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Nissan Unveils New Leaf Electric Car Delayed by Ghosn's Arrest

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Nissan Unveils New Leaf Electric Car Delayed by Ghosn's Arrest

  • Leaf e+ extends range by about 40% to as much as 226 miles
  • Nissan has sold 380,000 Leaf cars since 2010; a third in U.S.
Ghosn Defends Himself in Court Saying He Was 'Wrongly Accused'

Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a new version of its Leaf electric car after delaying its launch amid the shock arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The new model, launched Tuesday in Las Vegas, narrows the driving-range gap versus Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt.

The Japanese carmaker called off key events in the wake of the scandal involving Ghosn, who was the architect of Nissan’s electric-car vision and its pact with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the world’s biggest auto alliance. Ghosn was arrested Nov. 19 in Japan on alleged financial crimes. He remains in a Tokyo prison as prosecutors build their case.

Click here for more on how Ghosn’s downfall impacts Nissan’s EV vision.

The auto industry’s increasing focus on automation and new-energy vehicles, along with the aggressive push into both areas by Tesla and scores of startups from China to Germany, has added to Nissan’s challenges.

The Leaf e+ boasts a more energy-dense battery that extends its range by about 40 percent, to as much as 226 miles (363 kilometers). That compares with the 220- to 310-mile range for Tesla’s Model 3, which starts at $44,000, and the 238-mile range on the $36,620 Chevrolet Bolt. While the Leaf starts at about $30,000 in the U.S., Nissan isn’t releasing the price of the e+ until it’s closer to starting sales this spring.

Nissan has sold more than 380,000 Leaf vehicles globally since its model first went on sale in 2010, with over 128,000 in the U.S. The new Leaf will be available at dealerships in Japan starting this month, followed by the U.S., then Europe in mid-2019, Nissan said in a statement.

(Updates with Ghosn arrest details from first paragraph.)