Nissan confident new Leaf can keep EV rivals at bay

Second-gen Leaf faces increased competition

Nissan Europe’s sales and marketing boss says the firm isn’t worried by the influx of rivals into the electric vehicle market, pointing to the continued popularity of the Qashqai as proof that it can hold the lead in a market it entered first.

Nissan’s Leaf was launched in 2010 and is the world’s best-selling pure-electric car but will face tough competition in coming years with most major manufacturers launching battery-powered machines. However, Philippe Saillard told Autocar that the ongoing success of the Qashqai in the face of the rapid proliferation of SUV rivals was proof that Nissan could hold its ground against the competition.

“We invented the crossover concept with the Murano in the USA and the Qashqai in Europe,” said Saillard. “We created a segment that is killing the traditional C-segment cars and MPVs. I’m not saying we are doing exactly the same thing [with EVs], but we are used to being in a pioneer position with something that is not necessarily conventional.

“We have an asset [over our rivals in the EV market]: we have the credibility, reliability and technology. Based on that, we should be in a position to keep our leadership in the mind of consumers, and get the benefit of the growing market. All those competitors joining the party will also help us to develop the segment.”

The second-generation Leaf will be followed in 2019 by an upgraded version with a battery with a longer driving range. This version will be aimed at boosting sales in the “critical” US market.