Let’s just get one thing straight for a start. Electric cars are here to stay. Fact. The dwindling few who still refuse to accept the arrival of the green revolution on our roads have either been living in a different galaxy for the past three years or have some serious denial issues. If you fit in to either of these categories, you should probably seek help (or preferably the next bus back to planet earth). To prove just how far along the line we have come since the early days, the car that many sight as the first genuinely credible mainstream EV, capable of meeting the demands of day-to-day use, has been revamped and recharged by Nissan.
Two years after its initial launch, the Nissan Leaf is about to enter the second generation. The 2011 model took the emerging eco-market market by storm, quickly becoming the world’s best-selling pure electric car. It was also the first mainstream electric car that did not induce regular fits of vomiting when spotted between the hours of 7am and 8pm.
At first sight, the all-new 2013 Leaf doesn’t exactly appear all that new. It retains essentially all of its predecessor’s exterior styling, including the trademark bulging headlamps. However, Nissan have carried out a fair amount of spring cleaning in key areas. First and foremost, the already respectable 109 mile range of the old Leaf has been enhanced, with the new version now squeezing up to 124 miles from a single charge of its 48-module lithium-ion batteries. Aside from ‘range anxiety’, the other well-known scourge of the EV enthusiast, charging time, has been cut drastically in the 2013 Leaf. What used to be a thumb-twiddling eight hour wait for a full recharge has now been chopped to just four hours thanks to the welcome addition of a new 6.6kW on board unit capable of harnessing the power of the latest generation 32amp chargers. As before, you can ask Nissan to install one of these handy contraptions in the comfort of your own home, whilst many public charging points of this kind are already popping up in towns and cities.
One criticism of the original Leaf was its relatively snug luggage compartment, but by moving the charger to the front of the car, Nissan have conjured up an extra 40 litres of boot space, by our calculations enough for at least a weeks-worth of free range celery. This adjustment also allows for a roomier, more practical cabin with improved legroom in the rear. Elsewhere, buyers can now choose from three trim levels, the highest of which comes with leather seats and 17-inch alloys as standard, along with other goodies such as Nissan’s Around View Monitor system.
On the road too, the new Leaf promises a more friendly driving experience, thanks to re-engineered chassis, steering and brakes especially with Europe in mind.
The second generation Leaf will start production this spring and should hit showrooms before the end of the year. It is, however, by no means the only EV plan in the pipeline for Nissan, as rumours abound of a suited-and-booted electric model from their luxury division Infiniti within the next couple of years. Let’s hope by that time the remaining non-believers among us will have at least acknowledged that the EV is no longer the black sheep of the family but in fact the great white hope for the future of motoring.