2017 Nissan Leaf: Will It Cost The Same As A 2012 Golf?

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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As battery technology improves, the cost of producing battery packs drops, and the number of electric cars on the road increases, it’s pretty reasonable to expect the sticker price of electric cars to drop in the coming years.

But how much will they drop by, and how quickly? 

How much, for example, will a Nissan Leaf (or its successor) cost to buy in 2017?

The target price, according to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn (via Plugin cars), is the same as that of a Volkswagen Golf today.


While the 2012 Golf R retails from $33,990 -- a few thousand dollars cheaper than the current 2012 Nissan Leaf -- Nissan’s target price is nearer to Volkswagen’s regular Golf models, which start at just under $18,000. 

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

That gives us a target price of a 2017 Nissan electric hatchback somewhere around the $18,000-$20,000 mark, a good $15,000-$18,000 cheaper than today’s 2012 Nissan Leaf. 

Nissan’s new factories will lower costs

At the moment, global Nissan Leaf production happens in just one factory in Oppama Japan. 

Because of that, the cost to build and import Leafs into the U.S. -- not to mention the strength of the Japanese Yen against the U.S. Dollar -- keeps the cost of U.S. Leafs high. 

Later this year however, domestic Leaf production at Nissan’s facility in Smyrna, Tennessee will lower the production costs of U.S. Leafs. 

Nissan lithium-ion battery pack plant under construction, Smyrna, Tennessee, Jan 2011

Nissan lithium-ion battery pack plant under construction, Smyrna, Tennessee, Jan 2011

Enlarge Photo

In addition, Nissan’s new  battery production facility in Tennessee will ensure that U.S. Leaf battery packs are also produced economically thanks to minimized part shipping costs. 

The lower the cost to make, the lower the sticker price can be. And the lower the sticker price, the more likely people are to buy it. 

Economies of scale

Often, the sales of new cars when charted on a graph look a little like a hockey stick, with initial low sales volume giving way to a larger, accelerated growth in sales after a few years.

In the past, Ghosn has told us that Nissan sees its own ‘hockey stick’ sales rise starting in 2016, when sales of its electric cars will hopefully hit a target of 50,000 units per year.

That is further validation of Nissan’s VW Golf-priced Leaf goal by 2017.

In fact, with three factories around the world making the Leaf in high volume, not to mention Nissan’s in-house battery manufacturing plants and the already faster-than-predicted drop in electric car battery costs, we think the possibility of an $18,000 to $20,000 Leaf in five years is certainly achievable. 

There’s just one catch: Nissan has to sell more of its current Leaf before the economies of scale that help drive costs down come into play. 

With consumers still put off by existing electric car prices, that could be harder than it looks.


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Comments (15)
  1. Ah, forever the illusion that 1) production EVs don't benefit from mass production and that 2) mass production will remove the huge cost obstacles faced in trying to match capabilities with a gas powered car (a tiny 28 kWhr battery pack won't do).

  2. A bigger battery pack is okay, but how many older homes have spare Wattage to quickly charge them? Only the newer homes are on the 200A circuits and many older homes can barely support 100A.

  3. I don't know when you charge but I have a 50 year old house and I charge starting at 1:00AM. In less than 3 hours my car is charged for the next day. With that regimen, who needs to charge fast? I pull 15amps or 3600w for less than 3 hours on average. That's a lot of headroom for even a 100A service.

    My Leaf has used 1000kwh in 4000 miles or about $100 in electricity.

  4. Electric cars aren't for everyone. Judging by the comments, it's clear that a massive majority of people simply never sleep, and never ever stop driving long enough to charge off a normal socket.
    Must be hell for them, but I understand their pain.

  5. Like Jim, I have a post-WW2 house but managed to get a 240-Volt, 32-Amp electric vehicle charging station installed (Outside, next to my driveway and not in my detached garage.) I can charge the half-depleted battery in my 2012 Focus Electric in about 2 hours. A fully depleted battery (range: 80-100 miles depending on using the car's climate control) takes four hours. Either way, I plug the car before I go to bed at midnight, and I have a fully charged car by the time I leave in the morning.

  6. i have a house from the 1930s and it still has the original service,
    which is 60 amp 220 V which is 12 KW. more then enough headroom to support even a 10 KW charger. now I can't do Level 3 charging but, i could easily support the Ford Fusion or the new leaf and have amps to spare.

  7. Today the automakers have to pick up scraps. They make money on the cars once, the financing sometimes and then they make money on parts with dealer networks picking up most of the service profit.

    Who makes the real money? Fuel companies.

    Imagine subsidising the cost of a car and just charging for the service of actually driving the car.....

    Did you pay $200 or $900 for your iPhone?

  8. Leaf sales being what they are clearly something has to give, and I'm glad to learn that there is enough room for serious price reductions over a relatively short period (should shock many of the experts though...). No doubt that sales hockey stick will become a reality!

  9. it no doubt shocks john voelcker, who continues to tell us how much battery prices were gonna fall. was it 6% or so ? you know, just ask the "experts", who dont know ship from shinola.

    it does not shock me at all. i am about the only one on the planet that i am aware of, who has continued to state that in 10 years time, the ev should be good enough, that very few people will invest in a new gas car.

    the writing will be way on the wall, making the only smart decision to buy either a new ev, a used ev, or a used ice.

    there will be reasons for all 3 choices, depending on situation.

    the one stickler, and i will repeat, is that the majority of the bigwigs, big money, controllers, or whatever you want to call it, must actually desire it.

  10. personally I think it's a game of rivalling interests, but also of advances in technology. Clearly there is plenty of promising battery research going on, but all of that has to go through the valley of death, the death zone between laboratory and mass production and that's I reckon where conflicting interests have their opportunity to kill disruptive technology or at least sidetrack it until it suits their agenda.

    Hard to prove but occasionally one catches a glimpse:


    It would be fascinating to start a full scale investigation into past "miracle battery" stories that were never heard of again and find out what really happened.

  11. it is doubtful that we will ever find out anything. there have been all sorts of carburetors that supposedly got much better gas mileage that never saw the light of day, either.

    at this point, i dont care. i would be tickled pink just to have evs prosper. we need this for the betterment of people everywhere.

    the reason i have some doubts is that i cant see how the bigwigs are gonna make more profit by doing so ?

    maybe all the oil wars are being counter-productive for them ?

    the only ones who really know for sure are those with the big bucks.

    the ev will eventually be cheaper than an ice - there is simply less to an electric motor.

  12. research that i have done points toward many things going the way of batteries, besides our cars.

    power tools, garden equipment, and possibly our refrigerators.

  13. EVs don't need to be on a price parity with ICE cars to make sense, in fact they could be 20% more expensive like for like and still make sense. (lower Fuel and maintenance costs)

    If a Leaf were 22K USD without any subsidy it would sell well as it starts to make sense as a "second" car for commuting and a run around.

  14. because gas prices have dropped so much in the last month (was a bit behind the rest of the country in WA State) i look to be only saving about $75 in fuel costs over my 50 mpg Prius.

    that makes a DTD (delivery to date) savings of $1910 in fuel costs on my Nissan LEAF. so by the time 2017 rolls around, i should be pretty close to an effective $18,000 cost on my LEAF!!

  15. Well, I think is good to underline the Economies of scale, but I'm still not sure that the price will be lower.

    What do you think?

    delivery van

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