Nissan plans to sell a more expensive version of it Leaf electric car that will pack a larger battery to extend its range to 107 miles between charges.
The automaker is offering the bigger range to stay competitive with new rivals, including the electric Kia Soul — with a range of 93 miles — and the 2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which can travel 53 miles on electricity before the gas engine kicks in and extends the range.
Current models of the Leaf can drive 84 miles between charges, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Toyota earlier this week introduced a redesigned Prius. While not an electric car, the new model will get about 55 miles per gallon of gasoline; it often is shopped by the same buyers considering a Leaf purchase.
"We know that to maintain that leadership, we must continue developing battery technology that strikes that ideal balance between capacity, packaging, durability and affordability," said Andrew Speaker, director of Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales & Marketing.
The 27% increase in range will make the Leaf the top performer in its class, which Nissan defines as all-battery electric cars not named Tesla. The range of Tesla vehicles start at about 200 miles, depending on the battery. Nissan says they are luxury cars and don't compete with its Leaf.
The Leaf's larger battery — and price increases — will come in the SV and SL trim levels of the electric car.
Nissan is raising the price of the 2016 SV to $34,200 from the $32,100 it asked for the 2015 model. But that will include a quick-charge port that previously was part of a $1,630 package.
The price of the SL will rise to $36,790 from $35,120 for the 2015 car.
The cars are getting a 30 kWh battery. Previously, they used a 24 kWh battery.
The price of the 2016 base model, the Leaf S, remains at $29,010, said Tony Weeks, Nissan's senior manager of electric vehicle marketing. It will retain the current battery and smaller range.
The prices are before the $7,500 federal income tax credit or the $2,500 California rebate for electric car buyers.
All of the models are getting upgraded infotainment systems. The cars will reach dealers in the next two months.