New long-range Nissan LEAF sparks calls for UK infrastructure upgrades

Nissan's announcement that a new Nissan LEAF model with extended driving range will go on sale in 2018 has been welcomed by energy groups, who have called on the UK to deliver new charging networks to account for demand.

The new Nissan LEAF has been upgraded to offer a longer range of 235 miles on a singles charge and will go on sale in Europe from January 2018. Nissan will also offer customers even further driving range improvements and battery capacity as part of a higher price model, which will enter into circulation at the end of 2018.

Nissan’s president Hiroto Saikawa said: “The new Nissan LEAF, with its improved autonomy range, combined with the evolution of autonomous drive technology, such as ProPILOT Park 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 strengths that will be embodied by future Nissan models.”

The company, which has sold more than 75,000 EV models across Europe, revealed that the car would also be its first in Europe to be fitted with advanced driver assistance and the e-pedal, which enables users to drive and stop using one pedal.

The new LEAF will come with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology to offer two-way charging to fully integrate the vehicle to send surplus energy back to the electricity grid.

Urgency to upgrade

But while the announcement seeks to boost interest in EVs and combat range anxiety, both Good Energy and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) have urged the UK Government to keep pace with EV market by increasing the number of charging points in the country.

The REA’s head of EVs Matthew Trevaskis claimed that post-Brexit Britain would need to “create the conditions for a large domestic market, which means delivering a network of strategically placed charge points”.

“The launch of this new LEAF, together with other recent announcements from MINI, Volvo, Aston Martin, and others, is an important step towards the mass take-up of electric vehicles in the UK and beyond,” Trevaskis added.

“There is urgency to upgrade building regulations to ensure three-phase power is standard in all new homes and new retail sites are equipped to be able to charge large numbers of vehicles. Developing common minimum charging performance of vehicles and charging points will also advance this transition.”

Efforts are being made to increase the number of charge points. In the UK, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London (TfL) have allocated £4.5m to 25 London boroughs to roll-out 1,500 new charging points for EVs across the capital.

However, efforts are still largely being driven by the private sector. The world’s largest motor companies, including BMW, Volkswagen and Ford, have agreed to collaborate on the creation of Europe’s highest-powered charging network.

Uber announced that it will team with Nissan on the construction of a network of chargers to combat London’s “woefully inadequate” infrastructure. In fact, Good Energy’s founder Juliet Davenport claimed it is “critical” the UK supports the “rapidly advancing” EV technology with upgraded network infrastructure.

“EVs are a crucial part of the transition to a cleaner, greener future. The release of exciting new models that can travel further between charges both intensifies competition in the EV market and helps to make so-called ‘range-anxiety’ a thing of the past,” Davenport said.

 “When run on renewable electricity – which can be sourced from the thousands of small power generators across the UK, or even from solar panels on the roofs of our houses – EVs produce zero pollution. There are of course barriers to overcome before everyone can use EVs, but as charging ranges continue to grow and as charge points become more widely available, there will be little to hold them back.”

Earlier this year, the Green Alliance warned that the UK’s energy system was unprepared for the rapid growth of EVs and solar systems, warning that 2020 will be when the Government will “lose the ability” to control the speed of small-scale energy deployment.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie