2012 Nissan Leaf: The Electric-Car Basics You Need To Know

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Ryan Reynolds Nissan's latest Leaf Spokesperson

Ryan Reynolds Nissan's latest Leaf Spokesperson

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The 2012 Nissan Leaf is the second generation of Nissan’s all-electric family hatchback, following on from the highly popular 2011 Nissan Leaf. 

But one year on from the original Leaf's launch, what's different in the 2012 model? Here's our list of things we think you need to know about the revised 2012 Nissan Leaf. 


Like most other electric cars on the market, it will come complete with a level 2 J1772 charging port, capable of recharging from a suitable level 2 charging station from empty in between 6 and 12 hours, depending on the power provided by the charging station, temperature and the car’s state of charge.   

Just like the 2011 Nissan Leaf, it will be possible to charge the 2012 Nissan Leaf from a 110-volt domestic power socket -- but this kind of charging is not recommended by ourselves or Nissan and could take up to 20 hours from empty. 

When it comes to rapid charging, the higher specification 2012 Nissan Leaf SL will feature a direct-current rapid charging port as standard, allowing it to charge to 80 percent full in under 30 minutes from a compatible rapid charger.

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

Fast Charging 2011 Nissan Leaf

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The 2011 Nissan Leaf came with the ability to remotely pre-cool or pre-heat the cabin as standard, but the 2012 Nissan Leaf will come with a whole new package designed to keep both you -- and your car’s battery pack -- comfortable whatever the weather. 

Inside, all seats and the steering wheel will benefit from heating elements. Keeping hands, feet and bottoms warm is actually more energy efficient but just as comfortable for the passengers than heating the entire cabin. 

In addition, the battery pack gets its own heading elements, designed to keep it operating at peak efficiency in the middle of cold northern winters without dropping range drastically. 


The downside to all of this is price. Adding extra features has increased the price of the 2012 Leaf SV by $2,420 to $35,200 before incentives. The SL model will increase to $37,250 - making the upper end Leaf within spitting distance of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt base model. 

And while it’s expensive, the top of the range Leaf SL is kitted out with all the standard equipment you’d expect from a $35-40,000 car,  offering far more gadgets and playthings to driver and passengers than the entry-level Volt. 

Driving, handling

Although we’ve not driven the 2012 Nissan Leaf, it should drive very much like the 2011 Nissan Leaf, since it is essentially the same vehicle with a few tweaks. 

We’ve found the Leaf to provide a very comfortable driving experience thanks to even weight distribution and a low center of gravity. Acceleration is brisk and responsive, with 0-60 taking between 7 and 8 seconds.  

Braking is firm, with a two-stage braking system which uses regenerative braking where possible to slow the car down, putting energy back into the battery pack. In an emergency, disc brakes can stop the car quickly and safely.  

Steering is precise, but very light - and will certainly throw anyone who has not driven another drive-by-wire car like the Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius before. That said, it doesn’t take long to learn the new lighter wheel touch. Combined with the low center of gravity, we think you’ll enjoy cornering in the Leaf. 

2011 Nissan Leaf does 520 Miles in 2 days

2011 Nissan Leaf does 520 Miles in 2 days

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Comments (9)
  1. No two ways about it I want to buy an electric car but this article starts to confirm my biggest fear. If I buy a current version of the Leaf at what is quite an expensive price I am somewhat afraid that its trade in value will diminish significantly due to improvements in later versions of the car. Lets say range was increase overnight to 200 miles, who would want to buy my 100 mile range 2011 or 2012 Leaf?
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  2. I leased the car, for exactly that reason. I expect the technology to advance over the next three years.

  3. Yes, exactly right. I hope technology will advance so far that the 2011 will be a dinosaur among electric cars. On the other hand, if electric cars fizzle and the charging infrastructure never gets developed (god forbid!) we won't be stuck with one after the lease runs out.

  4. I would have to say where I am living that is not a fear. In Ireland the electricity supplier, supported by Government has committed to installing 1500 public charging points across the country (300 miles by 150miles) by end 2011. It is proposed that every town of more than 1500 residents will have a charging point and one will be situated every 40 miles along the main motorways. Additionally a free charging unit will be installed for the first 2000 buyers of EVs. Bear in mind also that in Europe household current is all 220V so we dont have the problem the US and Japan has of 110V. Only problem remaining is the high buying price of EVs in a country racked by the recession and austerity politics.

  5. It's not the second generation... It hasn't been redesigned. It's the next model year with a few tweaks and additioanl equipment. And saying that 110-volt is not recommended by you or Nissan is silly unless it damages the battery somehow which higher voltage actually does (shortens its lifespan.) There are a lot of people who drive 10-30 miles daily and there's no reason to say that faster charging is absolutely recommended in their case...

  6. I Realy like the idea of saving the Planet. But how are you going to convince people to change from a Gas car, which get's approx 600kms to a tank of fuel, And I use Half a tank per week, To a Electric Car which you not only have too charge every night, But during the Day as well if charge drops below a certain Level. And our Electric has just gone up from 20c per/kwh, to almost 30c per/kwh on a sliding scale.

  7. Who cares how much gas you use? We have 2-3 cars on average and one LEAF can cover most mileage in most cases. Nissan doesn't need to convince you - it has tens of millions of other potential customers. The rates are still 10C down here and even at 30C it's still a bargain (~seven bucks for 100 miles) with half of your cash not ending up in terrorist pockets.

  8. Our off-peak (midnight to 7 am) electric rates are less than $ .06/kw, so here in California charging a Leaf going about 1000 miles/month costs less than $22 for electricity, and with solar panels on our house, we actually have ZERO actual electricity use costs for the house and the car(s), (We also have the Volt for longer trips).

    With all the incentives in California the 2011 Leaf was more like $22,000 for the loaded SL, and even for the 2012 between state ($2500) and Federal incentives ($7500), that takes the price of a loaded SL to more like $27,000.

    We also leased our 2011 to make the later transition to the true "next generation" more simple, and that meant that the $5000 rebate from California paid almost 13 months of the lease.

  9. >>>In addition, the battery pack gets its own heading elements,
    >>> designed to keep it operating at peak efficiency in the middle
    >>>of cold northern winters without dropping range drastically.

    THAT was as major deficiency in the first place. NO EV that is destined for cold weather should allow the battery to drop in temp so much that range is greatly compromised.

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