Nissan Unveils LEAF Improvements, New Pricing

By · November 21, 2012

Nissan LEAF

Major upgrades have been announced for the Japanese market version of the Nissan LEAF.

At an event in Japan today, Nissan announced a host of changes for the 2013 edition of the LEAF, including new pricing for a stripped-down version of the car and 15-percent more range. Though the announcements officially pertained only to Japan, Nissan officials told reporters there that similar changes can be expected for other markets as well.

In Japan, a less-expensive new trim level will now sell for 16-percent less than the current starting price of 3 million yen (or roughly $37,000.) A proportional price drop here would translate to a starting price of just under $30,300.

According to the AP, range increases for the car will be obtained through "streamlining" the battery system and shedding weight from the vehicle. In addition, the LEAF's dashboard display will now express range as a function of remaining battery charge as well as the mileage estimate that LEAF owners currently rely upon. The the charger has also reportedly been consolidated and moved to the front, making room for more cargo storage space.

Other improvements include smaller charging cable nozzle, a new navigation system feature showing the most energy-efficient route, and 40-percent less rare earth magnet content in the LEAF's motor.

It should be noted that these early reports should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Not only has Nissan made no official announcements regarding the North American version of the car, but its possible that some of the details have been confused in a haste to report them. We've already received confirmation of cold-weather range improvements for the LEAF, so it seems at least possible that the first media outlets to report this story have confused statements about some added capacity for a 15-percent overall range increase. It should also be pointed out that rumors of a 25-percent range increase were already floated back in August.

If the reports do prove true, the LEAF's range could increase from 73 miles to as much as 84 miles, pulling the LEAF well ahead of the Ford Focus EV's 76 miles of official range.

We'll continue to monitor this story and update you as soon as more is known. Does a 15-percent range increase from the same battery pack sound plausible to you? If it is, it would represent a significant leap forward for Nissan's EV technology program—one that could be the game-changer the carmaker needs to deliver the big boost in sales recently promised by CEO Carlos Ghosn.


· Spec (not verified) · 5 years ago

I want to see them announce a SAE Combo plug option.

· · 5 years ago

This is excellent news. It shows Nissan's commitment. Improvements such as these only occur through continued R&D investment in the success of the vehicle.

· · 5 years ago

I would've liked to see liquid battery temperature regulating like the Volt. But even without it, these other improvements, whichever ones pan out in the US, seem huge. Especially since it doesn't take the Yen difference into account. At least I'm guessing the 16% here doesn't. :)

· · 5 years ago

An active battery cooling system would have likely destroyed the cost savings and range improvements, which I think are priorities right now. Battery temp management is really nice but is clearly not necessary for all but an unfortunate few so far, so that's the compromise that was made. There's always 2014 I guess :)

· igh (not verified) · 5 years ago

New SL Leaf under 20K after rebates:

· · 5 years ago

Yeah, price, plus the press about the heat issue
didn't happen until 2012. That didn't leave much time for a solution in 2013. I'm betting there will be cooling in 2014. On the other hand, for someone in a moderate to cool climate year round, it looks like a great deal. I'm sure more than 42,000 people fit in that category. hehe

· · 5 years ago

Here is a link to video of the Japan introduction:

I don't believe they mentioned if the charger was improved to 6.6, and I thought an improved, more efficient heater was supposed to be part of the 2013 package as well, but neither Zach's article or the Autoblog article allude to either of these areas.

· · 5 years ago

It's unlikely the dedicated Japanese 2013 Leafs will receive a 6.6kWh charger, brg2290. But I'm sure you'll see it on the North American one. The reason that the current Leaf has the 3.3kWh unit is because that's the fastest that Japanese home wiring could handle. Nissan thought the standard was the same for North America and admitted rather early on that it was a mistake.

I, too, would have liked to see the battery heat depletion issue more comprehensively addressed. Apparently, Hitachi cells will be used in Smyrna-assembled packs for 2013 and the promise there is that they will be more durable. We still don't know if a North American 2013 Leaf will have an improved pack for hot climates, maybe as an option . . . and if not liquid thermal management, at least an improved air cooling scenario.

· Kevbo (not verified) · 5 years ago

Still ugly as balls. Seriously Nissan, get it together and modify the sheet metal on that pig! Do something... Anything!

· · 5 years ago

Man that was worth Waiting For!!!!

1). Smaller Charging Cable Nozzle!!!
2). Relocated charger for different trunk shape/space!!!

3). I've also heard rumors that they are going to a heat-pump style heater, which would be OK for Tucson, but I imagine here in Buffalo its Coefficient-Of-Performance (thats EER/3.413) at 25 deg F would be under 1.

· · 5 years ago

Design changes and the testing is very difficult and time consuming. Think about it for every change you must crash test, water test, part quality etc, etc, and if something is not caught then well it is a disaster. Depending on the change we are talking about a 1 to 2 year process in many cases. All of this new technology Nissan has to be very careful and make sure there are no issues and then we all know there will be some issues. They are sticking their neck out and I am proud they are.
Did you notice the color on some of the articles. Mention of alloy wheels. Yes they are putting more lipstick on.
Also brake change, I hate the current brake. To slow for me.
The extra trunk space will be helpful for me being a golfer.

· · 5 years ago

I believe it was ex-EV1 driver who suggested that another needed improvement is an up-sized electric motor. Using curb weights (if I did it right?), the Volt has a horse power to weight ratio of 25.3758. The ratio for the LEAF is 30.49. If I understood his argument, a more powerful electric motor would have (counter-intuitively to some of us) reduced the demand on the battery, at least in normal driving situations.

P.S. I have all kinds of good ideas for how Zach or someone at Plug In Cars could spend their time – like an article describing the physical characteristics, i.e. things like motor size, of the ‘perfect’ BEV. It could serve as a kind of buyer’s guide for those thinking about taking the plunge. The rule would be to only call out things that can be or have been done now, not stuff like a 500 mile battery.

· Bogdan (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Red Leaf
> Think about it for every change you must crash test, water test, part quality etc, etc,

So, do it all at once, otherwise Tesla will do it faster.
I understand that it's difficult but I'm quite sure all those old automakers will give Tesla enough time to grow to become strong enough and really change this market.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

18-month LEAF driver. I'd say the main things they need to fix are control and display items such as the navigation, battery state of charge, and timer-setting menus. Extra range is always welcome, but I didn't read anything yet to give me confidence it's for real. Reducing weight won't do it, now will further increasing electrical efficiency. One needs either improved aerodynamics and/or mechanical losses, or greater charge capacity.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

@Kevbo. Some of us really like the styling of the LEAF.

· Modern Marvel Fan (not verified) · 5 years ago

Those "minor" changes won't ramp up the Leaf sales. Bring back the $199/month lease deal and the Leaf will fly off the dealer lots again...

· · 5 years ago


How can you expect to pay $199/month for a leaf that was just a gimmick to get them of the lots. The car does have to be paid for after all. Or is the balloon payment after 3 years about 30k.

I leased a couple of 20K toyotas and my payments were $375/mth which was fine.

Just because it's electric doesn't mean you should get it for next to nothing.

· · 5 years ago

"How can you expect to pay $199/month for a leaf that was just a gimmick to get them of the lots. The car does have to be paid for after all. Or is the balloon payment after 3 years about 30k."

Uhm, yes?

Thats exactly how a lease works. Nissan iwould be giving a lease with very very low payment which means you may not even cover depreciation. If you don't want to secure the big loan to buy the car when the lease expires - just hand the keys back to Nissan.

· · 5 years ago

I thought that the current Leaf motor uses *no* rare earth permanent magnets?

They should offer smooth flat wheels, and they should work to improve the drag coefficient with better taper at the back. And yes, they should spruce up the styling.

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