The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mass-produced EVs for the global auto market. Since its arrival in 2010, it has consistently been one of the world’s best-selling electric vehicles. In March 2019, Nissan announced it has sold 400,000 Leaf EVs worldwide, since the first one left the dealer lot 8 years ago. By early 2020, Leaf should be close to 500,000 units, if sales of the Next Gen Leaf kick into high gear.
By John Coulter, CMO, Current EV, July 2019
That Next Gen version is the Leaf e+, or Leaf Plus as it has come to be known. Leaf Plus offers a total range of 226 all-electric miles.
It had little competition when it first debuted, but today, 8 years later, it contends with many rivals, all of which boast well over 200 miles. The growing list of players includes: the Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles), the Hyundai Kona EV (258 miles), the Kia Niro EV (239 miles), the 2020 Kia Soul EV (238 miles), plus the Tesla Model 3 (310 to 350 miles). The Leaf Plus is a few miles short of the others, but Nissan hopes its 226-mile, extended-play 62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery will keep it competitive.
With 6 model trims to pick from, Nissan offers its Leaf in many configurations. The S ($29,990 MSRP), SV ($32,600 MSRP) and SL ($36,300) come with a 40kWh battery, which gets you 150 pure electric miles. The S Plus ($36,550 MSRP), SV Plus ($38,510 MSRP) and SL Plus ($42,550 MSRP) come with a 62kWh battery, which yields up to 226 miles. These prices are reduced considerably after a potential Federal Tax credit of $7500, and a California State Rebate of $2500. If you lease your EV, the $7500 tax credit goes to the dealership where you’re getting your car. A Current EV representative will make sure the dealer factors in the tax credit to the cost of the lease, lowering it substantially, meaning your monthly payments will be lower. Current EV reps are happy to explain to you in more detail how this works.
The Nissan Plus has one specific advantage over the Tesla Model 3. Tesla hit the EV tax-credit cap of 200,000 units in July of 2018. It can no longer offer the $7500 tax credit as an incentive. It offers half of that: $3,750. Since Nissan is still 60,000 to 70,000 Leafs under the tax-credit cap of 200,000 USA units, it will probably be offering the $7500 tax credit for the next few years. The Leaf Plus is everything the Leaf is, with 45% more power and 50% more range. The single electric motor driving the front wheels is rated at 160 kilowatts (214hp), up 45% from the Leaf’s 110kWh (147hp). Leaf Plus goes 0 to 60 in 6.75 seconds, which is around 10% faster than Leaf’s 7.5 seconds in 0 to 60.
Using new construction techniques such as laser welding, Nissan has fit the new 62kWh battery pack with 288 cells in the same underfloor form factor as the 40kWh Leaf battery with 192 cells. There are now 3 packs wired in parallel rather than 2 in series, meaning lower voltage flowing across the battery interconnects and less demand on each cell in the battery packs, which equates to less heat and more efficient, longer-lasting batteries. Every 2019 Nissan LEAF battery is covered by a 96-month/100,000-mile (whichever occurs first) Limited Warranty. Nissan includes a charger cable for 120- and 240-volt home charging.
There are three ways to charge the LEAF: At home, most owners use Level 2 240V charging. Public charging stations may offer Level 2 and Level 3 DC Quick Chargers. And a Level 1 120V trickle at home allows for in-a-pinch charging using a standard wall outlet. The 40kWh Leaf battery takes 8 hours to fully charge. The 62kWh Leaf Plus battery takes 11.5 hours to fully charge. Quick Charge ports come standard on all Plus models.
Introduced last year, Leaf’s e-Pedal strong regenerative braking option allows drivers the choice of one-pedal driving, a calmer, more relaxing way to drive while the brakes regenerate the cars battery system.
Says Bill Howard of extremetech.com: “Inside, the Leaf Plus is pretty much like the Leaf: roomy front and back, and with nicer looking seat fabric than in Leaf’s early days. The center stack display is up one inch to 8 inches diagonal. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. There is still just one USB jack in the dash/ center stack area. The steering is light, with a stiffer-steering option as on Tesla. The blue/silver shifter button is easy to use: slide left then down for Drive, left then up for Reverse.”
“Here’s the bottom line: The Nissan Plus is a solid, roomy midsize EV hatchback from a company with years of experience building mainstream EVs. With Tesla holding the high ground for performance and features, Nissan needs to focus on reliability, price performance, and the advantage of being able to offer the full $7,500 tax credit where Tesla’s falls to $0 on Jan. 1, 2020. The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus is a solid EV. It will get at least 226 miles and might match Chevrolet Bolt EV’s 238 EPA miles. At 176 inches, it’s a foot longer and roomier than the Bolt EV. It will most likely be more reliably assembled than the Tesla Model 3. It will also be roomier than the Hyundai Kona EV.”
The top-trim SL Plus comes standard with:
Standard on the SL Plus (and not offered on S or SV) are the surround view camera system, drowsy driver detection (Intelligent Driver Alertness (I-DA)), and leather seating. Total weight is 3,853 pounds.
Says John Voelcker of greencarreports.com: “For buyers who’ve made the decision to go electric, the Leaf remains a safe choice. Nissan’s certified electric-car dealers have more experience than almost any other brand’s outlets.”