ABOUT two years ago Nissan introduced the first mass-produced, fully electric car in the form of the Leaf. It was a flop, reaching less than half its expected sales. But the Japanese firm has high hopes for this second-generation version.
The new Leaf has had a physical, technical and pricing make-over based on negative feedback. This, in its own right, is quite something. Nissan developed the Leaf to be a “connected car”, which means that if customers gave their permission, Nissan could monitor the use of the early vehicles to improve future models.
One of the things Nissan discovered was, despite initial predictions that the Leaf would be a second car, many customers used it as their first car.
The new Leaf is less expensive, is available in three trim levels (rather than one) and the market is now slightly more accepting of electric cars.
The one part of the car that has seen almost no change is the styling of the body, save for some new alloy wheels, a new metallic grey colour and an aerodynamic front bumper. Instead the interior and the technology running the car have seen the attention of Nissan’s engineers.
The Leaf is powered by the same 109bhp electric motor as before but it has been made marginally more efficient. The batteries are the same but can be charged in four hours rather than eight.
The additional efficiencies in terms of a small weight reduction and an aerodynamic improvement, mean the 0 to 60mph time drops to 11.5 seconds from 11.9 although the top speed remains at 90mph.