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Nissan upgrades Leaf electric car, lowers price

Travel distance between charges is a major issue for owners of electric vehicles, Nissan says.

Junji Kurokawa /Associated Press

Travel distance between charges is a major issue for owners of electric vehicles, Nissan says.

TOKYO — The upgraded Leaf electric car can travel farther without recharging, comes in a cheaper model, and tells drivers how much battery life is left.

The changes were based on feedback from owners, whose chief worry was ­running out of juice, Nissan Motor Co. officials said.

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Electric cars emit no ­pollution but need to be ­recharged. Owners have charging equipment at home. But the scarcity of recharging stations on the roads has ­limited electric vehicles’ use.

The new model can travel 142 miles on a single charge, up from 124 miles, as long as you don’t use air conditioning, according to Nissan.

It sells for less than $31,000 in Japan when stripped of fancy options and adding government green subsidies — more affordable than the cheapest previous model at just below $37,000. Nissan did not detail overseas sales plans but said similar upgrades were in the works.

The Leaf is the world’s most popular electric vehicle, comprising more than half of all electric car sales. More than 17,000 Leaf cars have been sold in the United States. Among other changes:

 Roomier luggage space after the recharging mechanism got smaller and was moved to the front.

 A dashboard display tells how much battery life is left.

 A navigation system calculates the best energy-saving route.

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