The Cost of Going Further: Long-range Nissan Leaf Carries a Premium, Has Sights Set on GM

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the cost of going further long range nissan leaf carries a premium has sights set

Nissan did Leaf fans a favor when it upped the model’s driving range to 151 miles for 2018, a healthy increase from the previous generation’s 107 miles. Still, 151 miles falls well short of the industry’s nice-sounding gold standard of 200 miles — the figure to beat (or at least reach) for most automakers. With range like the new Leaf’s, long-distance travel remains complicated, inconvenient, and perhaps even impossible.

It’s no secret that Nissan plans to offer an upgraded battery next year, but just how much extra cash you’ll need for that 60 kWh model remained a mystery. Until now.

According to order guides seen by CarsDirect, the extended-range 2019 Leaf, offered alongside the existing 40 kWh model, won’t start production until January. When the model eventually makes its way to dealers, expect a price premium in the neighborhood of $5,500.

That’s based on preliminary pricing. For the 2019 model year, a base, 40 kWh Leaf S retails for $30,885 after destination but before any state or federal incentives. The uplevel Leaf SL stickers for $37,095. Getting into a longer-legged version will probably cost you just over $36,000 for an S model, with the loaded SL retailing for about $42,500.

That puts the 60 kWh Leaf, which is said to offer 225 miles of range, in the same pricing territory as the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt, though with a lower starting MSRP. However, the arrival of the new variant might bring reduced choice for buyers who aren’t as eager to avoid range anxiety. CarsDirect claims that once the long-range model hits the market, Nissan will likely scrap the 40 kWh SL model, which tops the base 60 kWh model in price. The lowly 40 kWh Leaf S would continue on as a top EV value choice.

While it doesn’t seem likely that many buyers will cross-shop the long-range Leaf and Tesla’s upcoming base Model 3 ($35,000) simply due to differences in brand appeal, the Nissan has one thing going for it the Tesla doesn’t: a full federal EV tax credit. Tesla’s full credit runs out at the end of the year, after which buyers will only see a $3,750 incentive for the first half of 2019. Nissan hasn’t yet sold 200,000 electric vehicles in the United States, so the full amount is waiting for anyone who wants it.

Over the first nine months of 2018, Leaf sales in the U.S. are basically flat on a year-to-date basis. It’s a slightly misleading statistic, as the changeover period for the new model basically erased January’s tally, with February’s coming in at half of average. Since then, the Leaf has posted monthly year-over-year increases more often than not. Last month’s Leaf volume showed a 48.2 percent increase over the previous September.

[Images: © 2017 Matthew Guy/TTAC, Nissan]

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  • Asdf Asdf on Oct 18, 2018

    225 miles is not "long-range", in fact it's well below average if compared with ICE-powered cars. There's no reasons to hold EVs to a different, lower standard than ICE-powered cars, and so calling this version of Leaf "long-range" is a lie. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Leaf's below-average range is compounded by a well-below-average charging time, which significantly exceeds industry standards of 5 minutes or less for filling a fuel tank.

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Oct 18, 2018

      Clearly this car is defective. I expect lawsuits and recalls after buyers end up stranded in the desert with little hope of survival upon discovering they can't recharge it using the containers of gasoline they stored in the trunk. Hopefully they planned for this and have already engineered an easy ICE swap or this is going to be one huge buyback program. I'm not sure Nissan will survive the fallout.

  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Oct 18, 2018

    $5 grand for the equivalent of a 3 gallon larger gas tank - sounds like the deal of the century.

  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.