Nissan is trying to return its all-electric Leaf to its former state of glory.
The Nissan Leaf is the world’s best-selling electric car, but that’s largely been a product of it being a very early, affordable contender in the electric vehicle space. The Leaf, which can drive 107 miles on a single charge, has lately been eclipsed by incumbents like the Chevy Bolt, a $US37,495 car with 238 miles of range.
As Tesla prepares to officially launch its mass-market Model 3 in July, Nissan’s Leaf is set to get more competition.
But Nissan is gearing up for a fair fight: the automaker will attempt to challenge Tesla’s Autopilot by installing its ProPILOT Assist in the 2018 Leaf, which is expected to drive 200 miles on a single charge.
ProPILOT allows vehicles to drive autonomously on highways by keeping the car in a single lane even when the road curves. The system will also automatically brake if it detects an obstacle in front of it.
ProPILOT, which is essentially adaptive cruise control, is not as sophisticated as Tesla Autopilot, which offers active cruise control, forward collision warning, autosteer, and automatic parallel parking.
By the end of the year, Autopilot will be able to handle even more complex tasks, like automatic lane changes and the ability to merge on and off highways.
But Nissan has big plans for its ProPILOT technology, saying it will support level 4 autonomous driving by 2020. That means the cars can handle any driving scenario without relying on a driver.
Nissan first installed its ProPILOT technology in its Serena minivans in Japan last August. As part of its ramp-up efforts, Nissan said last year that ProPILOT will allow cars to automatically change lanes by 2018.
A Nissan spokesperson declined to say whether the 2018 Leaf will come with the automatic lane change feature, but said the automaker is still committed to its 2020 timeline.
If not next year, Nissan will need to add features like automatic lane change soon if it wants to compete with Tesla.
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