By on September 6, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

Back in December of 2010, if anyone can remember that hazy, long-ago time, an oddly shaped five-door rolled out of the minds of Japanese executives and onto U.S. dealer lots. Unlike its fledgling electric forebears, the 2011 Nissan Leaf promised practical gas-free transportation for the whole family, bolstered by a warranty from an established automaker and 73 miles of EPA-approved driving range.

The industry had just taken a big step. However, the Leaf, despite racking up an impressive model-life sales total, soon found itself leapfrogged by competitors with greater range and more conventional styling. By the time 2017 rolled around, the Leaf’s 107-mile range and now-dated body stood in stark contrast to sleeker models delivering 200 miles of driving from every turn at the plug.

Nissan wants to change that. For 2018, the second-generation Leaf arrives with greater — but not class-leading — range, a new body (with a familiar profile), and a lower entry price. The automaker clearly feels there’s thrifty EV buyers capable of saying “no” to the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt.

2018 Nissan LEAF , Image: Nissan

Carrying a U.S. pre-delivery MSRP of $29,990 ($35,998 in Canada), the new Leaf undercuts the 2017 model by $690. For that price, buyers receive a vehicle shoved bodily towards the styling mainstream — it now sports sculpted flanks, a corporate grille treatment, and an all-important floating roof.

Perhaps more important than styling is the 150 miles of driving range from its 40-kWh battery pack. A low number when compared to the 220-mile base Model 3 and 238-mile Bolt, the new Leaf’s range positions it slightly above such models as the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Volkswagen e-Golf. A larger optional battery is on the way for 2019, Nissan claims. We’re hearing that unit should deliver range in the area of 225 miles.

Nissan doesn’t want to find itself at the bottom of the technological ladder again, but a base model with 150 miles of range could appeal to those who know the type of driving they’ll do, and don’t want to needlessly spend more. When factoring in the endangered federal $7,500 tax credit, the 2018 Leaf’s price falls to the low $20k bracket. A Model 3 wearing black paint starts at $35,000 before credit. The Bolt? $37,495.

It’s up to individuals to decide where exactly range anxiety begins.

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

For Nissan to offer the Leaf with a host of new technologies at a lower price point, concessions were made regarding content. It still rides on the same platform as before, albeit with some tweaks, and its battery remains air-cooled, rather than the carefully managed liquid-cooled systems found in its longer-ranged rivals. Relying on outside air to keep the battery pack from overheating means the Leaf’s range is more susceptible to outdoor temperatures extremes.

As one eagle-eyed journalist pointed out, you’ll also notice something familiar inside the new Leaf: the old Leaf’s door panels.

But what the 2018 Leaf lacks in range and all-over newness, it makes up for in innovation. As we told you in June, the new Leaf debuts Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driving technology to the American market. The system’s combination of intelligent cruise control and lane-hold functions is designed for easy highway cruising, and will be updated with more capabilities as technology advances. In the meantime, drivers needn’t pay so much attention to the road.

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

Also contained within the new Leaf is the e-Pedal, an accelerator pedal that takes regenerative braking to new heights. Nissan claims the e-Pedal covers 90 percent of a driver’s needs. Not only will the system bring the vehicle to a fairly quick stop after the driver lifts off the pedal, it will also hold the vehicle on a slope. Don’t worry, there’s still a brake pedal for those times when you want (or need) to mash that sucker to the floor.

“We believe the new LEAF will be another game changer for Nissan in the U.S., just as the redesigned Rogue has been in the last year and a half, hitting the ‘sweet spot’ in the growing EV segment,” said José Muñoz, the company’s chief performance officer and North American chairman. “It takes everything we’ve learned from our loyal first-generation LEAF owners to the next level.”

Electric vehicles remain a tiny market, one in which buyers now have no shortage of choice. While the 2018 Leaf brings with it name recognition and a heritage missing from other EV offerings, time will tell if buyers materialize for its middle-of-the-pack range and lower starting price.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf goes on sale, countrywide, in early 2018.

[Images: Nissan]

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42 Comments on “2018 Nissan Leaf – The Industry’s Oldest Mainstream Electric Car Turns Over a New… Well, You Get the Idea...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The penny-pinching is obvious, and indicates that Nissan is no longer serious about the EV market.

    Not only the doors are the same, but even the wheelbase is identical to Leaf 1.0, making the back seat tight – again. Air cooling the battery is a huge fail; I can’t believe Nissan didn’t remedy the source of their battery problems despite the better chemistry of the ‘lizard’ battery.

    They even stuck with the fading CHAdeMO DC charging standard. A real coup would have been to team up with Tesla to use the Supercharger network, then Nissan would actually have been able to sell this car aggressively against the Bolt.

    Why should someone spend $30k for 150 miles range when the competitors offer over 50% more for only another 20% money, in a bigger, faster car?

    Sorry Nissan, I’ll stick with the Model 3.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      To me, the biggest problem is the lack of a solid charging network. As far as the Lizard battery goes, I’ve had no problems in heavy traffic in weather in the upper 90’s. I’m in the northeast and 100+ temperatures in southwest might be another story – although these batteries are a generation beyond the lizard.

      Another factor with the pricing is that Nissan is sure to be discounting it like they did when I got my car. In Massachusetts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them going in the upper teens with the government subsidies. It’s possible it might be close to half the price of an unsubsidized 3 if you get a Leaf before Nissan’s subsidy disappears.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I half agree with this:
      “Why should someone spend $30k for 150 miles range when the competitors offer over 50% more for only another 20% money, in a bigger, faster car?”

      The new Leaf seems a little overpriced. But the other half of me says that even with a higher range EV, it’s still a second vehicle since I need an ICE (or a lot of free time and patience) for the longer drives.

      For an around town car 150 miles (or 100 miles in the winter) is more than enough for me. My current 24KWh leaf barely suffices; 5% of the time I have to baby it to get home if I ran one too many errands. But I virtually never drive more than 100 miles in a day unplanned.

      So I think, today, there is room in the market for a 150-ish mile EV. Whether non-EV owners will realize that in the face of the Bolt and Model3 is a different question.

      But I do think it needs to be sub $20K to compete.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I think for under 20 grand after fed grant this will sell in decent numbers, 150 miles is more than most folks need and should make a great around town car,

  • avatar
    ash78

    This is sort of analogous with what Honda did with the Insight (v2.0) against the Prius, and that didn’t turn out very well for them. But honestly, if I were to dip my toes in the EV pool, this is a solid entry point. For me, any EV would only need enough range to get me through the day. 100 miles vs 150 (or even 200) is basically irrelevant, and I suspect many EV buyers are the same. Anything short of about 400 miles on a charge won’t get my attention, but 100 would be fine because I know I’m not leaving town.

    I still theorize that most “green” cars need to intentionally look like a freak in their first 1-2 generations (to boost credibility and stand out). Then they can go mainstream. This is no exception. I’d drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      NetGenHoon

      I have a Gen 1. Leaf and this upgrade is enough for me to make the jump. It’s good to have an extra 50% available in case your day involves running errands or somesuch after your commute. Also it comes in handy if you forget to plugin or pop breaker and don’t get a full charge.
      It would be great to not *need* to charge every night to got through my daily commute.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    The lack of a liquid cooling system is troubling. I would gladly trade that for a few dodads.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Yeah, it’s really this and the sort of long term battery degradation that we’ve seen in the Leaf that would concern me more than anything else. The car also seems to be oddly inefficient compared to the Model 3 if the way they’re rating their cars is similar, getting 150 miles out of 40kwh when the competition is getting 220 out of 50kwh is a problem and I can’t help but think the less advanced battery tech is contributing to this since the battery isn’t kept at an optimal temperature.

      I think right now it’s a race between the Bolt and upcoming Model 3, GM seems to be standing behind their batteries and rating the range pretty conservatively and Tesla’s close ties with Panasonic and their track record seem to show that they have long term battery degradation under good control.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Tesla has not revealed the battery capacity(s) of its Model 3.

        EV battery capacity is always listed as gross, meaning that’s the size of the battery installed in the car. *Net* battery size is what goes into the EPA rating, and it’s what the driver can actually access.

        The difference between gross and net is about 5%. This makes the Leaf 2.0 battery really about 38.0 kWh net, which works out to 3.95 miles/kWh.

        The Model 3’s short-range battery is most likely about 57 kWh gross, or about 54.15 kWh net, which works out to 4.06 miles/kWh.

        If the Model 3 long-range enjoys the same efficiency as the short-range version, then its 310-mile range means it has a battery 76.4 kWh net, or about 80.4 kWh gross.

        If these numbers for the Model 3 and Leaf are correct, then really the Leaf and Model 3 are within 3% of each other for efficiency.

        For another example, the Bolt has a 60 kWh battery, which is about 57 kWh net. Its EPA range is 238 miles, or about 4.2 miles/kWh… meaning it is slightly more efficient than either the Leaf or the Model 3, although only about 6% separates the Bolt and Leaf.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I really don’t like the frumpy profile. They should have maximize the green house and keep the belt line level all the way to the back. The rear quarter really should include a real window. The sloping back, I’m sure helps with aero, is cutting into some serious cargo space.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’d love to pick up a used Leaf for my kids to tool around in. Unfortunately, no garage = no way to charge them.

    #sads

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    That’s a nice update of the Versa Note.

    Oh that’s the new Leaf?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like this and the longer-range version might be a real candidate for me in the future, but I’m very concerned about the passively-cooled battery.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Perhaps the longer range version will have liquid cooling.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        I’ve never had an issue with air-cooled version in upper 90 degree weather in the Northeast. It doesn’t even get close to highest levels of the temp gauge. Not sure about what it would be like in the southwest.

        • 0 avatar
          NetGenHoon

          The air cooled battery here in AZ is why you lease. I lost 15% capacity in my first 2 years.
          The lizard battery from ~2013 on really helps. The problem is not while it’s running, but sitting on a hot blacktop parking lot all day and being in a hot garage at home. Unless the liquid cooler is running all day, it won’t help with that.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          I think there was a tipping point on the 2011-12/3 batteries when it came to temperature. My 12 Leaf liked warmer weather, but it never saw anything higher than 100 F, and only briefly.

          In my case, in western PA, it was cold weather that hurt it. Wintertime range below 40 miles in very cold weather made the car barely usable. After 3 years and 27k miles, I had already lost 15% capacity in the battery.

          The clueless Nissan dealer told me it was fine, and that I should believe the range on the display.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    One of the reasons Tesla’s batteries have enjoyed less degradation than say, Nissan’s, is that they have offered substantially longer range to begin with. Therefore, in daily usage, the battery is deep-cycled less (deep-cycling is a major cause of battery degradation).

    So ever since having a Leaf 1.0, I’ve wanted an EV with more battery just to ensure it doesn’t age so badly.

    But the battery cooling methodology and chemistry also play a role, and these are areas where Nissan hasn’t excelled, either

    The gas gauging in Leaf 1.0 was terrible, and I’m wondering if the actual range for this car will even meet their EPA claim. On this point, the Bolt is excellent.

  • avatar
    1sowa

    The whole drives itself a little bit needs to stop. The car either needs to be autonomous or not, you either need to pay attention to the car or not. You can’t half pay attention and expect to be safe.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      What percentage of attention do you devote to driving and does your percentage ever vary?

    • 0 avatar
      NetGenHoon

      Adaptive cruise and lane keeping are a great combination that reduce the common accidents on the freeway. Not just the accidents, but this avoids many the near misses that snarl up traffic. Are we ready to call it ‘Autonomous driving’, no. That’s just marketing. These systems, however, are valuable.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    The red one actually looks pretty good to my eyes.

    140 miles – probably means 100 miles of comfortable range with A/C and without ‘deep cycling’ the battery. Probably enough; this should sell.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The price is right. Not much else is. But maybe that’s OK. What EVs really need right now is to get cheaper.

    I just wish they had managed to get the range at that price up to 200 miles or so. 150 isn’t quite enough for a round-trip all the way across the metro area with a comfortable margin.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      That’s a pretty big metro area! A fair point, so this isn’t an EV that’s ready for “one car household” duty, but few of them really are.

      I think Chevy put it best when they talked about appealing perfectly to 80% of your target market, rather than appealing weakly to 100% of your market. For a second car/commuter car, this should do the trick for most.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It’s actually a specific trip I have in mind, one that my wife makes regularly in our current PHEV (C-Max Energi). We live in central Seattle. She is on the board of a charity based in an exurb in the far southeast of the metro area. She drives down there every couple of months for a meeting. The round trip is about 120 miles, mostly on freeways, with a considerable amount of elevation change. Especially in winter, with her preferred 78-degree climate setting, that would be a nail-biter in a 150-mile EV, but easily doable in a 200-mile one.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Just for reference according to google maps it is 62 miles from what is considered the down towns of Everett and Tacoma which are considered by most to be part of the greater Seattle metro area.

        Now the fact that Dal lives in the middle of that I can’t fathom how to go that far SE and still consider it part of the metro area. I’m ~30 mi out from the school I work at in that general area and I’d certainly not call where I live part of the metro area. 60 miles out will put you almost to Greenwater or Eatonville. If you said SW or just South then Olympia which is a likely place for many non-profits to set up shop to lobby the legislature.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “A larger optional battery is on the way for 2019, Nissan claims. We’re hearing that unit should deliver range in the area of 225 miles.”

    In other words,

    Dear Customer:

    Don’t buy this model. Wait until 2019.

    -Nissan America
    .
    .

  • avatar
    vvk

    This will be an excellent used car buy.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    For my wife’s use a 150 mile range would give a nice buffer for daily use even when using the heat a lot in the winter. The 200 ish mile range wouldn’t be enough extra for me to be willing to pay 20% more.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @scoutdude: They’ll probably discount the hell out of it though. They’ll probably have some dirt cheap lease deals too.

      For me personally, after 52K miles of EV ownership. I’ve come to the conclusion that for any EV with less than 200 miles range, you have to be concerned about the charging network. Nissan really doesn’t have anything as dependable or well covered as the SuperCharger network. One particular dealer with a Level 3 charger hasn’t bothered to fix it for over a year. A big charging site is if you are lucky enough to have two chargers. Some dealers think they’re doing you a favor by providing charging – and they actually said that to me once!

      Despite the charging network issues, I haven’t had a problem charging. But, as EVs proliferate, that may change. Based on my current driving, a 200-mile range EV will keep me free of needing to public charge most of the time. I’m probably going to end up with a couple of upper 200 and low 300-mile range EVs (a Model S (or 3) and a Mission E) and those cars have enough range to eliminate the need for public charging. I’m also going to add solar and a powerwall to cope with charging two 50+ kW L2 chargers running simultaneously.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        When my Leaf was returned to the dealer after some collision repair, the dealer didn’t even bother to charge it despite me specifically requesting that they do so. I left their lot with 9 miles in the tank on a cold day, anticipating a 6-mile drive with dread.

        I arrived home with a blank range display and next to nothing in the battery. Even if I bought another Leaf, it wouldn’t be from those guys.

        Besides the cult status, Tesla achieves high customer support ratings because EV is their *only* game, so they have to do well. All the ICE makers can rely on other products without putting any effort into EV support.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        I have no idea what a powerwall is. However, at a 100kVA load, depending on where you live, the electric utility probably doesn’t have a big enough pole-mount transformer currently installed to feed both you and the typical three or four houses it serves. If it’s single phase, you’re going to need at least a 600 amp service, which at no more than 80% capacity for continuous operation, means one hell of a large pole top xformer.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          A Powerwall is a Tesla-manufactured storage battery of ~14 kWh capacity. It is charged via the grid or by solar.

          They can be ganged together to produce as much power as you want over a brief period of time, but they charge at a modest rate so your utility capacity doesn’t have to change.

          https://www.tesla.com/powerwall

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          A Powerwall is a Tesla-manufactured storage battery of ~14 kWh capacity. It is charged via the grid or by solar.

          They can be ganged together to produce as much power as you want over a brief period of time, but they charge at a modest rate so your utility capacity doesn’t have to change.

          “https://www.tesla.com/powerwall”

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