Autonomous Vehicles

Published on May 3rd, 2017 | by James Ayre

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Nissan LEAF Comparison — Refreshed LEAF Versus Old LEAF

May 3rd, 2017 by  

With the release of the new, refreshed Nissan LEAF getting closer by the day, doing a comprehensive comparison of the two would make some sense — to help those interested in getting a Nissan LEAF decide between waiting for one of the refreshed ones or simply getting one of the current offerings now available at low price points.

Since Push EVs has already beat me to it, though, I’ll just go ahead and highlight some of the points made over there, while adding my own thoughts.

Before getting into that, however, some findings from our new EV report seem worth highlighting here. Apparently, only a sliver of current Tesla drivers plan to buy a Nissan LEAF, but …

  • 18% of European respondents driving non-Tesla fully electric cars
  • 13% of North American respondents driving non-Tesla fully electric cars
  • 8% of European respondents driving plug-in hybrid electric cars
  • 1% of North American respondents driving plug-in hybrid electric cars

… plan to next buy a Nissan LEAF. Whether that would be a current-gen LEAF or a next-gen LEAF, we didn’t ask.

With regard to appearance, the new Nissan LEAF (as seen in spy spots and also possibly leaked renders) seems to be of a much more conventional design than the current LEAF. That presumably should help sales grow a great deal. The majority of people who I’ve talked to about the subject seem to think that the new LEAF is a much better looking car. (The current Nissan LEAF certainly has a polarizing appearance — as do some of Nissan’s other models, such as the Juke.)

With regard to pricing, that remains something of an unknown, but it would stand to reason that Nissan will be looking to remain competitive in that regard with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric (which will be getting a range upgrade next year) and with Kia’s soon-to-be-released electric models. This would entail undercutting the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt on pricing and aiming for strong “value for the money” appeal. This is all speculation, though — Nissan may stick to its current pricing structure, and could possibly lose sales to Hyundai and Kia as a result.

With regard to range, I’ll just quote Push EVs here: “The entry-level trim of the new Nissan Leaf with the 40 kWh battery should attain at least 160 miles (257 km) EPA range, which is a nice improvement. However, it’s still not clear if the 60 kWh battery — needed to surpass the 200 miles EPA range — will be available in the mid and high trims from the beginning or will be introduced later.”

And I’ll quote a bit from the section relating to charging as well: “An internal 3-phase (11-22 kW) charger in Europe would make the Leaf at least as popular as the Renault Zoe. … I remember Nissan former CEO, Carlos Ghosn saying multiple times that bigger battery capacity isn’t the only solution for range anxiety, which could be overcome with more public charging stations and electric cars capable of faster charging. If Nissan doesn’t deliver in this field it will be a big letdown. To match the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s capability to charge up to 80 kW at DC fast chargers, it will require a TMS (thermal management system) to keep the battery cool.”

That would represent a big change in design, though one that the company has probably been working towards for a while now. Presumably, after all, that’s why the company has been hesitant to increase the size of the LEAF’s battery-pack too much to date — because of the need to add a thermal management system if that happens.

So, what’s the overall takeaway of the comparison? As always, it depends on the factors given the most weight. If you want a comparatively conventional-looking car, then wait for the new LEAF. If you don’t care about that, then the current LEAF can be bought fairly cheaply. If you need a higher range than the current LEAF offers, then wait. If you live in a city where everything is close together and you also have a garage where you can charge overnight, then maybe buy one now … etcetera.

Another finding from our just published 93-page EV report is that many EV drivers consider 130 miles or less range to be adequate for their needs. That means they don’t really need to wait for a long-range LEAF or Model 3.

There’s one more thing to note, however: the new Nissan LEAF will reportedly feature the company’s new ProPilot semi-autonomous driving tech — which will reportedly allow for fully autonomous single-lane highway travel. Remember, that’s a tech our research indicated a lot of today’s EV drivers want.

People who place high value on fully autonomous highway travel — those who commute long distances for work everyday, travel for work a lot, etc. — may well want to wait for the new LEAF. That said, if you commute long distances regularly, then maybe the Nissan LEAF isn’t for you, as there isn’t really much in the way of a national electric vehicle fast-charging network in the US yet.

As we reportedly previously, though, as a result of its settlement with the US government in relation to the diesel emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen will be over the next decade or so building out a decent network — from the sounds of it.


Check out our new 93-page EV report.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



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