Although technically predated by the Tesla Roadster, the Nissan LEAF is by many accounts the first commercially viable lithium-ion powered battery electric for sale in the US. With original purchase price around $30K - much less than the Roadster - it allowed many drivers their first taste of the EV life. Used ranges for older models (2013-2018) are between 64 and 176 miles, while newer LEAFs all get at least 100 miles per charge. A used LEAF Plus, from 2019 onwards, can get from 135 to 280 miles on a charge.
The LEAF has been around for a decade so it has a long history. In 2013, vehicle efficiency was updated to increase the range rating from 73 to 75 miles. Heating, regenerative braking, and aerodynamics were all improved, and a 6.6 kW on-board charger was made available.
In 2014, the range was increased slightly again to get 84 miles per charge, but the first big redesign came for the 2018 model year. LEAF "Gen 2" increased the battery size from 24 to 40 kWh, modernizing the available range to around 150 miles. The on-board charger was switched entirely to 6.6 kW, and CHAdeMO fast charging up to 50 kW was added. In 2019, Nissan added in the Plus version, bringing available range to 226 miles, and increased fast charging speed to 100 kW.
The Nissan LEAF comes in three main trims: S, SV, and SL. Starting in 2019, Nissan added the LEAF Plus, an option with a larger, 62 kWh battery, an extra 75 miles of range, a bigger motor, and more horsepower. The Plus is available in any trim level.
The S trim is the base model for the LEAF and in recent years, comes with features that used to be reserved for upgraded trims or add-ons, such as Apple or Android integration. The SV is the mid-level option and comes with optional technology and driver assist packages, depending on year. The SL is the top-of-the-line LEAF and comes standard with a upgraded interior and comfort features, many of the SL options, and LED headlights. DC fast charging is an optional add-on for the S trim, but standard on SL and SV. In 2019, Nissan released ProPilot Assist, an suite of driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control, pedestrian and collision warnings with automatic braking, and lane assistance.
The Nissan LEAF is an all-electric vehicle, running solely on power provided by a high voltage lithium ion battery. It has zero tailpipe emissions. Battery electric vehicles hold their range fairy well, and many used LEAFs can see available ranges between 100 and 270 miles.
Range is how many miles a car can go when fully charged. Like with an ICE car, factors like outside temperature, driving conditions, and driving style can affect the efficiency and energy needs of the car. Battery powered cars are most efficient when the temperature is warm, terrain is flat or downhill, and the car can use its regenerative braking feature to recharge the battery. So, while the EPA rates vehicles with a single "range," this number is really an estimate under a set of highly controlled conditions. Short term range changes tend to reflect external factors, while permanent range effects point to vehicle degradation and age.
Read more about how temperature affects range.
The Nissan LEAF is one of the earliest electric cars to be available for purchase in the US. People have been driving them since 2011, which gives us a decade of data on how the battery has aged.
In the Recurrent data set, we track the maximum achievable range at 100% charge for vehicles in different locations and conditions. We have seen vehicles with a maximum range as low as 64 miles and as high as 280 miles. Of course, older vehicles have lower original range estimates and generally lower current ranges, as their battery capacity declines with age and use. For early first generation vehicles, we only have data from 2013 models, which tend to have used ranges around 70 miles. The battery was upgraded in 2014, and models from then through 2018 generally have used ranges between 73 and 176. Nissan LEAFs from 2019 onwards are considered second generation, and the 40 kWh battery versions see used ranges of 110 to 224. For the 62 kWh battery packs, the used range is between 152 and 283 miles.
The main ways to measure vehicle efficiency, or energy use per distance traveled, are MPGe and miles/kWh. You may see these values on new car stickers or on dealer listings. The MPGe for the LEAF is between 99 - 115 MPGe depending on model year and battery size. In terms of miles per kWh, this translates to 2.94 or 3.33 miles per kWh. This makes the LEAF just below or at average efficiency. The Plus version is less efficient than the regular LEAF due to the more powerful motor.
Our community of LEAF drivers give their car a Charging Score of 4.18/5, meaning that most drivers are fairly satisfied with their charging experience. Like most battery electric vehicles, it can only gain around 4 miles per hour of charging on a standard, household 110V plug. This translates to around 20 hours to charge for an early model year around 37 hours for the newer ones. A level 2 charger can refill the LEAF in around 4 - 7 hours, depending on battery size and speed of on-board charger. If charge time is important, it is strongly suggested to find a vehicle with a 6.6 kW on-board charger. Most LEAFs are compatible with DC fast charging and can refill an empty battery to 80% in about 30 minutes with a maximum charge of 50 kW. However, unlike most EVs, the LEAF uses a CHAdeMO plug, rather than the more common CCS. Make sure to specify that public chargers are CHAdeMO compatible.
The LEAF uses lithium ion batteries - a power dense, high voltage technology that works well for storing a lot of energy. Although the lithium ion batteries in an EV are much stronger and more durable than those in your phone or laptop, they will still start to lose power and capacity with age and use. Battery degradation happens because of two things:
a) the age of the battery (also known as 'calendar' aging)
b) how the battery is used, charged, and stored
Calendar aging is inevitable - it starts the moment a battery is made. However, there are things that can cause a battery to degrade faster. The way an EV is charged and stored will impact the rate of battery degradation, so there are ways for an EV owners to slow the process. This discussion is covered in a research article on battery degradation.
The battery size, or battery capacity, is measured in kWh. The LEAF was originally released with a 24 kWh battery, which was upgraded to 40 kWh in 2014/15 models. 24 kWh is a pretty small battery, but 40 kWh is close to average for an economy electric. Starting in 2019, Nissan introduced the LEAF Plus with a 62 kWh battery. This battery capacity is on par with newer and more modern EVs, as is the accompanying range of 226 miles per charge.
Starting in 2016, Nissan offered an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty against defaults or extreme degradation in the high voltage battery. Rather than ensuring the battery will maintain a certain percent capacity, Nissan guarantees that the on-board battery capacity meter will not fall below 9 bars, which translates roughly to a battery capacity between 66% and 72%. From 2013 - 2015, the battery warranty only lasted 5 years or 60,000 miles.
For 2011 and 2012 LEAFs, the battery warranty was for 8 years or 100,000 miles but there was no capacity guarantee specified and many of these battery packs were replaced or refurbished by Nissan starting in 2013.
This page shares Nissan LEAF data collected from over a thousand drivers across the United States. Each of the 828 thousand miles driven helps to draw a picture of the driver experience. We polled our community to find out what they love and what they could leave with their vehicles.
Most liked features:
"It has lots of physical buttons and an analog speedometer. It feels like a traditional car, but also feels modern. Other EVs try to put everything on a touchscreen to make it feel futuristic but in reality simple things like physical buttons are a better user experience.
"It's a regular car, with batteries."
"Value. Leaf Plus has a ton of range and costs nearly nothing after tax credits and incentives."
Room to improve:
"Level 3 charging options. CHAdeMO is going away, replaced by CCS. It will soon be hard to find level 3 charging options while on the road"
"I think some features should be standard like the heated seats and wheel. I hate that ruining heat or air drained the range of the car. I hate that defrosting does the same thing."
"I have a 2012 so the battery is down to about 20 miles range. Newer cars have bigger batteries with better chemistry."
The Green Score for the LEAF is GREAT. Like other battery electric vehicles, it has no tailpipe emissions.If driving electric isn't environmentally friendly enough for you, you can lower your impact by buying used and avoiding the production and shipment of a brand new car. Finally, you can really up your green game by powering your EV with renewable energy for the ultimate clean machine.
The Nissan LEAF was released in 2011 with a suggested retail price of $32,780 before federal tax credits and any other incentives. In the next few years, the base price stayed fairly consistent, bouncing between $35K in 2012 and $28.8K in 2013. In recent years, it has hovered just over $31K, and dropped back down to $27,400 for the 2022 model year. This has kept the LEAF as a highly affordable, practical electric option that appeals to both early electric drivers and more recent converts. The LEAF has not yet hit 200,000 vehicles sold in the US so it is still eligible for the $7500 federal tax incentive.
The used cost of an LEAF varies a lot since there are so many model years to consider. Most used vehicles are between $9K - $37K with occasional cars as low as $4.5K and as high as $43K. Newer cars will command a higher price: the average cost of a used 2019+ is $32,500 - which is more than a new base model LEAF with incentives. A mid-year LEAF, 2014-2017, averages under $14K, but the average price for a 2018 LEAF jumps to $21K. Older LEAFS, from before 2014, generally have fairly low available ranges but cost around $8K.
Cost per range mile is one way to look at the value of an EV across different makes and models. It helps a shopper understand how much of the purchase price is really going towards range, as opposed to amenities, comfort, or brand name. The LEAF has a cost per range mile of $123 to $200, making it an affordable and practical option. If you daily range needs are limited or if a second car is available to you, an older LEAF can be a very reasonably way to drive emission-free.
Recurrent uses data from the AFDC to determine the range of annual charging costs for the LEAF. The highest electricity price we use is in Hawaii and the lowest in Louisiana. We assume an average driving pattern of 34 miles a day, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year with 25% highway driving, plus a few additional highway road trips. For a 2017 LEAF, this puts the annual charging costs between $336 - $1077. More detailed and personalized values can be calculated at the link above.