Electric vehicles are big in China, so it makes sense that Nissan would use Beijing's auto show as the backdrop to introduce its latest EV, one that will probably never see the light of day in the US.
Say hello to the Nissan Sylphy Zero Emission, or Sylphy ZE for short. It looks like a Sentra, but it's built on the same platform as the Leaf. By Chinese government standards, it's rated at 210 miles of range. The automaker didn't offer up any specs on battery capacity or electric motor output -- not yet, at least.
The Sylphy ZE is built on the same platform as the Leaf, which allows the batteries to be tucked under the body to preserve interior and cargo space. Since it's on the Leaf's platform, it could very well use the Leaf's electric motor, which produces 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.
It could also rely on the's batteries -- the only version we have in the US right now is a 40-kWh battery producing 151 miles of range, but a 60-kWh is coming with a range in excess of 225 miles. China's EV range standards are more forgiving than the EPA's, so it's possible that the Sylphy ZE uses the 40-kWh Leaf battery, but 60-plus miles is a huge discrepancy. It could very well use a battery exclusive to China.
Not that it really matters, because if there's one place the Sylphy ZE isn't about to show up, it's the US. Sure, we have the same car in the US as the, and the Leaf's platform is already operating in this country as the Leaf (duh). But the Sentra is due for a refresh in the near future, and the Sylphy ZE is based on the outgoing design.
There's also the matter of cannibalism -- a Sentra-based EV on the same platform as the Leaf could well eat into the latter's sales. The two share the same wheelbase and are only a few inches apart from each other in just about every dimension. Considering Nissan wants to replicate (or, ideally, beat) the sales figures of the outgoing Leaf at its peak, something it's only about halfway to achieving based on March 2018 sales, distracting the public by introducing a very similar competitor of sorts wouldn't do the company much good.