Nissan Improves Base Leaf But Tells No One

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nissan improves base leaf but tells no one

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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4 of 31 comments
  • Jmo Jmo on Oct 11, 2016

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

    • See 1 previous
    • Here4aSammich Here4aSammich on Oct 11, 2016

      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.

  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Oct 12, 2016

    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.

  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.