Just in case Elon Musk happened to think he could catch a break.
The kinds of cars that seem to be gathering the most steam in the market are ironically the ones that don’t emit any from their tailpipes. Those would be electric cars, and though it’s gotten buried underneath more highly evolved forms of the EV, take any Tesla for example, the Nissan Leaf was still the best selling electric car in 2016. Its aging bones are due for a refresh, but like many other automakers preparing for the electric vehicle onslaught, Nissan wants diversify its EV lineup to stay ahead.
Autocar claims that it will do just that by double dipping the second-generation Leaf, due out in 2018, and pulling multiple electric cars out of its platform. Autocar’s primary evidence comes from a recent patent the Japanese automaker filed with the Malaysian patent office—a move done to hide the vehicle from more curious eyes at US and EU patent offices—for the name Terra. That sounds a lot like the old X-Terra without the X, but it’s a name that was first used by Nissan for the TeRRA concept first shown off at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. When it hit the shelves at Paris, it used the first generation Leaf’s drivetrain to power the front wheels and a hydrogen fuel cell setup to motivate the rears, but that won’t be the case on production versions of the Terra.
Using the upcoming Leaf’s platform and next-generation battery technology, a production Terra could come with a range of up to 340 miles per charge when spec’d with a top trim battery and could come to market with either front or all-wheel drive. While other automakers with sexy EV prospects are in the works—take BMW’s 3 Series EV for example—with a promise to topple Tesla, Nissan is hellbent on doing just that by staying ahead of the curve. With both a car and SUV priced in the same neighborhood as the Model 3 and offering competitive range, Nissan will not only give Elon Musk more reasons to have a headache, it will also give hell to more luxurious electric SUVs like the Jaguar I-Pace.
Tesla will only be able to compete when it manages to pry a Model 3 body off its bones and stick Model Y clothing on top of it. May the best EV win.