back to article Nissan Leaf electric car

You'll either love the Nissan Leaf's look or hate it, but as the UK's first mass-market e-car - if you can call 500 or so vehicles, all pre-sold, a readily available product - it doesn't deserve ignoring for its Micra-on-the-rack exterior. Nissan Leaf New Leaf: the headlamp design reduces wing-mirror airflow noise, …


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  1. Andy Towler

    And the award goes to:

    The Nissan Leaf, for.....

    Ugliest back end

    Most dirt-prone interior

    Most counter-intuitive instrument panel

    Being far too heavy to be genuinely tree-loving (the power has to be generated *somewhere*)


    1. Steven Gray

      The title is required, and must contain lettuce and/or widgits.

      The interior is designed to have as little thermal absorption as possible to limit the amount of aircon you need on a sunny day - ever noticed how the [black] plastics in cars get really hot under the glass? This still needs cooling even though the air in the cabin is cool.

      Also, the Leaf has no rev-counter, no fuel gauge, no engine temperature gauge - it's not gonna be a 'normal' instrument panel, is it?

      In addition, it's needs batteries to run and the last time I checked, they were not made out of helium. So, yes, to get the range, it will be heavy. It is still far more efficient than a fossil burner due to less heat and noise energy being wasted by the motor. We just need to build more nuke plants for that 'too cheap to meter' leccy. Oh... wait...

      But the back end *is* fugly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Agree all points....

        Except, electricity will never be too cheap to meter and definitely not if generated from Nuclear power plants.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @ AC

          I think he was making a satirical reference to the original 1960's propoganda for 'Nookleer'. Never mind - you can always try again next time.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    people tend not to answer these questions which I think are quite important for some kind of eco vehicle

    How much does it cost to recharge, off peak?

    How much co2 would be generated assuming the theoretical make up of the UK power grid?

    How much environmental damage is caused by the production of the things batteries?

    Once the above is taken into account, how much does a comparable diesel car cost?

    And with the difference in prices how long does it take before the eco car becomes less expensive than the diesel car (as the diesel will have tax/congestion fee/etc)? And how long does one vehicle remain more or less environmentally damaging (how often does the battery need replacing for example)

    Important questions.

    1. Alex 0.1
      Thumb Up


      A bit of maths can answer the cost comparison questions, at least. Disclaimer: The following might all be bullshit/wrong, but I tried.

      A Leaf has a battery rated at 24kWh - On my current electric tarrif, my night rate per kWh is 4.14p plus VAT (4.97p inc VAT) - Assuming 80% efficiency through the home charger (which seems to be the figure most used on the interweb for this car's charger, though I cant find any proper source), 30kWh are needed to charge the car, totalling £1.49 per full charge at night rate.

      That full charge will get you 109 miles according to the spec, or anywhere from 47 to 138 miles according to EPA testing under various conditions - 100 miles seems a fair rounding.

      Current diesel price round these parts is around 137p (about £6.23 a gallon) - So, getting 100 miles out of a £1.49 charge equates to about 424 MPG in pure cost terms.

      A Polo Bluemotion has a tank size of 45 litres. Assuming empty-to-full refuels and recharges, you're looking at £61.65 per tank for the Polo, and £1.49 per tank for the Leaf. Reviews seem to give the Polo a theoretical range of 800 miles, and a practical average of about 700.

      So, the Leaf needs 7 charges per 1 of the Polo, and costs become £61.65 vs £10.43 over 700 miles - A saving of £51.22 with the Leaf every comparible distance driven in both.

      List price of a Polo bluemotion seems to be £14,445, vs £25,990 according to this article for the Leaf - A difference of £11,545. Using a £51.22 cost difference per 700 mile range as above, you'd need to make that saving 225 times to recoup the difference (225 full bluemotion refuels, or 1577 Leaf recharges).

      So, if you're driving 100 miles a day, you can probably assume the Leaf will start working out cheaper than the bluemotion after 4 and a half years, assuming prices etc all stay equal (and discounting other differences such as tax/congestion charges (though afaik, the polo bluemotion is also exempt from congestion charges, and is in the cheapest tax band).

      Obviously, using a less efficient/more expensive diesel car would make the Leaf look much more favourable, as £1.50 per charge (or 100-ish miles) is an absolutely tiny charging cost, assuming you do all your charging at home overnight.

      1. Frank Bough
        Thumb Up

        Good work

        ...but the Leaf is Golf rather than Polo sized.

      2. Getter lvl70 Druid Silver badge


        @Alex 0.1 @11:05

        Seriously? VAT on utilities too? .83p a KWh? Again OMFG!

        I knew intellectually folks across the way paid VAT, but didn't realize that politician's bottomless checkbook extended to utilities too. That right there is an emotional punch in the gut and I'm starting to hear talk of it here. Shit.


        Odd that. Sales tax etc you don't really think about but utility bills are right in your face and usually painful. I'm a happy camper when it;s under $250/month.

        On topic: When they make an all electric that gets 300 miles a charge and can be 'quick' charged in under an hour - I cannot conduct business reliably until that happens. I would like a Toy Pius honestly, not going to be stranded anywhere and I'm doubting some passerby wouldn't mind letting me use their jumper cables for a few hours in a Volt or Leaf. I guess my biggest complaint lies right here: Many moons ago I owned a 85 Chevrolet Sprint (later became the Metro) with AC, a carburetored 1L 3-cylinder gas engine and a 5-speed manual transmission. It got 48-52 miles per gallon, lower number with AC on. Damn thing would do 120mph... shake you to death but ya could :) Why can I not buy such a car new today? A Prius, for all the tech, just equals it at 3-4 times the price and you get to consider battery life/replacement. What is up with that?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Getter lvl70 Druid RE: Chevvy Sprint

          Fiat 500 TwinAir would seem to fit the bill quite well.

          1. Getter lvl70 Druid Silver badge

            That was a nice thought, thank you.

            However_They_Won't_Sell_It_Here! Bastards!

            The Fiat 500 is now being delivered BUT with the 1.4l 4-Cylinder MultiAir @37mpg - not even a turbo diesel. The US Guv made them turn it into a boat. Yup, the same lying, cheating, thieving, motherloving bureaucrats that are always up your ass about saving fucking energy won't let it in.

            Excuse me. Did look at some of it's competitors from it's reviews and same story: Not Available In The US.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Curious

      Most of these have been addressed elsewhere, but as it is still relevant:

      The manufacturer's claim a years leccy runs ti about £280 at today's money, I assume that will be for 10,000 miles a year. Obviously as YMMV then YMMV. This works out at something like 3p per mile. Compare a 35mpg petrol car costing about 16.5p per mile or £1650 pr year. Or half that for a hybrid like a Prius.

      You will never get true CO2 figures for either ICE or leccy cars. Your petrol CO2 figures don't consider all the factors like drilling, transporting, processing, delivery to stations etc. and neither will your leccy generators. However a reasonably widely held view is that leccy from an oil fired station is about half as polluting as using it directly in an ICE. Coal is a bit worse than oil, renewables are a pipe-dream and nuclear is either very clean or very bad depending on your personal view.

      battery production is another hot topic. However it seems reasonable to assume that pretty much all cars will go at least hybrid soon enough (along with everything else that uses batteries - which is pretty much everything) so singling out leccy cars alone is not entirely fair.

      There are no comparable diesel cars (none will run on electricity, none have a range limited to 100 miles and none can give you 3p/mile running costs) however something like a Polo Bluemotion is about £16k.

      Ah running costs, outside of the London Congestion Zone the above Polo will cost something like £1000 (600 fuel, 150 service, 200 parking etc sundries) more per year to run than a Leaf, inside the LCZ it will cost more like £3000 a year more (as before but with £10 * 200 working days of congestion charges - parking may well cost a lot more on top).

      Given an initial purchase saving of £10k this gives you a ROI of 10 years outside the congestion zone and 3 years within. Not including a replacement battery and with no comparable data on residual trade-in costs.

      Hope this helps.

    3. Michael C

      Short answers

      I could go into lost of details, but i'll try to keep this short. (not that it;s brief).

      1) if you drive an average 250mi/wk (12K per year), a common hybrid or micro diesel pushes that on about 5 gallons (US) of gas, or about $18-20US per week. The leaf uses 30-32KWh to charge from dead empty (but it never really can be now can it) and given the last 10% of the charge is hardest, you'll get about 33-35KHw average per 100 mile equiv charge, so ~100Kwh/week, ballpark US at $0.10/kwh = ~ $10/week, or about half the price of gas in a comparable small hybrid car assuming a 12K mile annual driving habbit. Because of summer and winter (mostly winter) inefficiencies, you can reliably trust the car only 70-80 miles a day unless you can charge while at work so keep that in mind.

      2) CO2. Pretty much the simple answer is, unless more than 50% of your power comes from renewable sources, it is NOT greener. Wells to wheels figures put oil at about 23lbs CO2 per gallon (19lbs is from burning it, the rest refining, mining, transport is a small part of the total). Coal is 2.1lbs/kwh just burned. Mining, storage, and transport is actually WORSE than oil (oil is mostly pipe-lined, coal has to be manually moved in fuel burning vehicles, and drilling vs mining, mining is also worse). Natural Gas makes 1.9lbs CO2/kwh. 56% power from coal, 20% from natural gas, just combustion, you;re at about 1.5lbs/kwh. 150lbs a week, give or take your region. This does NOT include transmission losses (but the roughly 33KWh figure /100 miles above does), and does not including mining/refining. 5 gallons of gas = 100lbs CO2 (+ mining refining) and electricity = 150 (plus mining and transport). That's just CO2... Sulfur, Mercury, and other hazardous EPA managed output from fossil fuel electric generation is about 3-6 TIMES as high in an EV than burning even diesel fuel.

      The environmental impact of an EV is much heavier than a standard car. By some estimates, building a car is half or more of all of its CO2 output it will ever have. I don't know if I buy it, but an EV is more impact as making those batteries, and the rare earths in the motors is higher than the impact of a block of iron for an ICE. By how much? VERY hard to tell.

      A comparable micro-diesel, with similar interior room, and driving performance, is about $7-15K less than an EV (depending on subsidy, and considdering some microdiesels and hybrids get their own subsidies too). Odds are, at even twice the driving range (pushing an EV to it;s theoretical max per week given charging times), gas prices have to go over $6 within your first 3 years of ownership, and continue to rise to $8/gallon inside 7 years, while energy prices stay the same (unlikely), in order to break even. This does not take into account higher insurance on EVs, and higher repair bills, nor that battery swap every 10 years... They will also likely depreciate in value VERY fast as newer battery tech and better systems are coming out rapidly (current EVs will be obsolete in 5-7 years, replaced by MUCH better ones, and battery prices are falling by as much as 25% a year. buying an EV for economic reasons is not sound. buying an EV for environmental reasons is not sound (unless you live where more than 50% of power is from solar/wind/water).

      There's a lot of fuzzy math, and a lot of FUD out there. One thing to keep in mind, that EV, it uses as much as half a common house in power every month (or more) per car. We can afford a 1-2% increase in total grid output in the USA right now, and power capacity is not expected to dramatically improve for 5-10 years. That means 1 in 75 houses can have an EV, and even this is limited to areas not already strained by underdeveloped power (California, southeast USA, etc).

      They ARE the future, but we're not in the future yet. EV development has to continue, and to do that they need SOME of the cars to sell, a small number, governmet subsidized. In 20 years we might be able to start selling them in masse, but for now only confused greens and misled people believe they're doing something good by buying one (other than supporting a growing economy).

  3. Fuzz

    mini ≠ Cinquecento

    Cinquecento is tiny, mini is huge, but I agree with the sentiment. Why bother making an electric car big and comfortable when it can only go 110 miles. Until we can get 200 miles from a 30 minute charge they will remain play things for rich families who don't need two cars but have them anyway.

    1. yoinkster

      30 minutes? Really?

      My car takes me all of 5 minutes to refill with and pay for petrol. Mine is a particularly inefficient car but I still get 300 miles out of my tank.

      Electric cars must start to get near that, being able to be charged (as good as) anywhere in the country is vital and not have its range massively affected by driving faster and more aggressively is also important. The difference between driving my car like an old granny and driving like I stole it for a whole tank is about 30 or 40 miles, driving an electric car aggressively shunts it down to a pathetic range.

      Personally, I don't think they'll ever be anything more than toys to the deluded.

    2. Ian Yates


      I'd argue 5 minute charge would be the upper limit to being a true mass-market product. I can't see owners nor forecourts being happy for people to sit around for 30 minutes.

      If the charge was only a few minutes, 110 mile range would be livable.

      Actually, I take that back; I'm sure Thingy Bean cafe will love having people around with nothing else to do.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        depends on the cost of fuel vs cost of electicity

        if you can't afford to run a petrol car then an electric one will become much more attractive.

        1. Code Monkey

          In the future, yes

          For now if you can't afford to run a petrol car you certainly can't afford a £20k+ for a small hatchback.

      2. mmiied


        and I bet when petrol cars where first out all the pepol how had horses said that having all that flamable petrolum sprit arpound the stable was a fire hazzard (probley not give the times but) diffrent tyoes of transport will give diffrent thougts. for an example pepol with electric cars will get used to puluging them in every time they part in a carpark then 30 mins charge seams resionable (most pepol want a brake after neally 100 miles drive)

    3. Frank Bough


      ...the point is so you could carry some passengers? Maybe I could put my two kids (in their massive childseats) in the back? Just a thought. Give thinking a try.

    4. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Sounds like the Tesla S is almost there

      The base model will have a 260 km range with other models having 370 and 480 km ranges. Charging times will be 3 to 5 hours, depending on the battery capacity with a 45-minute QuickCharge will be possible when connected to a 480 V outlet.

      And it looks gorgeous, sort of when Mrs. Jaguar loved Mr. Mondeo very much indeed...

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down


    Looks more like a Micra that's in the process of being taken up the arse by a Lancia to me.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    1.5 tonnes??

    Someone may tell me it is something to do with necessary safety features or something, but surely this is a joke?

    You make a car to be economical and you want it to be as light as possible. The fact it isn't shows that they do know the target market. The people who can afford these vehicles, and indeed use them, are people who live in places like London. Journeys being relatively small and to be rather cynical, showing just how much they are 'green'. In these cases they want comfort. It is the new Hemp Footwear.

    If you were serious about electric vehicles, then how about a small and lightweight that will at least gain another third in range? Admittedly this won't help the School Run Brigade, which the space of the Leaf seems to cater for.

    I would also like to see the supposed effort involved in producing something like this compared to a similar specced low emission diesel.

    As it stands, i am all for investigation into electric motoring. But a run of 500 isn't helping R&D into this, that is done by the boffin who love hackery. It is a statement. It is saying "Me Too - I make millions out of oil burners - but I care sooo much about the environment that I will make this token gesture - but you have to live in a certain spot and have so much money first"....

    Care about the environment? Do something about the school runs, buses, cycling, if it isn't "safe" then lobby for it to be safe. Don't make empty gestures....Imagine if a company like nissan made an electric bus, specifically designed to ferry kids?

    I am not blaming nissan or the others. they only seem to pander to what the people currently "like" and twitter about and after all, they are a business. I am more annoyed by the attitude people take toward it.

    Maybe I just haven't had enough coffee this morning. Don't get me started on the green impact of supplying coffee beans to IT workers who have nothing better to do than comment on tech sites about things ....blah blah blah blah blah

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it's heavy but

      it's likely mostly battery.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        It's heavy 2/too

        1.5 tons isn't that bad these days.

        A passat is nearly 2 tons, a new BMW 5 series estate is 2.3 tons (but can still manage an incredible 53mpg combined apparently), a Focus is up to 1.4 tons, a Skodia Fabia is 1.1 - 1.25 tons...frankly I think you're lucky if you can get a modern, safety-equiped car *below* a ton these days.

        It doesn't make it right though.

        1. TheRealRoland

          US/Imperial gallon?

          There's a difference between US Gallon and UK/Imperial Gallons... I made that mistake once, but I think I got away with it...

          So maybe instead of using 'gallon', quote in liters per 100 km... Or any of the approved Register Standard Units ;-)

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Weights - so heavy now

          A few of my cars weights

          1978 1.6 hatch with comfy seats and live axle 900kg, similar size cars now up to 500kg heavier, no weight loss, that was how light it was. It had heavy things like a cast iron engine and a live rear axle, metal was a decent thickness but it was so light.

          1988 2.0 executive 1200kg - at the time I had it, same weight as things like Golfs but it was much larger inside.

          2001 V6 executive 1600kg - about 200kg less than the latest direct equivalents, similar weights to cars in up to two groups down market. Similar floor pan to the previous example.

          Even 10 years has made a big difference.

          Where are the light cars with reasonable power outputs, I remember that a 900kg car with over 100bhp was pretty rapid but similar sized cars nowadays need that much power to move themselves.

    2. Frank Bough

      No Diesel is "low emission"

      ...especially in urban driving scenarios. Diesel is poisoning the very air we breathe.

      1. John 62

        Re: No Diesel is "low emission"

        Even with the nice, new particulate-burning and filtering exhausts that Peugeot developed _several years ago_ and almost everyone uses now?

        1. Frank Bough


          Even with those

        2. MJI Silver badge

          They stink

          As above

  6. Anonymous Coward

    One problem....

    ...yes you get a subsidy now, but what about the appaling resale value in 3 / 5 years time when the buyer whacks in the app and find it has only a 20 mile range on a "full" charge?

    Most fossil burners will happily have a lifespan of 10 years+, so is a pretty much scrap* 5 year old leccy car that much more eco friendly?

    * are you willing to pay £ 5 - 10k for a new battery pack on a 5 year old Micra? Nope thought not.

    1. There's a bee in my bot net

      Battery cost per month

      Worst case, if the battery pack costs £10k and lasts 5 years before the range is low enough to need replacing then you are looking at £166 a month.

      I would like to think Li-ion will get significantly cheaper but I doubt it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        remember too

        £166, is far less than one friend spends a month on fuel (he only makes a few mid distance journeys a month) and far less than another spends per month (he commutes a couple of hours each way on a route that doesn't have an efficient public transport set up - one of those "go into london, go across london, and pop back out again routes.)

        But as said the vehicle is only really of use to people doing lots of short trips, and changes in the way society works would be far more useful than an electric car, more bikes, fewer cars, better public transport, more walking, getting the shops to deliver your food too you, etc.

        1. bobbles31

          Your mate by the way....

          Is also paying for servicing plus repairs and replacements, clutches at 100k miles, don't get me started on Dual Mass Flywheels, Batteries, brakes, spark plugs, cam belts and exhaust pipes, to name a few that are found on a petrol/diesel and not on a leccy tech.

          Suddenly that £165 per month cost for a battery doesn't look so disproportionate, no doubt the city will come up with insurance schemes to replace them when they fail at a mere £35 per month.

  7. TheProf

    Brum brum hum hum

    "..... run up to to the Peak District for the weekend. But you can't, of course - it's too far away."

    You're wrong. According to Google maps I could drive there and back.

    More accuracy in your reviews please.

    1. Chris 244

      More accuracy in your comments please

      The Reg UK editorial office is located at 22 Glasshouse St, Westminster. According to Google mpas, there to Chatsworth ("one of Britain’s best loved historic houses and estates") is brum brum hum hum 157 miles. Maximum range of the Leaf is 138 miles (at 38mph on a cool day with AC off), but more like 70 miles if driving to Peaks District (55 mph on a hot day with AC).

      On the plus side, adding a bit of walking to your weekend trip will be excellent for your health.

      1. TheProf

        I was spot on

        Ah, I should have added that I live in Liverpool. 108 miles return.

  8. Richard Fletcher

    Peak Disctict.

    I can walk there in 2 hours, so it's not "too far away" for me. And I live in central sheffield, and with Manchester on the other side of the peaks, there's probably a couple of million for whom the range would do that.

    Anyway, aren't we running out of Lithium yet?

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Just buy a hybrid. No range problems, no recharge problems and, primarily because of their ability to make use of the over run and trailing throttle conditions to recharge their batteries, the most efficient petrol cars ever. Diesels of course will shortly be dead in the water, killed by emission regulations.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I'll take the cynical hat off

    Ignoring the problem with electric cars using power taken from burning fossil fuels, and the blatant fact that we don't have the capacity in the electric grid to run a country full of electric cars...

    £30k (-£5k from the tax payer) for a frickin Nissan Almera / Fat Micra. I could actually use this car to commute to work, and charge it over night in the garage. I genuinely could use it day to day. But £25 frickin grand!

    I can buy a new diesel Citroen C3 for £11k. Quality would be on a par and you can buy a lot of diesel for £14k even at today's prices.

    An electric car right now needs to be cheaper than a petrol/diesel to make up for the shortcomings of range and lack of availability (it needs to charge).

    If I had £25k to spare on a car I'd be getting a year old diesel Audi/BMW.

  11. Miek

    Fugly like the new micras

    I feel sick

  12. Steve Crook

    Where's your drive...

    For me the key point in the article is the point about recharging. If you don't have somewhere off road to overnight charge then the vehicle is useless. This is going to be an issue for widespread adoption of electric vehicles. Closely followed by insufficient capacity in the electricity generating network if we build the infrastructure to recharge them.

  13. Andy Scott

    Idea from a Bike

    It may sound daft, but why don't the fit dynamo's to a couple of wheels and get the power from that to charge the batteries on the go?

    1. David Gosnell


      And where exactly would that energy come from? Perpetual motion here we come!

      This does have regenerative braking, which exploits that idea during deceleration, the time when otherwise energy would be being utterly wasted.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re Idea from a Bike

      What a great idea - I think you may have invented perpetual motion sir!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      In general you will have 2 types of leccy car owners - those who live in the city and those who live out of the city. Most city dwellers don't have the means to charge the car themselves but they do on average 25 miles per day and so only need to charge up once or twice a week. Others will probably need to charge daily but are far more likely to have access to a garage or similar.

      So the solution is to charge up at a communal area - it is very likely that your average supermarket will start providing leccy charge points once leccy cars take off. 30 minutes to do your shopping seems reasonable so no need for overnight parking there.

      Many workplaces / multi-storey car parks will also start providing charging facilities - works for the green cred and car parks as both a USP and for the extra moneys.

      Leccy cars are not there yet, but they are a lot closer than the doomsayers are trying to make out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        so it takes you 4.5 hours to do your weekly shopping!

        It wouldn't fit in this thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @AC 12:07

          No it takes 30 minutes. Try reading what you are commenting on.

          Everyone agrees that fast chargers will charge leccy cars to 80% in about 30 minutes.

          I have no idea where you got the 4.5 hours thing from, but it isn't from me - do please try to keep up.

    4. L.B


      because even Homer Simpson is smart enought to know:

      "In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"

    5. A handle is required
      Thumb Up


      I always thought that lithium was a renewable resource...


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