Nissan was initially supposed to unveil the longer-range version of the Leaf EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
However, the arrest and detention of the company’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, derailed Nissan’s plans, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required). At the last minute, the carmaker decided to postpone the launch and showed only two mild mid-cycle makeovers in Los Angeles — the Maxima sedan and Murano crossover.
The carmaker had hoped the upgraded Leaf would create buzz for the brand at the LA Auto Show in the presence of actress and Nissan brand ambassador Margot Robbie. The unveiling would have taken place at the Japanese American National Museum.
In the end, Nissan went ahead with an event at the venue, showing existing Leaf models and holding a panel called Nissan Futures attended by Margot Robbie as well. The only thing missing was the longer-range Leaf.
“The official announcement regarding details of the 2019 Nissan Leaf with additional performance capabilities is postponed to a later date,” the company said in a statement. Additionally, a spokesman told WSJ the postponement was “to ensure that this important product unveiling could receive the coverage it merits.”
Basically, Nissan was afraid its former chairman’s arrest would cast a shadow on the launch of the longer-range Leaf EV. The upgraded electric vehicle, expected to be called the Leaf E-Plus, will offer a driving range of around 225 miles (362 km), up from 151 miles (243 km) in the current model. The significant range increase is due to a bigger battery pack — 60 kWh instead of 40 kWh.
The upgraded model will reportedly cost about $5,500 more than the current version, driving the price to around $36,000.