TOKYO — The upgraded Nissan Motor Co. Leaf electric car can travel farther without recharging, comes in a cheaper model, and tells drivers how much battery life is left.
The changes in the revamped model, unveiled this week at a Tokyo hotel, were based on feedback from owners whose chief worry was running out of electric juice while driving, Nissan officials said.
Electric cars emit no pollution, but they need to be recharged. Owners have charging equipment installed at home.
But the scarcity of recharging stations on the roads has limited electric vehicles’ use to short commutes and kept zero-emission cars confined to a market niche.
The new model can travel 142 miles on a single charge if the air conditioning is not used — up from 124 miles — because of improvements such as lighter vehicle weight and a streamlined battery system, according to Nissan.
The new Leaf sells for less than $31,000 in Japan when stripped of fancy options — more affordable than the cheapest previous model at just below $37,000.
Nissan did not detail sales plans for the United States and other overseas markets but said similar upgrades were in the works.
The Leaf is the world's most popular electric vehicle, making up more than half of all electric car sales. Leaf global sales since late 2010 total 43,000 vehicles, about half of them in Japan.
More than 17,000 Leafs have been sold in the United States, and monthly sales are recently at about 1,500, according to Nissan.