Nissan Leaf News: Electric-Car Updates Coming For 2012, 2013

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Taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Pre-Production Test.

Taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Pre-Production Test.

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The 2011 Nissan Leaf, the world's first modern battery-electric car built in volume by a major automaker, is starting to hit its stride.

Now the evolution of the Leaf is getting clearer, as Nissan officials confirmed changes and updates to the car for the 2012 and 2013 model years.

More than 4,000 Leafs have been sold in the U.S. (the total at the end of June was 3,894). Nissan has promised it will fill all the orders it's received from buyers within its seven initial launch areas by the end of the summer, after which it will announce its next regions for Leaf sales--many on the East Coast.

2012 updates

All the cars sold to date have been 2011 models. The 2012 models will start arriving at Nissan dealers in late November, said Brendan Jones, director of Leaf marketing and sales strategy during an interview yesterday.

All 2012 Leaf vehicles sold in North America will have the "cold-weather package" fitted as standard. It includes the following equipment:

  • heated battery pack
  • heated front seats
  • heated steering wheel
  • heated external rear-view mirrors
  • rear heating/air-conditioning duct

2013 updates

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

Enlarge Photo
Then, for 2013, the Leaf's onboard 240-Volt Level 2 charger will be upgraded to 6.6 kilowatts (from today's 3.3 kW), considerably reducing the time needed to recharge the lithium-ion battery.

Nissan's director of product planning, Mark Perry, had said in March that the charger would be upgraded "in a year or so."

Now Katherine Zachary, Nissan's senior manager of corporate communications, has confirmed that to mean for the 2013 model year.

That's right around the time that the first Nissan Leafs will roll off the assembly line in Smyrna, Tennessee. Though Nissan wouldn't discuss further changes, it's not unreasonable to expect other equipment updates with the advent of domestic production.

Pricing to come

Some analysts suggest that U.S.-built 2013 Leaf models will also come with a lower price, though that remains very much a rumor for the moment.

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

First 2011 Nissan Leaf delivered to buyer, San Francisco, Dec 2010, photo by Eugene Lee

Enlarge Photo
The Nissan Leaf is no longer the cheapest four-door electric car in the U.S. market; that honor now belongs to the smaller 2012 Mitsubishi 'i' minicar, at $27,990 before incentives.

A more important price competitor may be the compact 2012 Ford Focus Electric, which will reach dealers at the end of the year.

Nissan hasn't yet announced the price of the coming 2012 Leaf electric car, though it expects to do so within a few weeks, Zachary said.

While the 2012 Chevrolet Volt base price fell by $1,005, GM actually "de-contented" the second model year of the Volt, meaning an effective price increase for a 2012 Volt with identical equipment to the earlier year.

Very few Leaf buyers cross-shopped the Volt, according to Jones, so here's hoping that Nissan doesn't follow Chevy's model.


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Comments (12)
  1. Sounds like that cold weather package will be critical for using the LEAF here in the northeast. Wonder if any journalists have had a chance to experience the LEAF with the cold weather package. Can I drive 60 miles at 0°F? Hope so.

  2. @John B.
    One of our most serious complaints with the 2011 Leaf is the totally inadequate heating. My wife insisted on using our Volt on any colder day because that had seat heaters! Clearly the cold weather package will be crucial in the NE and upper Midwest even.

    And hopefully, Nissan might even get the horribly inaccurate "range estimate" better calibrated for 2012. In 6 months use we have only 2 times gotten less EV miles with the Volt than initially indicated and those were freeway + AC days. OTOH, we have NEVER gotten within 20% of our LEAF predicted range on completion of a full charge, even without AC, heating, or virtually any other power drains. We leave the garage in the LEAF, and a mile away, we are down 10-15 miles.

  3. George,
    As always, I appreciate your candidate and knowledgeable feedback. Consumer Report has also had a bad experience with the LEAF predicted ranged.

    I really want to buy a LEAF, but I also want to be happy with it.

    John C. Briggs

  4. John, I had to register for the first time to respond to your comment. I've owned a LEAF for over 3 months and I love it. The inaccurate estimated mileage at full charge is the first thing a LEAF owner learns to ignore, and it doesn't translate to a "bad experience". Actual owners go by the number of bars of charge and the driving style, speed and hilly or flat terrain that they plan to drive and estimate their expected range that way. After a few weeks with the car, I knew for sure that I can get 85 miles with moderate driving, so I just look at the bars and ignore the range estimate. Thousands of us operate that way and are happy. Would we like a more accurate estimate? Sure, but after driving the car for a while, it's no big deal.

  5. Phil,
    Thanks so much for the feedback. At the moment, my commune is only 20 miles per day at low speeds. The LEAF should work fine as long as the batteries don't lose too much energy in the cold.

    Now, I just need to wait for the LEAF to go on sale in Massachusetts,... or possibly the Focus EV. I have waited over twenty years for this, so one or two more years is no problem.

    John C. Briggs

  6. I want to know when the next generation battery for the leaf will be out. I'm hoping on an improvement to at least 150 miles per charge.

  7. Honestly, I don't really see that coming. I think Nissan will be working on reducing costs rather than increasing range. So if better batteries come along, I expect Nissan to use the technology to reduce cost, rather than increase range.

  8. I'm more with Robert T. on the range/cost than John B.; the LEAF is already considerably cheaper than the average vehicle sold in N.A. and cheaper than many hybrids, too. The range is what will keep it a niche, or second car, not the current price. If people can pay $23k (???) for the LEAF, they'll pay $23k for one with better range in 2-5 years. If one can't afford a LEAF, there are plenty of high-mileage cars out there with 40+ highwway ratings and solid overall numbers.
    Of course, I'm still waiting on a Volt, so I may not be on as tight a budget as many others.

  9. Well, forget about $23,000 Nissan LEAF. 2012 pricing is $35,200 or $37,250 for SV and SL models respectively, Ouch.

  10. Yeah, typos happen, John. It's $33k now. Even at $35k or $37k, after $7k tax impact, it's still the same price as the average vehicle sold in the U.S. now. As in, it's already reasonably priced, it's the range that gets it immediately dismissed by 95% of the public. As has been stated in survey after survey... And $28k-$30k for a vehicle with no gas expenses, ever...? Is that really too expensive?
    Let's see, 15k miles at 25 MPG is 600 gallons per year. At even $4/gallon for five years, that's another $12k. Still too expensive?
    I still believe the price is fine, especially for a "new" technology, it's the range that needs improving.

  11. I need nissan to advance the mileage per charge to 200 mile. Then I might buy one if i could charge at my destiny.

  12. And hopefully, Nissan might even get the horribly inaccurate "range estimate" better calibrated for 2012. In 6 months use we have only 2 times gotten less EV miles with the Volt than initially indicated and those were freeway + AC days
    used cars

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