2017 has been a crazy year in the auto industry. Toyota patented a cloaking device. GM debuted their new $5,300 car in China. Tesla, the usual spotlight stealer, released its Model 3 along with plans to ramp up production of the new electric car. But 2018 is shaping up to be just as wild. Nissan recently unveiled its 2018 Leaf. And this electric car may be the perfect blend of new technology and affordability to spell trouble for Tesla. 

 

Leaf in Las Vegas

Japanese auto maker Nissan recently revealed the 2018 iteration of its Leaf electric car line in Las Vegas. Regardless of Tesla’s fanfare, the Leaf is currently the best-selling electric car on the planet. So it’s even more surprising that its debut at the Thomas & Mack center didn’t generate substantial hype.

nissan, leaf, 2018

Regardless of the media, the 2018 Leaf is nothing to scoff at. Starting at $29,990, it’s one of the more affordable electric cars hitting the market soon. It also comes equipped with a 40-kWh battery. Last year’s Leaf came with a 30-kWh battery. On one charge, the 2018 Nissan Leaf can apparently travel 150 miles. While this is less than Tesla’s Model 3 range of 215 miles, the Leaf is around $5,000 cheaper.

The Nissan Leaf may not inspire an over-enthusiastic fanbase like Apple or Tesla products do, but that’s not what it’s about. Between its empty dashboard and absence of a front grill, Tesla’s Model 3 tries hard to look like it came from the future while clearly making design choices to keep the price tag affordable. Nissan’s new Leaf looks like an attractive, modern car. Not one from 2050, but one that would still fit in with new cars five years from now.

nissan, leaf, 2018

But just because it’s cheaper and looks more regular than sci-fi doesn’t mean that Nissan isn’t packing some new tech into its new car. The 2018 Leaf comes with Nissan’s new feature, the ProPilot Assist.

 

One Step Closer to Affordable Autopilot

Nissan’s ProPilot Assist borders between semi-autopilot and advanced cruise-control. It isn’t full autopilot, but it is still very handy and high-tech. As Nissan explains in a recent press release, “Nissan’s new ProPilot Assist eases driver workload by reducing the amount of driver acceleration, steering, and braking input under certain driving conditions.”

nissan, leaf, 2018
Basically, ProPilot Assist makes it easier to drive in stop-and-go traffic. It also allows drivers to stay in the center of their lane. It does this through a front-facing camera and radar, numerous sensors, and an electronic control module.

The ProPilot Assist may be the first of many more innovative and affordable features that Nissan introduces. The car maker has already announced plans to include a smart rearview mirror in its 2018 Armada SUV. This mirror will essentially stream a live video feed from a camera on the back of the car. Eventually including this in the Leaf could sweeten the incentive to go electric.

 

Revving up the Electric Car Revolution

While Tesla steals most of the attention when it comes to electric cars, it’s far from the only competition for Nissan. Hyundai plans to release an electric SUV in 2018. Porsche is coming out with its Mission E in 2019. And of course, the Chevy Bolt will be coming out with its next iteration, which will be around the same price range as the Leaf. But it will have better range. Let’s not forget that Toyota, Volvo, and Volkswagen all aim to jump into the electric car market soon as well.

nissan, leaf, 2018

Still, the Leaf is the best-selling electric car right now, and for good reason. It is one of the most affordable electric cars. Thus, it’s the perfect one for first-time buyers of electric vehicles who want something practical. By maintaining a look we’re more familiar with, attractive features, and a modest price tag, Nissan’s Leaf may still continue to carry the torch for ushering in the electric car revolution. And the incoming competition may only cause it to get better over time. A little competition never hurt anyone, right? And in this particular one, the environment is the true winner.

In the market for a new electric car? Check out our reviews for the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, the Tesla Model 3, and the Tesla Model S. Like to keep up-to-date with the latest news in the auto industry? Did you hear about Jaguar’s new prototype? How about Lightyear, an electric car powered by the sun? Check back with iReviews often for the latest in disruptive tech news and reviews.

 

Sources: Futurism, Business Insider, The Verge