2018 Nissan Leaf.
electric car sales are low and growing more slowly than the Sierra
Even in green
California, and despite a 30 percent increase over 2016, sales of
battery electric vehicles accounted for only 2.5 percent of all
sales in the state last year, according to the California New Car
Leaf was the earliest practical BEV on the road, and was a landmark
vehicle when it debuted on American highways in late 2010.
300,000 of the little electric cars have been sold since, about half
of them in the U.S., making the Leaf, by Nissan’s reckoning, the
top-selling global BEV of all time.
But the Leaf
has gained company and lost market share since 2010. Nissan said it
sold 11,230 of them last year. According to the California dealers
group, fewer Leafs were sold in the state in 2017 than the Chevy
Bolt EV, Tesla Model S and Model X, and Fiat 500e.
start cracking wise about Nissan needing to turn over a new Leaf,
the 2018 actually is a new Leaf.
The new model
goes farther on a charge, recharges faster, has more features, is
better looking and costs less than the 2017.
profile is lower, longer and sleeker. With sportier edges, it looks
more like a car and less like a science experiment than previous
risen to an EPA-approved 151 miles, up from 107 miles, powered by a
40-kWh lithium-ion battery, replacing the 30-kWh battery on earlier
That and some
software changes have made the Leaf livelier. Horsepower and torque
numbers are up substantially on the 2018 model, which jets silently
from corner to corner and up to freeway speed.
The range and
battery life can also be extended using a variety of driving modes,
giving the driver more control over how the Leaf’s battery power
onboard charger makes it possible to juice the Leaf up more quickly
than previous models. Nissan says the Leaf can be charged at the
rate of 22 miles of range per hour on a Level 2 charger, or as fast
as 90 miles in a half-hour at a fast-charging station.
standard new features is Nissan’s e-Pedal, a technology that
allows the car to apply electronic "braking" when the
driver reduces pressure on the accelerator. This slows the car, and
will bring it to a complete stop, while returning energy to the
the actual brakes seldom need to be applied at all — which
increases range and extends the life of the brakes.
proud of its ProPilot driving assistance feature, which is now
available in the Leaf. The program is designed to function as an
adaptive cruise control system, applying braking and accelerating as
needed, and helping the driver steer straight too.
The feature is
not an autonomous driving system but is a "hands-on"
driver assistance tool, Nissan says, designed to reduce fatigue and
stress by liberating the driver from constant use of the brake and
first introduced in Nissan’s Rogue — which aside from the Leaf
is the only Nissan vehicle to feature the system — and I had a
chance to try it in that vehicle. I wasn’t all that impressed, and
looked forward to trying it again, thinking I might have been too
critical in my Rogue review.
It turns out,
though there is a lot to like in the new Leaf, I still wasn’t
crazy about the ProPilot, which I found clumsy and lacking in
finesse compared with similar systems on vehicles — admittedly
more expensive ones — made by Mercedes, Tesla, Cadillac and
given its Leaf a clean new dashboard look and has used fabric and
plastics to produce effective sound deadening. Around town and on
the freeway, the Leaf is a nice, quiet car.
cockpit is comfortable and spacious, though the back seats will be a
little cramped for full-size adults. Those back-seat folks are given
cup holders but no plug-in ports for their devices.
area behind the front seats is adequate, and gets bigger when the
rear seats are folded forward. But as on a lot of BEVs, there’s a
battery back there, which will make loading a bicycle or large box a
entry-level Leaf starts at $30,875. The car comes in S, SV and SL
The model I
drove was an SV, which differed from the entry-level S by having a
navigation system and Apple CarPlay.
It was also
equipped with an All-Weather Package, a $900 upgrade that included
heated front seats and steering wheel, and a $2,200 Technology
Package that provided ProPilot and other safety features such as
blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic assist and pedestrian
detection. The Leaf also makes a very subtle backup noise, like a
quiet version of the backup beep on a commercial delivery truck.
Pedestrians who complain about the stealthy silence of BEVs will
benefit from this gentle warning.
Will all of
that be enough to reverse the Leaf’s sales slide, or get more
people revved for BEV driving?
Irrespective of how people feel about saving the environment with a
zero-emission vehicle — personally, I’m for it — or how much
people argue about the electricity that drives BEVs — yes, some of
it might come from a coal-fired plant — the Leaf is a car bargain.
And even more
so now. On the SV, the MSRP is about $1,700 lower than on the 2017
— $33,375 versus $35,085.
Many state and
federal jurisdictions offer rebates and tax incentives to BEV
buyers. As a further inducement, EPA tests determined that the
average Leaf driver will spend only $600 a year on fuel, and will
save $3,750 in fuel costs over five years of driving — and that’s
if gasoline prices remain stable.
with the reasonably low MSRP on the Leaf, should help a few people
become a little more willing to think about giving up their petrol
habit and going electric.
All-new BEV Leaf is a cool car bargain
efficient, one-pedal driving experience
system needs improvement
Four-door, five-passenger hatchback
110-kW electric motor
Direct, front-wheel drive
range: 151 miles
economy rating: 125 miles per gallon city equivalent / 100 highway /