Last September, the same week as International Drive Electric Week, Japanese automaker Nissan unveiled a new, higher-capacity battery pack for the Nissan LEAF electric car. Capable of storing 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity inside the same physical space taken up by the 24 kWh battery pack the Nissan LEAF had shipped with since its debut in 2011, the new battery pack brought with it a new EPA-approved range of 107 miles per charge, giving the family-friendly hatchback a real-world range above 100 miles for the first time in its history.
Optional in some markets on higher-end trim models and standard in the U.S. on the Nissan LEAF SL and Nissan LEAF SV trim models, the 30 kWh battery pack has quickly become the standard battery pack of choice for most Nissan LEAF customers, with only base-level models continuing with the smaller, 84-mile 24kWh battery pack.
But as our eagle-eyed friends at GreenCarReports noticed this week, Nissan has quietly removed the 24 kWh battery pack from the entry-level 2016 Nissan LEAF S, shipping all LEAF trim levels in the U.S. with the larger 30 kWh battery pack. This also increases the price of the entry-level Nissan LEAF S to $32,450 before any incentives are applied.
Reaching out to Nissan North America for confirmation, we were told by Nissan’s communications team that the “running change” to the 2016 Nissan LEAF S was made to allow it to offer “best-in-class range across all trim levels for LEAF.”
“Additionally, all 2016 Nissan LEAF S vehicles equipped with the 30-kWh battery pack will also come with the Quick Charge Package as a standard feature,” Nissan representative Paige Presley confirmed in the same email to us this afternoon.
For those wanting an entry-level LEAF, it’s good news to know that the base-model LEAF now comes with a 30 kWh battery pack and CHAdeMO DC quick charge capability (as well as 6.6 kW charger) as standard. But while Nissan says there are some 2016 Nissan LEAFs still in inventory with the smaller 24 kWh battery pack, we’re not sure how many customers would opt for the lower-spec model just to save a few thousand off list price.
Interestingly, the change is so new that it isn’t reflected at the time of writing on Nissan’s website, where you can see the old Nissan LEAF S advertised for $29,010 before incentives. Given that the Quick Charge Package alone added $1,770 to the price of that older model Nissan LEAF S, we think the new pricing of $32,450 is great value considering the 6 kWh (and 23-mile) increase in capacity and range.
Curious, we asked Nissan if there were any other additional changes between the previous Nissan LEAF S and the new 30 kWh model, specifically concerning the car’s on-board heating system. Given that Nissan SV and Nissan SL models had both the larger-capacity 30 kWh battery pack and a heat pump HVAC system for the cabin, we wondered if the increase in battery capacity would also come with a more efficient heating system for Nissan LEAF S customers. Sadly however, Nissan has confirmed that the entry-level Nissan LEAF S retains the less efficient resistive heater, despite the improved battery pack.
As for retrofits? Given that Nissan appears to no-longer be making the smaller-capacity 24 kWh LEAF battery pack, we asked Nissan if customers would be able to have their cars upgraded form a 24 kWh battery pack to a 30 kWh battery pack when their car’s original pack had reached the end of its useful life.
While Nissan was unable to give an official statement at this time, we were told that while older generation LEAFs are currently unable to be retrofitted with the new 30 kWh battery pack, Nissan plans to “continue to evaluate the ability to make this option available for our customers.”
In other words, while it’s not a top priority for the automaker right now, Nissan is also not closing the door on older LEAF customers. Given that rival automaker BMW is offering just such a battery pack upgrade program for BMW i3 customers in certain markets (not the U.S., however) we’re hopeful that Nissan will follow suit to enable older model LEAFs to continue to remain useful for decades to come.
Do you think Nissan’s decision to switch to 30 kWh batteries across the LEAF range is a smart thing to do? Are you worried about the small price increase? And do you think the entry-level LEAF will continue to be good value for money in the face of longer-range cars like the Chevrolet Bolt EV?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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