2013 Nissan Leaf Electric Car Revealed In Japanese Trim

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Nissan has revealed detailed specifications of the Japanese-market 2013 Leaf.

The updated car, which is set to go on sale in the U.S. early next year, features a host of minor upgrades.

The changes are aimed at attracting a few more customers than the current 43,000 who have taken the plunge, since the car went on sale in December 2010.

UPDATE (9:30 am, Tue, Nov 20): Nissan Americas has released the following statement:

Specifications for the 2013 Nissan Leaf in Japan were released [today], and apply only for that model designed for the Japanese market. Information on the 2013 Nissan Leaf in the U.S. will be released closer to its on-sale date here.

As with prior model year Leafs, specifications between markets are unique, and ratings such as range differ based on the governmental testing procedures in individual markets.

New, cheaper model

The most significant addition to the new Leaf range will be a cheaper, bottom-end model with a little less equipment than Leaf buyers currently get.

It's all very well loading your new car with gadgets, but for some the inflated sticker price can be off-putting--which is where the less expensive model comes in.

In Japan, this model is badged 'S'. The down-graded model trades alloy wheels for steel rims and wheel trims, a less distinctive black interior, and regular halogen headlamps, rather than the LED units in the current Leaf.

Despite initial suspicions, Nissan confirms that the Leaf S doesn't sacrifice any performance to the higher-spec models--which means the range should also be the same.

Several minor improvements

Both the base-spec Leaf and better-equipped versions also benefit from several upgrades which should make the car just that little bit easier to live with.

Chief among these is a slightly larger trunk, the extra space liberated by moving a downsized charger from the back of the car, to the front. Space has increased from 11.6 cu-ft to 13 cu-ft.

Nissan has also reduced the car's weight.

By integrating the electric motor, inverter, and AC/DC converter, Nissan has reduced their combined weight by 10 percent. Lighter parts used throughout, an improved battery module and more integrated electronic units have collectively reduced mass by over 170-lbs.

A newly-designed motor improves acceleration response, and between the weight reductions and a re-jig of the steering, the new car should also handle better. Nissan has also tweaked the regenerative braking to improve power generation.

Range on the Japanese cycle has also increased by 14 percent. If that increase finds its way into U.S. model, the official EPA range of 73 miles could increase to as much as 83 miles. We're going to wait and see what EPA testing shows before celebrating, though...

Further enhancements

Other improvements include a new percentage estimate for remaining battery capacity, and a long-life battery mode is now available in any charging mode, which charges the battery to 80 percent to improve pack life.

The charging port now has a locking mechanism, an LED light for night charging, and an electromagnetic opener for the charging door. Inside, a light-weight BOSE seven-speaker stereo is available, as is an around-view monitor for parking.

Leather seats are also available, and the top-end 'G' spec versions in Japan also come with sporty 17-inch alloy wheels.

It isn't clear how many of these upgrades will make the U.S.-spec Leaf due next year, but the base-spec model is a certainty.

As is a lower price--both as a result of the downgraded model, and variances in exchange rates removed when production starts at the Smyrna, Tennessee plant.


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Comments (17)
  1. Great to hear of these improvements.

  2. Sounds good but the lack of a 6.6 kW charger is very disappointing. Hope they address that in in the units built in North America...

  3. Ricardo, the 6.6 charger was always announced as an option. It won't be installed by default, not even in the US.

  4. And it sounds like it's something that will be released in the US but not Japan.

  5. George: Do you have a link? All announcements I've seen so far are very vague, far from official. This is something very important to be left out of a such comprehensive press release.

  6. @George: A 6.6-kilowatt charger for the 2013 Leaf has been discussed by Nissan Americas executives, but not officially announced.

  7. Really disappointing if these improvements are not incorporated into the U.S. version.

  8. For a minor update, these 2013 LEAF updates for Japan are very exciting news!

    Seems like every area of the power-train got a tweak.
    - better regenerative breaking
    - B(rake) shift mode from D(rive) similar to iMiEV
    - re-stacking power components (inverter, charger), no bump & more space in boot
    - heat pump vs heater to save electric power
    - 40% reduction use of dysprosium (Dy), a rare earth element in motor magnates
    - weight savings in battery from new module packing for cells

    Didn't see 6.6 kW charging update, but with everything else; cost & space may have been a deciding factor. Maybe a future option?

    This all adds up … guessing 83 mile (73) range & 112 eMPG (99) … hopefully North America model will see similar updates?

  9. stop stop STOP!!

    this is a "Japanese Market" LEAF and it will NEVER be available for sale in the US. sure we can look at these improvements and get a decent idea of improvement for the American Market LEAF but to say that this is how it is is waaay off base

  10. Yes, this is kind of odd in a way for Nissan to be making this announcement and having no information available to U.S. consumers. Would be VERY strange to build a billion dollar plus plant in the U.S. and have the first product out of it be an "outdated" or lesser version of the car that is built in Japan. What would they think would be the reaction of U.S. consumers? "You know, in Japan we build a version that will go farther and they are lighter and have a more efficient battery, but the one we build for you in the States in that brand new factory is the older technology car that won't go as far as the Japan built car."

    These guys are not stupid, so I'm hoping this is not the scenario they have planned. Would be a real PR mistake.

  11. This happens all the time. For example the European Volt and Ampera have features not found in the US/Canadian versions. Many of those features are regulation driven, as mentioned by Nissan NA (i.e. rear fog lights), but some are driven by competition and owner expectations. Conversely the American market models are cheaper than those overseas.

  12. We're just a couple weeks away from LEAF's 2nd birthday on Dec 11th.

    Also, the LA Auto Show coming up Nov 30 - Dec 9th, which is traditionally an event where green-vehicle news is announced for North America.

    Timing of transition from 2011-2012 model to 2013+ model gets a bit more interesting for US market as Symetra is slated to start production in 2013. With local production, the opportunity for regionalized options increases.

    Just gotta be patient, we'll know soon enough. :)

  13. Oops, meant "Smyrna", Tennessee assembly plant … (overlooked an autocorrect)

    re: 3.3 –> 6.6 kW charging option; a good ref: "and we'll raise that in a year or so."

  14. @David (and also @Kelly): Nissan Americas will be making its own announcement, later on, about the 2013 Leaf that will be sold here.

    However, most of the changes in the Japanese version (especially to the power electronics) will be incorporated into the North American version.

    We published spy photos of the downmarket version that will be offered in the U.S. here:

  15. Weight saving, good.
    Better regen, great.
    offering leather, great.
    lower price, great.
    Heat Pump, great.

    Battery protection?
    faster charging?
    Great leasing rate?

  16. my local paper reports in addition a "A smaller lighter recharging nozzle"... I wonder what that means?

  17. These improvements sound so exciting, but what I've been hoping for most is the 6.6kw charger, an upgrade that would be vital for the LEAF, for any consumer, a difference between a 4 and 8 hour full charge is a lot! If the Ford Focus EV is already equipped with a 6.6kw charger, it'll be naive of Nissan to not include it, but I can't find any confirmation of that anywhere!
    All of the previous comments are convincing. Some said that the new charger is an option and not worth officially pointing out, others say that these updates are only for the JDM LEAF.

    The new charger has been one of the most anticipated updates of the LEAF since March as I can remember. This update could probably well make a significant sales milestone for the LEAF

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