The Japanese brand’s electric line-up currently includes the Leaf, the e-NV200 Combi people carrier and the e-NV200 van, but a recent patent suggests it will soon gain an SUV model called the Terra, which is expected to share its structure and drivetrain with the 2018 Leaf.
Nissan filed the Terra name at the start of August with the Malaysian patents office – a common practice for car makers hoping to hide their movements from the limelight of larger patent offices. In doing so, it brought back a name that hadn’t been used since 2012, when it was the title of an electric SUV concept first revealed at the Paris motor show.
That car used the first-generation Leaf’s electric driveline to power the front wheels, but added a hydrogen fuel-cell system to power two motors at the back, making the car all-wheel drive.
The production Terra will use Nissan’s vastly improved second-generation Leaf electric drivetrain, which is predicted to offer a range of up to 340 miles – more than double that of the first-gen car. The gains will come thanks to new battery pack options that will enable Nissan to sell its models in a variety of specifications. It could integrate an additional rear-drive powetrain to make it all-wheel drive, like the concept.
The largest battery on offer with the Leaf is predicted to double the 30kWh lithium ion pack found in the highest-spec version of the current car. The use of such a battery in the Terra would give it a headline range figure of more than 300 miles. Lower variants will trim range for a cheaper starting price, broadening the car’s appeal and helping it to rank close to the Model 3 and its expected sub-£40k price tag. This will also mean the Terra comfortably undercuts more premium electric SUV models such as the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron, which are both predicted to cost from about £60,000.
Nissan’s plan to spawn more models off of its upcoming Leaf platform mirrors a strategy to be used by fellow electric car maker Tesla. The American brand will build its future Model Y crossover off of the Model 3’s base, helping to reduce development costs for the second model.