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Nissan Turns Up the Heat in the Electric Car Race

Stocks in this article: NSANY GM F TM HMC

3. View on battery size.

On this point, Nissan was somewhat contradictory, in my view. Nissan said it believes people are fine with an 84-mile electric car. Why? Because it says it knows people aren't driving nearly as far as 84 miles most of the time.

In my view, this is total nonsense. Of course people aren't driving more than 84 miles -- or some such number -- in a Nissan Leaf. They can't! It's like telling a starving person in Africa they have no need for an American diet because to date they have been observed to only eat 500 calories per day.

People are afraid of taking their Nissan Leaf on some trips because they don't think they will make it. Why? Who knows? Perhaps they are not sure that the charger at their destination will be available or not. Perhaps it's broken! Perhaps they are not sure what may come up in terms of additional stops or detours as the day or evening rolls along, unpredictably.

In any case, the fact that Nissan Leaf drivers almost always drive fewer than 84 miles per trip means nothing as to their need or want to have a car that can go longer. Every single Nissan Leaf driver I know -- and I know many of them -- have one complaint with their car, and one only: Please give us a version that has 150 or 200 miles of range. Or 250. That's what they want. It's the only thing they want to improve their Leaf. The need for much longer range is total and uniform, not the other way around.

Otherwise, if the EV can't handle 150, 200, 250 miles, they can't get rid of their other (gasoline or diesel) car, and they can't be sufficiently happy in their Leaf. I don't see why this is so hard to understand.

I heard a similar argument recently, too, from another major automaker, which shall remain unnamed for the moment. Their idea is that 99% of the time you don't need to go more than 80 to -100 miles of whatever, and that therefore a car that can go 80 to 100 miles will be enough.

Well, if 99% were somehow good enough, why do I wear a seat belt? Why do I buy insurance? Why do I bother locking my door? 99% of the time I'm not in a car accident or get sick or am a victim of burglary.

99% is simply not good enough. If the ambition is to have EVs take over a material percentage of the auto market, the manufacturers need to realize that delivering cars with less than 150-250 miles of range will simply not be enough for the real needs -- 99.99999%, not 99%, of regular people. It's never about the first 99%. It's always about that last fraction of 1%.

However, there is good news, at least as far as Nissan is concerned! Nissan did say that despite its belief that people really don't need cars that can go more than 84 or 100 or whatever, miles -- it will still make them in the future. It intends to turn up the dial on the range front dramatically. All of this is consistent with my article on the 135-mile Nissan Leaf.

One now simply wishes Nissan will take its real and potential Leaf customers seriously and make 150-, 200- and 250-mile versions of the Leaf or other future Nissan EVs. If the customer surveys say longer electric range is not needed, something is seriously wrong with the surveys and they people conducting them should be fired, in my view.

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