Because Nissan didn’t exactly say that it would be offered by the next-gen Leaf EV, it might not be the case – but for now, numerous sources have reported that the all-electric hatch is going to finally concede to using an internal combustion gas engine as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
It is understandable why Nissan would do this. Gas prices are at an all-time low in the US and a number of other markets, plus the Leaf would need a lot more range than it is set to offer in order to keep up with its plug-in rivals.
That wouldn’t mean that the all-electric model would be abandoned, of course, as it would remain the primary model for the Leaf while the PHEV serves as an option which helps the nameplate appeal to a broader target market.
The PHEV powertrain, dubbed e-Power, would work in pretty much the same way as the Voltec powertrain in the Chevrolet Volt. Called a series-parallel hybrid, it offers the versatility of using the gas engine as a range extender to recharge a depleting battery or as a direct power source to the wheels.
This move has received plenty of criticism from current Leaf users, or those on other all-electric vehicles, because gas engines require a lot of maintenance. But Volt owners don’t face the same inconvenience as other PHEV model owners as oil changes and standard servicing are very infrequent.
Plenty of those who have owned the Volt for a good number of years have said that they have rarely needed to perform oil changes for the vehicle’s 149hp 1.5L engine. In many cases, it would need to be done only once every couple of years – and that also depends on how it is being driven day-to-day.