Nissan Europe Ramping Up Local Leaf Production
With Nissan bringing Leaf production to Japan and the United States, the next stop on their localization train is Europe. The Sunderland, UK plant will begin in the spring, and along with European production will be a series of tweaks for that market.
Most significant for the Leaf is a bump in range, allowing the car to travel 124 miles instead of the previous 109 miles. A revised heat pump is partly responsible for the boost in range, while a new fast charger option can cut charging times in half (fast charging stations across the continent are said to have tripled, according to Just-Auto).
Luggage space and overall packaging is also improved, thanks to a redesigned powertrain that incorporates the motor, inverter and charger assembly under the hood as a single unit. Luggage space is said to be improved by as much as 40 liters. The battery itself will be produced locally as well.
While a mid-cycle refresh is standard practice for most car companies, Nissan has been tailoring some of its changes to the local markets in North America, Japan and Europe, based on owner feedback and telematics data. Notably, the chassis, steering system and brakes were all revised for European tastes, with the dampers and steering firmed up and the brakes made to feel more progressive – changes that would be welcome on the North American spec car.
Seems like Nissan is trying to trim fat off the Leaf's costs by localizing production - a pretty expensive capital outlay. I suppose that this - combined with decontenting and price reductions - is a comprehensive strategy intended to lure a critical mass of buyers into the EV club. As for the brake tuning, I would appreciate an improvement in my Leaf. The transition from regen to pads is becoming ratty as the car ages. Maybe I need a software reflash.
Well I want one bad but it's not realistic for me and my wife at this time. However, if no-one bought the leaf, then they wouldn't be able to roll out more production and lower the price. So in other words, future self thanks you!
2012 Leaf driver here. Of course, here's me going, "Oh, I should have waited for the 2013," but then again, I can't spend my life waiting for the next, newest thing, because there will ALWAYS be another newer/better version out next year. That said, I do love my 2012, and although the '13 will have the faster onboard charger option, I rarely use L2 chargers anyway. I either do trickle charge at home or use the L3 (quick charge).