Nissan has been exporting all-electric Leaf vehicles from Oppama, Japan to both the U.S. and Europe for over a year, and that's been putting a ceiling on sales numbers and a limit on how low the price can go. To minimize these barriers, the Japanese automaker is getting factories ready in both Smyrna, TN and Sunderland, UK to serve the U.S. and European markets, respectively. Over in Europe, local production, which is scheduled to start in February, 2013, will also bring a few changes to the car.

Colin Lawther, vice president of Nissan engineering in Europe, recently told Automotive News that, "We'll fine tune the car for the European customer from a design point of view." Those fine-tunings include a longer range, better acceleration and a slightly different look. Oh, and the price should change, too. Nissan told AN that building in the UK will reduce costs by "about" a third, thanks to lower import taxes and less of an impact from a strong yen, but the price for the local EV has not yet been set.

As we learned recently, the U.S. version of the Leaf is also going to get some upgrades, including a better heater that can offer more miles from the battery pack. The same sort of cost reductions that will help the European Leaf will have an impact here once Nissan's Smyrna plant starts making the EV, but it's anyone's guess what the Tennessee-built Leaf will cost.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 57 Comments
      Naturenut99
      • 2 Years Ago
      It should be.... Better looks, longer range and lower price EVERYWHERE. Not just Europe. The US needs longer range options more than Europe. Upgrading the heater doesn't extend the range the rest of the year, just minimizes the reduced range in winter. Do they think only the EU cares about the looks of a car? Hopefully, it translates to all of those improvements in the US also.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Naturenut99
        If my speculation is correct and they have upgraded the heater by switching to a heat pump as Renault have specified for the Zoe the range when it is running would increase not only in the cold but when it is being used for cooling too. Figures from Renault put the gain in heating from using a pump at 3 times the heat value for every kilowatt of electricity supplied, and twice the cooling for every kilowatt. So if you live in an area where you use the air con a lot, if this is what they are doing you will see range improvements in the summer too.
          Dave
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          An air conditioner IS a heat pump.
          Naturenut99
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          My house is heated and cooled by a heat pump. But the difference in the range just not being reduced as much isn't enough. Nor should it be enough. They can make 2 (or more) different size packs, they just haven't chosen to do it yet. I assume they eventually will, but without asking for it how will they know? The voltstats chart showing miles being roughly about 60% EV also means Chevy should increase that range also, which I'm sure they are working on, but for anyone or any company to say we don't need to increase the EV ranges is delusional. (Excluding Tesla since they already have higher ranges) It doesn't mean that there can't be short ranges also, it just means there needs to be more range options.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart Finally, you got it!
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave: You are in the right of it. Apologies. Presumably they are not run in reverse for warmth in ICE cars as there is excess heat available anyway from the engine?
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow! The cost difference is huge. The cost difference for the US should be similar, as labour costs in the UK and the US are similar, and land is cheaper in the States, so is power etc. This makes sense. I could not figure out how Nissan were going to sell any of their cars in Europe in competition with their stable mate, Renault. Allowing for the difference in the way they were selling the cars with Renault leasing the batteries the Leaf seemed to be around 5,000 Euros over priced against the Zoe. Fingers crossed that the increased range will increase it up to in the region of 100 miles on the EPA cycle, as against the present 73 miles, but that sounds greedy with a price reduction! It's worth pointing out to Americans that we haven't got all the complication of applying for a tax rebate in Europe, and it doesn't only work out benefiting the wealthy, as the subsidy comes straight off at point of sale. Something else this tells me is that Nissan is taking a hammering on the yen exchange rate and isn't too bothered about sales until they have their UK factory up and running, as this is going to kill even the small sales they have until February when the new prices and range take effect. I wonder if they are making the switch to NMC batteries? They can't be increasing the battery pack size physically, so much of an increase in range can only come from increased energy density.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        For the UK I would think they could hit £19,950 for a starting price including subsidy and VAT. They might even be able to put in a bit more range for that, although with the UK's mild climate meaning that range is not often affected by the heat or cold and the congestion in cities limiting driving distances range is not as critical as in the US. That is an excellent price for the UK.
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        100 miles is greedy indeed. I am more thinking perhaps a bit over 80 miles, just enough to come out ahead of the Focus Electric and break the 80 miles barrier for psychological reasons. Competition is wonderful. The 80 miles I reckon will not come from a bigger battery, but small efficiency gains here and there, like - better regenerative braking - better aero (the restyling they hinted at is not just for the looks) - lower rolling resistance tyres - some tweaks to the power electronics to make them more efficient - and of course the heat pump instead of resistive heater element
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Are there high beam LED headlights on the market? - The current high beams xenons are 65w, Probably a low priority since the low beams are LED and electric city/commuter vehicles will be driven less in rural areas where high beam use is more common. Does anyone know what type of screen they use for navigation? Newer oled & amoled might offer lower power consumption.
          jkirkebo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          The 65W high beams aren't xenon but halogens. They could easily swap them for 35W HIDs and get much more light for half the energy use.
          Naturenut99
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Asking for a 100 mi. Range (actual 100+) is in no way shape or form greedy. There are many people who need more than the current 73 mi. Range. Actually for me where I live / conditions etc that est. would be between 60-65. But I know any car uses more here, and a low range battery only isn't going to cut it. I'm not asking them, to overnight change it to 300 or 400, but to say asking/hoping they increase it by 20 mi is by far not to much. BTW I'm not the one who even said it... But had to speak.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        I was trying to fudge up some figures on what kind of prices US buyers might be looking at with these cost reductions. Without the subsidy but taking off our 20% VAT the cheapest Leaf in the UK costs about $39,550 I believe although I haven't bothered to look it up that compares to around $36k in the US. Knocking a third off the UK price gives you a basic of ~$26k, without any allowance for range increases, subsidy etc. I reckon Nissan have been hard hit by the yen exchange rate, and indeed aren't very interested in selling Leaf cars in Europe or the US at the current rate, so they are not going to want to pass on all the cost reduction. I reckon they might go for perhaps $29950 as a starting price in the US before subsidy, if they don't decide to increase range much. What they might do is to offer a bigger pack as an option. For about $3,000 I reckon they could up the EPA range to around 90 miles from the current 73 miles, based on the lease prices of their batteries in Europe. As I said above and for the reasons I have given above I am taking US production costs as broadly similar to those in the UK
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        So, Leaf or Zoe for you Anne ? I suppose it ought to come down to whether you want to lease or buy the battery, or need the extra space in the Leaf, but that Zoe is just so darn pretty! :-)
          Anne
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Probably it'll boil down to a test drive. And how much more efficient the LEAF will become. I don't care much for the extra space in the LEAF. In fact, I prefer the smaller ZOE, much easier to park in our European cities. Efficiency is my main concern and I don't expect the LEAF to come out better than the ZOE after this update. It is a larger, heavier vehicle, and you can't circumvent basic physics.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      "it's anyone's guess what the Tennessee-built Leaf will cost. " Presumably, it'll cost what it did before Nissan raised it to cover the Yen-Dollar shift.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Oh man, that would be nice. A cost reduction plus some extra range would be fantastic. That would really light the fire under the sales. $35k is just not much of a value.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          $35k only seems high because of the MIEV and Volt, the latter being sold at cost. If the competition were limited to the PIP, FFE, TCE, Tesla, Karma, E-MINI, and Smart-EV, then $35k would seem very competitive.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        Yeah, I concur. The $35K price is too high. They need to move it back down to $32K at least. Of course more would be better.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SVX pearlie
        It should shift back to the price before the yen-dollar shift yes... but even besides that, it should also get a big reduction from logistics of domestic production (tariffs, shipping, wider supply availability, etc.).
      DSM
      • 2 Years Ago
      I really really want one of these for my daily commute to work and back. I'll keep a gas-powered vehicle in the garage for those longer trips. :)
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      How much of the price drop is a content reduction (like the cheap model in Japan did) and how much is actual price reduction?
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      A comment disappeared - the wonders of AOL: 'power delivery will be refined for less jerky acceleration.' http://wot.motortrend.com/euro-market-nissan-leaf-getting-a-makeover-lower-price-191977.html What the heck? I thought the Leaf was pretty smooth anyway? In other links they reckon that they are not going to be altering major panels, so it is a cosmetic job rather than much fundamental to the looks.
      Sasparilla Fizz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Boy Nissan is hard core. I definitely want see what this change to the look is and what the details are on an increase in range. Those both imply some pretty big changes. This also implies that Nissan is keeping the Leaf on a rapid update path (IMHO the correct strategy for a product with rapidly evolving technology) instead of the wait till the 4 / 5 year refresh for a normal ICE vehicle for significant changes (which makes sense for a relatively mature technology like ICE based vehicles). The suspense of waiting to find out the details is killing me. Hopefully Nissan can make a meaningful dent in the price of the 2013 Leaf in the U.S.. On another detail, for those interested Honda now has the Fit EV up on its site with pictures inside and out (I hadn't seen this before so I apologize in advance if its been up and I just didn't notice). Looks like they did a pretty nice job even if it is just a demo program: http://automobiles.honda.com/fit-ev/
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sasparilla Fizz
        These half-way updates are commonplace for ice cars too. A bit of a facelift, a few new options here and there, some new colours to choose from. Usually nothing special, just enough to keep the marketing department happy. The difference in this case is that the better heater, longer range and (supposedly) lower price are more than gimmicks. They are very, very welcome.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Exactly right. The difference is that the MCE / MCR is coming a bit earlier due to the tech advancing faster (and experience hitting quicker).
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Continuing good news from the largest builder of EV's, Renault/Nissan. Very good to hear that Nissan is so confident about the global demand for the Leaf that Nissan will invest in at least two local manufacturing plants. Go Carlos Ghosn !
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Unfortunately you are pretty well stuffed in Australia, Marco. Between zero subsidies and your Leaf cars coming from Japan the prices of EV's will continue to be stratospheric. IMO Nissan can't continue to base Asian production in Japan at that price differential, and I would expect that they are looking to build a factory elsewhere to cover the region.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi Marco: It seems I owe you an apology. I was aware of how a heat pump works, but not how conventional air conditioning does! Many apologies. For Australia if the price is right the Mitsubishi Outlander plug in looks great, although of course a Volt will also do the job if you don't want a small SUV. Presumably you will get them this financial year, or at any rate that is when they start to be produced.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave Mart, The GM Volt and the Leaf will be released in Australia later this year, with the Volt priced at $51,000 and the Leaf at $ 53,000 ! The locally produced GM Holden Cruze models are priced between $21240-$30740, or a Prius C, for $23,000. The locally produced Blade Electron EV is priced at $47,000. Renault and Better Place are still making press announcements, but that would appear to be the extent of there activity. I wouldn't worry about not being au fait with the intricacies of air-conditioning, almost no one is !:)
          marcopolo
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @ DaveMart Well very true Dave, but then the $Aus is pretty high at the moment, and Australia already has a local EV manufacturer, offering a similar car, cheaper and with battery leasing. But given Australia's huge suburban sprawl, lack of congestion and vast distances, the GM Volt/Ampera is Australia's natural choice. But our pathetic Labour (centre left) minority government couldn't negotiate with GM to build the Ampera in Australia !
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't really see a difference. Is the smiley-face front end new? It *does* look about 3% better in red, but I still wouldn't make my mother drive it.
        Naturenut99
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tysto
        That isn't a pic of the new design. That is a stock pic of the current one.
      Peter
      • 2 Years Ago
      Heated steering wheel would be awesome to save energy for heating.
      MiamiD
      • 2 Years Ago
      Needs a major price reduction if Nissan hopes to make this work. Paying 35k+ for a basically a well optioned economy car isn't going to cut it once the early adopters have gotten theirs. Give me a Leaf at 28,000 before the rebate and I'll stand in line for one.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MiamiD
        The Mitsubishi i is an "economy car". The Leaf is much higher quality.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          The Mitsubishi i is also only a 4 person car whereas the Leaf can take 5 people. But if you want the lowest price full speed electric car, the The Mitsubishi i is the only game in town. It provides the best value for the tax-credit. (The tax credit nearly covers 1/3 of the price!)
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MTN RANGER
          And like the Prius C, the MIEV will sell very well, once they get serious about selling.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MiamiD
        $28K before tax-credit for the Leaf is asking a bit much right now. But you can get the Mitsubishi-i for that. Here it is for a net price of $19K (!) : http://www.concordmitsubishi.com/Electric-Car
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Spec: The problem with electric vehicle parts was low volume, so they were expensive. There is something like a 350,000 vehicle capacity coming on line in the next year or so, which will drive costs down. As long as it all works, oil prices don't plummet and people don't simply turn their noses up at the range the costs make sense to me. They reckon that they can be fully competitive with petrol vehicles by around 2015, so they have around $7,500 of subsidy to take out from costs too. These prices match up with the already announced prices of the Renault Zoe.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MiamiD
        My guess as detailed below would be around $30k before subsidy for the base model, providing they do not decide to up the range much.
          theflew
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          I think it would be hard to knock $6k off the cost of the car just by moving manufacturing locally. Otherwise, Toyota would be building the Prius here as well.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @theflew: I'm basing it on what Nissan have said, that the costs of manufacture in Europe are around 1/3rd lower than in Japan. UK and US prices for manufacture are pretty comparable. The figures actually work out to around $26k before subsidy, but I am allowing for the fact that they are obviously not making much money on the Leaf at present and so guesstimate $30k for the base model.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Spec: The problem with electric vehicle parts was low volume, so they were expensive. There is something like a 350,000 vehicle capacity coming on line in the next year or so, which will drive costs down. As long as it all works, oil prices don't plummet and people don't simply turn their noses up at the range the costs make sense to me. They reckon that they can be fully competitive with petrol vehicles by around 2015, so they have around $7,500 of subsidy to take out from costs too. These prices match up with the already announced prices of the Renault Zoe.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Yeah, I also doubt they could knock off $5.2K that fast. I'm hoping for at least $3k knocked off . . . more would always be better. "Cost of manufacture" probably only refers to the labor element, they still have to pay for all the parts which won't be much cheaper.
        Jonathan S
        • 2 Years Ago
        @MiamiD
        I get that some people think it looks like an economy car (probably closest to a Versa) but it sure feels like a luxury car to me. I'd call it a luxury car with semi-economy car styling.
          theflew
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan S
          I think that's the big difference with the Volt. Inside and out feels more like an entry level luxury car.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan S
          I've been in both and I like the interior of the Volt more than Leaf.
          DaveMart
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jonathan S
          @Hi theflew: I can't quite parse that - are you saying that it is the Volt which does not feel like a luxury car, or the Leaf?
      RC
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here is hoping they sexy it up. The Leaf deserves better looks.
        theflew
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RC
        There is only so much they can do structurally to change the looks without changing the underlying structure. So I can't imagine it looking to different. Maybe different headlights, bumpers, etc... The sheet metal on cars are integral members in crash energy absorption. I don't think they are going to start re-crash testing these vehicles after being out a little more than a year.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @theflew
          "I can't imagine it looking to different. " It could look *exactly* like a Versa with very little effort.
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