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Nissan Leaf now cheapest 4-door electric car on sale

At less than $30,000 without tax credits, we can actually start calling the Leaf a deal among electric cars.

By Clifford Atiyeh Apr 24, 2013 9:08AM
When Nissan announced in January that it would sell a cheaper model of its all-electric Leaf, we figured the price would drop by about $3,000.

Wrong. Nissan has taken our offer and more than doubled it.

The 2013 Leaf S is now $6,400 cheaper than the base 2012 model, with a final price of $29,650, including destination. That's $325 less than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, a car with thin doors that shut with the same resounding seal as an open can of beans; that's our impression, but given the car's ultralow sales, many others must agree.

The Leaf S isn't the cheapest electric car on sale. That would be the $25,750 Smart fortwo electric drive, a microcar that can seat only two people and has barely any luggage space. Even the Chevrolet Spark EV, bigger than the Smart but smaller than the Leaf, is expected to cost more than $30,000 when it debuts later this year in Oregon and California.

Considering that the Leaf has four doors and room for five -- plus standard heated seats front and rear -- it's an actual deal that may have some buyers looking to replace their midsize family cars. Navigation, upgraded Bose sound, leather seats and alloy wheels are not available on the S trim. Neither is the Leaf's upgraded onboard charger, which Nissan says can cut charging times by nearly half.

Still, Nissan said the current model's 84-mile range is much improved over the 2012 model's 73-mile range, thanks to weight savings, aerodynamic tweaks and other efficiency measures across the entire Leaf lineup. However, due to new EPA tests that average the Leaf's range with up to 90 percent battery charge as opposed to 100 percent, the EPA reported mileage is just 75.

During a brief test drive in Smyrna, Tenn., on Tuesday, we were able to inspect an S model and can report that its interior is still up to par, well beyond the fittings you'll find in a Smart or Mitsubishi. We couldn't drive it, however, as the only cars available were loaded SL trims.

Nissan is now building most of its U.S.-bound Leaf models right there in Smyrna, along with the battery packs themselves. That no doubt saves the company plenty of money, but we still doubt the company's claims that the Leaf is "not a money loser." Every electric car is losing money, including the Fiat 500e, estimated at $10,000 per car; the Chevrolet Volt, upwards of $40,000, although GM disputes it; and the Fisker Karma, upwards of $500,000.

Tesla Motors, while optimistic about its first-quarter earnings, has yet to earn an actual profit. Batteries are still extremely expensive to develop and build, plus the low demand for electric cars means it's all a nice exercise in market testing. For new-car buyers who want to try going electric, that means you've finally got a deal.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story said Nissan was expecting a higher range estimate from the EPA than 84 miles, but it remains at 84 miles with a 100 percent charge.
Apr 29, 2013 5:50PM

A 2013 Leaf can be leased now for $99-$199 a month depending on the model and how much you put down.  Electricity is around 1/6th to 1/10th the cost per mile as gas in a 25 MPG car @ $4/gallon.  So if your commute is 50 miles or less and you have a 25MPG car or less, you can lease a brand new Nissan Leaf for net-zero cost.  Drive a gas guzzler like a 15 MPG F-150/SUV and you can easily come out over $100 a month ahead.


Screw the green aspect of it, I could care less if a baby seal is clubbed for every mile you drive an EV.  Getting a car for practically free or one that pays you every month that starves terrorists, fueled by US electrons, that kicks ****.


We will never go to war over electricity, keep the money away from the fat cats, best way to do that, drive in EV.

Apr 26, 2013 9:55PM

I own and drive a 2012 Nissan Leaf and I absolutely love it!

I have had it since September and now have 10k miles on it without an once of trouble.

AND NO GAS!!  I traded about $250 a month in gas for an extra $30 a month in power.

Don't for get the difference in maintenance, only tires and A/C air filter for the most part.

No engine oil, no transmission service, its very simple under the hood.


I knew the 2013s would have a few upgrades, like a little bit quicker charger, leather seats and such but my old car was not going to last long enough for me to wait.


You must understand what it was built for, a daily commuter car to and from work.  In my case that's about 50 files round trip, well within the about 75 miles I get in a charge for the way I drive.


I can out accelerate most other cars on the road and be at highway speeds in a flash.


Now if only I could afford the Tesla....


Apr 26, 2013 7:10AM
Unless one knows and understands the total internal economics of this vehicle to the manufacturer, negative comments are mere speculation. Electric vehicles are still in the early formative stage of their practical development. As such, the lower the price the greater the opportunity to acquire one if it meets the PRACTICAL side of the decision. Let the entire market place decide.
Apr 25, 2013 6:52AM
How pissed would you be had you bought a 2012 for over $6g's more than the 2013?!  I'd cry foul!
Apr 25, 2013 4:31AM

It's an interesting strategy.  They will sell more, no doubt.  But they will be taking an even bigger loss on each sale. 


Is it worth the big losses to get more Leafs out on the roads and get better name recognition?  I guess time will tell.

Oct 7, 2013 6:32PM
They have to make these cars go more than 100 miles before a charge. They should use the wheels to move the car. Make a proto type that uses the windmill design for a charge like the windmill is used for electric to homes.
Then as long as the wheels are turning the cars is electrified.
Apr 24, 2013 2:13PM
Price dropped, because no one is buying it. $29K is still too much for that vehicle.
Apr 24, 2013 7:33PM
Drop it to a Dollar, I wouldn't buy it  ! It's a HIDEOUS looking piece !!!   After all, ya have to look at it when you approach the Fugly thing !  Looks like a Fish and Frog mated and produced this Bastard Child !
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