The Nissan Leaf was one of the pioneers in the mass-market move to electric vehicles (EV) when it was launched in 2011. It is supposedly the best-selling and most affordable EV across the world with a futuristic and stylish design packed with lots of modern technology. So if you are looking for an affordable and well-equipped EV for commuting, it is certainly a great choice worth a look.
Nissan Leaf Range
With the Nissan Leaf, choices are quite limited. In the beginning, the first generation Leaf came with a 24kWh lithium ion battery and was then upgraded to 30kWh battery, which can give you an extended range of about 155 miles.
The 2013 Leaf model gives you a longer range thanks to its improved aerodynamics, enhanced regenerative braking, improved heating system, and weight reduction. It has an extended range of 121 km (75 miles) just a small increase from 117 km (73 miles) in both the 2011 and 2012 models.
If you are looking for the 2016 Leaf model, it is available in three trims including the S, SV, and SL. The SV and SL trims feature a larger 30kWh battery version that offers a better range of up to 172km (107 miles). For the S trim, it initially came with a 24kWh battery but was later upgraded. The new battery guarantees 160, 000 km (100,000miles) or 96 months.
However, if you are in the market for the latest 2020 model, the Nissan Leaf is available in two versions including the regular Leaf and the Leaf Plus. The main difference between the two models is the battery. For the regular Leaf model, it comes with a 40 kWh battery that gives a range of approximately 150 miles (241km). That range puts it further ahead of its competitors such as the Mini Cooper SE and Hyundai loig Electric, which both give a range or about (142 miles) 230km.
The Leaf Plus, on the other hand, is upgraded with a 60kWh battery, which translates to an estimated range of up to 226 miles. Additionally, it has a robust horsepower motor (147 hp), which is more powerful than the regular models.
However, your Leaf’s range varies depending on how you drive, the weather and the accessories you use, for example, air conditioning. The weather too can affect the range
Charging a Nissan Leaf
Charging Nissan Leaf is the same for all Leaf models. The Leaf comes with a Quick Charge Port and a 6.6kW on-board charger, which gives you the convenience of choosing between three types of charging options for your EV.
If I charge using the rapid charger or the CHAdeMO quick charging port, it can charge up to 80% in approximately 30 minutes.
If I want to charge the Leaf overnight, I use a 32A home charging unit. With this, the Leaf gets fully charged in 7 hours using 24kWh or in 9 ½ hours with the 30kWh. The best thing with this option is that I can add a 6.6kWh onboard charger, which reduces the charging time to only 4 hours.
The third option is to plug into the mains option, which is the slowest charging method requiring you to connect the supplied cable to a supply, which can take about 12-15 hours.
The Nissan Leaf’s charging inlets are placed where the grille of a normal car is normally located.
Nissan Leaf Regenerative Braking
Today, EVs look, feel and drive like its gas-powered counterparts except that the EVs come with regenerative braking, which is one of the most exciting things about driving an EV.
Regenerative braking is the technique where the energy produced when slowing down a car is turned into electricity to recharge its batteries and to boost its efficiency. The two driving functions in the Nissan Leaf that generate energy for regeneration are the e-Pedal and B mode.
The e-Pedal is an innovative feature that allows you to drive with only one pedal. As such, you can start, stop, accelerate and decelerate using the accelerator pedal only. It also allows THE Nissan Leaf to gather the energy that would have otherwise gone into waste. This technique works by reusing the energy produced during braking and decelerating and then redirected to the batteries for recharging. However, it needs some getting used to.
On the other hand, the B mode increases the aggressiveness of brake regeneration, which then charges the battery without affecting my driving power.
Nissan Leaf Reliability & Maintenance
Battery Reliability: Nissan Leaf battery comes with a warranty of 96 months or 100,000 miles, but interestingly the battery has little degradation which can increase its life expectancy to 10 years or more. However, this varies depending on your driving habits, the weather, how often you charge it among other factors.
Maintenance: When it comes to maintenance, the Nissan Leaf has fewer parts than ordinary cars. This means that there are less wear-out parts, which makes it more cost-friendly and easier to get regular maintenance. Moreover, the Leaf does not have an engine, timing belt, and spark plugs, thus you don’t need to change oil and filter, to replace time belt and spark plugs or to conduct emission tests among other things.
However, I still need to perform regular maintenance to enhance the performance, safety, durability and reliability of the Nissan Leaf. It is incredible how I rarely go for maintenance. The first two times I went for maintenance were for the 6-month and 12 month battery assessment to ensure it is still performing optimally. The battery needs to be checked once a year so you can maintain the warranty of the battery. The only thing I need to replace at a normal rate is the tires since the Leaf can do to cushion tire wear.
During the 12-month battery inspection at the dealership, they conduct a 5-point inspection for the charging port, brake pads, brake lines, gear oil reduction, and drive shaft boots. I also use Nissan’s recommended service schedule to know when the vehicle needs service and maintenance.
Nissan Leaf Winter Reliability
It is no secret that EVs lose range and functions less efficiently in cold weather, but I must admit that the Nissan Leaf is a great winter car. It has an incredibly fast heating system, which ensures that the car remains warm from the time I get into the wheel.
Besides that, the power feature of the Nissan Leaf’s electric motor allows me to easily pull away and also to minimize wheel spinning. I simply release the handbrake and lightly touch the accelerator, and its smooth power delivery allows the Leaf to drive away with little fuss.
As we mentioned above, regenerative braking is another great element of the Leaf that also comes in handy during winter. The technique provides a smoother and safer braking, reduces the chances of skidding or sliding, and also minimizes the risk of losing control in slippery conditions.
Another notable feature that makes my Nissan Leaf the best for winter is how the battery is placed lower to the ground giving the car a low center of gravity. As a result, it gives the car better performance throughout winter. Moreover, the battery makes the Leaf heavier, which significantly improves the traction.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.