You know you’ve had a tough year when you’ve been outsold by the Chevy Volt by a ratio of 2:1, and that’s exactly the situation in which the 2013 Nissan LEAF finds itself. In 2012, the former notched 23,461 sales and a growth rate in excess of 205 percent, while the latter finished with 9,819 deliveries that represented an advance of just 1.5 percent. Needless to say, those kinds of results weren’t what Nissan had in mind when it kick-started the current EV revolution, so the automaker is upgrading the 2013 Nissan LEAF family by addressing three key concerns for customers: Range, price and charging speeds. (As you might expect the first is going up and the second two are coming down.)
The party line from Al Castignetti, the Nissan division’s vice president and general manager: "The refinements and enhancements for 2013 hit at the core of customer requests during LEAF's first two years—available features providing quicker charging, improved range expectations and the ability to fine-tune the equipment levels to exact owner needs, whether they desire fewer standard features for an even more affordable car or more luxury amenities like leather-appointed seating and premium audio."
In addition—and probably helping to reduce the EV’s MSRP—both the 2013 Nissan LEAF and its innovative lithium-ion battery packs are now being built here in the United States, at the company’s manufacturing facility located in Smyrna, Tenn.
What’s New with the 2013 Nissan LEAF
Keeping in mind that its maker has yet to release official pricing and efficiency numbers for the 2013 Nissan LEAF, we can tell you that the rejiggered lineup now includes:
2013 Nissan LEAF S—The new entry point to the LEAF portfolio looks to be a fairly bare-bones affair, but it will bring the car’s price down at least somewhat from its current $35,200 price of admission, and also include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic temperature control, Bluetooth technology, keyless entry and pushbutton start, an audio system with a 4.3-inch color display, LED taillights, and, thanks to a repositioned charger, noticeably more rear cargo area.
2013 Nissan LEAF SV—Moving up the model hierarchy gets drivers into a more premium package, boasting a navigation system with a 7-inch LCD screen, Nissan’s “CARWINGS” telematics platform, cruise control, a hybrid heater system for improved cold-weather performance, a six-speaker sound system with Pandora interface, and two important new technologies: An onboard 6.6-kW charger that slashes 220-volt charging times in half, to about four hours, and a new “B” driving mode that aggressively adjusts regenerative braking and vehicle-system performance for even more driving efficiency. (And note that the LEAF’s navigation system has been enhanced with an “Eco route” feature that shows the most efficient driving routes to a given location.)
2013 Nissan LEAF SL—The range-topper adds LED headlamps, fog lights, automatic headlamps, leather-appointed seats, 17-inch aluminum wheels, a solar-panel rear spoiler and a Quick Charge Port that allows drivers to achieve an 80 percent battery charge in just 30 minutes (if you can find a public charging station with a "DC fast charger.")
Then, individual models can be further customized with a choice of three option packages. Available only on the 2013 Nissan LEAF S is a Quick Charge Package that adds the 6.6-kW onboard charger, Quick Charge Port and a rearview camera system. Customers who choose the LEAF SV also can bundle the Quick Charge Port with automatic LED headlights and fog lights in a single package, while a Premium Package for both the SV and SL trims will offer Nissan’s 360-degree Around View Monitor and a seven-speaker Bose audio system with baked-in energy-saving technologies.
The 2013 Nissan LEAF is slated go on sale early this year.