By on September 11, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

A week after the unveiling of the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf, we know for sure that value, value, value! is the upgraded model’s strongest selling point.

No longer offering a paltry 107 miles of range, the new Leaf sports a just-good-enough 150 miles of driving distance, or so Nissan believes. Of course, knowing that Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3 offer significantly better range, the Leaf’s priced to sell. For $29,990 plus delivery, and minus a $7,500 tax credit, Nissan figures the base S model is enough to tempt cost-conscious EV buyers who don’t want it all.

But there’s a longer-ranged Leaf in the works. For 2019, buyers can opt for a stepped-up 60 kWh battery, but just how far a so-equipped Leaf can drive on a single charge differs depending on the Nissan exec doing the talking.

Speaking at the second-gen Leaf’s Tokyo unveiling, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa promised a range of more than 300 miles, Automotive News reports.

Holy cow, the casual listener might think. The top-drawer Leaf can lap the Bolt and Model 3! Tap the brakes (or lift off the e-Pedal), son. Japan’s testing cycle assigns vastly superior ranges to electric vehicles, meaning that figure stands to receive quite a haircut on the EPA cycle. A Nissan spokesperson later told Automotive News that U.S. Leafs won’t reach 300 miles, though hypermilers might hit that distance before going dark.

The last word on the issue comes from Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. Schillaci told the trade journal that a 2019 Leaf with 60 kWh battery will exceed 225 miles on the EPA cycle, but wouldn’t pin down an exact estimate. Even if the 225 figure stands, that’s better than a base Model 3’s 220 miles. However, the Bolt’s 238-mile range seems like a tantalizing figure to beat, assuming Nissan engineers have the ability.

Still, range isn’t everything with the Leaf. For its upcoming marketing campaign, Nissan is reportedly planning to drop the tired “save the planet”/”this uses no gas” template and focus instead on value-for-money. Apparently, buyers know what an electric car is. Besides the one-pedal driving experience offered by the brand’s e-Pedal, the 2018 Leaf arrives with Nissan’s ProPilot semi-autonomous driving technology — both highly marketable bits of kit.

The 2018 Leaf goes on sale in a (very) truck- and SUV-hungry America in early 2018.

[Image: Nissan]

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32 Comments on “Nissan Leaf Range Upgrade Remains a Mystery of Our Time...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    I just finished teaching myself how to left-foot brake in a traditional automatic (and frankly, I love it…in part because after many years of driving a manual, my left foot was getting lonely). It also allows for better reaction times and usually a smoother transition between braking and accelerating.

    Pedals have been pretty standard for almost 100 years. Manufacturers learned pretty early not to try to reinvent the wheel on basic functions…so I’m skeptical.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @ash78; It feels exactly like engine braking on a manual. Your left foot will still be lonely, but it feels more like a manual than an automatic does. Think of it as engine braking without the clutch pedal. I have manuals and the EV with Nissan’s first version of e-Pedal – “B” mode on the Leaf. The main difference from the 2018 version of e-Pedal is that “B” mode takes you to “creeping” speed and not to a full stop. As a manual driver, I feel more at home with the e-Pedal than I do an automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        Now that is something I could live with. I miss the true engine braking that comes with a 6- or 8-cylinder manual (the current crop of 4-bangers just don’t seem to slow down much unless you aggressively downshift).

        Seems logical. The article — and a couple others I saw — made it sound more like really hitting the brakes when you take your foot away from the throttle.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah the whole e-pedal messaging has folks panicing that the brake pedal has been eliminated etc.

          Once you experience one pedal driving, especially around town, you know instantly that it’s good and a huge improvement over regular automatics.

          Cruise control is essential on the highway, that’s where one pedal driving can be tiring or annoying.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        I can engine brake with my automatic by using the manual shift function. It engine brakes quite well actually. I still wish I had held out for a manual instead of taking a good deal I found on the slush box, but it isn’t awful.

        • 0 avatar
          ktm

          I can’t speak for all manufacturers, but I do know (unless GM changed it), that their PCMs all allow engine braking over, I think, 1600 RPMs and I believe there is a speed requirement as well. It’s been a few years since I looked at the programming in my LSx using HPTuners (for my project car).

          Basically, it cuts the fuel off to the engine.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    That’s great, but please don’t join the ranks of those drivers whose brake lights are always on because they ride the brake pedal “to shorten reaction time.” Those behind you never know when you really intend to stop.
    I kinda doubt that there’s any difference in reaction time between braking with one’s right foot on the gas and one’s left foot on the floor.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      Oh, heavens no — if you’re driving a car increasing its forward progress with the brake lights on, your license should be taken away. My R/T is probably 0.25 better when I can use my left foot to prepare to brake, or to allow me to begin accelerating more smoothly from a stop. It’s fantastic once you get accustomed to the correct left foot pressure. When you first start, it’s jerky, but no harder than learning to drive a manual.

      • 0 avatar
        ixim

        My daddy taught me to always keep my right foot pressing the gas or near the brake. Left feet, sadly, are only for clutches, rare as they are these days.

        PS – Just letting off the gas will slow you down; the Leaf is just increasing that effect.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      My car “rides the brake light” even if I don’t hit the brake. It drives me nuts.

      I guess that’s just how cars work now days in many cases. They don’t rely on a brake switch like they used to, but must use some sort of inertia sensor to activate the brake lights any time the speed decreases.

      If I start going up a hill or let off the gas, my car brake lights go on. With Cruise Control on it went on like 15 times in less than a minute. I feel kind of bad sometimes because the car behind me thinks I’m brake checking them and I see them slam on their brakes and get angry, but I didn’t even brake.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        That doesn’t sound right at all. Have you checked with the dealer to be sure there isn’t something wrong that is causing this?

        I’m far from being intimately familiar with all modern cars, but I’ve never heard of brake lights coming on when you aren’t braking.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          Unfortunately it is normal…

          Its only for “deceleration” but that doesn’t always mean braking. Once again, going up hills and such do it, as does getting to max speed on cruise control (I always thought that was weird. Set your cruse for 72, and as soon as it hits 72 the brakes go off).

          I think its only on cars that have some sort of advanced braking tech like engine braking or smart cruise control.

  • avatar
    arach

    I finally took the time to research this car.

    This is the first electric I actually felt like I could live with. I would seriously consider it.

    You pretty much get everything you’d expect in a $30k car with the highest trim, all for $30k. It may be a hair too small, but that seems to be the only drawback.

    If this was Hyundai Sonata sized and under $43k before federal rebate, I’d buy it in a heart beat! (my Sonata was $35k new, although I bought it CPO)

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      You can bet they’ll be discounting it too. Lots of cash on the hood. With subsidies, I think under $20k out the door will be possible.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        If your right, I think the Leaf may be the first one that actually makes sense over its gas counterparts.

        The 2.5 Altima SL and the Nissan Leaf – optioned up – the leaf may come in a hair lower with incentives not even considering gas savings. At that point it starts to feel very doable. Sure the range could be one hindrance, but most people I know have 1 car they use for vacations and 1 car they use around town/to work/etc. This seems like it could be that second car pretty easily.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        The outgoing model has been confirmed as cheap as $12k from people on Slickdeals. You have to live in a place with just the right combo of rebates and incentives, but it’s possible. That’s crazy cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          Yes, but the outgoing model… while cheap… is a whole bunch of compromises, including the fact that I’d consider paying $12k NOT to be seen in one.

          The new one isn’t nearly as awkward and has a lot of modern and “futuristic” features that make it worthwhile.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    So for $30,000 you can buy 150 miles of range in the Leaf, or you can pay $5,000 more for the equivalent of 2.5 gallon larger “tank” in the Bolt. The Bolt isn’t exactly setting the world on fire sales-wise, so it will be interesting to see whether EV buyers think the Leaf provides a better dollar per mile value than the Bolt. The poor EV resale might also be a problem for these new models, because if I can get an old low mileage Leaf for $6-7,000 or sporty low mileage BMW i3 for $15,000, and I only intend to use it as a round-town runabout anyway, the value of the larger battery might seem relatively small.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I’m pretty thrilled with the used Leaf I bought. This was a year ago, and I paid ~$12K for a “full luxury” (hahaha) low mileage 2015. For a commuter it’s a fantastic car.

      It’s my first used car and by far my cheapest car ever. It’s a revelation that I can hit a deer and dent the hood and not really care. With the recent Oregon forest fires I don’t really have to care about the ash falling on it and potentially damaging the paint. Heck, if it exploded today I’m only out $12K, which is probably about the same as a year’s depreciation on my 4-series or Focus RS.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Actually the Bolt is selling decently, for a dedicated electric with a slow nationwide roll out, that is.

      • 0 avatar
        islander800

        The Bolt would be selling a lot better if GM knew how to market themselves out of a wet paper bag – which they don’t.

        CEO Mary Barra thinks the Mother Corp doesn’t need a CMO (chief marketing officer). She’s wrong, their ads show it, and many people haven’t even heard of the Bolt, which is criminal.

        It’s embarrassing, especially for the dedicated engineers in the company that have produced world-beating cars like the Volt and Bolt. No one, at any other car company, has anything approaching the technological genius of the Volt – and that includes that overhyped darling of Wall Street, Tesla. Don’t get me started on Saint Elon….

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Intriguing because 225 miles means you could make it from here to Albuquerque pretty cheap (compared to Tesla prices) but you’d have to fill up to get home.

  • avatar

    Electric still means that you have a dedicated place to park. That place has access to power. It usually also means that you have the room and security for this, and another vehicle for the proverbial trip to grandmother’s.

    Price points are one thing but this is a factor for many as well. Fail any of the above and “no zap-car”. If you hit all the points, you are a candidate if you have a steady daily commute.

    There, you’ve just cut the market by at least 2/3.

    I drove a Bolt and a Volt. I’d buy the Bolt but I spend too much time at highway speeds…around town, City/Suburban, a wonderfully useful appliance….

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      A lot of cities are looking into curbside charging points to help address the “I live in the city and my apartment doesn’t have a garage” issue. If EVs take off, I could easily see that turning into power at every parallel parking spot in certain dense neighborhoods.

      Increased adoption of EVs would also make carsharing for large ICE cars into a more profitable business model. I could even imagine EV makers offering discounted or free carshare rates: “buy a Bolt and you get to reserve a fleet Traverse for a week of your choice. Free in February, pay $150 for July.”

  • avatar
    srh

    This doesn’t seem like rocket science; my 24KWh leaf gets, conservatively, 80 miles in the summer and 60 miles in ~40 degree winter.

    It’s unlikely they’ve discovered anything that will make the new Leaf dramatically more or less efficient, so 60KWh will likely give 2.5x the range of each. 200 miles summer, and 150 miles in ~40 degree winter.

    Given that my car reports a range of 92 miles when full (or 230 if the pack were 2.5x bigger), the estimate of 225 seems jut about exactly in line with that approach.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    “….we know for sure that value, value, value! is the upgraded model’s strongest selling point.”

    Because that worked out SO WELL for Honda and their second gen Insight. No, not a dedicated electric, but still a “green” model.

    It seems to me that buyers in the market for these types of cars are not as willing to put up with less performance (as in range or MPG) in exchange for a lower entry price point. This does not bode well for Nissan’s strategy. I think they’d be better off with a more competitive model, in terms of range, than just going with the “but its cheaper!” proposition.

    With selling off its battery-producing assets, and this half-ass redux of the Leaf, I think Nissan is trying to quietly and slowly step away from the ultra-competitive BEV market.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      They’re not going to step away from the BEV market. China is considering an ICE sales ban so there is no way anyone is leaving the BEV market.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I didn’t say they were leaving, but clearly they’re not pursuing it as aggressively as they were, or could be.

        http://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/GSR-Capital-Acquires-Nissan-s-Battery-Business-1001927027

        Why sell off your battery business if you’re not at least a little shy of the BEV market? That’s what I’m getting at. That, and the fact that the new Leaf is far from a game-changer. It’s basically a mildly updated version of the old car, where the greatest improvement is the styling, not Bolt/Model 3-beating range.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          You’re right, they definitely aren’t pursuing it as hard as they could be. Their half-assed charging network is another example. No Infiniti models either.

          One reason to get rid of their battery business is to get access to whoever has the best technology and the best prices. You never know who’s going to make a huge breakthrough leaving whatever technology you own worthless and your vehicles uncompetitive.

          Also, if Nissan had their own technology, competing suppliers would never give them advance samples of new technology for evaluation. Not owning their own battery business gives them that access.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      I can’t speak for other market but at least in California, the major incentive to EV is the HOV lane, and office charging for free. It would take at least a round trip range to be safe in case you cannot charge at work (i.e. overcrowded parking or limited charging hours like 3 hr per person per day). People will pay a premium for EV to avoid traffic in long commute, and today’s EV range is borderline useful for a lot of commutes.

      A few grand extra is not a big deal and if you cannot do a round trip back all electric. That’s why you see a premium for plug in hybrid over an early model low range leaf when they are both 3-5 years old.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    225 miles is the likely answer for the 60 kWh Leaf.

    What’s amazing is Nissan’s lackluster production schedule for this car, given their long experience and the fact that it’s not even all-new.

    However, after Leaf 1.0, I no longer trust Nissan’s range claims, and I certainly would doubt the resale value of an EV with an air-cooled battery. Depreciation on Leafs is akin to Fiat 500s – abysmal.

    People opting for the Bolt or Model 3 will get a lot more value and lower total cost of ownership, IMO.

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