What a difference a mile makes. Or does it? In the case of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second-generation model’s newly enlarged driving range might not sway a single buyer or suddenly place the model ahead of a close challenger, but any improvement in an EV’s travel radius is worthy of a celebration at the company’s HQ.
If you haven’t heard the news, the 2018 Leaf’s range now stands at 151 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s just-released official rating. What was it before? Well, Nissan estimated 150 miles. Hardly shocking, but it’s nonetheless good news as the automaker waits for next year’s arrival of a longer-ranged, more competitive model.
It’s worth noting that the 2011 Leaf, the first real mainstream EV on the U.S. market, stayed close to home out of pure necessity. With a paltry range of 73 miles, long road trips were something a Leaf owner could only dream of. Subsequent versions grew in range, but only to 84 miles. The biggest leap in the first-gen model’s lifespan came after an optional 30 kWh battery joined the line in 2016, pushing range to 107 miles.
The 2018 model makes use of a 40 kWh battery pack, pushing its horizons further. Interestingly, the model’s overall efficiency (112 MPGe) is less than that of the old 24 kWh models (114 MPGe), likely due to added weight.
Despite the upgrades, the Leaf lags the segment’s headline grabbers. Chevrolet’s Bolt travels 238 miles between charges, and the yet-unreleased Tesla Model 3 in base form carries a 220-mile rating. Neither rival, of course, can top the Nissan’s hidden perk: value. A base Leaf S carries a pre-delivery MSRP of $29,990 before the federal tax credit, making it thousands of dollars cheaper than a Tesla or Chevy.
Next year, a 60 kWh Leaf variant shows up to properly challenge these fresh-faced models. Expect a range of over 200 miles. The long-legged Leaf’s appearance comes not a moment too soon, as the model dropped U.S. buyers every year since its 2014 high water mark, finishing 2017 with 11,230 units sold — almost a third of its former volume.
2018 Leafs are currently arriving on dealer lots.