2013 Nissan Leaf: What Would You Change?

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Headlight - 2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL

Headlight - 2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL

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The Nissan Leaf may have gone on sale in December 2010, but later this year, production of Nissan’s all-electric hatchback will start for the first time in Smyrna, Tennessee. 

We’ve been looking forward to the 2013 Nissan Leaf for some time, with hints from Nissan that domestically-produced Leafs will be better suited to U.S. consumers. 

At the moment however, we know very little about the 2013 Leaf, other than a few updates Nissan’s Mark Perry has already detailed.

  • Nissan is updating the Leaf’s heater with a more efficient one, which Nissan has said will improve the winter range of the Leaf by 20 to 25 miles.
  • Nissan will upgrade the Leaf’s on-board charger, replacing the 3.3 kilowatt charger found in the 2011/12 Leaf with a 6.6 kilowatt charger.  This should halve recharging times when used with a compatible 32-amp, level 2 charging station.
  • Nissan will offer leather seats as an option, as well as a choice of light or dark interior fabric seats. 

Beyond that, Nissan is keeping the exact specifications of the 2013 Leaf a secret. 

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

Enlarge Photo

But with the original Leafs quickly approaching two years old, we want to know what you’d like to change about the Leaf for the 2013 model year. 

Perhaps you’d like a larger battery pack, a different dash, or perhaps a  bigger load area? 

Maybe you’re worried about the premature battery aging of Leafs in hot climates, and want Nissan to introduce a liquid-cooling system for the battery pack?

Or perhaps you’d like to see an end to Nissan’s notorious ‘guess-o-meter’ distance to empty display? 

We can’t claim to have any influence with Nissan, nor can we promise that any of your wishes will come true, but we would love to hear what you’d change about the Leaf. 

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (47)
  1. I'd like a smaller, lighter version of the Leaf. Two seats are plenty. Just give me a 40 mile range with electric during winter, top speed of 55 mph and keep the cost under $20k.

  2. 2013 Smart for Two ED. ~$23K out the door...

  3. Really liking our 2011 LEAF but if you're asking....

    Bigger battery pack (more KwH) would of course be welcome (although I don't think raising the base price would be a good idea). Maybe do like Tesla, and have 2 pack sizes?

    Couple of small things... sun visors are useless (too small to do any good) and the glove box is horrible too (everything falls out onto the floor when I open it). The rear seatbelts are always difficult for my passengers to use.

    Not huge for me, but I know others would really like a numerical state of charge. Basically just give us the option to cycle between percent state of charge and the range meter (let the current owners get this software upgrade please)

    Upgraded sound system would be a nice option

  4. I agree with the 2 pack battery. Better yet, why not make them stackable in case you want to add more battery later?? I guess the manufacturers are stupid when it comes to simple logic.

  5. I'd like to see a third drive mode, with the power of "D" and the regen of "ECO." Also, the ability to go from "Ready" to "Accessory" mode without pushing the power button twice (off and then on again, sans the brake).

    Funny thing, the announced changes (6.6 kW charger, better heater, leather seats) don't really matter that much to me, but I can understand why they would be desirable in other areas.

  6. More efficient heater? I don't buy it. All electric heaters are around 100 percent efficient. The only way to get more range with the heating system is using some of that heat make the battery feel like it's spring time.

    This would make me buy the Leaf over the volt: an optional light range extender that would allow me to limp home at 35 mph or pull over while a tank of gasoline recharges the battery. On-board extender would be nice but a tow-able I can rent would be almost as good.

  7. Aren't heat pumps like 5 times as efficient as resistive heaters, or did I miss something?

  8. David, you're right but heat pumps are only good for mild winter weather. Here in Boston we don't use heat pumps much because it doesn't work in extreme cold when you need heat the most.

  9. Low temp optimized air source heat pumps are good down to -13 F vs conventional at 17 F. If Nissan uses the low temp heat pumps, the resistive heater would seldom be used in a Boston winter.

    The Renault Zoe uses a heat pump, but I couldn't find any mention of what type it is.

  10. Does the "low temp" heat pump works as A/C as well?

    Typically heat pump is efficient. But its efficiency drops as the temperature delta increases beyond the "refrigrant" efficiency range. If Nissan has to add a seperate system for A/C, then it would add more weight and more complexity... Resistive heating is very efficient. The problem is just the car needs a lot of "heat" during extreme cold...

  11. A heat pump does't create heat, it gathers heat from the outside air (even winter air has heat) and moves it inside.

  12. Clearly something has to change, the consumer just isn't warming up to the Leaf. No doubt the relentless media wide anti plug-in FUD campaign that accompanied the Leaf's introduction had a lot to do with that but Nissan could make some moves to fight back.

    The first thing I would change is it's looks. It's hard to convince people to spend serious money on something that looks kinda dorky.

    My second change would be the battery: Better range, better life expectancy under hot conditions, more spare capacity to deal with the effects of capacity loss.

    Not for the 2013 model year obviously but I expect the better battery by 2015, and hopefully in a better looking car.

  13. I agree on making the look a bit more sporty - similar to Tesla Model S.

  14. The look is my #1 problem with the Leaf. Second is no thermal management system (TMS) for the battery. Fix those and I might be interested in a test-drive.

  15. The range thing probably bothers buyers the 75 mile range is a litttle short

  16. Pat, you're right on target IMHO. I have a 40 mile RT commute with mild rolling terrain. I'm told to expect a 20% battery loss over time and let's say 25% range drop in winter. So, if I take the EPA rated 73 miles range times 80% times 75%, three years from new should I expect a total range of 44 miles? That's cutting it kind of close. I am looking for an EPA rating that shows 100 miles new so after that three year period, I can expect 60 miles in the cold weather.

  17. Please get rid of the "accept - decline" screen on start up. What a waste of my time, EVERY TIME! And I would agree with Mr. Nicholas, I'd trade more range for back seats. It would be nice to get a basic model with backup camera (ever try to use the rear view mirror in this thing?) but without GPS. There are not many destinations within range of the battery pack where I really need a GPS. I also think if Nissan is for real about the CHAdeMo charger, the Nissan dealers should install them, leave them on 24/7/365/ and figure out a fair way to charge us for a charge.

  18. I agree with the start up screen and on the CHAdeMo chargers. Good idea. If dealers said to buyers of the cars that their charging stations L2 and L3 were avail 24/7 that would put more people at ease.

  19. Interestesting timing as I just received a survey request from Nissan asking about how I was feeling (still) regarding my LEAF purchase and what changes I would recommend. Given that I just lost my first capacity bar @ 16.5K miles, and have seen my range drop significantly on the guess-o-meter, I'd really like to see greater capacity and climate protection. (It's another hot summer in Texas ya'll!)

  20. Frankly other than range issues the Leaf is pretty much perfect, extending the range by 50% would be what I would like and that would negate the need to alter heater functions in the car. My daughter is of the opinion though that there should be warnings when people in the back (such as her or her friends) do not have their seatbelts on - I would agree with that.

  21. If Nissan is going to add a 6.6KW charger, I would certainly hope it adds liquid cooling. At 6.6KW, the battery will have even more heat to deal with. If Nissan can crack the 100 miles EPA range and a liquid cooled battery pack, I might be even getting one. (adding a standard 240V EVSE with universal adopter so it will work on 120V or 240V doesn't hurt either)....

  22. The Leaf already has liquid cooling for the battery charging system to protect it during charging

  23. I am takling about the battery itself, not the charging system. I haven't seen it anywhere that Leaf's battery pack is liquid cooled...

  24. Battery pack is my vote. If the Volt is getting a modest increase in its battery size, the Leaf should too. I want to see a battery arms race get going here.

  25. Nissan should either make it more affordable...+500usd / month fora leased car is way too much. Specially when the only satisfaction it gives is to get rid off gasoline.

    Or...include the high en trims and interiors as a basic option just like the Chevy Volt.

    Nissan should consider a Gas range extender like the Volt or the upcoming BMW i3...let´s face it...the volt owners are using the same amount of gasoline (o gallons) LEAF drivers but with zero range anxiety....talking about range anxiety why not remove the range indicator in the console ...it is so irtating to se how miles go away from your range ...even driving like my granny!

  26. Looking at Nissan's website, it says $289/month. That seems pretty affordable. No? Did I miss something?

  27. That is for the most basic model, 60 months lease and lees than perfect 800+ credit score...I guess..mine is 36 months, 700+ credit score and most equiped version....and still I feel is not worthy...don't get me wrong..it is a cool car...but compared to the Volt..it falls as less value for your money

  28. Yair, I'm leasing LEAFs for under $400/month now. These are fully loaded SLs. Lease term is 39 months.

  29. 1) Modular battery pack, if i really need an extra 20 miles for a one time trip, i'd really like to be able to add some charge without a lot of effort

    2) Inverter, there is no reason to not have the charger allow you to take power out, so you can run a small appliance in the field.

    3) charging port on the rear left quarter. Sometimes I need to nose in, sometimes, i need to back in, so, let me select which port to use.

  30. Some of the proposed changes are steps in the right direction. It remains to be seen if a "more efficient" heater (and heated seats and steering wheel) will be enough for car buyers/owners in the cold states. And of course, who really knows what those "creature comforts" will do to the range? Also, Nissan hasn't offered any solution to the battery life/capacity issue in hot climates. Even if it's not really an issue (as Nissan claims), the fact that current owners in hot states PERCEIVE it to be an issue, it will stifle sales in those parts of the country.

    Finally, the appearance is "dorky" IMHO.

    But if Nissan made all these change for 2013, what would a new Leaf cost? Close to a 2013 Focus Electric, I think...

  31. a better spec car than the honda fit Ev which to me is a more desirable car

  32. I too like the Fit EV. Too bad Honda is not going to sell them. After the first round EV's were removed from use instead of being sold to lease holders, I wouldn't lease one unless I saw a guaranteed residual value option to purchase at the end of the lease period.

  33. 1) Design: The design language of 2010-12 LEAF does not align with Nissan's current global leading vehicles. The side panels are boring & rear panels lack continuity & excitement. Wish Nissan embraced a design inline with the 2013-14 "Note".

    An exterior update would help LEAF remain relevant with new competition from:
    Renault Zoe, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Fit, Chevy Spark, & Coda.

    2) Instrument Dash: less star ship like & more practical driver (customizable) display.

    3) Liquid Battery thermal management. Add an extended range 36 kWh battery option (33.4 kWh = 1 gal gas).

    4) Less "Eco" branding weight… Remove solar panel, & the 12V lead acid battery. More typical options for interior.

    5) Heat pump for interior heating/cooling.

  34. - bigger battery option. At least 200 miles

    - darker interior color option. OK, leatehr may be dark in MY2013 but a darker non-leather option would be good.

    - Add a proper State of Charge meter showing battery state as a percentage of full.

    - Add menu option to choose the max charge point. This is currently either 100% or 80% (if using timer). We should be able to just set a max charge percentage and that would then determine the max charge regardless of using timer or not.

    - adjustable regen braking with feet off pedals. Currently the regen amount with feet off either simulates an ICE in D or extra regen on ECO. This could easily be a driver set.

    12V battery must stay or there would be no lights after battery is drained.

  35. Offer it in Green for crying out loud. It's a Leaf.

  36. The three best things Nissan can do to improve the Leaf would add zero cost to production:

    1. Add a real indication of charge in some energy unit, not as a fraction of the pack's capacity today at this temperature, just tell me how much charge is left. This would allow drivers to see how much energy they use on their daily drives, share that information with others, and get the full use of the Leaf's range.

    2. Give me a mode that has the accelerator response of Drive and the regen of Eco and make it so that I can set that as the default once and be done with it.

    3. Get rid of the stupid Accept/Decline screen every time I start the car.

  37. there is only one way to increase winter range 20 miles and that is thermally controlled battery pack which is the most glaring omission in the current LEAF (ask anyone in AZ) this will not only increase winter range but also address degradation in hot weather

  38. I would like my leaf to have an electric plug so I could run electrical devices off my car

  39. I would put in a reverse trip meter, so you could set it to a certain number of miles and it would count down to zero as you drove. The GOM has its uses, but I would also like a distance countdown mechanism that I knew was linear.

  40. Last week I set out to a destination that was within the stated 100-mile range on my Leaf. But halfway there, I realized I would never make it, because the route went over a mountain pass, and my range was cut in half the second I started climbing. So: it would be nice to have an option for setting your destination that took into account reduced range due to elevation gain on route.

  41. I like that idea. I thought for a while that if the GPS knows where you are going, the computer knows the weather, and the car knows how you drive, range could be figured out pretty exact. It ain't rocket surgery.

  42. Really, Dan? Should it tell you how fast to go as well? And whether you should use lights and wipers? Didn't the downgrade portion recharge at all?

  43. - A real battery warranty. Essential if you want to stay in this game.

    - Controls with knobs so I don't have to look for buttons and press them 14 times in succession. And give me the choice about whether or not the heater comes on.

    - Multiple regen intensities, user-selectable like an airplane trim-tab.

    - stop pestering me with the "OK" button. Seriously.

    - I'm grateful for the mobile app. But... damn. Would it kill you to fix it after 2 years? And maybe enhance it? What's my battery pack temp?, etc...

    All that said I am still loving my LEAF. A bit concerned about the battery longevity but I did hedge my bets with a lease. I wouldn't be surprised if Nissan fixes this in a big way though. Just don't forget the warranty.

  44. No Fabric except on the seats where you can put a seat cover. The fabric is just too difficult to keep clean and keep from wearing when you have kids.

    Better glove box design so stuff doesn't fall out.

  45. I'd like the liquid cooled/heated battery & longer range before I buy.
    Scenerio: Left home, dry cool winter day. I get off work at 5pm, walking down the street to a public parking lot (i.e. no plugin). It's been snowing most of day - a wet heavy snow, temps are falling below zero quickly and it's dark out. I need the battery at full capacity (warm not cold). I have to drive with headlights on, wipers on, defrost on full to keep windshield from icing up and misting on inside (A/C runs at same time), rear defogger on, and radio on for traffic reports. I'm driving through foot deep snow - traffic is making a 30 min. drive into almost 3 hours.... Will this car handle that easily??? That's a nice Colorado snow storm.

  46. Several things; Two coach doors for me. I'd like a two door version, since I have sat in the Leaf, and the door post is in my right side view area, and it is not easy "in and out". Also must have longer range. Major cities are a 100 mile RT, and no charging facilities in the midwest yet. (the ones QT offers are a 120 volt joke!) Why don't any Mfgr's (other than Tesla) offer battery size options, just like ICE cars have different size engine options? This should be easy for Nissan, since they make their own batteries, right?

  47. My wife definitely would prefer a spare tire and a jack (the Volt doesn't have one either). Inventory is very limited in Houston at this time.

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