth and complete stop without the need to press the brake pedal. With a deceleration rate of up to 0.2g, the e-Pedal eliminates the need for drivers to constantly move their foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal to slow down or stop. This helps reduce fatigue and increase enjoyment.

Studies by Nissan in Japan, Europe and the U.S. have shown that the LEAF’s e-Pedal reduces the number of times the driver must apply the brakes while commuting in heavily congested traffic. While the conventional brake pedal must still be used in aggressive braking situations, the e-Pedal lets drivers use a single pedal for more than 90 percent of their driving needs.

Along with ProPILOT Assist and e-Pedal, the new LEAF is equipped with a set of advanced safety technologies including Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection.

Nissan Intelligent Power
The focal point of Nissan Intelligent Power in the new LEAF is the e-powertrain, which offers improved energy efficiency and increased torque and power output. The new e-powertrain delivers an exhilarating, linear driving performance with a power output of 147 horsepower, 38 percent more than the previous-generation LEAF. Torque has been increased 26 percent to 236 lb-ft, resulting in improved acceleration.

Existing LEAF drivers already enjoy the instant response and linearity of performance as they navigate the city. The new LEAF’s improved acceleration will boost enjoyment even further. Even with the additional power output, the new LEAF’s driving range has been increased. The car’s new lithium-ion battery pack delivers an estimated range of 150 miles1, which should satisfy the daily driving needs of the majority of LEAF owners.

The new battery design adds energy-storage capacity without increasing the size. The battery pack occupies the exact same dimensions as that of the previous-generation LEAF. The individual cell structure of the laminated lithium-ion battery cells has been improved, representing a 67 percent increase in energy density versus the original 2010 LEAF model.

Another key engineering improvement for the lithium-ion battery pack is the use of enhanced electrode materials with revised chemistry, resulting in higher power density while contributing to greater battery durability upon charge and discharge.

For those who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a new higher power, longer range version at a higher price for the 2019 model year.

Nissan Intelligent Integration
The new LEAF links drivers, vehicles and communities through the user-friendly NissanConnectSM feature and systems that share power between electric vehicles and homes, buildings and power grids.
Using vehicle-to-home systems, the battery makes it possible to store surplus solar power during the daytime and then use it to help power the home in the evening. The customer can also recharge the battery in the middle of the night, when prices are lowest in some markets, and then use the electricity during the day to reduce energy costs.

In some countries with V2G (vehicle-to-grid) systems, LEAF owners can get incentives from energy companies to improve power grid stability by absorbing demand fluctuation. The system is not offered in the United States at this time.

A newly designed interface on the Nissan LEAF smartphone app allows users to monitor the vehicle’s state of charge, schedule charging to benefit from optimal energy tariffs, find the nearest charging station, and pre-heat or cool the car before getting in.

Chassis and body
In performance and agility, the new LEAF excels. To match the improved output of the electric motor and inverter, Nissan engineers enhanced the car’s chassis for better stability. Heavy components, including the battery, are placed in the center of the body, helping achieve smaller yaw moments of inertia compared with front-engine vehicles and thereby improving directional stability, enabling smoother cornering.

The new LEAF’s electric power steering system has a more linear feel that enhances confidence, especially on highways, with enhanced feedback from the road surface. This is thanks to a software upgrade, new control logic working in conjunction with the steering angle sensor, and a 10 percent increase in steering torsion bar stiffness. Additionally, the urethane bump stop for the rear suspension has been replaced by a rubber stop to reduce shocks and bumpiness when driving on uneven roads.

The new LEAF also comes with Intelligent Ride Control for more precise electric motor torque control generation when cornering, reducing vibration while simultaneously improving ride quality and steering control.

Exterior design: sleek silhouette and “cool tech attitude”
The new LEAF’s design expresses Nissan’s forward-thinking attitude and its pioneering approach to replacing the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. It is inspired by the IDS Concept car, first shown at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

The sporty, eye-catching body represents the car’s dynamic personality. The philosophy behind the exterior design was to express clean and simple lines and a robust and sleek silhouette, creating the feeling of a high-tech device. The horizontal character line, the bumper, and the striking highlights in the lower part of the body emphasize the lower center of gravity, giving the beholder an instinctive feeling that it’s agile and fun to drive.

The signature V-Motion grille, the boomerang light signature and the floating roof emphasize the presence of Nissan brand design, giving the LEAF an appearance similar to other Nissan models, such as the popular Rogue.

A clear-blue 3D mesh pattern with a “freezing” motif, on a flush surface inside the V-Motion grille, expresses the LEAF’s uniqueness as an EV. The new LEAF’s projector-beam headlights with dual, direct-lens low and high beams are a first for Nissan. More mechanical details and a floating signature configuration express a high-tech feel, while visibility and safety are improved by enhancing forward illumination coverage, optimally balancing design and functionality.

The rear combination lamps feature a unique signature that’s easily recognizable from a distance. A spoiler integrated in the window graphics gives the new LEAF an impressive, sporty look. The low hood blends flawlessly into the windshield and floating roof, creating a sleek silhouette that makes air flow.

The underfloor and a diffuser-type rear bumper combine to achieve reduced drag and zero lift, resulting in improved vehicle stability. Thanks to the aerodynamic body styling, including a rear bumper with a clear-cut curve and aero-design wheels, the new Nissan LEAF has a 0.28 coefficient of drag.

The angle of the charging port at the front has been reconfigured for greater convenience, letting the customer connect the charging cable without bending down. Ergonomic testing by Nissan shows that this new 45-degree angle allows drivers of all heights to easily and comfortably connect the charger.

Interior design: premium ambience with a clean, relaxed, high-tech feeling
The new LEAF’s cabin features roominess and openness with the brand’s “Gliding Wing” design language used as a framework. The redesigned driver information display has a simple, light configuration without excessive decoration. It focuses on visibility, creating a tasteful, understated look and feel with both excellent spaciousness and functionality.

Customers will immediately appreciate the signature vibrant blue stitching, an emblem of Nissan EVs, in the seats, door trim, armrest and steering wheel. The blue, illuminated vehicle start/stop button and shift knob finisher create a cool, high-tech feeling.

Through the thoughtful design of the center console and switchgear, the new LEAF gives drivers the information they need where they need it. This helps them focus on what really matters the most – an enjoyable drive. When the car is activated, a start-up movie is displayed, giving the driver a sense of excitement about driving an electric car.

Monitors and switches have also been redesigned for smart, stress-free operation. Most notable is the combination of an analog speedometer and a multi-information display. On the left side, the 7-inch, full-color, thin-film transistor (TFT) display shows a power gauge meter by default. The driver can smoothly change the information that is displayed.

The center display has a screen with a flush-surface design allowing the driver to easily operate audio and navigation systems and connect to smartphones intuitively with just a fingertip. The display shows the Safety Shield technology, the vehicle’s state-of-charge and a power gauge, as well as audio and navigation system information.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added to the infotainment system in cars equipped with the navigation system. The audio and navigation functions can be modified with a steering switch, without taking hands off the steering wheel.

Overall interior quality has also been enhanced. A matte chrome finish with a high-quality feel has been applied to the rim of the steering wheel, wrapped in genuine leather, and the center display, making for consistent brightness and quality of each metal finisher. Matte and glossy shades of black have been carefully applied in the air conditioner control panel and the vent grille, creating an advanced, precise interface and a comfortable cabin – like a high-quality living room with relaxing softness and warmth combined at their best.

Using NissanConnect, a key part of Nissan Intelligent Integration, the driver can search for continuously updated information such as the location and operating hours of free charging stations and charging station availability. Owners can also access their smartphone to check the car’s battery status.

The comfort and quietness of the new Nissan LEAF deliver a peerless ride. Even at highway speeds, the new Nissan LEAF’s cabin stays very quiet. Along with producing less drag, aerodynamic upgrades and exterior refinements have led to a reduction in wind noise.

Other noise-reduction measures include optimization of the redesigned inverter’s structural rigidity, and a noise-isolating cover on top of the PDM. The noise from the electric motor itself has also been reduced, even as it generates more torque and power than ever before.

The front console has been completely redesigned. The dual cup holders, in a tandem configuration, are now between the driver’s seat and front passenger seat. This allows for a new stowage area at the base of the center console – ideal for a smartphone or wallet – as well as an easily accessible power switch, a 12-volt power outlet and a USB port. This new and ergonomic center console design gives easier access to the controls and switchgear in the lower portion.

Energy-efficient air-conditioning and heating systems provide elevated comfort inside the cabin for all occupants. A smartphone app provides convenience features such as remote pre-conditioning of the vehicle’s interior temperature and wireless remote charging.

While the energy capacity of the lithium-ion battery pack has been significantly increased, the cabin’s interior dimensions remain essentially unchanged and comfortably accommodate five people. What’s more, the rear cargo area has been redesigned to provide increased luggage space, offering 23.6 cubic feet of available stowage. The square space, with bumps removed as much as possible, allows greater space utilization, increasing convenience and usability. The rear cargo space can now accommodate two large suitcases or three medium-sized, airline carry-on suitcases. It also allows for easier charging cable storage.

Color design: a lineup that meets customers’ tastes
The new LEAF’s palette of colors offers customers a wide range of options according to their tastes. It is available in eight body colors. The new LEAF is also available in a two-tone White/Black.

Moving to the interior, the clean design ethos extends to the color options. An all-black interior gives an air of cool sophistication, discreetly enhanced by lighter accents on the seats, as well as the blue stitching on the steering wheel, seats and central armrest. The alternative option is a pale shade of gray, which colors the seats, door trims, central portion of the dashboard and central armrest. These surfaces are contrasted with the dark gray accents of the central console, binnacle, lower and upper dashboard sections and steering wheel. The overall effect is a light and airy ambience.

The new LEAF goes on sale Oct. 2 in Japan. It is slated for deliveries in the U.S., Canada and Europe in early 2018. It will be sold in more than 60 markets worldwide.

2018 Nissan LEAF specifications (U.S model)
Specifications are based on the latest product information available at the time of release. Specifications for other regions will be announced at the start of sales.


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I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



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