Nissan scrapped Leaf E-Plus reveal in L.A. because of Ghosn

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The arrest and detention of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, prompted Nissan at the last minute to pull the plug on plans to debut a longer-range version of its Leaf battery-electric car at the Los Angeles auto show, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Nissan instead showed two mild-refresh models for 2019 — the Maxima sedan and the Murano crossover. It had reportedly hoped to make a bigger splash by unveiling the upgraded with actress and brand ambassador Margot Robbie at a media event at the Japanese American National Museum. It went ahead with an event at the venue, showing current models of the Leaf and holding the Futures event, the first time the series of panel discussion and keynote addresses had been staged in the U.S., with Robbie sitting down for a brief interview about owning an EV and sustainability issues.

“The official announcement regarding details of the 2019 Nissan Leaf with additional performance capabilities is postponed to a later date,” the company said in a statement. A spokesman told the Journal the postponement was “to ensure that this important product unveiling could receive the coverage it merits.”

was arrested Nov. 19 in Japan on allegations of financial misconduct, including what Nissan has said was personal use of company money and deliberately under-reporting what he had been paid. Both Nissan and alliance partner Mitsubishi have ousted Ghosn as chairman, though his status remains unchanged for now at Renault, the third member of the partnership where he is both chairman and CEO. Renault has appointed a stand-in replacement while Ghosn remains in custody. Reuters reports that Tokyo authorities extended Ghosn’s detention a second time Friday and have until Dec. 10 to file charges or release him.

The auto world has been widely anticipating a longer-range version believed to be called the Leaf E-Plus, with a 60-kWh battery pack and an expected driving range of around 225 miles, up from the 40-kWh battery and 151-mile driving range of the current model. A recent report suggests that its starting price will be about $5,500 more than the 40-kWh version, meaning around $36,385 before federal EV tax credits. A spokesman tells Autoblog the postponement doesn’t affect the new Leaf’s on-sale date but added that date has yet to be announced.

Nissan last week revealed the racing version of the Leaf, called the Leaf Nismo RC, in Japan, with dual electric motors, a whopping 478 pound-feet of torque, a 0-62 mph launch in 3.4 seconds. It said the twin 120-kW electric motors “more than double the maximum power,” though it did not give a figure for the Leaf Nismo RC’s peak horsepower (and it’s not always just the sum of the two motors’ output).

Nissan’s design chief, Alfonso Albaisa, also confirmed that that both Nissan and Infiniti will bring concept EVs to the Detroit auto show in January that are evolutions of the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept unveiled earlier this year.

Separately, Nissan said Monday that its total U.S. sales in November fell 18.7 percent from the previous year. Year-to-date, its sales are off 7.6 percent from the same period in 2017, though year-to-date Leaf sales were up 17 percent.

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