The 2014 Nissan Leaf is now rolling off the assembly lines in Tennessee, and the first examples should arrive at dealerships this week or next.
Now, after a long wait, we have information on the updates to the electric car for the new model year.
Rated range rises to 84 miles
Most importantly to new buyers, the range of the 2014 Leaf is now listed as 84 miles, up from last year's 76 miles
That number seems like a significant improvement, but in fact the only change made to the car is the elimination of a software option that let owners set battery charging to stop at 80 percent.
In other words, the 2014 car has exactly the same battery, drivetrain, and real-world range as the 2013--only its EPA range rating has changed.
Changing the rating math
Nissan made the change because last year, under EPA rules, the ability to charge only to 80 percent (which may help lengthen battery life) required the company to blend of the ranges achieved under 80-percent and 100-percent charging.
That meant the range of last year's Leaf was rated at 75 miles--barely higher than the 73 miles of previous model years, despite a number of electronic and mechanical improvements to 2013 cars that Nissan said significantly improved real-world range.
This year's range rating of 84 miles thus reflects the range the company feels owners in temperate climates are likely to achieve.
The 2014 Leaf's combined MPGe efficiency rating is 114 MPGe, down incrementally from last year's 115 MPGe. The unit, standing for Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, measures the distance a car can travel electrically on the amount of energy contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.
New standard equipment
Range rating aside, there are very few changes to 2014 models compared to last year's Leaf, which was considerably updated for 2013.
The major upgrade is that for 2014, the Nissan RearView monitor is now standard on all Leaf models. It had previously been one component of the optional Charge Package.
Prices for all 2014 Leaf models have risen $180 to reflect the inclusion of the former option. The price of the Charge Package option has been adjusted downward by $50.
There's also a new exterior color, Gun Metallic, which replaces a slightly different shade of grey called Metallic Slate. The other six color options are Brilliant Silver, Super Black, Cayenne Red, Pearl White, Blue Ocean, and Glacier White.
Three trim levels
The 2014 Nissan Leaf continues to be offered in three different trim levels: the base S, the mid-level SV, and the high-end SL. Options include an energy-saving seven-speaker Bose audio system and Nissan's AroundVIew Monitor,
The Leaf S now starts at a price of $28,980, the SV at an even $32,000, and the top-of-the-line SL at $35,020. There's also an $850 mandatory destination charge added to each vehicle.
All 2014 Leaf electric cars for the U.S. market are assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee, as are the lithium-ion cells for their battery packs.
The Leaf's 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack carries a warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles. The company also warrants against capacity loss below nine of 12 available bars of capacity, as shown on the Leaf's battery-capacity gauge, for five years or 60,000 miles.