The new Nissan LEAF has scored a “stellar” 5-star safety rating from the European New Car Assessment Programme (full test results here).
Apparently, this is a new era of testing at Euro NCAP and the LEAF was the first model to get run through the 2018 testing procedures. So, that actually makes it hard to compare the car’s rating to others in its class, but 5 stars in what is apparently a stricter than ever testing process seems that it wouldn’t put the LEAF on the bottom of the list.
Notably, not all of the new testing procedures involve passengers in the car — there are also safety evaluations for pedestrians and cyclists. “The 2018 protocol sees the introduction of a raft of new tests which address key crash scenarios involving cars, pedestrians and now also the growing number of cyclists,” Nissan writes.
“In these Euro NCAP tests, the LEAF earned a 93 percent rating for adult safety and an 86 percent rating for child protection. … New LEAF 5-star rating reflects the advanced driver assistance systems packaged on the car. Technologies such as camera and radar feature extensively to provide benefits such a pedestrian recognition and form the basis of Nissan’s acclaimed ProPILOT system for safer, more confident driving. …
“The announcement has been released just months after the Japan New Car Assessment Program also awarded the car the top 5-star grade following rigorous testing. In earning the top rating, the LEAF scored 94.8 points out of a possible 100 for occupant safety in a collision. The program is organized by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism and the National Agency for Automotive Safety and Victims’ Aid. More details on that announcement can be found here.”
Recall that Nissan’s ProPILOT is akin to Tesla’s Autopilot and it is presumably one of the best driver-assistance packages on the planet. We at CleanTechnica are yet to test it, but we’ve read positive evaluations of it so far. Kudos to Nissan, the new LEAF has been the torchbearer model first introducing customers to ProPILOT.
Tesla vehicles have done particularly well in US (NHTSA) safety evaluations, with the Model S setting a behind-the-scenes record with its overall test score back in 2013. On the other hand, the first-generation LEAF had just a moderate showing with 4 stars. It’s unclear at this point if the new Nissan LEAF will hit that 5 star level in the US. As Tesla highlighted back in 2013 and we’ve tried to explain in our own words recently, the design freedom an electric drivetrain provides can allow for large crumple zones that tremendously improve safety as well as other atypical design choices that maximize the protection of humans.
With regard to earlier Euro NCAP ratings, the Nissan LEAF did previously get 5 stars, as did the Tesla Model S, Renault Zoe, and Hyundai Ioniq. The Opel Ampera-e, BMW i3, smart fortwo (including electric variants), Kia Soul EV, and Kia Niro (including PHEV variant) got ratings of just 4 stars.
Eager to learn more about Nissan’s evolution on safety with regards to the LEAF and how much the company has been able to take advantage of an electric drivetrain nervous system (or perhaps challenged by it), I asked Nissan representatives the following questions:
How does the electric drivetrain help or challenge Nissan’s efforts to achieve such safety ratings?
Did you learn anything specific from the first-gen LEAF that helped you to improve safety in the new LEAF?
I’m yet to hear back, but I’m assuming the staff members I contacted are off work right now. If I do get responses, I will update this article accordingly.
Gareth Dunsmore, Electric Vehicle Director of Nissan Europe, did say this in the company press release about this news: “The Euro NCAP announcement proves what we have known for a long time – that the new Nissan LEAF has exceptional safety standards and is a true pioneer in the EV space. This shows that our customers can fully trust our Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, we are on a path to transform the way we drive and the way we live.” Meh — corporate puff talk. But I do agree with it. And I do think the LEAF is a superb choice for a new car, especially if you don’t drive long distances very frequently (if you do, access to a superfast charging network like the Tesla Supercharger network just seems much more sensible).
As you know if you are a CleanTechnica regular — or even just a newbie since yesterday — the new LEAF just stormed onto the scene in Europe. It opened up with a record-smashing 6,053 deliveries in March, its first full sales month. That put it not just in the #1 spot but sizably ahead of the #2 Renault Zoe. It also put the car within striking distance of the Zoe for the year-to-date sales ranking — and I have to assume the LEAF blew past the Zoe in April to take the crown.
What other car — of any kind — offers the value for money (in this price category) that the new Nissan LEAF offers? Well, I think there’s the Tesla Model 3 and … well, that’s basically it in my eyes. I can certainly see the rationale for buying a handful of other electric models, but my take is that, in net, these are objectively the best options for the money in mid-priced car categories. That said, it seems it’s still many months before someone can get a $35,000 Model 3, whereas you can get a $29,990 Nissan LEAF (or a £22,790 Nissan LEAF in the UK taking into account the UK tax credit for EVs) with relatively little wait. I expect the LEAF is going to have a record year.
To close, I found this bullet list from Nissan on its work the UK quite interesting:
• Nissan Sunderland Plant produces the Nissan Qashqai, Juke, Infiniti Q30 and the 100% electric Nissan LEAF
• Production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles began in 2012
• Total plant volume since 1986 stands at more than 9 million units with 80 percent of production exported to over 100 markets worldwide
• Total investment made and announced since then is over £4.0 billion
• 507,436 units were produced at Sunderland plant in 2016
• Employment in Nissan’s UK design studio (Paddington, London), technical center (Cranfield Bedfordshire), manufacturing plant (Sunderland, Tyne, and Wear) and sales and marketing operations (Maple Cross, Hertfordshire) now totals more than 8,000.
• A further 28,000 jobs in Nissan’s UK supply chain and 4,000 in its UK dealer network takes the total British jobs supported by Nissan to more than 40,000