2013 Nissan Leaf May Receive Leather Seats, Darker Interior, More Efficient Heater

2012-Nissan-Leaf When the 2013 Nissan Leaf goes into production in Smyrna, Tennessee this December, the electric car will have a variety of new updates. The Detroit News reports that the Leaf will get optional leather upholstery, darker interior trim, and a more efficient heater than can greatly improve the car’s driving range.

When Nissan was first designing the Leaf, the company reportedly decided not to offer leather upholstery in an effort to make the car “green” and environmentally friendly. Instead, the fabric seats in the electric car are made from recycled materials. Yet Nissan director of product planning Mark Perry told the News that customers have been asking for leather seats, so the feature will become available on the 2013 Leaf. The Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car has optional leather upholstery.

Perry said customers also wanted dark interior trim for the Leaf. The electric car currently is offered only with light-colored plastics. Finally, the new car is said to have a more energy efficient heating system that could provide 20 to 25 miles more driving range in cold weather. Using the heater in cold temperatures draws a lot of power and can drastically sap range; the EPA says the Nissan Leaf can travel 73 miles on a fully charged battery.

The Leaf is currently built in Oppama, Japan, but Nissan has retooled its factory in Tennessee to assemble the electric car; a new plant nearby will produce lithium-ion battery packs for the Leaf. Nissan says the plants will go on-line in late 2012, probably by December. And in early 2013, Nissan will start building electric motors in Decherd, Tennessee. Building the Leaf on American soil will help improve its availability here; Nissan hopes to double global sales of the Leaf in 2012 to about 40,000 units worldwide. The company sold 9674 copies of the Leaf here in 2011.

Nissan spokesman Brian Brockman said he couldn’t confirm the report from The Detroit News, but did confirm the Leaf enters production in Smyrna later this year.

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