The Nissan LEAF has been with us for more than 10 years now, but that means it’s long past its sell-by date. Or are there still good reasons for you to part with cash and own the OG EV, the original mass-market electric pioneer? I’m guessing you know about the LEAF or at least have heard of it, but what’s the deal with the LEAF in 2022? Time to reappraise it now there’s a world of competition out there.
Stay tuned as we take a good look at today’s Nissan LEAF, compare it to some of the competition, and then you can decide…if it’s still relevant in 2022!
CHAdeMo & Charging
Let’s start off with charging the Nissan LEAF because many people say that this is absolutely a deal-breaker for them. But why is that? Too slow? No…well, yes it is slow these days…but we’ll get to that in a moment!
The Nissan LEAF has always had the CHAdeMo connector for DC charging. But times have changed in the greater world of EV charging. These days, the vast majority of EVs have the CCS connector. Now, we’ve made videos about those so go check them out if you want more detail on that. The problem that is beginning to arise is that charging networks are not necessarily installing the CHAdemo connector when installing fast and high-powered chargers anymore. Networks such as IONITY only cater for the CCS connector.
So critics of the LEAF claim that if you buy one now, you may end up in a situation in the coming years where there are not enough Chademo connectors around for you to get a charge!
It’s up for debate whether or not this will be such a big issue. But think about the business case for network operators. Are they going to go to the trouble of installing Chademo connectors if the LEAF is pretty much the only car around that could use them? Would they make their money back? For some of those operators the yes might be yes, for now. Add a Chademo plug and in the future, if business drops off, change it for a CCS.
While we’re talking charging, let’s take a quick look at charging speeds, and compare the LEAF to some of the competition. This is an area where we feel Nissan has really become outdated.
On AC, it’s not good. Supplying a car with 3.6 kW AC just doesn’t cut it these days. Of course, you can spec it to be faster, but even then it only goes to 6.6 kW. In 2022, considering the competition, there really is little excuse for having less than 11 kW.
On DC, it doesn’t fare much better. The smaller 40 kWh battery still only peaks at about 50 kW. That wasn’t an issue many years ago, because DC units were scarce, and they were highly unlikely to be more than 50 kW anyway! But these days, we’re seeing a lot of 150 kW units and many 350 kW units being rolled out. In the LEAF’s defense, it can take up to 100 kW if you have bought the bigger battery. But that leads us back to the CHAdeMO question. How many of the units will be sticking around, and of those that are…will any of them put out more than 50 kW anyway?
Let’s talk range for a minute. With the Current Nissan LEAF, we’ve got two options: the 40 kWh and the 62 kWh battery. Usable capacity in those is 37 and 56 kWh. Is that enough? Well, of course, it depends on what type of driving you do. Heck, there are still loads of people using the older 24 kWh with only 9 or 10 bars of battery health left!
So what sort of range do you get out of those batteries, and does that cut it in 2022? The 40 kWh LEAF is probably about 150 miles in the real world. That could be as high as 200 miles in the summer, but as low as 100 miles on the motorway in winter.
But if you’re willing to spend the extra bit of cash, you can get the 62 kWh battery. You’ll jump from the 150-mile mark to the 200-mile mark in the real world. So you have to ask yourself, is the extra money worth the extra miles?
The answer to that may well come down to what the competition is doing? If you’re in the US, what’s the competition for you…normally we’d say something like the Bolt, but there’s a lot of issues there at the moment. Can you compare the bigger 62 kWh battery LEAF to the Model 3?
In the UK, the newer LFP battery in the Model 3 is actually only a fraction larger than the LEAF e+, but it’s that bit more efficient and will probably get you an extra 30 or 40 miles range. But then again, it’s about a third more expensive than the trusty old LEAF e+!
Design & 2022 Refresh
As we record this, Nissan has announced a refresh for the 2022 year, and it is…quite underwhelming! It gets an updated badge, some new paint, and new wheels….and…eh…that’s about it.
Now we don’t think that the design has aged badly. It got a big cosmetic overhaul about 4 years ago, and that design is still ok. It’s not the most beautiful design out there. But as you spec up the car, we quite like some of the design features such as the two-tone colour scheme.
Inside, the LEAF still holds its own. But having said that, when you look into the detail, we can’t help but think that they’ve been a little lazy. Although the 40 kWh LEAF may look quite different from the older models, it’s incredible how many parts these cars share. Just look at the HVAC controls, the gear selector, the window controls and so on.
We would have loved them to do a bit more. Introduce a frunk, better battery placement for more internal space, work on the app and connectivity and so on. Fair enough, the Ariya is taking a lot of attention from their designers, but we still think a lot could have been achieved in recent years.
There’s definitely still a good space in the market for a hatchback/saloon style car to fit somewhere between the iD.3 and the Tesla Model 3. Just take a look at the new Megane…maybe we should have seen something like that from Nissan two or three years ago.
Software, infotainment and connectivity on the original LEAF were quite interesting. Think back to around 2012…you could wake up in the morning, look out at a frosty winter morning, open up your phone and tell the car to defrost and preheat the cabin for you! Brilliant…in theory. But many people found the server to be overloaded on those frosty mornings.
Fast forward a decade. Although the system has improved, it leaves a lot to be desired compared to some of the competition. It’s far from the worst, don’t get us wrong. But we just wonder what could have been…considering how much of a lead they had in the market at the outset!
Well, let’s face it…the answer to this relevant question is really going to hinge on pricing, isn’t it? How does it fare against the competition? The tricky part here is that pricing is going to be different all over the world. Tax incentives, transport, grants, tariffs…they all play a part.
Where I am in the UK, many people will find it hard to go from £28,000 for a 40 kWh LEAF to about £43,000 for an entry Tesla Model 3. Even the bigger battery LEAF will seem like good value to some at around £33,000. But having said that, you could get into the refreshed MG ZS EV for £30,000.
In the US, Nissan shaved a few dollars off the base price of the LEAF. You might get your hands on one, after incentives, for a little over $20,000. That’s just incredible, I can’t get my head around that one! Although let’s see how long more Nissan get out of the US tax credits.
There are a couple more elements to mention when it comes to considering the LEAF. For many people, there is a sense of comfort in choosing an EV that they have seen on the road in various guises for a decade now. Going electric is initially daunting for most people. Even if it’s vague, that sense of familiarity goes a long way.
The LEAF is also quite practical for many people. A lot will almost never use a public charger, so even a basic 3.6 kW AC charger will cover all of their needs. It has quite decent space inside for rear passengers, the boot has a very respectable 435 litres of space. The LEAF e+ is nippy enough, with 160 kW power and 320 Nm torque. Heated seats front and rear, 360 cameras, the e-Pedal…there’s a lot to like about the LEAF. And that’s why people are still buying them around the world.
So let’s try to answer the question…is the LEAF still relevant in 2022? We say yes, very much so! Is it the best EV on the market? No, far from it. There are a lot more desirable cars out there. There are faster EVs. There are a good few EVs with better range, charging or connectivity.
But the price of the LEAF has dropped, many find comfort in the familiarity of the badge. And if you don’t need fast public charging, huge range or market-leading software…then maybe, just maybe, the LEAF is a good option for you!
But let us know what you think in the video comments.
Have you bought a LEAF recently?
Or are you considering getting one anytime soon?
Or maybe there are some aspects of the LEAF that just make it a deal-breaker?
Let us know what you think!
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