By on September 10, 2015


Nissan announced Thursday that the 2016 Leaf would run more than 100 miles on a single charge in SV and SL trim, increasing its range by 25 percent over last year. The base S model will keep the 24 kWh battery that manages more than 80 miles on a charge.

For the dozens and dozens of 2015 Leafs wilting on lots around the Denver metro area — where a combination of tax credits and cash back from the manufacturer makes the Leaf the least-expensive new car in America — I can hear them calling. And after Nissan sweetened its own deal this month with no interest for 72 months, it’s getting louder.

Let’s get down to brass tacks here: not since Cash for Clunkers can I remember a new car being so affordable. In 2009, I was a fledgling newspaper journalist who didn’t make enough to pay attention so I missed that boat.

Six years later, and I’m still not the Sultan of Brunei, but even I can do the math:

$29,010 — Base price
-$7,500 — Federal tax credit
-$5,200 — Colorado tax credit
-$5,000 — NMAC finance credit
– No interest for 72 months
– Free charging for two years
= $11,310 before you factor in dealer desperation to move a year-old electric car off their lot while gasoline is at a historically low price.

Beyond the increase in range, not much has changed for the Leaf from 2015. It still has four wheels (five if you count the steering wheel) and some seats. The Leaf faces an uphill battle after Chevrolet announced that its 2016 (nay, 2017) Volt would increase its all-electric range to 53 miles, and the 2016 Toyota Prius will reportedly go 34 miles on electrons alone.

Basically, what I’m saying is I have a date at a Nissan dealer later today.

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36 Comments on “At This Point, Nissan Is Just Daring Me Not To Buy A Leaf...”

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have a 12 mile commute. I work for the power company and we have totally unused free charging stations in my parking lot.
    I am the perfect candidate for an EV.

    But I don’t like the Leaf, the Tesla is way too expensive, and I don’t want a Prius.
    That leaves the Volt which gives me a big old “meh” feeling.
    If Honda made the CRZ as an EV-only this would probably be a different story.

    • 0 avatar

      There are electric versions of the Focus, Golf, Fiat 500, and probably several others.

      My wife’s in the same boat (well, longer commute but it’d still work). She actually likes the Leaf’s exterior, but not its interior. These numbers might sway her, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Hmm, I didn’t think about the Focus. I’d consider that.

        Not the Golf though and the 500 is Cali only still, right?
        And I’ll go ahead and rule out the Spark and Smart while we’re at it.

      • 0 avatar

        I test drove an e-golf this week and really liked it. The MQB platform was designed to accommodate electrification so no awkward box in the trunk for the battery. It was quick off the line but a dog over 45mph or so. You have to be a real VW nerd to distinguish it from a regular golf. There’s an “e-golf” badge, some blue trim, and unique wheels.

    • 0 avatar

      Plus the Audi A3 e-tron is coming out shortly.

  • avatar

    I could sell my car and have a free new Leaf! Assuming 80 miles per charge, I’d be charging mine every 2.1 weeks with my commute.

    Pity about the interior, have they got a wood and leather option?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    $5,200 state tax credit! What are they smoking up there?

    Will you get the full $5,200 credit if your state income tax is less than that?

    • 0 avatar
      Aaron Cole

      No. You wouldn’t get the full $5,200 in that case. (It works out to be $5,180-something, if I recall correctly.)

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a credit, not a deduction. You get the full amount regardless of your tax liability.

        “The credit is first applied against the income tax liability of the
        person who purchases, leases, or converts the qualifying motor vehicle. If the credit exceeds the tax due, the excess credit will be refunded.”

  • avatar

    this is a really good deal for the driver, I have to wonder if this does not lift sales what will. This would be the perfect train station car or a fine first car for a collage grad who did not commute to far to work.

  • avatar

    And you had to tell everyone about this?! You are such a…

    Seriously, this is an outstanding deal if you have a commute to match the car. Add to this that Leaf is a genuinely nice drive in traffic — one would be a fool not to consider it.

    Especially if you live or work near a free fast charger…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I returned my 12 Leaf on Monday. Nissan really didn’t even try to keep me as a customer. They offered:

    1. Buy it out at the contract price, minus the $5k Nissan incentive. This makes it a crazy $13k.

    2. Re-lease for 6 months at a time, at the same rate. No deal.

    3. Buy/lease another Nissan?

    So I walked. They told me that my old car will go to auction; they don’t bother with used ones at this dealer. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere for $9-10k (last week’s prices), but possibly lower now that Leaf 1.5 is announced.

    • 0 avatar

      That seems like a poor business decision on their part. I can’t imagine any other Nissan model comes with a more valuable customer base (for many reasons), seems like they should do a little something. Especially as decent competition is starting to appear.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Here in the Pittsburgh area, it’s a BEV wilderness.

        Not once in 3 years did I meet another EV driver from the area, and none of my many coworkers ever got an EV in that time. In CA, they’re fighting over public chargers like birds of carrion.

        Consequently, the local dealer couldn’t get passionate about the Leaf, but possibly because it generated no repair revenue except one tire change and two state inspections.

        If/when I get another EV, Nissan will be on an even playing field with everyone else.

  • avatar

    with FL not having a state tax and me not wanting to finance through Nissan I dont see this being a deal for me.

  • avatar

    I just checked this for Maryland. We still get $3000 in incentives. My commute is currently 85 miles round trip with no charging stations at my work so the current leaf is out for me. However, looking at the 100+ mile range and the fact that the car would be something like $5k out of pocket for me after trading in or selling my 2010 Mazda 3, this actually looks very promising.

    • 0 avatar

      Good grief 85 miles RT! Cannot imagine. I stand up from my desk at work, and I’m in my kitchen in <15min.

      It's so important for my level of free time daily.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2016 will get 100 miles per charge, the 2015 is the one they’re clearing out at bargain prices. You can’t get both the 100 mile range and the clearance pricing.

      Also, don’t expect to get 100 miles per charge if 80 of those miles are spent stuck in traffic on 270.

      • 0 avatar

        Whenever I get “stuck in traffic” in my LEAF I relax in the good knowledge that my range just increased.

        One might expect 150+ miles in traffic for the 2016 LEAF.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic


        I believe JPWhite is right. You’re thinking of ICE engines and the way they become very inefficient at low speeds or stop-n-go conditions. Hence the lower mileage for in-town vs. freeway.

        EVs, on the other hand, are highly efficient in traffic conditions. Range would actually go up, not down.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Uh, be very careful with that long commute. You’ll have to contend with winter in Maryland, and I can tell you winter was brutal to my 12 Leaf.

      I had the old resistive heater; 13 and newer Leafs use a more efficient heat pump. Just FYI, I’d see my winter range drop by half when it was at its worst. Not only that, all rechargeable batteries degrade over time. In 3 years, mine degraded 15%. In my case, that meant I was getting 36 miles on a full charge in the depths of this past winter. So in spite of the technology improvements and larger battery, I do NOT think this car would be appropriate for your commute.

      While it is true that stop-and-go traffic often means longer range for an EV, they act a lot like ICEs when you’re sitting in traffic and running the heater while it’s 10F outside. You can watch the miles melt away from your range while you’re sitting there.

  • avatar

    I’ve never sat in a Leaf, but if the Leaf has the same sort of ridiculously comfortable seats the Murano does, then this is like the world’s most perfect commuting mobile.

  • avatar

    What will the max range be in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?

    My main concern with EVs is reduction in battery capacity with regular charge/discharge cycles. An EV with 100 mile range would fit my commute perfectly, but I seriously hesitate knowing that the “gas tank” could slowly shrink over time.

    • 0 avatar

      A good rule of thumb is to reduce the stated EPA range by 30%. If that meets your needs then it’ll be OK. If not you are correct to hesitate.

    • 0 avatar

      Real world tesla roadster results are around 80% capacity remaining after 100k miles which is probably indicative of the Leaf’s similar technology.

      Come on, you’re likely in some technical field (GA tech avatar) and your concern stops at random internet pontification? The same outlet for your anxieties is also your venue for resolution! Search brother!

      • 0 avatar

        The Tesla thermally controls its battery though. I put 25k EV miles on my ’11 Volt – also temperature regulated – and any reduction in battery capacity was in the noise. I’m sure there was some but I couldn’t tell. Other Volt owners have had the same experience.

        Unfortunately, the Leaf battery is air “cooled”. Note SCE to AUX’s 15% in 3yr/26k mile experience despite living in a temperate climate. Southwest Leafs have terrible battery issues.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My 12 Leaf’s battery degraded 15% in 3 years. I know this because I monitored it with an OBD-II Bluetooth device that provided a wealth of information unavailable on the dashboard. I accumulated 26710 miles with 2357 charges.

      In my case, that was an annually compounded rate of 5.3% degradation. The 13+ batteries are supposed to degrade less. But if they don’t, you’d get the following capacity:
      Year 2: 90%
      Year 5: 76%
      Year 10: 58%

      Of the many enemies lithium ion batteries have, deep cycling is one of the worst. A larger battery which doesn’t need to deep cycle will last longer, and Tesla batteries degrade less for this reason, among others.

      Add to this factor a few others: speed (55 is worse than the ideal 45), terrain (even mild hills hurt), temperature extremes (A/C isn’t terrible on range, but hot Li-ion batteries aren’t happy), and you’ll find range to be substantially lower than advertised. The reality of battery range is worse than EPA figures on ICE cars. My Leaf’s gas gauge was quite inaccurate – it was way optimistic when full, and pessimistic when empty. I’ve heard the Tesla gas gauge is very accurate. So Nissan’s claim of 107 miles for the 16 Leaf rings hollow for me.

      If you live in a level, temperate area, and can roll at 45 mph, you’re golden. Otherwise, do some research to set expectations for your situation.

  • avatar

    “11,310 before you factor in dealer desperation to move a year-old electric car of”

    Depending on package, $11K is about what they are worth when they are a year old.

  • avatar

    How easy is an EV to repair after an accident? Say a t-bone on the passenger side by someone running a stale red.

    Say EV needs to see the rack for unbending $12 K in OEM parts.

    Does the insurance industry handle claims on EVs any different?

    • 0 avatar

      I was unfortunate enough to have collided with a deer when my LEAF was just 4 months old. Did $7,500 worth of damage to the front end.

      The only accommodation I had to make for repairs was to choose a shop that had experience with aluminum repair/painting.

      Since 2013 the LEAF’s have been all steel, so any shop should be able to repair a LEAF.

      There are considerations for isolating the traction battery before doing any bodywork but that’s all laid out in the repair manual and takes just a few minutes to pull the isolation switch/plug.

      There are guidelines for measuring the door sill temperature when the car is in the paint booth. The upper limit is 140F and most shops don’t run their booths that hot anyway.

  • avatar

    I’ve had one for 15 months now, and it is an exceptional commuter. Quiet, rides well, good seats, and a generally nice feature set. Best “tank” has been 104 miles with about 10% battery remaining. But this was in summer with warm weather. Here in the PNW, the charging infrastructure is pretty good, although I rarely use it since I can just charge overnight at home. The actual running costs, needless to say, are low.

    I have the same OBDII monitoring software mentioned above, and have yet to see any degradation in 13k miles. Worth noting that the 2013 and later have modified battery chemistry to better deal with heat, with a further (some say bigger) upgrade for 2015+ models. Given the 2016 models now have a longer battery warranty with the same chemistry as the 2015, I’d say Nissan has some confidence that the improvements are working in the real world. So if a great deal could be worked on a 15, it could be a no-brainer.

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