2018 Nissan Leaf represents an evolution, not revolution

2018 Nissan Leaf highlights

Last night, the 2018 Nissan Leaf was officially unveiled, without any major surprises, since the most important specification – battery capacity -, was already known for more than a year, but then Nissan decided to take more time for further tweaking and I learned that sometimes I should keep some information for myself…

Anyways, first deliveries will start in early October in Japan, while the rest of the world has to wait for January next year.


Below we have the part of the press release where Nissan highlights this new Leaf’s improvements.

“The focal point of Nissan Intelligent Power in the new LEAF is the e-powertrain, which offers improved energy efficiency and increased torque and power output.

The new e-powertrain delivers an exhilarating, linear driving performance with a power output of 110 kW, 38% more than the previous-generation Nissan LEAF. Torque has been increased 26% to 320 Nm, resulting in improved acceleration.

Existing Nissan LEAF drivers already love the instant response and linearity of performance as they navigate the city. The new Nissan LEAF’s improved acceleration will boost enjoyment even further.

Even with the additional power output, the new Nissan LEAF’s driving range has been increased. The car’s new lithium-ion battery pack delivers an estimated range of 400 km by Japan standards, which should satisfy the daily driving needs of the majority of our customers.

The new battery design adds energy-storage capacity without increasing the size. The battery pack occupies the same dimensions as that of the previous-generation Nissan LEAF. It’s the individual cell structure of the laminated lithium-ion battery cells that’s been improved, representing an impressive 67% increase in energy density versus the 2010 model. Another key engineering improvement for the lithium-ion battery pack is enhanced electrode materials with revised chemistry, resulting in higher power density while contributing to greater battery durability on charge and discharge.

For customers who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a version with more power and longer range at a higher price in 2018 (launch timing may vary by market).”


Notice that Nissan expects to sell the mid level trim the most, by limiting the availability of the entry level.


2018 Nissan Leaf different versions in the USA


And now the European specifications…


2017 Nissan LEAF specifications (European model)

Specifications pending final homologation




Overall length


Overall width


Overall height




Track width front/rear


Minimum ground clearance


Coefficient of drag (Cd)



205/55R16 or 215/50R17




Curb weight (min)



5 passenger

Gross vehicle weight





Li-ion battery



Electric motor



Maximum output


Maximum torque



Cruising range

378 km(NEDC)

Charging time (normal charging)

16 hours(3kW)
8 hours(6kW)

Charging time up to 80% (Quick Charging)

40 minutes

Maximum speed

144 km/h


It’s in the homologated range, where the specs for the various regions differ the most. The 2018 Nissan Leaf in Japan has an estimated 400 km range in the JC08 cycle, in Europe it’ll be 378 km in NEDC, while in the USA the range will be 150 miles (241 km) with the more realistic EPA test cycle.


When compared to the outgoing model, the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a clear improvement. It has better range, better acceleration, better efficiency, it’s better looking and safer, overall it’s better in every single aspect we can think of. However, as much as I like it, this isn’t a revolutionary electric car.

In my opinion the improved Nissan Leaf needed to achieve even better efficiency and allow faster charging to finally convince more people to go electric.

Let’s take a look to the Hyundai IONIQ Electric. This electric car can be charged in 23 minutes from 0 to 80 %, this means that a 23 minutes charge can give you a range of 99,2 miles (160 km). While the 2018 Nissan Leaf takes 40 minutes to charge from 0 to 80 %, this means that this electric car is expected to only get 69 miles (111 km) of range from the same 23 minutes fast charge…


If you’re trying to convince somebody to switch to electric cars, the psychological part plays a very important role. While 23 minutes of waiting is considered acceptable, since it’s less than half an hour, 40 minutes is not. In people’s minds, that’s very close to one hour.


2018 Nissan Leaf powertrain


The much awaited revolution is postponed to the next year, with the introduction of a LG Chem battery with more capacity, which will not only give us more range, its TMS (Thermal Management System) will also enable faster charging – without increasing capacity degradation.

Nevertheless, the now available 40 kWh battery made with AESC cells is not bad at all. This battery is the same size as the old 24 kWh version, this was possible due to a 67 % energy density increase.


Specs of the AESC battery cells used in the first generation Nissan Leaf 24 kWh battery


Considering that the old AESC battery cells had an energy density of 317 Wh/L, the new ones reach 529 Wh/L. These cells are actually more energy dense than the LG Chem battery cells (435-484 Wh/L) used in the new ZE 40 battery of the Renault Zoe. Furthermore, the new AESC battery cells are not only more energy dense, they also have better power density. This makes possible higher charge and discharge rates without increasing the capacity degradation.


To sum up, while I don’t see this as a revolutionary electric car, I see it as a good bridge technology to the real new generation Leaf coming in 2020. I won’t be surprised if Nissan manages to sell 10.000 monthly units in the USA, another 10.000 in Europe and 5.000 in Japan. Far from Tesla Model 3 territory, yet I don’t see any other electric car coming close.


What do you think about the 2018 Nissan Leaf? Besides the Tesla Model 3, do you see any other electric car to be as successful in sales next year?



More info:



Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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4 years ago

I like it. But I’ll wait for the next year model. Or maybe the 2020 model and get another ICE car in the meanwhile.

4 years ago

Pedro, if the new battery has 40 kwh usable energy (as you pointed out in an older article) and the car gets 150 miles EPA range, I cannot see any efficiency improvement. The current Leaf gets a 107 mile EPA range from its 26 usable kwh…

Jonas Jovial
4 years ago
Reply to  Alberto

Current leaf has 28kWh battery, not 26. This new one is 40kWh, probably about 37kWh usable battery.

Now try the math with these values 😉

4 years ago

The 2018 Leaf is as efficient as the current one (simple math). And that is not a good thing considering the 7 years gap. Kind of a let down this new version.

4 years ago
Reply to  Luís

As Pedro pointed out, the new Leaf is somewhat more efficient. Also, the old 24 kWh Leaf only had 175 km NEDC. This improved to 199 km after a couple of years with the same battery capacity. There has been incremental improvements, but I agree they have been slow.

Knut Erik Ballestad
3 years ago
Reply to  Bolt

The increase from 175 to 199 km was just on paper!
– Nissan changed the default max charging level from 80% to 100%, and since the NEDC tests always run in the cars default config, the range increased…..

João Costa
4 years ago

“Let’s take a look to the Hyundai IONIQ Electric. This electric car can be charged in 23 minutes from 0 to 80 %, this means that a 23 minutes charge can give you a range of 99,2 miles (160 km). While the 2018 Nissan Leaf takes 40 minutes to charge from 0 to 80 %, this means that this electric car is expected to only get 69 miles (111 km) of range from the same 23 minutes fast charge…
If you’re trying to convince somebody to switch to electric cars, the psychological part plays a very important role. While 23 minutes of waiting is considered acceptable, since it’s less than half an hour, 40 minutes it’s not. In people’s minds, that’s very close to one hour.”

Wise words! Just a small correction though, “40 minutes is not” not “it’s not” I believe! 😛
But I can’t stress this enough, the Ioniq looks like an even better buy by the minute! I’m trying to snipe an used one for 16k€-17k€…

4 years ago

As you say, the only electric suitable for long travel is Tesla.

That said, I see the new Nissan Leaf as a very good candidate for the new taxi standard. Most Taxis do around 250 – 300 km a day, and this car has enough room for passengers and a good trunk.

4 years ago

Thanks for the opinion, this is one of the best site around EV I know.
I need to replace our second car (diesel) within roughly one year. It’s used for daily commuting (40km) and trips with max 250km every few weekends.

Initially I was looking at the Zoe Q90 as a replacement, however, for the price and also negative reviews considering charge rate, it was no option. I then started to look at the IONIQ which seems to be the best option available. During daily commuting it’s enough to slow charge it at home, but when travelling it really shines. Also it seems that CCS is the future and CCS stations are pushed in the area I live which is Vorarlberg, Austria.

Since the Leaf is now out and it’s not as good as I thought, specs wise, I’m considering a used IONIQ as they start to be available from sellers.

May I ask for your opinion about that? The reason I’m unsure is that the IONIQ has a very long delivery time for new models (1 year already) and I assume that there will be a new version within the next year.
What do you think?

4 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Thanks for the reply! Are there any special announcements around September as well? I didn’t hear about any IONIQ versions, but I see a lot of references to possible future upgrades…

4 years ago

260 Wh/kg is outstanding for a 3C discharge cell with no cooling

Marcel Guldemond
4 years ago

I think you’re right about this being an evolutionary step by Nissan, which is a good thing in my mind. I’m guessing it will be quite a bit more successful than Leaf1.

The 40kwh seems to be disappointing for North American EV fans, but there there are 2 things that make this Leaf really competitive: price and availability. My opinion is that 40kwh & 250km is a great value at the prices that are expected. Much more useable than 172km of range, and while not ideal for long distance travel, it’s much more workable. It’ll beat the Bolt by $7500 US, which I think will go a long way to converting customers, and it probably beats all the other BEVs on price, except maybe the Ford Focus.

I also expect that this Leaf will roll out fairly quickly, so it’ll quickly be more available than the Ioniq, e-Golf, Bolt (8 month wait in Canada), and Model 3.

Yes, the Model 3 is available now, but how long until the the $35000 Model 3 is really available for anyone who’s shopping? 2019 if everything goes perfectly?

And it has a fairly useable trunk space, unlike the Bolt, Soul, and e-Golf.

4 years ago

¿Cuántos Leaf se venden en el mundo al mes actualmente?

4 years ago

I’d like to highlight that next year upgrade will bring a new LG Chem battery with TMS (Thermal Management System). I think the inclusion of TMS is crucial. Is it for sure? Could you provide a source, please? Or is it just because every LG battery has it? Thanks.

4 years ago

The lack of TMS has been the biggest disappointment for me with the 2018 model (though 10kW AC/100kW DC charging and OTA software updates would’ve been nice too), otherwise I’ve been quite pleased. Is there anything to indicate the 2018 Leaf will be better for battery durability than the 2017 model? Sounds like the larger pack and the better power density should help? We live in Canada so degradation has never been a huge concern, bigger issue is keeping the battery warm in winter for range.

4 years ago

Thank you for your excellent articles. You always seem to be very good informed.

In my view the new Leaf is also a good step forward, but I was a bit disappointed by:

1) Charging rates. With a bigger battery a higher charging rate could be achieved maintaining the same Cs. They also mentioned the improved chemistry, and I would have thought, that today a major factor for improving the cells along with their capacity would be the internal resistance and the cell degradation with temperature. I sincerely hoped for a higher charging rate (even if in Spain it will be of no use at least for the coming months/years)

2) Same aerodynamics. One of the teasers of the new Leaf mentioned explicitly that to achieve a better efficiency the aerodynamics where very important. Yet the Cx is the same and the car is the same size, so the SCx will probably be the same too. While I know it’s difficult when maintaining the same overall shape, they could have lowered the drag with little tricks or redesigned parts, like mirrors, the spoiler, adding air flow channels ( I don’t know how they are called), may be aero-wheels… If the Cx is the same as years ago, and not best in class or at least somewhat improved, why make a whole teaser praising it?

4 years ago

Big kudos for the the new Leaf’s improved design! I did not like the old Leaf at all, the most ugly electric car that I have test-driven. But still Nissan sticks to Chademo with the new Leaf, which is totally understandable for the Asian market (I assume Chademo is still the most popular charge system over there?!)
Is there a reason for Nissan not to adapt it to CCS for the european market? The sales in europe would increase, wouldn’t they?
As long as the Leaf has Chademo only, it is still a “won’t-buy” for me personally. Same for the Kia Soul EV, which looks like a nice and solid EV – besides the Chademo Plug.

4 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

I guess it is because their investment in V2G/V2H

4 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Well perhaps for a time being that might be actually interesting strategy. Since there is such a big chademo legacy fleet most new chargers for some time to come are going to be bistandard anyway. And that means that for some time we willa see steady growth of chademo network, and less and less competitors for getting a charging spot for leaf driverami. Moreover nissan willa have monopolistic (monopsonistic actually) position against charger operators and can negotiate good deals for no charger for charger like programs.

4 years ago

hi, what is your take on the range with 120-130km/h during winter / temperature below 5°C? it seems the specs of 17kwh/100km as stated in the German press release is very bad and the ioniq would still be the better choice with the 11,5kwh/100km value…
i got around 13-15kwh/100km in the ioniq test drive with mostly Autobahn speeds around 11°C with rainy weather.

4 years ago

After 2x ZOE and 6x LEAF Tekna and having studied upcoming improved LEAF I have decided to step up from TEKNA 30kWh to ZOE ZEN R90 41kWh. It has a Smog Sensor and a friendly light coloured interiour with no-sweat-icecold-seats, it costs -50% of the LEAF and ZOE can charge fairly quick and cheap almost everywhere.

If you watch carefully you find job offers from Nissan Sunderland to hire Aerodynamic engineers. Its good to see that there are many people who buy the “big Micra” at 3x the price of one Micra. It is really surprising that Nissan did not catch up to the Ioniq in efficiency at all. I assume Nissan is still under shock. Thank god Hyundai does not want to sell the Ioniq and good for Nissan is IONIQs lack of connectivity.

Fall 2018 I will check the 60kWh LEAF and see if I still have to sweat on black fake leather seats and still have to breath smog of large SUVs in the city who do have a smog sensor and clean air with better aerodynamics than the LEAF – or – if Nissan releases their 60kWh luxury INFINITI. But then there is the 45kWh IONIQ.

The big advantage of the LEAF is its reliability in charging and fairly good built quality although I had severe problems with 3 of my 6x LEAF. On the other side I was stuck only once with each of our ZOEs.

So for the moment cards are still mixed – there is and will be no really good EV on the market. They all are missing important features competitors have somehow. But any new EV which replaces a combustion car is a good car if its solar or water powered.

zeyd Allahoum
4 years ago

ioniq is 23 min at 100kw…from 10 to 80. 32min real world at 50kw. 32min for 150km
leaf is 40min at 50kw from 0 to 80. 45min for 230 km expected

so, what do we think.

god help you of you find a real 100kw ccs

Asle Tryland
4 years ago
Reply to  zeyd Allahoum

Yes, for the comming years it will be 50kw chargers mostly awailable. For new e-golf still limit to 40kw. ioniq and leaf will both get 50kw and about same milage/minute. Ioniq is a bit more energyeffisient, but it also need to stop more rapidly for charge and this is really and disadvance. For long trip, few long stops is much better than have to stop all the time. I have the 21kwh e-golf so I know, have to stop too often to fill 12-15kwh at 40kw. I will keep this and buy the 60kwh leaf when it is awailable. Drive 3 times longer to fill 45kwh and still have enough for next charger if we find one out of order. Huge difference.

3 years ago

Comparing present versions of Hundai Inonic with Nissan Leaf.

Nissan Leaf har around 380 KM NEDC and Hundai Inonic only 280 KM. Clear range advantage to Nissan Leaf.

CSS would be nice, but fast charging in Sweden has both CHAdemo and CCS, so if either way no need a converter to be sure.