By on January 31, 2018

2018 Nissan Leaf

What a difference a mile makes. Or does it? In the case of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second-generation model’s newly enlarged driving range might not sway a single buyer or suddenly place the model ahead of a close challenger, but any improvement in an EV’s travel radius is worthy of a celebration at the company’s HQ.

If you haven’t heard the news, the 2018 Leaf’s range now stands at 151 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s just-released official rating. What was it before? Well, Nissan estimated 150 miles. Hardly shocking, but it’s nonetheless good news as the automaker waits for next year’s arrival of a longer-ranged, more competitive model.

It’s worth noting that the 2011 Leaf, the first real mainstream EV on the U.S. market, stayed close to home out of pure necessity. With a paltry range of 73 miles, long road trips were something a Leaf owner could only dream of. Subsequent versions grew in range, but only to 84 miles. The biggest leap in the first-gen model’s lifespan came after an optional 30 kWh battery joined the line in 2016, pushing range to 107 miles.

The 2018 model makes use of a 40 kWh battery pack, pushing its horizons further. Interestingly, the model’s overall efficiency (112 MPGe) is less than that of the old 24 kWh models (114 MPGe), likely due to added weight.

Despite the upgrades, the Leaf lags the segment’s headline grabbers. Chevrolet’s Bolt travels 238 miles between charges, and the yet-unreleased Tesla Model 3 in base form carries a 220-mile rating. Neither rival, of course, can top the Nissan’s hidden perk: value. A base Leaf S carries a pre-delivery MSRP of $29,990 before the federal tax credit, making it thousands of dollars cheaper than a Tesla or Chevy.

Next year, a 60 kWh Leaf variant shows up to properly challenge these fresh-faced models. Expect a range of over 200 miles. The long-legged Leaf’s appearance comes not a moment too soon, as the model dropped U.S. buyers every year since its 2014 high water mark, finishing 2017 with 11,230 units sold — almost a third of its former volume.

2018 Leafs are currently arriving on dealer lots.

[Image: Nissan]

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27 Comments on “EPA Says the 2018 Nissan Leaf Goes the Extra Mile – Literally...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The lack of a battery thermal management system in Leaf 2.0 has many prospective buyers spooked, especially if they lived through Leaf 1.0 and 1.5.

    Leaf 2.5 (60 kWh) had better contain a TMS, or Nissan can forget about catching the competition.

    In either case, that’s one reason to lease instead of buy.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I just haven’t had many issues with the thermal management – in Massachusetts. In the extreme cold this winter, the battery heater kicked in, but it impacted range. Although, I still had the range to make it to destinations 50 miles apart.

      My only issue with the non-Tesla cars is the lame charging network. It wasn’t bad a couple of years ago, but some dealers have stopped maintaining their chargers and during the cold, I stopped at a charging station and had the company of 3 Bolts charging next to me. It’s going to get more crowded and until someone like Shell Charge moves to the US, I don’t see it getting much better.

      If I do get a new Leaf, it would have to be the 60 kWh version. I typically get NEDC range so it would be plenty for me to avoid public charging even in the frigid cold. I’m probably going to end up with a Mission E with the old Leaf sticking around for running errands and carrying crap I don’t want to put in a $100k+ dollar car.

      BTW I did reach 60k miles and the 12th bar is still there and I seem to be getting close to the number of miles I got when the car was newer for the 12th bar. Hard to tell in the cold. I really believe in the hidden extra capacity theory.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    A range of 151 miles is catastrophically bad for a car launched in 2018. Cars with significantly better range have been available for decades.

    The only right thing for Nissan to do is to pull this car from the marketplace ASAP until it’s fixed the range issue, as well as the other defect the Leaf struggles with, namely the extremely long charging time.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      No one should be allowed to sell a car unless it aligns exactly with Asdf’s priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        You’re obtusely missing the point.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Alright then, let’s flip this for a result that makes just as much sense:

          “The need to take time out of your day to visit filling stations is an inexplicable lapse for a car launched in 2018. Cars that charge themselves while you’re at home have been available for many years. The only right thing for the makers of these primitive cars to do is to pull them from the marketplace ASAP until they’ve fixed the need to make extra trips for no reason just to keep the car running.”

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      “fix the range issue”? I’m pretty sure there was a lot of thought put into what the range would be.

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        In that case it would only be a matter of having just enough range to ensure that tax payer robbery (subsidies) continues, while keeping the EV Luddites happy. As for technological progress – what technological progress? Nissan, just like Tesla, clearly has no intention whatsoever of making EVs a technologically and financially viable and sensible proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      151 mi would be just fine for me. I drive about 40mi RT to work, so I’d charge every other day or so at home.

      I drive more 125 miles in a day about 1x per year. I have a minivan for those trips.

      In fact, extra range just adds weight and cost in form of bigger battery

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      Boy, I’m sure glad you know more than the hundreds of marketing and product planners at Nissan. You should check and see if they have any job openings; they could surely use the help.

      ~150 miles is fine for most use cases, and the price undercuts the Bolt by nearly 20 percent. The uplevel version will likely match the Volt for range and price. My hope is that they’ll allow the 60 battery in all trims, but knowing Nissan it will be reserved for fully-loaded models only.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I need Nissan to come up with a CUV type form factor that my wife is addicted to from her minivan experience. Then a sub $300 per month sign and drive will sign the deal.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The Leaf is DOA.

    The Bolt is rated at 238 miles, most owners are reporting that is very conservative. The Model 3 goes 220, and longer range packs are available. There is a long list of competitors in this space getting ready to come out with 200+ mile range literally in the next 12 to 18 months. Given where the competition is at, 151 miles for a one-year bridge vehicle, with buyers knowing 200+ miles is coming? Why on earth would you buy a 2018 Leaf unless it was heavily discounted?

    DOA.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      I know a Leaf owner whose round-trip commute is ~25 miles. Even if she tacks on errands, the current Leaf still gives her plenty of range. Then, presuming she plugs it in overnight… what range anxiety?

      I mean, regardless of range, who will drive their EVs to the point of emptying the battery? I presume these owners plan their commutes/trips accordingly. There are at least two Tesla Model Ss in my condo, whose garage has no electric outlets; clearly the lack of at-home recharging hasn’t discouraged these owners.

      So… 151 miles vs. 238 is largely academic, no?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      As I’ve said a few times, the best approach is to buy 2x what your expected daily usage will be. That will leave a comfortable margin for cold weather, battery degradation over time, and occasional extra errands that might pop up.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I’m thinking the 151 pack was designed more as a replacement for older Leafs than as a viable choice in the new Leaf (aside from a handful of short-range skinflints).

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      And the Model S goes 300 miles and accelerates from 0-60 in 2.x seconds, etc., etc.

      When you start discarding price in your comparisons, anything is possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Asdf

      The Leaf is DOA, as is the Bolt.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    We’d really rather lease a BEV when the wife’s C-Max Energi goes off lease in April 2019.

    The only option we saw with long enough range for her usual driving patterns was the Bolt. The Model 3 is expensive and won’t be available in time, and the various 100ish-mile options (e-Golf, Focus Electric, etc.) don’t quite cut it for range. (She makes actual ~110-mile round trips on a semi-frequent basis.)

    150 miles is probably enough, at least if that number proves accurate in the real world, and so the competition is welcome. The Leaf’s interior is a bit roomier than the Bolt’s by the numbers and the materials also seem a bit nicer, maybe. We’ll check it out when the time comes.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      mcs’ experience aside, I’d be cautious about expecting a 150-mile Leaf to be adequate for a 110-mile trip, for 4 reasons:

      1. My 12 Leaf (old battery, I know) *never* once achieved its 73-mile range. The best I ever saw was maybe 65, but nobody should drive an EV to empty. Warnings came around 10 miles, so my effective range was ~55 miles on a good day, unless I pushed it.

      2. Winter driving can knock 50% off the range due to cabin heating and sluggish battery chemistry. Your mileage may vary.

      3. Age/mileage degradation. Leaf batteries degrade faster than any other. I lost about 6% per year, and it compounded like interest. Newer Leaf batteries are supposedly better. Even at 3%/year, that begins to add up.

      4. EV ranges are quoted for a 100% full battery. Best practice is to not fill them to 100%. Nissan used to recommend 80%, but then they changed to 100% to reclaim some range. Tesla, for one, allows (and recommends IIRC) filling to less than 100%.

      So it’s *possible* that after 3 years, a 150-mile battery filled to 80% and run in extreme cold could only offer 110 miles of range.

      Just my $0.02.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @sce to aux: “Best practice is to not fill them to 100%.”

        I agree and disagree with you on that point. I’ve always charged to an “indicated” 100% and have had no problems with a full 12 bars after 60k miles. However, I think that there may be hidden capacity in the battery so I may not be actually charging to 100%. In my personal experience, there has been absolutely no problem charging to 100%. Also, I just read through the battery care and charging sections of the Model S manual and can’t find any recommendations against charging to 100%.

        I think the biggest cold weather hit on the Leaf 1.5 is when it’s cold enough to trigger the TMS battery heater which is -1 F according to the manual.

        I just looked at my records and I managed 48.8 miles at +5 degrees if I remember correctly. I definitely had range left – and this was on a car with about 59k miles at the time. I can’t remember the percentage left. It was probably 10%. At that point, I picked up a quick charge and went the final 30 miles of the trip. Lots of ICE vehicles dead on the shoulder of the road with Sudden Unintended Range Anxiety that night. Normally, in the Summer, I can make that entire trip non-stop.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        These are good points, and good reason to hope that by the time we are in the market the 60 KWh battery is in the Leafs then on the lot.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Too bad the Bolt looks like a Porg from Star Wars.

    I’d prefer the Leaf just based on sheet metal style alone.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Look at the proboscis on that thing, 151 mile range to boot? Why must the virtuous suffer so?

  • avatar
    Robbie

    When I drove an older Leaf – 2012 or 2013 – I thought it was quite comfortable and quiet in city driving, but on the freeway, it had a lot of road noise and didn’t handle well. Do you guys share this experience, and is this the same for new Leafs?

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      I have a 2014 Leaf, and that’s my experience as well. It’s great around town, especially in Seattle traffic, but relatively unstable and loud above about 65mph. Then again, the range is limited enough (and the battery capacity drops fast enough at freeway speeds) you won’t be spending much time at all on the freeway in it. Doesn’t bother me, I have an E39 for road trips/long freeway trips.


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