Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


In Gear

Good news for Leaf fans: Newer model is cheaper, has longer range

A new report out from Japan suggests that the new Nissan 2013 Leaf with offer a longer range, as well as a lower-cost model with a smaller battery pack. the car goes on sale in January, and will differ from units currently available in the US.

By Jon VoelckerGuest blogger / August 17, 2012

Bruce Sargent of Ashland, Ore., tops off the charge on his Nissan Leaf on Friday, in this March 2011 file photo taken at a new electric car charging station in Central Point, Ore. A new report has good news for Nissan Leaf fans looking to upgrade.

Jeff Barnard/AP

Enlarge

The 2013 Nissan Leaf that will go on sale in January will be a slightly different car from the 2011 and 2012 models sold in the U.S. so far.

Skip to next paragraph

Recent posts

Related stories

We already know the electric car will offer leather seats and a 6.6-kilowatt charger as options, along with a more efficient heating system.

Now a report from Japan suggests that Nissan will offer a 2013 Leaf with longer range, as well as a lower-cost model with a smaller battery pack (which could be restricted to sales in that country).

The improvement in usable range is attributed to improved performance from the battery's lithium-ion cells and a more efficient electric motor.

Today's Leaf is rated by the EPA at 73 miles of range. Owners report usable range of 60 to 90 miles in real-world use, depending on their speed, the outside temperature, and how much they use air-conditioning and/or heater.

A report in SankeiBiz, a Japanese newspaper, says the new Leaf model will offer more than 250 km (155 miles) of range--though that figure is undoubtedly based on the Japanese test cycle, which produces figures far more optimistic than the U.S. EPA tests do.

The current Leaf is rated on that same Japanese cycle at 200 km (124 miles) of range.

But the 25-percent improvement discussed in the news report could bring the U.S. range rating of the 2013 Nissan Leaf to something like 90 or 91 miles.

If so, that would put the 2013 Leaf ahead of the Ford Focus Electric (76 miles), Honda Fit EV (82 miles), and Coda Sedan (88 miles) in rated range.

The less expensive 2013 Leaf with lower range may be limited to buyers in Japan, which has different tax subsidies and buyer incentives. Mitsubishi already sells a lower-range model of its i-MiEV electric minicar there.

The Sankei report also says that Nissan will "dramatically change the appearance" of the Leaf's design. In fact, we suspect the changes will be evolutionary updates rather than a completely new style.

Colin Lawther, Nissan's VP of engineering for Europe, said in April that when U.K. production of the 2013 Leaf starts early next year, it will have its styling "fine-tuned" to the tastes of European buyers.

Sankei reports that the changes to the Leaf were pulled forward a year, due to lower-than-expected global sales of the Leaf. Nissan Leaf sales in the U.S. have been flat this year, for a variety of reasons, as explained by the company's VP of sales.

The 2013 model will have to produce far higher sales to justify Nissan's investment in Leaf assembly--and construction of a lithium-ion cell fabrication plant--in its factory in Smyrna, Tennessee.

U.S. assembly of the Leaf and its battery cells was funded, in part, by a $1.6 billion low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. In the end, Nissan used only $1.4 billion of those loan proceeds.

Changes for the 2013 Leaf were predicted by Nissan executive Mark Perry as far back as 2010, well before the first Leaf was sold in December of that year.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best auto bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

Related stories

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Editors' picks

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!