Nissan Leaf: old vs new generation
The latest rendering by Josh Byrnes from Carscoops – that we can see above -, seems to be very similar to what we can expect for the 2018 Nissan Leaf since the first spy shoots emerged. Now we make some comparisons with the old generation that we see below.
Some might say that the new generation looks boring, but the same could be said about the best selling car in Europe, the Volkswagen Golf. Boring is always better than ugly, which is exactly how most people have been describing the old Nissan Leaf since its debut.
While the old Nissan Leaf – with its froggy eyes – resembled the entry-level Nissan Note, the second generation Nissan Leaf looks more upscale than its predecessor and seems to be the direct electric alternative to the Nissan Pulsar.
In terms of looks it’s unanimous, the new generation is an improvement. Looks won’t be an excuse anymore to not buy a Nissan Leaf.
While the new generation represents a vast improvement in every field, I don’t expect an equivalent price increase. Not only the kWh cost has been dropping – to levels where electric cars can be price competitive with ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) alternatives -, the new Nissan Leaf will also face an increasing number of competitors. In my opinion, it won’t be the Tesla Model 3 nor the Chevrolet Bolt EV the most direct alternatives to the new Nissan Leaf. It will be the Kia-Hyundai Group that will dispute directly with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance the title of “best value for the money” electric cars.
The entry-level trim of the new Nissan Leaf with the 40 kWh battery should attain at least 160 miles (257 km) EPA range, which is a nice improvement. However, it’s still not clear if the 60 kWh battery – needed to surpass the 200 miles EPA range – will be available in the mid and high trims from the beginning or will be introduced later.
In this field relies the chance for the new Nissan Leaf differentiate itself from most electric car alternatives. An internal 3-phase (11-22 kW) charger in Europe would make the Leaf at least as popular as the Renault Zoe.
I remember Nissan former CEO, Carlos Ghosn saying multiple times that bigger battery capacity isn’t the only solution for range anxiety, which could be overcome with more public charging stations and electric cars capable of faster charging. If Nissan doesn’t deliver in this field it will be a big letdown. To match the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s capability to charge up to 80 kW at DC fast chargers, it will require a TMS (thermal management system) to keep the battery cool.
To sum up, the new generation Nissan Leaf is a great improvement over its predecessor. While most of us don’t like to admit, looks matter and more battery capacity isn’t the only way to overcome range anxiety. Faster charging capability and better public charging station networks also work.
Having this said, buying now a first generation Nissan Leaf can be done with great discounts. In some parts of the USA, a brand new 2017 Nissan Leaf – with all incentives included – can be bought for less than 13.000 USD (12.210 €).
I’m curious to see the production numbers. Which electric car will be more produced? The Tesla Model 3 in a huge Gigafactory, or the new generation Nissan Leaf that will be built in four factories around the world (USA, UK, Japan and China)?!
The first generation Nissan Leaf sold more than 250.000 units in roughly six years, since its launch in December 2010. How much time will it take the second generation Nissan Leaf to surpass this figure? I’m pretty confident that it’ll take less than two years – before 2020. What do you think?