By on October 17, 2018

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

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.

Nissan Leaf 2018 factory

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


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    And it will probably continue to get beat hard with the depreciation stick making it a great used car as 2nd car in 2 car families. (Or a great used/first car for a teen knowing they can’t likely get to far.)

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That depends directly on how much the battery degrades. The 11-13 Leafs were terrible for degradation since the 24 kWh battery had to deep-cycle so much, not to mention the “Phoenix” heat problem.

      My 12 Leaf was an excellent and durable car except for the battery performance (no small matter). But I was smart enough to lease it, and observed that it lost 80% of its value in 3 years, even *after* the Federal subsidy is excluded.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “And it will probably continue to get beat hard with the depreciation stick making it a great used car as 2nd car in 2 car families.”

      An EV is almost a no-brainer for 2 car families that own a home. I may go full electric after living with my Gen 1 Volt for 2.5 years.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “The lowly 40 kWh Leaf S would continue on as a top EV value choice.”

    “value” is subjective, and is a function of features/function and price.

    “Value” does NOT mean “it’s the cheapest one”. Many, many people will find the more expensive models to have more value.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    It’s better looking than it used to be, the range is bigger, and the full tax credit is still available. Looks like a pretty strong choice for some drivers.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Given the choice between the 60 kWh Leaf and the mythical short-range Model 3, the Model 3 wins (except for its user interface).

    The Model 3 is actually the better-engineered car, and it looks and performs better. Tesla has the gas-gauging figured out on their batteries (important for EVs), it’s a safer car, and it will have less depreciation.

    The irony of producing longer-ranged EVs is that nobody but Tesla has a decent charging network. Stories abound of people taking 200+ mile Bolts on long trips, only to discover that the 3rd-party chargers along the way don’t work. This really doesn’t matter when you’re on a short leash in a 73-mile Leaf 1.0. The longest distance I ever took my 12 Leaf from home was 25 miles away, because I was afraid of not being able to charge at the destination.

    Tesla has a much more engaged ‘dealer’ network than Nissan does for the Leaf. Nissan would rather sell you a Rogue than a Leaf. But if you do get a Leaf, at least they’ll offer you 6 free oil changes for the first three years (no joke).

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Another area where the 3 might have an edge is the drivetrain that’s designed for a million miles. Supposedly, the semi is going to use multiple units of the same drivetrain.

      Tesla is also the standard for charging networks and charging. It’s not just the number of stations that matters, it’s the number of ports. Uber Bolts that seem to live at the charging stations clog up charging networks like Electrify America in my area that only have two ports per station.

      Dealer charging with Nissan can be a problem. They like to ICE the charging spots and I know of one charger at Boch Nissan in Norwood MA that has been down for 2 years now.

      Another charging advantage that Tesla and the Hyundai Kona EV have is that they can use 100 kW Level III where the Leaf might be limited to 50 kW.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “Tesla is also the standard for charging networks and charging.”

        That’s something I couldn’t care less about. A big selling point of an EV to me is you fuel it in your garage while your at home. Just like my Volt is doing right now. Who wants to waste time finding/driving to a charging station.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The $35,000 Model 3 does not exist.

    By the time it does exist, federal tax credits will likely be down to 25% of the current maximum available. Basically meaning if you’re waiting for the $35K Tesla you were basically better off buying the $44K launch version and taking the full tax credit.

    Suckers.

  • avatar

    It is not just brand appeal. Tesla of course is a luxury brand and makes beautiful cars. Yes for that reason alone many would prefer Tesla. But Tesla Model 3 is also technically much more advanced than Leaf. It is like comparing iPhone with Oppo smart phone.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    That Leaf looks good from the back, nice color too.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      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.

  • avatar
    stingray65

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


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