Price, long charging times and limited range have all been big disadvantages which electric cars, to varying degrees, have versus conventional vehicles. Recognizing this, Nissan has addressed all three issues with the 2013 Leaf. The first issue, that of price, was addressed somewhat by the federal tax credit offered to all Leaf buyers, but it seems to still be a lot to ask someone to pay for a vehicle which is just for commuting. So Nissan will be adding a Leaf S trim to the lineup, slotting in below the existing SL and SV trims. And for those who are willing to pay more, there will be an expanded options list including leather seats, new exterior colors and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. This all sounds good, although the exact pricing hasn’t yet been released.
The Leaf also gets a new and more energy-efficient stereo and heater, part of how Nissan is addressing the issue of range. As reported by Inhabitat, this will combine with improved aerodynamics and energy management to deliver an as-yet unspecified improvement in range. The actual batteries and drivetrain will remain unchanged though, so don’t expect anything too dramatic. But when it comes to the issue of charging time, the difference will be dramatic. The 3.6-kW onboard charger in being replaced by a 6.6-kW unit on the SL and SV (it will be an optional extra on the S), and this will cut the charging time from empty to 80 percent full down to just about four hours when using a 220V charger.
Nissan has just opened a new plant for Leaf production here in the US, along with a plant for lithium-ion battery production, so the hope is for big sales to make for a good return on their investment.