2. As has been reported widely earlier this year, Nissan is sending out surveys to existing Leaf owners asking how much people would be willing to pay for a Leaf with 150 miles of range. Nissan would not do this unless all the testing and specifications of the car were pretty much written in stone. You don't want to alert too many people about a much-improved future model. As to why that is the case, it should be obvious. 150 miles vs my 135 estimate? Historically, it has been prudent to assign a 10% discount to range claims.
3. Nissan's two most recent presentations at the large U.S. automotive trade shows were very different. In Los Angeles in November, there was no mention of Nissan's electric cars. However, just two months later, January 2014 in Detroit, the tone had shifted dramatically.
Just watch and listen to Nissan's product boss Andy Palmer in the January video: "We will not relinquish our lead in electric vehicles. Despite the naysayers, this is the era of electrification and electronics. It is inevitable, and Nissan is at its forefront. This is what powers Nissan. It is our momentum now, and it is our momentum for the future, and I pledge that Nissan will maintain its leadership in EVs."
Watch Palmer's body language and listen to his animated and passionate emphasis in going from Nissan ignoring EVs last November to pounding the table in January 2014. There cannot be much doubt that Nissan is planning a significantly upgraded Leaf already in 2014 -- not 2015 or 2016. Why? Because if it doesn't, it would no longer be the leader as promised.Conclusion: While not an absolute certainty, I give it a very high probability that Nissan will launch the much-improved, 135-mile range, all-electric Leaf car this Fall 2014, at a price starting close to $33,000. Delivering this car in late 2014 would be the key intermediary stepping stone to delivering the slightly larger, all-electric Nissan in late 2016 or early 2017, that could fit a larger battery for the purpose of approaching 200 miles of range, even if the base price would be closer to $39,000.
This would, in turn, line up where the other major automakers would be at that time: broad-based industry availability of 200-mile electric cars priced not too far from $40,000. At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @antonwahlman This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff..