Geneva Motor Show 2013 : Nissan LEAF improved for UK production

Headline Auto


Nissan is taking the chance to make the all-electric LEAF more European in the way it drives and the quality of the interior with the switch of production from Japan to the UK plant near Sunderland, says vice-president of electric vehicle product planning, Etienne Henry.

Crucially, there is also a 16-mile increase in the maximum range, to 125 miles. ‘This was a big opportunity to make changes, not all of which are visible,’ says Henry. ‘The LEAF is now more in tune with European driving conditions in its handling and comfort. We have revised some of the components and modified the aerodynamics, and the product offer is now wider with the choice of trim, materials and colours.

‘It is more of what some people would call a normal car. We have a darker interior and the option of leather seats, and enhancements include a trunk capacity which has gone up by 30 litres, a premium audio system from BOSE and 17-inch wheels. Altogether there are more than 100 changes.’

Nissan has just notched up its 50,000th LEAF sale, although volumes are still way below the 10% of the market that the company, along with Alliance partner Renault, is expecting to achieve by 2020.

‘We had hoped it (the growth in sales) would be quicker,” says Henry, “but I make the comparison with the consumer electronics industry. Every year there are improvements in technology. The volume is growing, and with more volume we get a quicker breakthrough in range, more affordable products, lower prices and improved performance.

‘It was difficult to forecast the economic crisis, but we remain committed to our fundamental strategy,” he went on. “We have to go through the number barriers, and some of them are not under our control. By 2020 we will have more than four EVs, and with an increase in the number of cars on the road customer confidence grows. It is like a snowball.’

Keith Adams


  1. The big deal is the new charging station (at dealers only presently) which can do a 80% boost charge in just 30 minutes.

  2. There was an electric car event at Titanic Belfast and they had a fleet of these going up and down the road on test drives.

    They look like a grill-less Note.

  3. @2, Paul,

    What a remarkably concise and erudite comment you make. Perhaps you might care to illuminate us by elaborating your considered and beautifully reasoned logic for your dislike of this vehicle?

  4. We all know there is only a finite amount of oil, so until they actually find an easy and cheap way of extracting hydrogen to power vehicles, cars like this may be the future. Eventually the technology will be there to make cars like this a viable alternative to a petrol/diesel car

  5. I’m not sure ‘lack of Europeaness’ is the reason for the lack of sales so far, Europeans, Japanese, Americans etc will voluntarily buy electric cars in volume when battery technology makes them a realistic alternative to the interal combustion engine, and that day hasn’t arrived yet…
    In an incredibly efficient high output plant like Nissan Sunderland, you can’t help thinking that the Leaf is the wrong product to send down the lines there at the moment.

  6. @2, The car is useless in the real world,there is alternative power sources for cars but while petrol companies still wield power you aint going to see them.

    The Ampera makes more sense than this car,at least you could drive it anywhereand whilst driving it charges the batteries-how does the leaf compare with its carbon footprint?

    Why does the leaf not sell well? because people are not willing to pay the asking price and in this socially mobile world and have to worry about range,charging points or the thing letting you down altogether.

    Of course, the “green zealots” will espouse its meagre virtues and insist “you do your bit for the enviroment” but the fact remains it is as useful as a turd in a swimming pool.

  7. @7, ‘Tim’ Brett,

    Cars such as the Leaf aren’t meant to be an alternative to IC engined cars under all circumstances. However they are useful in city environments.

    As such they are very much a niche product which is practical for a small number of people.

  8. @7 ‘Chris’ Baglin, my point entirely.Therefore useless,a three pot Ka,a twinair 500 or a pedal bike can do what this car does in a city or you could hire a G whizz for a inner London jolly or better still,a UCD milk float.

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