Nissan has launched a longer-range version of its best-selling Leaf electric vehicle, as it fights growing competition in the electric car market.

The new Leaf can travel about 50% further on a single charge than its predecessor, according to the firm.

However, it still falls short of the ranges offered by Tesla and GM’s top-end electric cars.

Other updates include advances in autonomous driving technology and a more modern design.

More than 283,000 Leaf cars have been sold since the Japanese firm launched the brand in 2010, making it the world’s most purchased electric car.

However, it is facing increasing competition in the fast-developing “green” car market, fuelled in part by tightening emissions standards around the world.

What’s new?

The new Leaf, on sale in Japan from October and elsewhere early next year, has a longer range thanks to a bigger 40 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery.

Because different territories have different tests for electric vehicles, the new Leaf’s quoted range varies according to where it will be sold:

in Europe it is 378km (235 miles)

in Japan it is 400km (248 miles)

in the US it is 241km (150 miles)

Electric cars tend to achieve about 20-25% below the quoted figures in real-world tests.

However, Nissan says the introduction of a one-pedal system – in which a single “e-Pedal” is used to start, accelerate, brake and stop the vehicle – will provide added efficiency gains.

Chris Lilly, content manager for the Next Green Car news site, said while the new model was not “groundbreaking” it should be more appealing to drivers.

“It takes every element of the old Leaf and improves upon it, and adds a whole lot of new features,” he said.

Those improvements also include an automated parking system, called ProPilot Park, that will take control of the vehicle to manoeuvre it into tricky spaces.

The system can handle parallel parking, according to the firm, and can deal with up to seven-point turns. Drivers can also use dashboard controls to make adjustments to the parking spot in advance if they feel it is necessary.

The model also automates single-lane highway driving.
Prices will start at 3,150,360 yen (£22,220), Nissan said. The Japanese carmaker said it would offer a higher priced model, with greater power and range, next year.

How it compares

Competition in the electric vehicle market is intensifying as major automakers join specialised manufacturers to develop high-tech, low-emission cars.

“Electric vehicle technology is advancing rapidly – costs are falling quickly and range is improving,” said Prof David Bailey, an automobile expert at Aston Business School.

But despite boosting its range, rival models can go further than Nissan’s latest offering.

The Tesla Model 3 can run at least 220 miles on a single charge and starts at $35,000 (£26,850), while General Motor’s Chevy Bolt – with a range of 238 miles – starts at about $38,000 (£29,150), according to the companies.