Launched in the USA and Japan in 2010, it was brought to Australia in 2011 for a trial and released to the general public in 2012.
Coming onto the Australian market only months after the release of the Mitsubishi i MiEV, and being only a few thousand dollars dearer while having an extra seat and many features not found on the Mitsubishi, buyers quickly bought Leafs instead of the i MiEV. Mitsubishi ceased importing the i MiEV shortly afterwards while Leaf sales continued steadily, helped by a drop in price from over $50,000 to less than $40,000.
Torque ; 280 Nm
Battery size; 24 kWh
Quoted range; 160 km
ANCAP rating; 5 stars.
I have driven a Leaf back to back with the i MiEV, and I loved it. I would have bought a Leaf instead of the i MiEV, except that I got a great deal on a demo i MiEV that the Nissan dealer couldn’t match…
The Leaf is bigger than the Mitsubishi, a full 5 seater around the same size as a Corolla. It is front wheel drive.
Performance is good, easily keeping up with any normal 4 cylinder cars on the road and giving many V6s a run for their money.
The Leaf uses a 3 phase permanent magnet AC motor containing neodymium boron rare earth magnets which makes it compact for the power available. This is coupled to a single speed reduction gear with a 7.9:1 ratio in place of a conventional transmission.
Leaf comes with features like cruise control, full auto climate control, LED headlights, and a smartphone app that will let you preheat the car from inside the house while plugged in to the charger…
Here in Australia we are still getting the 2012 model Leaf. Nissan imported a large batch of them and still have unsold stocks, so we have not received the updates that overseas customers have. Nissan have said they will not import any more until all current stocks are sold, and in fact the Ocean Blue colour is now listed as not available as stocks in that colour have sold out…
Overseas Leafs have had several upgrades. The heaters have been changed from an “electric kettle” type to a much more efficient reverse cycle heat pump. After a number of Leafs suffered heat related battery failure in Nevada and Arizona, new cells of revised chemistry were installed which are far more heat stable, the “Lizard” cells. Finally, the cells were upgraded again to fit a 30 kWh pack in the same space as previously a 24 kWh pack was fitted.
An all new Leaf is under development and expected to be released sometime in 2017, and this will have a much larger battery pack (rumoured to be 60 kWh) to bring it into the new “200 mile” class of EVs alongside the Chevy Bolt, Tesla 3 and others. This is a doubling of the current Leaf range of 160km or 100 miles. Nissan Australia have said that we will probably be getting the all new Leaf here.