2013 Nissan Leaf review Topselling electric car defies expectations …

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2013 Nissan Leaf review: Top-selling electric car defies expectations

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With more than 50,000 units sold, the Nissan Leaf is the fastest- and best-selling electric car ever produced.

In February, the Nissan Leaf exceeded 50,000 units in global sales, making it the fastest-, and best selling, totally electric powered vehicle ever put on the market.

At first blush, fifty thousand units globally over three years sounds, at best, like a modest accomplishment. Then consider that the context of this volume of sales is for an extremely niche market vehicle and suddenly it becomes clear why Nissan celebrated this milestone.

Whether sold to corporate fleets, state or federal motor pools, or to environmentally aware private buyers, the Leaf has earned its sales the old fashioned way—by earning some measure of respect as car that can perform the duties expected of it.

Think about just how tough is it, even for governmental purchasing agencies using other people’s money, to sign off on a compact car that lists between $24,000-$38,000? How many potential buyers are there for a car that has an endurance range of about 50 miles total if one dares to drive with either the A/C or the heaters on? Even the purchasing power of a government cannot make the Leaf a bargain to buy or give it the real world driving range of hybrid drive system competitors.

The Leaf has to stand or fall on its own merit as a car.

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The Leaf’s interior is modern, but not futuristic in a way that may scare off potential buyers.

That the Leaf still actually sells with a gasoline powered infrastructure and driver expectations stacked against it is why Nissan is really celebrating selling just shy of 17,000 Leaf models per year over the last three.

Most urban commuters in markets where the Leaf are sold drive far fewer than the 45-50 miles the Leaf can post in actual summer or winter driving. Real world figures for the Leaf are from tests made when the climate control system will be in most use, reducing the range from the flowery promotional figures provided by a masochist with the windows up and the electricity robbing fans set to off. Even with a parasitical draw from the A/C system on during a 90F day, the Leaf still posted 46.5 miles, well within the round trip range of most urban dwellers’ daily commute.

Nissan regularly updates the Leaf to increase its real world endurance. Whereas most vehicles get updated only every few years at best, the Leaf gets minor improvements whenever Nissan’s engineers either get a few more miles out of the car or can reduce the car’s downtime for charging.


For the 2013 model year alone, Nissan has tweaked the Leaf’s sheet metal to make it more aerodynamic, programmed in wider range of situations where regenerative is employed to recapture energy, and improved the onboard computer’s energy management capabilities. Nissan is now also is offering customers an optional 6.6 kW onboard charger upgrade, one which trims the standard 220V charging time of the car nearly in half. With the optional charger, the Leaf’s 192 flat packed lithium-ion batteries lodged in a tray beneath the floor can now be topped off in just over four hours.

Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars
Nissan CHAdeMO Electric Cars

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