By on October 5, 2012

With sales of the third-generation Ford Taurus lagging, the Blue Oval decided that an entry-level variant would be just what was needed to help kickstart sales. Faced with slumping sales of their Leaf EV, Nissan is apparently taking the same route.

Without the $7,500 tax credit, a Leaf costs $36,050, and there’s no indication of how much the entry-level trim will knock off the sticker price. The new base model will forgo the high-tech, energy-efficient LED headlamps in favor of traditional HID units, as well as some unspecified features integrated into the car’s GPS system. The LED lamps are considered integral to the Leaf’s battery performance, since they use far less energy than traditional headlights.

Nissan will also switch production of the Leaf and its battery components to Tennessee, allowing the Leaf to escape the unfavorable exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the yen. Leaf production hasn’t started Stateside, but battery production at the Smyrna, TN plant is set to begin shortly.

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47 Comments on “Nissan Leaf Gets The “Taurus G” Treatment...”


  • avatar
    86er

    “With sales of the third-generation Ford Taurus lagging, the Blue Oval decided that an entry-level variant would be just what was needed to help kickstart sales.”*

    *Offer not valid in Canada. Please see your nearest Ford dealer for a much more expensive model.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This really needs link(s) to the Leafs dying in the desert article(s). Different headlights won’t help much with battery management. This cat pan still needs cleaned.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    I don’t understand this. Big problem is range. Now, different headlights that use more power are going to be used. Remind me not to move to some place hot and buy one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Typical headlamps are 55 watt elements. LED elements may be 15-20 watts.

      If you drive 40 mph, you can probably get 100 miles of range out of the Leaf .. or 2.5 hours.

      Halogen lamps will burn an extra, say, 40×2 = 80 watts, in 2.5 hours that’s 200 watt-hours extra energy.

      In a 24 kWh pack, that’s about 0.8% extra range.. or 4000 feet or so.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        Since no one is likely in perfect conditions, the EPA estimated range of 73. The battery pack is 24 kWh, but not all of it is used for driving the car. Much of it is left in the battery. Going below 20% or above 80% can degrade the battery if done repeatedly.

        Most people would be driving 60 or more at a constant speed. I don’t see anyone going 40 mph for 2.5 hours straight.

        73/60 = 1.22 hours.
        60% of the battery is 14.4 kWh.
        40*1.22 = 48.8 Wh.
        48.8/14400 = .34% of the battery.

        Turns out to be about 1300 feet on a full charge to nothing. If most people drive less than 50 miles per day, the cost savings are almost nothing and the range increase is quite small.

      • 0 avatar
        danwat1234

        and HID headlights are normally 35 watts while being a bit brighter than regular Halogens, so they are close in lumens/watt to LEDs. 55w HID systems (and higher) are available with aftermarket kits.

    • 0 avatar

      Non LED Headlights will use more power and impact range. However I know from experience that the LEAF headlights are over $900 each to replace. Figure Nissan’s cost is half that, they can afford to put one extra battery module in the car and more than offset the range loss and retain probably 600-700 dollars in actual cost which is huge.

      IMHO the extra cost for these headlights isn’t so much the LED technology, but the large and odd shape they are.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Aren’t HID lights more expensive to make than LEDs? Don’t see how this lowers cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Automotive headlamp LEDs require extensive cooling/heat sinks so I suspect they are still more expensive than HIDs, which are a mature technology in automotive applications.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Ditch the GPS altogether. After all, how lost can one get in a 25 mile radius? Wait, I take that back–With limited range, it’s important not to get lost!

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Comment of the day here! Wait, TTAC doesn’t do comment of the day. Damn.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      I *think* the idea behind the GPS is it will tell you where you can plug in your “drive it for an hour then get out and push” EV, to help “extend” your “range.” Honestly, I don’t really know.

      • 0 avatar

        You are correct, Tuff. The GPS includes a national list of Leaf-compatible recharging stations.

        I think they need a beefier battery, luxury features, an Infiniti logo and a higher price. Early adopters don’t like cheap cars, and this car appeals to nobody else.

        D

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So the main problems are range, battery life, and a lack of a battery conditioning system and the solution is to put in battery gulping HID lamps as a “base base” model option to try and drive sales.

    Say what you want, but GM is looking smarter and smarter and smarter in what really is at best a cripple fight.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I’d actually have preferred LED or HID lighting on the Volt over its specialized Halogen, and if/when a halogen bulb dies I’ll likely install HIDs in their place. The lenses are projector-style with a mechanical cutoff shutter that gives a very sharp cutoff to the top of the light pattern, then moves to allow more light out for the ‘high beam’, so the lamp only needs 1 element.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      People need to stop hating on electric cars. These are probably the most revolutionary cars on the market right now, and frankly, yeah they are a long way away from being cars that would make sense for everyone, but that’s not really the point. Car enthusiasts can frankly be hypocritical sometimes. We love weird and revolutionary things from the past, but we are bothered by those same sorts of things when they are in the present. The same people who love the AMC Eagle convertible are the same people who hate the Murano convertible, the same people who love the radical design of Citroens hate the “ugliness” of the Prius, as well as its slowness and the holier-than-thou attitude of its drivers (hello DS??? haha).

      My point is that while electric cars certainly have many problems, they ultimately will be the future, and they should be more respected as pieces of revolutionary engineering, design, and boldness (on the part of the companies to finance such risky projects).

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I’m not hating on electric cars. But Nissan has really screwed up the Leaf. They should have never launched without a climate protection system for the battery for starters. Ya it saved weight and lowered the cost, but with the confirmed reports of cooked batteries losing about 1% of their capacity for every 1,000 miles of driving…well you do the math.

        I do believe GM for now has the right answer, despite the political football and the overall hatred for the project. GM is selling 3K a month – which outsells a list 160 to 170 cars long of other vehicles out there. Is it perfect. Nope – not even close. But as other electrics and series hybrids rolled out the GM price point suddenly wasn’t all that insane expensive within the segment. You’re not hearing about battery issues or platform issues and the only hoopla was basically manufactured, ironically by the NHTSA, al a out of control Toyotas.

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        From now on I will respect electric cars as amazing demonstrations of technology that will some day make inspiring museum displays instead of thinking that they could possibly used for actual transportation today.

        That actually helps. Thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        I’ve stated one of these would be the perfect car for an old GF who has an eight mile round trip commute. Any electric car that doesn’t keep it’s battery charged as stated doesn’t have a “problem”; it has an engineering failure. Nissan’s response to the Leaf’s battery recharging issues? New headlights and marketing campaign.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        How about we stop hating on them when they make sense for people to buy. The Volt and the plugin Prius are the only 2 that I would choose from right now. The Leaf is far too limiting.

        I actually read that LED lights save about 82 watts of power. But when you think about it, how often do you drive with your headlights on? Not day time running lights.

        http://green.autoblog.com/2011/01/20/led-headlights-add-6-miles-electric-car-range/

        This article says 6 miles of range, but the calculations in the comments make it sound like you would need to be driving for 22 hours to do this 6 miles of improvement.

        That said, maybe this will help since the LED array is expensive, but doesn’t save that much power. (Direct contradiction to my earlier comment I know)

        Either way, Nissan needs to figure out its battery issues.

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        It’s not ‘hating’ if the car has a clear and obvious disadvantages. It’s ‘hating’ if people don’t like it simply because it’s an electric car, which isn’t the case here. In fact people bought it despite the high price and ridiculous range, only to get even less range than promised, which makes the car useless. Clearly, this particular electric car is just isn’t acceptable yet.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        I don’t have a problem with electric cars. I have a problem with how stupid most of them look. You wouldn’t catch me dead in that baby bootie looking thing. And could they have picked a less pandering name than Leaf?

      • 0 avatar

        Roberto, I think the only viable electric car is the Tesla Model S. The $80,000 long range edition. It’s fully competitive in price to a Mercedes-Benz CLS-class, and the CLS buyer would rather fly than take long distance road trips. It also has comparable acceleration and much, much lower running costs. If I could afford a CLS class new, the Model S would definitely be on my short list.

        A Leaf, though, is just a really expensive economy car. Doesn’t seem worth it. And that’s true of the Volt as well.

        D

  • avatar
    Easton

    Isn’t the Taurus in its 4th generation (1986-1995, 1996-2004, 2007-2009, 2010-present)?! And I agree, the Leaf is a piece of crap.

    • 0 avatar
      sckid213

      ’92-’95 was an all-new vehicle even though it looked very much like the outgoing version and is considered the second generation.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Crap compared to a Taurus? The Leaf is an engineering marvel and a gimps into the future, the Taurus is yet another dull sedan for people who are tired of life.

      • 0 avatar
        jhefner

        Really? The Taurus got greater range than the Leaf, and wasn’t affected by AZ heat or AK cold. Even the “catfish face” third generation referenced here looks better than the Leaf, and even though it did not sell well compared to the previous generations, still sold well compared to a Leaf.

        I guess all those people tired of life could not appreciate an engineering marvel even today; I still see them on the road. The one Leaf I saw around here lasted only a few months; I guess it could not take the TX heat either.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Ford isn’t doing anything with the current Taurus. They created the Taurus G back in 1997 or so.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      Taurus: Gen 1 ’86-’91, Gen 2: ’92-’95, Gen 3 ’96-’99, Gen 4 ’00-’07, Gen 5 ’08-’09, Gen 6 ’10-present.

  • avatar
    JREwing

    Exactly how does cheapening the Leaf solve its battery problems?? C’mon, Nissan, it’s the battery, stupid!

    Nobody had a problem with the Leaf until it demonstrated how badly engineered their battery pack is. Everyone else putting battery packs in cars bends over backwards to make sure they hold up. Nissan apparently thinks you’ll ignore that for a cheaper price tag.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    probably a timing issue. leaf sales are low. what to do? create a base/base model. ok let’s announce that. o, wait there is a problem in arizona. ok, let’s wait on that. wait 2 weeks. announce base/base model hoping everyone has a short term memory problem.

    god i hope this is not how business actually works.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    “On sale now, the Nissan Leaf, for $19,995*”

    * Batteries not included

    (sorry I couldn’t resist, it’s the end of the week)

    But seriously, why couldn’t they sell this car and let the customer chose their preferred battery technology and price point (You want cooled batteries for a hot climate? Add $4K)? This may work best by teaming up with third-party battery system suppliers – why not? Nissan warranties the rest of the vehicle, and the battery company covers the batteries. One can dream, right?

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    These cars are all looking like my Prius.

    1. Hood and windshield rake
    2. Roof line and curve
    3. Side windows in front of side mirrors
    4. The way that the side window ends at sail panel
    5. Shape of headlights
    6. Shape of sheet metal around the front wheel wells

    About the only difference is that the Prius is.. a bigger car, haha!

  • avatar
    iNeon

    The Taurus was available in loss-leader trim from 1986. What was different about it happening on the 1996 model?

    The only difference is that 1986-1995 base models were called L, not G.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The difference is that when they launched the 1996 Taurus, the “G” model wasn’t available initially. It was only after months of slow sales and negative customer reaction to the higher prices of the new car that the hastily conceived “G” model was launched to allow for a lower price point.

      How do I know? I was there at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I thought initially the bottom of the line Taurus was the MT-5. It had the Tempo 4 Cylinder motor and a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I find it belligerent to knock the Leaf for range. No one has ever even tried to hint that the Leaf would have the same range as a normal car. There is no lie here, no misdirection, no falsehoods, the car has a range that it is as it is.
    And, I don’t think any one with more than 4 brain cells to rub together should be shocked and appalled that the battery only lasts 2 years, less in a ridiculously hot climate like Arizona.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      They are not knocking that the battery degrades. They are knocking the car because it was under-engineered– and this causes the battery to degrade much more quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        I think you fail, like most people here, to understand the magnitude of what Nissan has achieved here. Think of the Prius and how it was the butt of many jokes at the start because it was, what, different? Nissan still has time to develop this model and work through the issues.
        I guess all I am saying is watch this space.

    • 0 avatar

      I would certainly agree with you, except that the cost to replace a Leaf battery pack is at least 1/3 the cost of the car, possibly even half of it:

      http://www.plugincars.com/replacing-ev-batteries-your-costs-will-vary-122261.html
      (Stating a $9-18k price to replace the battery).

      If you drive 15k miles a year and need to replace the battery after two years, that’s 30,000 miles per battery, or a pretty shocking price of between $0.30 and $0.60 a mile for the batteries alone. That would make the battery cost significantly higher than the cost of running a gasoline-powered vehicle. In fact, I think even a gas-guzzling Ford F150 or super-performance Mercedes AMG would cost substantially less per mile.

      (Edited: I should say that nothing takes away from Nissan’s achievement in creating the Leaf. Awesome indeed! But clearly this technology is not ready for prime time, at least not as expressed by the Leaf.)

      D

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        So how does a car company get it to prime time if they can’t sell it? Just shelve it for the next twenty years? Seems to me that money funds innovation and the money comes from consumer consumption. The more we buy, the faster the price comes down, the better the tech gets. Witness every gadget the average American has.

  • avatar
    LeafMeAlone

    I’ve had my leased Leaf for a bit over one month and 1000 miles now. I live in the midwest and would never step foot in Arizona or Texas unless my family was being held hostage there. For my purposes, the Leaf has been fine. The cost of my 24 month lease is $185 including state and local taxes (minus personal property tax). Using CarWings, the app that comes with the Leaf, it appears I have paid a bit over $18 in electrical charges (.10 per kwh summer rates and .77 for winter rates) for one thousand miles of driving. This compares to around $200 that I would have paid for gas in my Volvo. Given I am a driver who follows a pattern, drop my son off at school, drive to work, drive home, drive to gym, drive to Costco on weekends, drive to movies or restaurant or relatives, drive other son to hockey, drive first son for allergy shots one time per week, go out for a drink one time per week with friends . . . I have never had any range anxiety. I have driven up to 73 miles in one day, making 11 separate trips. My average is less than 50 miles per day. When my lease is up, I will have the choice of buying the car for around $21k or turning it back in. If the 2014 is an improvement, I will lease again, provided equally good deals are available. I also have a second gasoline fueled car, for longer trips out of town.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I just bought (leased) a Leaf SL last week. Nissan’s problem is the price; changing the content this way won’t really help. Note – the Leaf is somewhat cheaper, but it doesn’t contain the solar panel to run the accessories, and no dealers stock them.

    Proof of their price problem was the surprising – and unadvertised – discount from Nissan I received without even asking, of $7500 off MSRP. That’s cash on the (bulbous) hood. This is NOT the $7500 Federal tax incentive nor is it the surprising $3500 Pennsylvania rebate I’m applying for today.

    So I got a $38k car for under $20k (well, after my 2012 taxes are done), and that’s before my modest company discount and trade-in.

    The Leaf is a slow seller, and I think Nissan is just trying to get more of them on the streets.


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