Sales of the Nissan Leaf are expected to surge 25 percent in Europe this year and another double digits in 2015, according to Nissan Europe's electric cars director, Jean-Pierre Diernaz. The Leaf is currently the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe with sales of 12,655 units in the first 10 months of 2014 for a 40-percent jump, according to data from JATO Dynamics.
The strong gains are attributed to lower sticker prices and leasing rates since Nissan launched the Leaf in Europe in 2010. Diernaz told Automotive News Europe that said the average lease rate for the Leaf in Europe has fallen to around EUR250 a month from EUR400 in 2010. In fact, the Leaf can be leased in France for just EUR169 a month once government incentives are counted.
The Leaf is also heavily discounted in some markets. For instance, Nissan is offering a Leaf Visia in the United Kingdom at GBP18,290 following a price cut of GBP3,200 (EUR4,066) – which means that it has a tag similar to compact cars such the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Diernaz remarked that Nissan was able to achieve cost savings after shifting output of European versions of the Leaf from Japan to the UK in 2013. Nissan sold almost 3,000 Leafs in the UK in the first nine months of the year.
He noted that despite the lower prices, Nissan is still getting enough profit from selling the Leaf. He added that more customers prefer the battery-leasing option, which allows them to pay a monthly rental charge for guaranteed battery reliability, service and life.
He disclosed that the average take-up for battery leasing is around 25 percent in Europe -- around 50 percent in France; 10- 12 percent in the UK; and zero percent in Norway.
According to Diernaz, Nissan expects the electric version of the NV200 minivan to account for about 20 percent of its EV sales in Europe. The e-NV200, which is produced in Nissan’s Barcelona site in Spain, is powered by the same battery pack found in the Leaf.
Underpinned by a bespoke EV architecture, the new Nissan Leaf has dimensions of 4,445 mm in length, 1,770 mm in width and 1,550 mm in height, with wheelbase of 2,700 mm. It retains its highly aerodynamic shape, which along with subtle changes to its grille and a new 17-inch wheel design, allowing the new Leaf to have a coefficient of drag value of just 0.28 Cd.
The front of the new Leaf still features slim yet almost vertical headlights that employ LED technology on higher end models. These lights also serve another purpose aside from illuminating the road on front; they also guide airflow away from the door mirrors, resulting to better aerodynamics and lower wind noise.
Nissan designed the body of the new Leaf according to its 'smart fluidity' principle. This design resulted to a kicked-up roofline blending well into a large spoiler while the underfloor is made flat and smooth. Meanwhile, the rear end of the new Leaf is marked by thin, gently curving vertical taillights. Since the Leaf is an EV, it has no exhaust pipes on the rear.
The latest iteration of the Nissan Leaf could now be finished in any of the seven available exterior colors like black metallic, grey, red pearl metallic and solid white. Other available colors include blue pearl metallic, metallic silver and white pearl.
Inside, the newest iteration of the Leaf is provided with new seats. The front seats – now redesigned for better support –features height adjustment. These front seats have been reshaped to allow rear passengers to enjoy up to 53 mm more leg room. This was achieved by re-profiling the front seats to enable rear passengers to place their feet under these seats.