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Nissan's new Leaf electric vehicle will cost you less than the Tesla Model 3

  • Japanese automaker Nissan on Wednesday unveiled its 2018 Leaf electric vehicle, which boasts autonomous features and an improved driving range
  • Priced at a relatively low $30,000, the new vehicle aimed to carve a niche in an increasingly saturated market

Japanese automaker Nissan on Wednesday unveiled its 2018 Leaf, a fully electric car boasting autonomous features and an improved driving range.

Priced at a relatively low $30,000, the new vehicle was aiming to carve a niche in an increasingly saturated EV market.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said the company is focusing on a different consumer pool from some of its rivals, including Tesla.

"We are not necessarily putting up a price with the consideration of our competitors," Saikawa told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

"The pricing range should be affordable. This is a fundamental point. You can do the Tesla type of pricing, but we focus more on our customer portfolio," he said, without elaborating on the comparison.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa unveils the company' new LEAF electric car at the world premiere in Makuhari, Chiba prefecture on September 6, 2017.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa unveils the company' new LEAF electric car at the world premiere in Makuhari, Chiba prefecture on September 6, 2017.

The Leaf is $5,000 cheaper than Elon Musk's Tesla Model 3, which was unveiled in a high-profile launch in July.

The new Leaf features autonomous parking technology and a range of 150 miles, an over 40 percent improvement compared with the Leaf's initial model released in 2010.

However, in terms of distance-per-charge, Nissan's latest offering still trails behind models such as Tesla's Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt, which can run 220 and 238 miles respectively.

But the Leaf's current range can meet most consumers' daily driving needs, according to Saikawa.

"For the day to day, we can cover most of the cases, which means you don't have to worry about the autonomous range when you drive," he said.

The implication for the EV industry, he added, would be that driving range would no longer be a strong differentiating factor across products.