Nissan turns over new Leaf

By David Thomson on Sat, 17 Feb 2018

New Zealand's rapidly-growing band of electric vehicle devotees will be interested to know Nissan has confirmed the new-generation Leaf will go on sale as a new car in New Zealand later this year.

Nissan made the announcement last week as part of a wider statement, indicating the latest Leaf, launched in Japan towards the end of 2017, will be sold new in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

The first-generation Leaf is already the world's most popular pure electric vehicle (EV), with around 300,000 sold. It was available here briefly as a new car, but was too pricey against conventional alternatives to make much of a mark. Instead, as most readers will know, used import editions of the Leaf have arrived in droves to form the core of a New Zealand EV fleet that grew by over 4000 vehicles in 2017.

Much of the thinking around this country's EV infrastructure has been influenced by the relatively limited range of the first- generation Leaf and other similar vehicles. Now every small- and medium-sized town seems to want or need a public fast-charge point, based on the reality any significant journey in the original Leaf will require one or more pauses to recharge along the way.

Like the Hyundai Ionic EV Drivesouth tested last year, and other recent EV arrivals such as Volkswagen's e-Golf, the new Leaf is part of a move to a new reality. Its nominal range of 250km is 90km more than the generation one Leaf, an advance that greatly extends the Leaf's versatility.

When a new-generation Leaf makes it into Drivesouth's hands for appraisal, I reckon a decent road trip will be in order.

In the meantime, and accepting that used generation one Leafs (or is that Leaves) will continue to account for most of New Zealand's EV growth for a few years yet, I've been following the motoring lives of friends Simon and Anna, who acquired a gen-one Leaf recently, with interest.

They bought their Leaf towards the end of last year, not long after selling their city home and moving out to what had been their holiday house in Warrington.

Using the vehicle mainly as transport to and from Dunedin for work and other commitments, they have covered around 4000km by EV in quick order.

For the most part their Leaf has been charged at home and I reckon they have probably saved between $700 and $750 in running costs compared with using an equivalent-sized conventional car.

As well as appreciating the savings, they are enjoying the Leaf's performance, and the feel-good factor that comes with everyday carbon-free motoring.

For now, like many EV owners, they have kept a petrol-powered car for longer trips. That's a back-up option that will surely become less popular as longer- range EVs, like the second- generation Leaf, start to gain a hold in our car market.

David Thomson