2013 Nissan Leaf gets the low-cost trim in Japan

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 21, 2012

Nissan has updated the Leaf electric vehicle for 2013 and will offer a new trim level that’s more affordable but with less content in hopes of increasing its sales in Japan. The Leaf has actually had some successes in its global markets. The most significant change in the 2013 Leaf is its improved performance and efficiency.

The electric motor and inverter/converters were integrated by engineers, resulting to the entire unit being 30% more compact and 10% lighter. Furthermore, the on-board charger is smaller and positioned up front instead of in the back like in the last model.

As a result, the rear cargo space is bigger by about 1.5 cubic feet. The modifications made to the powertrain, together with the use of several lighter components and a battery casing that’s slightly revised bring the weight down by about 176 pounds. This new motor also makes use of 40% less dysprosium, a pricey rare-earth element.

These changes were able to extend the range of the vehicle to 142 miles per charge, according to Japanese government testing. Nissan doesn’t have estimates for U.S. testing; however, the current Leaf model has a rating of 82 miles per charge in the country. However, American fans won’t be giddy at all when it’s announced that these changes won’t be available in the U.S. market. Nissan has made no mention of this so far.

Nissan recently issued a statement that it’s likely that these modifications will only be applied to the model designed for the Japan market. It also said that details about the 2013 Nissan Leaf in the U.S. would be divulged closer to the on-sale date.

Surely, Nissan’s plan to offer a low-cost, low-content trim level would interest buyers in the U.S. This trim named S will feature cloth seats and a set of 16-inch steel wheels.

It has a starting of $5000 lower than the X trim level (formerly the base model) and $9609 lower than the top-spec G model. The upper trim levels have features such as auto-leveling LED headlights, leather seats, aluminum wheels (16-inch on X, 17-inch on G), and a GPS navigation system that can determine the charge that the car will be left with at the end of a chosen trip.

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