By on October 11, 2016

2015 Nissan LEAF
Suppose an automaker improved a terrible-selling vehicle but didn’t bother to tell anyone about it. Chances are they didn’t just forget, so there has to be some fundamental reasoning behind that choice. This is the mystery Nissan has left us with after silently and suddenly replacing the battery in their base model Leaf with a larger one.

We only know about this change due to an eagle-eyed staff member at Green Car Reports, who noticed that Nissan increased the size of the Leaf S battery in a September order guide.

The Leaf is one of fastest depreciating vehicles money can buy, and its sales have fallen dramatically since a 2014 peak. The model is desperate for any edge it can get, and effective range is one of the most important factors a person considers when choosing any electric vehicle. So why Nissan opted against notifying the press that they were replacing the old 24-kilowatt-hour battery with the superior 30 kWh one — already found in the SV and SL models — is bit of a conundrum.

The larger battery pushes the Leaf’s EPA-estimated range up from 84 miles to a much improved 107. But there’s a trade-off — Nissan has increased the price quite a bit. A base model Leaf S now starts at $32,450, up from the $29,000 range. This increase includes the Quick Charge Package and places it a couple thousand dollars behind the slightly nicer Leaf SV. The new price also places it dangerously close to base models of the Kia Soul EV and Fiat 500E, while actually making it more expensive than a basic Volkswagen e-Golf or Ford Focus Electric.

However, if you still want the shorter-ranged, cheaper version, there are still plenty of 24 kWh cars left over at dealerships. Actually, come to think of it, that may have something to do with Nissan’s silence.

[Image: Nissan]

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31 Comments on “Nissan Improves Base Leaf But Tells No One...”


  • avatar
    Asdf

    The Leaf is still an embarrassment for Nissan, since even with an upgraded battery it’s got nowhere near the range of a petrol-powered car, not to mention the charging time is unacceptably long. Of course Nissan doesn’t want to drag its name through the mud by pointing out that the Leaf exists.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      >>> nowhere near the range of a petrol-powered car … charging time is unacceptably long <<<

      This car might not work for you, but if it were as much fun to drive as my Cayman, it would easily work for me as a commute car. That would get one gasoline-powered car off the road most of the days of the week. (Which, I think, is the idea of electric cars.)

      The car has more than enough range for my 5-day-a-week commute. Plus, I can charge at work for free. In fact, I could charge on Monday and drive for the entire week.

      As for charging time, it has the same 30-second charging time as every other electric car: 15 seconds to plug it in and 15 seconds to unplug it. No problem at all.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @Asdf: Not sure where you’ve been, but until recently the Leaf was the world’s best-selling BEV.

      Level 2 charging time on mine was fine, and Level 3 charging was very quick.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    If they just didn’t look like an anime bug.

    And were larger. And taller. With more ground clearance.

    C’mon and get here, Bolt.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Based on interior volume, the Leaf is probably a little larger than the Volt. My Leaf has been great, but if I was buying right now, the Bolt would be an easy choice. Nissan needs to immediately put either the ZOEs 40 kWh or maybe the 60 kWh battery into the current Leaf now. While the 60 kWh might be a stretch, 40 kWh should be possible using the current battery case. Maybe that’s why they’re upgrading the S?

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Yeah, Volt sucks; it’s just another little crampy car.

        But the Bolt is sized for Earth people.

        Height:

        Bolt 63″
        Leaf 61″

        Cargo capacity, rear seats folded:

        Bolt 56.6 cubic feet
        Leaf 30 cubic feet

        (I kept getting that 61″ for the Leaf’s height which I find suspect. Is it really taller then the 60″ Honda Fit?)

        • 0 avatar

          When washing my LEAF and my Wife’s Altima, the LEAF is clearly a tall car. You feel the same when in the drivers seat.

          My wife drove the LEAF fora week while I was out of town. When she got back in her ALtima she remarked on how much lower it is.

          I kinda like a taller car thanks to my aging knees. Easier to get in and out of.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve Biro

          Volts suck… just another crampy little car? You’re probably right… for you. But this is why we can’t get any truly interesting or stylish cars in this country any more. Americans want boxes on wheels: oversized pick-ups, dumb SUVs and boring, upright four-doors.

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “Volt sucks; it’s just another little crampy car.”

          I’m 6’4″, and yes, the Volt is tight. But, it’s a hatchback, which gives it decent versatility. The Volt is perfect for front driver/passengers <6 feet tall, and rear passengers no taller than 5'7" (tweens?).

          The reason that the Volt is cramped is that the "T" shaped battery pack is incorporated into the drive tunnel and under the rear seats – it's a variant of the Cruze made wider for the battery – not for the occupants.

          The Bolt is taller because the battery pack is under the floor (and rear seats), giving the interior a more "open" feel – I'm sure it will be an interesting car to drive, because it will not feel "top heavy" due to the weight of the pack riding low.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Hey man, I like the anime bug look!

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    I’m guessing that, like Tesla, pickup of the base range model was low, so they’ve essentially dropped it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Once you’ve got your sales staff conditioned to tell customers that getting the better battery requires the higher-margin trims, then it’s a good time to quietly streamline production.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    That snout is so ugly, they are lucky to have sold ANY of these. The owners probably try to park them against a wall or partly in a bush.
    They need to have a reason for buyers to choose the Leaf over its competitors, but there is nothing unique (in a positive way) about this car, unfortunately.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    4 year old Leaves (that’s grammatically correct, right?) in Puget Sound are selling for around $7.9K to $8.9K (dealer asking). 2014 models are already under $10K.

    Stunning depreciation.

  • avatar

    I wonder how long it will be before you can’t buy a 24kWh replacement battery at any price? Not many are buying the replacements at $6,000 anywho.

    With no current model LEAF’s using the 24kWh battery, I imagine they will stop making any of them before long if they haven’t already stopped.

    Welcome to the era of the disposable ($37,000) car.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Matt,

    If a new Leaf is $13k can you explain your deprecation math for me?

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/10/04/so-i-bought-an-electric-car/

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      That includes $4653 in Colorado tax credits. I don’t live in Colorado.

      And $6000 of his discount seems to depend on the ability to qualify for 0% financing.

      AND he is counting the full $7500 federal tax credit as a discount, which less than 100% of new Nissan buyers can take advantage of.

      ANNNNND Mr.Mustache also didn’t post his paperwork so he could be stretching his awesome deal in order to impress readers of his financial blog.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      Again, it’s not. He financed the car, his loan is $28k. Yes, he will get tax credits that offset the cost. But he drove it off the lot after agreeing to pay $28,000 for the car.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    ugly as sin or not I still see this as a great car for a collage student or high school kid, used ones are dirt cheap, now getting kids to make sure it is plugged in may be a problem but if someone could figure out to do the charging via a app collage kids would be fine.

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