Nissan to export Leaf production to England

Nissan Leaf front three-quarter viewNissan will makes some changes to its battery-powered Leaf hatchback to make it more appealing in the European market. The Japanese company will change the Leaf’s styling, improve its range, and build it in England to keep the price down.

The Leaf, identical to the version sold in the United States, went on sale in Europe last year. Despite winning the 2011 European Car of the Year award, it has failed to attract many buyers. Nissan hopes to sell 20,000-25,000 Leafs in Europe this year, but so far it has only sold 1,733. Part of the problem is the Leaf’s price. In England, a Leaf costs 25,990 pounds, about $41,600, including a 5,000-pound government grant. In the U.S., a Leaf costs about $35,000, before government incentives.

Nissan hopes that shifting Euro-market Leaf production to the United Kingdom will lower its cost. The Leaf is currently built in Oppama Japan, but beginning next February, it will also be built at Nissan’s Sunderland, England plant. This will save money on logistics, eliminate import taxes, and lessen the influence of the strong yen. Colin Lawther, Nissan Europe’s vice president of engineering, told Automotive News that producing the Leaf in England should cut the price by a third. It will also reduce order times by six to eight weeks.

The entire car will be built at Sunderland, except for the electric motor. At some point, Nissan might build motors there as well. The company is also tooling up its New Smyrna, Tennessee plant to build Leafs for the U.S. market.

The Leaf will also get some mechanical and styling changes for the European market. Europeans critics disliked the Leaf’s styling, so the U.K.-built version will get a new face. “We’ll fine tune the car for the European customer from a design point of view,” Lawther said. Since much of the Leaf’s design is based on aerodynamic efficiency, it will be interesting to see just how significant the changes are.

Nissan will also increase the Leaf’s range from the current 160 kilometers (U.S. cars can go about 80 miles), although the company would not say how much further European drivers will be going. The car’s power delivery will also be retuned to make acceleration less jerky.

Changes are definitely needed if Nissan wants to sell 20,000 Leafs in Europe by the end of the year. Fuel is more expensive in Europe, but the average European car is more fuel-efficient than the average American one. Add in the extra cost of importing a Leaf to Europe, and the savings margin becomes much slimmer. Like the U.S., European countries also lack widespread charging stations for electric vehicles. As with any other car, producers of electric vehicles will have to consider the needs of individual markets if electricity is ever going to replace fossil fuels.

Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.

2019 Ford Ranger saves fuel without sacrificing towing capacity

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks Ford's long-awaited return to the midsize truck segment, which has seen a resurgence lately. But will being late to the party make Ford's job more difficult?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.