Next Nissan Leaf Will Take Quantum Leap Forward

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Dual-motor all-wheel drive transforms the EV into a battery-powered rally car.

In the market for an electric vehicle? The Nissan Leaf could be a solid choice. But if you want your EV with four-wheel traction, you'll have to look elsewhere. Nissan is working on that, though.

Pictured here is a prototype with which Nissan is currently experimenting, based on the current Leaf, complete with a dual-motor all-wheel drive system. The inclusion of the second electric motor (placed on the rear axle) gives it not only better traction, but more power, too. 308 horsepower makes it twice as potent as the base Leaf, and 500 lb-ft of instantly available torque doubles the twist on even the Leaf Plus.

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The all-wheel drive system also allows the Leaf prototype to adjust both power delivery and regenerative braking at each wheel, helping it smooth out rough roads, maintain stability under braking, and even maintain the driver's intended line on lose surfaces (like snow).

While it was at it, Nissan fitted the prototype with an enlarged, 12.3-inch dashboard display – much larger than the standard 7" or available 8" screens, and blistered out the wheel arches like a rally car to enable testing on a variety of road conditions (and make it look that much cooler in the process).

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As much promise as the prototype shows, though, we don't expect Nissan to roll out an all-wheel-drive, dual-motor version of the current Leaf – but the powertrain will likely feature in another model in the future.

"Soon, Nissan will launch a next-generation EV that will be a true breakthrough," said Takao Asami, Nissan's senior vice president for research and advanced engineering. "The new electric-drive four-wheel-control technology now being developed integrates Nissan's electric propulsion and 4WD control technologies with our chassis control technology to achieve a huge leap in acceleration, cornering and braking performance, on par with the latest sports cars."

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