The next generation Nissan Leaf could be on sale in the UK (and globally) before the end of 2017! 🙂 At first I thought to myself that I should have waited before buying my new 2017 30kwh Leaf as I expect the new model will have a much greater range than the EV I have just bought. Not only that but the residual value of my new Leaf will probably take a good kicking as the range capability of an EV is king above all else. Before reading on, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to read my previous post on the electric car. Clicking the link will bring you upto speed before diving into this post.
However, there’s more to this than meets the eye, not only for those like me who have just purchased a Nissan Leaf but to those looking to buy at some point in the future. So I thought I would share my thoughts with you in my blog as it seems to me that the future of car sales is going to change as we enter the era of ‘smart cars’.
First off, if like me you have just bought a Leaf then don’t panic! Hopefully you made an informed decision and purchased the car based on your needs. I think most people probably have leased their vehicle too (like me) at an easily affordable monthly rate? With that in mind the worst that can happen is that you hand your vehicle back at the end of the term, and as long as the vehicle has been looked after, with no negative equity.
This takes me on to market strategy. Just as with the mobile phone industry continually making tech upgrades, making the next shiny new car much more appealing than the last generation will drive sales. Perhaps Nissan and other EV manufacturers will make a significant upgrade to a particular model each year, or maybe every 2 years? Nonetheless they will wish to keep customers returning to their showrooms. Battery size, or energy density/range of the vehicle is probably going to grab the most attention. I think as 2018 looms we can predict that a 40-60kwh battery will become the new typical size across the EV industry (not including Tesla). The next Leaf may be getting a 60kwh battery and that could give it a real-world range of 200 miles about town and certainly a minimum of 150 miles on the motorway.
Such vehicles should obliterate the worries of ‘range anxiety’, as in the UK most people on a long journey would need to stop for the toilet or perhaps get something to eat; on our motorways with the many speed restrictions and roadworks, 150 miles means at least 3 hours sat in the car.
It could be that the 60kwh battery provides all the range that’s realistically needed at an affordable price in the UK. However, the market still needs to make cars and make a profit so how do you entice an already satisfied customer back to the showroom? Well let’s see…
Who doesn’t think WOW, when they see that demonstration? 😉 That could be why my next car might be a Tesla model 3 right? Well perhaps not, you see it will all come down to affordability and how quickly other EV manufacturers are bringing on the competition.
If you look at a Tesla today the really ‘cool’ stuff comes with a hefty price tag and just as with the decision you make on the next great mobile phone the car manufacturers have also been paying very close attention to the way we buy ‘smart products’. When Nissan started making the Leaf around 6 years ago, they saturated the market with them, they aggressively went out to be the market leader but now companies like Tesla are threatening to spoil the party. Now let’s watch this…
Here comes what could be a first peep at the 2018 Nissan Leaf interior dashboard and more importantly what the next gen EVs may be capable of.
Before you jump for joy remember this post is also about marketing strategy 😉 When the next Leaf comes out I have no doubt it will sell in huge numbers (again on lease to make it more affordable). But you can bet once this car has been out a year or possibly 2 then those who took the bait on first release will be quietly slightly peeved that their EV does not have the smart tech that the car a year or so down the line will have.
So this is the strategy… Autonomous driving capability may not be fully integrated into the first 2018 Leaf. That car may come with auto cruise control to maintain set distances from traffic ahead, or perhaps like the Hyundai Ionic as reviewed by Robert Llewellyn on the ‘Fully Charged Show‘ it may come with a little lane keeping assistance. Have a look…
Introducing better tech, just as with the smartphone market is what will keep customers returning to the showrooms. It’s no doubt going to get really interesting over the next couple of years as the ‘EV giants’ like Nissan and Tesla battle it out for the best consumer affordable EV. Other manufacturers are sure to show their hand soon and I wouldn’t be surprised if a dark horse comes running out of the fog in the form of… Apple! Yup, this may be wrong but Apple could jump on the bandwagon. They have the financial clout to do this right and could take the market by surprise (rumours suggest they have employed the engineers to make this happen). Just don’t expect to get full autonomous driving yet from the next Nissan, I think the 2018 vehicle will be enticing but Nissan will hold back on plenty of new tech for a 2019 or 2020 model. For a start that full LCD display above the steering wheel in the video maybe something that comes later, although I would expect to see the larger navigation screen probably from the get go.
I think by the time my 3 year lease runs out in early 2020, range anxiety in the affordable EV will be gone, there will be more competition in the market and the consumer will be a little wiser when it comes to deciding to buy. Showrooms are going to become like places to meet, have a coffee and play with the tech, perhaps more like an internet cafe than a car showroom of old. The salesmen will be less visible (until required) and you’re more likely to meet a friendly ‘tech genius’ for want of a better word (a bit like Apple’s tech genius guys) who will be there to chat about the ‘gucci kit’ that you’re hopefully drooling over.
Something has to keep driving the market, in the past it was how fast, how powerful, how luxurious is the trim and does it have xenon lights! We are entering a new era, the smart car is going to be able to drive itself fully one day soon (legally), it will be used to power your home if you have a power cut, it will do everything a smartphone can, and will be far more capable of avoiding traffic jams. It will react in an emergency much faster than you and will probably refuse to drive if it detects ‘dodgy molecules’ coming from your breath (it might even take you straight to the police station 😉 ).
I’m very pleased with my new Leaf, it can commute all week without needing a charge (my 24kwh Leaf could not). So I can now charge at the weekend from daylight solar power (I have panels on my roof) instead of charging in the dark overnight. Yes I already want to get the next gen Leaf but I know waiting a bit longer in the long run might be the wise choice, especially as I may end up with a Tesla or even an Apple EV?? In the end you pay your money and…well, you know the rest.