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Nissan unveils new e-car with self-driving capabilities

Japanese automaker Nissan has flaunted its second-generation Leaf vehicle, an electric car that comes with autonomous driving functions. While the car boasts an extended range, old drawbacks remain.

Nissan on Wednesday presented its second-generation Leaf in a bid to battle off competitors in the e-mobility sector it once pioneered.

The new Leaf electric car has a potential range of 400 kilometers (250 miles) between charges, compared with 250 kilometers for its previous version. Distances depend, though, on driving conditions and how much other items in the car such as heating and air conditioning are used.

Koichi Sugimoto, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo, was quick to comment that apart from extended ranges, "there really is no outstanding attractive quality about an electric vehicle," noting drawbacks such as finding charging stations and the time needed to charge.

Watch video 02:37

Gearing up for electromobility

A lot of patience needed

The new Leaf takes about 40 minutes to charge while in quick-charging mode. With normal charging, a full 16 hours are needed for a 3-kilowatt system, and eight hours at 6 kilowatts.

Nonetheless, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said in a statement the new e-car strengthened the firm's "leadership" in the electric vehicle sector. Nissan was an innovator seven years ago when it unveiled its first Leaf, with 280,000 units sold.

But the Japanese carmaker has since had to contend with fierce competition from General Motors and Tesla, among others.

The new Leaf will be available in Japan next month while it will hit the US and Canadian markets in 2018. The car features semi-autonomous driving capabilities such as keeping the vehicle in one lane on the motorway or parking without human intervention.

The price tag in Japan will be around $29,000 (24,330 euros).

Watch video 01:04

Change at the top for Nissan

hg/jd (AP, AFP)

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