Nissan to export Leaf production to England

Nissan Leaf front three-quarter viewNissan will makes some changes to its battery-powered Leaf hatchback to make it more appealing in the European market. The Japanese company will change the Leaf’s styling, improve its range, and build it in England to keep the price down.

The Leaf, identical to the version sold in the United States, went on sale in Europe last year. Despite winning the 2011 European Car of the Year award, it has failed to attract many buyers. Nissan hopes to sell 20,000-25,000 Leafs in Europe this year, but so far it has only sold 1,733. Part of the problem is the Leaf’s price. In England, a Leaf costs 25,990 pounds, about $41,600, including a 5,000-pound government grant. In the U.S., a Leaf costs about $35,000, before government incentives.

Nissan hopes that shifting Euro-market Leaf production to the United Kingdom will lower its cost. The Leaf is currently built in Oppama Japan, but beginning next February, it will also be built at Nissan’s Sunderland, England plant. This will save money on logistics, eliminate import taxes, and lessen the influence of the strong yen. Colin Lawther, Nissan Europe’s vice president of engineering, told Automotive News that producing the Leaf in England should cut the price by a third. It will also reduce order times by six to eight weeks.

The entire car will be built at Sunderland, except for the electric motor. At some point, Nissan might build motors there as well. The company is also tooling up its New Smyrna, Tennessee plant to build Leafs for the U.S. market.

The Leaf will also get some mechanical and styling changes for the European market. Europeans critics disliked the Leaf’s styling, so the U.K.-built version will get a new face. “We’ll fine tune the car for the European customer from a design point of view,” Lawther said. Since much of the Leaf’s design is based on aerodynamic efficiency, it will be interesting to see just how significant the changes are.

Nissan will also increase the Leaf’s range from the current 160 kilometers (U.S. cars can go about 80 miles), although the company would not say how much further European drivers will be going. The car’s power delivery will also be retuned to make acceleration less jerky.

Changes are definitely needed if Nissan wants to sell 20,000 Leafs in Europe by the end of the year. Fuel is more expensive in Europe, but the average European car is more fuel-efficient than the average American one. Add in the extra cost of importing a Leaf to Europe, and the savings margin becomes much slimmer. Like the U.S., European countries also lack widespread charging stations for electric vehicles. As with any other car, producers of electric vehicles will have to consider the needs of individual markets if electricity is ever going to replace fossil fuels.


Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…

With weeklong battery life, the new Honor Watches are a real Dream to wear

Honor has unveiled the new Honor View 20, one of the best smartphones of the year. Alongside it, however, the company also took the wraps off of the new Honor Watch Magic and Honor Watch Dream.

Tesla given go-ahead to start deliveries of Model 3 to Europe

Tesla has been given the green light to start deliveries of its Model 3 electric sedan to Europe, giving it the chance to compete more effectively with the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz in the region's premium car market.

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Is Uber planning to put its self-driving tech into bikes and scooters?

Uber reportedly has its eye on building autonomous electric bikes and scooters that ride to a user when summoned by an app. The technology could also be used to make its two-wheelers safer with obstacle avoidance systems.

Someone just paid supercar money for the very first 2020 Toyota Supra

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Lincoln’s stately, limited-edition flagship sedan sells out in a month

The 1961 Lincoln Continental became a design icon thanks to center-opening "coach doors" (also known as "suicide doors"). Lincoln is bringing those doors back for a special edition of the 2019 Continental.

Volkswagen is planning a tougher challenge for its all-electric I.D. R

The Volkswagen I.D. R electric race car will head to the Nürburgring for a lap-record attempt. Volkswagen will reportedly aim to set the quickest lap time ever by an electric car with the I.D. R.
Home Theater

Report: Spotify preparing to launch $100 in-car streaming device

According to a report, people familiar with Spotify's plans say the company is readying a dedicated in-car music streamer that will cost $100. It will work with any Bluetooth-enabled audio system and can be controlled by voice.

Royal fans bid big money as Prince Philip ‘car crash parts’ hit eBay

A couple of days after a car crash that involved the 97-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II, debris apparently from the scene of the accident showed up on eBay. And people wanted to buy it.

If Batman became a race car driver, he’d hit the track in the Vuhl 05RR

Mexican sports car Vuhl revealed the hardcore 05RR, a roadster that blurs the line between a track car and a street-legal car. The 05RR stands out with a design that looks right out of a video game and a 385-horsepower engine.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk offers to help dig CERN’s new particle collider tunnel

CERN plans to put the Large Hadron Collider to shame with its proposed much larger Future Circular Collider -- and Elon Musk wants to help. Because, you know, he's not busy enough.