Nissan Leaf Range Upgrade Remains a Mystery of Our Time

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nissan leaf range upgrade remains a mystery of our time

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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6 of 32 comments
  • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Sep 11, 2017

    "....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.

    • See 3 previous
    • PandaBear PandaBear on Sep 11, 2017

      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.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Sep 11, 2017

    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.

  • Jeff S Years ago Kentucky issued a license plate with a horse running with the words "Unbridled Spirit." The religious right objected and did not want the plate because they believed it encouraged people to go to the race track and bet on horses. Anyone who knows anything about Kentucky knows its famous for raising horses and yes there is Churchill Downs where the Kentucky Derby is run but horses in themselves are not sinful. It got so bad that the state issued a blank sticker to put over the horse and the logo. Kentucky also issued a plate for those who were offended stating "In God We Trust." The latest KY plate has no logo and nothing. I always picked the horse because I thought horses were something to be proud of and associated with Kentucky.
  • Old Scold As a Marylander, I got those plates assigned to me when I purchased my car in 2016, 4 years after the so-called anniversary. I figured they were using up NOS, and it never occurred to me to check out the URL. I still don't care. It's a stupid issue, but I have my tag number memorized should I need it.
  • Hpycamper I drive a car with automatic braking and have nothing good to say about it. It has activated going around corners on mountain roads when the hillside is close to the road, when lawn sprinklers turned on and sprayed the car, and driving past cars on the shoulder that are making right turns. Luckily these phantom brake activations have not caused a wreck. The systems are just too dumb.
  • SCE to AUX How long until that $90k yields a profit for my grandchildren?
  • Ajla I do wonder what the legacy of the Alpha Camaro will be. It was higher performing than the Zeta but lacks the pop culture imprinting of that gen or the earlier F-body. And somehow it managed to be less comfortable than the Zeta. I guess it depends if this is really the last traditional Camaro.