The automotive industry relies heavily on research and development. When new technologies become more available and affordable, automakers race to implement these innovations. Oftentimes, the result is a concept car with limited release. If the concept proves successful, the company may opt for full production.
Such has been the case with electric vehicle technology. While the first EVs appeared on the road over a century ago, the technological limitations meant gas-powered automobiles reigned supreme for the next 100 years.
Generally speaking, the production of EVs involves a lot of trial and error. Automakers learn from their previous mistakes and make the necessary changes. As a result, many EV models come and go as manufacturers pull the plug on previous incarnations and prepare to unveil the next ones.
But sometimes, things work right out of the gate. Such is the case with the Nissan Leaf line of electric vehicles. For the last 10 years, Nissan has continued production of its flagship EV without interruption. The Leaf is now one of the best-selling electric cars in the world.
With this in mind, we figured it’d be fitting to take an up-close look at this award-winning electric vehicle:
There have been two generations of Nissan leaf to date. The first generation, released in 2010, was the product of Nissan’s efforts to make an appealing electric vehicle for the average consumer. This version came equipped with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery, later upgraded to 30 kWh. The second generation base model, first unveiled in 2017, includes a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery. The Leaf PLUS, first released in 2019, features a 62 kWh battery.
The lithium-ion battery included with the Nissan Leaf is considered one of the best in the industry. The first-gen version sold in the United States was guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever came first. Further studies indicate the original battery retains 80% capacity after ten years. The latest information suggests second-generation Leaf batteries last as long as 22 years – twice as long as the projected lifetime of the vehicle itself.
The time it takes to charge the Nissan Leaf battery depends on several factors, starting with the size of the battery. A level 2 Nissan Leaf charger can recharge a fully drained 40 kWh battery in as little as eight hours. Double the voltage, and that time drops down to less than an hour.
The Nissan Leaf continues to perform well with safety tests. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2021 Nissan Leaf a five out of five-star safety rating. To date, there have been zero safety recalls. New safety technologies, such as ProPILOT Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and Blind Spot Warning provide additional layers of safety for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
The Nissan Leaf continues to be one of the most affordable EVs on the market. The 2022 Nissan leaf has an MSRP starting at $27,400. The price range of preowned Nissan Leaf vehicles is roughly $6000 on the low end for older base models to $42,000 on the high end for newer versions with all the bells and whistles.
The first-generation Nissan Leaf was the recipient of several industry awards, including the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in 2010 and European Car of the Year in 2011. The second-generation Leaf is not without laurels to call its own; the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) listed the Leaf as one of the Top Ten Tech Cars in 2018.
As mentioned earlier, the Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric vehicle in the world. More than 300,000 individual vehicles were sold between 2010 and 2017.
The modern electric car industry is one of trial and error. Most automakers are forced to experiment before developing an affordable and reliable EV model. Fortunately for Nissan, the effort to develop a best-selling EV was easier than expected.
Michael Driver is a freelance writer from Texas. He enjoys writing about cars, movies, and technology.