Home » Nissan Screwed Up With The Leaf And Chevy Succeeded With The Bolt: The Loyalty Data Proves It

Nissan Screwed Up With The Leaf And Chevy Succeeded With The Bolt: The Loyalty Data Proves It

Leaf Tmd
ADVERTISEMENT

There is not always glory in being first. The Betamax famously beat the VHS to market, but the VHS format prevailed. The Nissan Leaf went on sale before the Tesla Model S and, yet, people who buy Leafs seem to want little to do with Nissan next time they buy a car according to recent data. At the same time, Chevy Bolt buyers seem to love the Chevy Bolt and want to keep buying them, which makes GM’s (now reversed) decision to kill the model extremely shortsighted. Of course, Tesla buyers love Tesla and seem to want nothing else.

On paper, the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf are strikingly similar vehicles. Both are entry-level electric hatchbacks designed to offer decent range for most people at a reasonable price. Looking at return-to-market data (I’ll explain more on that in a bit) I was struck by the notion that the Nissan Leaf would have been better off with no second generation and the Chevy Bolt badly deserves one. This isn’t a crazy idea as many rational* people probably feel this way, but it’s always nice to have data to support a feeling.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day, y’all. On this episode of The Morning Dump we’ll dive deep into electric vehicle loyalty data, take a lap through the UAW’s recent strike moves, dip our toes in Hyundai’s tactical retreat in China, and skim the surface of Renault’s move across the pond.

*rational means they agree with me.

Loyalty Data Shows How Much Nissan Screwed Up With The Leaf, GM Succeeded With The Bolt

2023 Bolt Ev Side Profile While Driving On An Urban City Street

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s remarkable how far the Nissan Leaf has fallen from grace. It was the first true mass-market electric car and, though its sub-100-mile range was not ideal, it had the general idea correct. It was affordable. It looked pretty much like a car. It had a lithium-ion battery. Then the Tesla Model S came out with three times the range and everyone quickly realized what an electric car could be. Still, the Leaf had the advantage of being the only other competitor to Tesla for a while and of being significantly cheaper. Not since the 1993 Houston Oilers has a group of people blown such a huge lead.

Last week I attended a virtual summit on vehicle loyalty held by information services provider S&P Global that used a mix of its own data and data from credit reporting firm TransUnion. The company allowed me to share this data. A lot of the topline information was not a huge surprise (you can read about it here), with loyalty for automotive brands holding fairly steady:

The industry’s brand loyalty rate of 50.6% was identical to the same period in 2022, despite a 7% increase in return-to-market volume among consumers. The lack of change in loyalty is a positive sign for the industry, which had been facing sharp decreases in loyalty due to pandemic-related inventory shortages.

[…]

“The last few years have shown that if a consumer has a need for a certain type of vehicle, they are not going to wait for their preferred brand to supply it,” said Tom Libby, associate director for loyalty solutions and industry analysis at S&P Global Mobility. “This has opened the door for more brands to capture market share from traditional leaders. Years of investment in quality and technology among the industry has evened the playing field, and we are seeing some of the smaller brands take advantage of that.”

A quick review of terms is probably necessary here. Loyalty in this sense refers to a customer buying another car/replacing their car and either buying the same model, make, or manufacturer (e.g. a Toyota Prius owner who next buys a Lexus RX is not model or make loyal, but is loyal to the manufacturer). Return-to-market is pretty much exactly what it sounds like with buyers coming back to buy vehicles.

Tesla is the overall leader, both as a brand and with their models. Tesla buyers come back 68.4% of the time, with Model 3 owners having a 74% loyalty rate (because they mostly upgrade to Model Ys). Here’s the first chart I want to show because it gives you a great idea of what kind of vehicles are popular (trucks) and how well they do:

Screen Shot 2023 10 09 At 9.02.56 Am

ADVERTISEMENT

There are two standouts to me here. First, Bolt buyers (especially when changes to Inflation Reduction Act rules made them suddenly cheaper) come back to the Bolt. Second, Lincoln owners seem to buy Lincolns again when they return to the market, but I’m going to focus on the Bolt. This data is through April 2023 so the Inflation Reduction Act likely explains some of the Bolt’s advantage.

Here’s another chart that tells a similar story, this time comparing when buyers of five popular models dispose of their vehicles, i.e. they aren’t buying a second vehicle but replacing their original vehicle. You can also see how many (in blue) vehicles are being disposed of and where buyers go:

Screen Shot 2023 10 09 At 9.06.54 Am

If you own a Bolt and are getting rid of it, the odds are great that you’re buying another Chevy product. That’s true for Mach-E buyers as well. The Nissan Leaf, though? Ouch. An owner disposing of a Leaf is almost as likely to purchase a Tesla, even though S&P data shows that they were increasing their monthly payment by 71% to buy a Model Y and 36% to buy a Model 3 (by comparison, the average Bolt buyer saves about 1.1% getting a new Bolt and only pays a 58.2% average premium to step up to a Model Y). I have a feeling this is going to be even more pronounced as Tesla continues to cut prices.

Here’s another way to look at it below. This chart shows that non-Tesla EV owners are generally a little less likely to purchase another product from the same manufacturer than are non-EV owners of that same brand. This is extremely true for Nissan, which is purging Leaf owners and losing them to other brands. The Chevy Bolt is the exact opposite. Bolt owners are more likely to buy another Chevy product, though just slightly less likely to defect to another GM brand than the average Chevy owner.

ADVERTISEMENT

Screen Shot 2023 10 09 At 9.11.51 Am

Again, none of this is hugely surprising, though the extent of the problem for Nissan (and the opportunity for GM) is greater than I’d have imagined. We purchased a $2,000 Nissan Leaf in good shape, mostly because its battery is so bad. I can’t wait for us to go deeper into the design of the Leaf.

What does this ultimately all mean?

The Nissan Leaf Should Have Been Scrapped Or Replaced Earlier

The Nissan Leaf was not a bad attempt at an electric car and had a significant first-mover advantage. Even with Tesla debuting a superior product, Nissan’s huge price advantage (a Model S was almost twice as expensive when it debuted) left a lot of the market available to them. Though the Leaf saw many upgrades over its lifetime, it could never close the gap with other products and left room for the Model 3 and Bolt to enter the market and conquest buyers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Additionally, while the Nissan Ariya seems like a fine electric car (I haven’t driven it yet), it debuted way too late to capture Nissan Leaf buyers and offers no obvious advantages over the competition. Leaf buyers have clearly stayed in the EV market, but when they do they tend to buy anything but a Nissan. The Leaf is dead and Nissan is probably better for it.

Sunsetting The Bolt Name Would Have Been A Huge Mistake

Hindsight is important when judging GM’s decisions related to the Bolt. The company correctly predicted that there would be a market for cheaper EVs with better-than-Leaf performance and built a very good product with a flawed battery pack that had a bad habit of catching on fire, necessitating GM to replace basically every Bolt battery (or upgrade software). Did the association of the Bolt with fires convince some C-suiters that it would be better to leave the name behind? Maybe. At the same time, GM thought it would be back in the market soon enough with Ultium-based products like the Equinox to capture Bolt buyers. That didn’t happen.

Instead, Ultium-based vehicles have seen production delays and Congress out-of-nowhere passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which suddenly lopped the price of the Chevy Bolt significantly (GM had run out of old tax credits) and made it an extremely attractive alternative to the Model 3 on price alone. GM has learned its lesson and un-cancelled the Bolt, but it’s not clear when an Ultium-based Bolt is going to actually make it to the market.

UAW Rejects Mack Trucks Contract, Pauses Other Strikes

Screen Shot 2023 10 06 At 2.18.01 Pm

ADVERTISEMENT

The above is a real screenshot from Friday’s strike update that I took because, frankly, it made me laugh. I think that Shawn Fain is partially trolling here, but the degree to which he’s trolling is extremely debatable.

Either way, here are the most important updates on the UAW strike from a couple of sources:

Automotive News: UAW declines to expand strike, citing major movement in Detroit 3 bargaining

Three weeks into its strike against the Detroit 3, the UAW signaled for the first time that contract talks with all three automakers had achieved major progress and chose not to send more workers onto picket lines.

Ford Motor Co. has increased its wage increase offer to 23 percent, which would bring workers near $40 per hour by 2027, and offered to give new hires top pay after three years instead of eight. Both Stellantis and Ford have agreed to reinstate a 2007 cost-of-living adjustment formula.

General Motors, according to the union, has agreed to put electric vehicle battery production under the terms of the national contract — a key priority that has so far tripped up talks with Ford.

Reuters: UAW workers reject Mack Trucks contract, will strike

Union workers at Volvo Group-owned (VOLVb.ST) Mack Trucks overwhelmingly rejected a proposed five-year contract deal and will go on strike at 7 a.m. (1100 GMT) on Monday, the United Auto Workers said late on Sunday.

About 73% of workers voted against the deal covering 4,000 workers in Pennsylvania, Florida and Maryland, the UAW said.

The proposed deal had included a 19% pay hike, a $3,500 ratification bonus, improved retirement benefits, additional vacation for some employees and a reduction in the time needed to get to top pay.

Automotive News: Strip club, weed shops offer UAW discounts

ADVERTISEMENT

A Michigan strip club and several cannabis dispensaries are offering big discounts to UAW members while they’re on strike against the Detroit 3.

Dream Girls Detroit, which bills itself as the “Motor City’s premier topless entertainment mecca,” is admitting UAW members age 21 or older for free as long as the strike lasts.

“We’re built on the blue-collar working man. The middle class is the bread and butter of the United States,” owner Holly Johnson told Fox 2 in Detroit. “As a local business owner I’m happy to be one of the first to step up and say we have to do something, we have to show a little bit of respect back.”

Pure Michigan.

Anyone Want To Buy A Hyundai Plant In China?

Elantra China

The dream of non-Chinese automakers being able to print money in China is pretty much over. It was a good run folks. Other than Tesla and certain premium/luxury/exotic manufacturers, automakers have been beaten up there as of late.

Another sign it’s not a desirable market to enter: Reuters just reported that Hyundai had to drop the price of their Chongqing plant by about 30%.

Beijing Hyundai Motor is selling the land use rights, equipment and other facilities belonging to its plant as the South Korean automaker rejigs its strategy in China amid fierce price competition and slowing demand. The original asking price was 3.68 billion yuan, and the statement did not give a reason for the reduction.

Hyundai did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The Chongqing plant started production in 2017 with an annual capacity of 300,000 cars, and the decision to sell it came after Hyundai said in June that it would further restructure its China business to focus on profitability.

As the poet wrote: The world never goes back to the way it was, that’s just not something the world does.

Renault Has Just The Car For Struggling Brits

Small 20882 Newclioe Techfullhybrid

ADVERTISEMENT

The economy in Britain right now is, uh, real bad. Now there’s a war in the Middle East and all sorts of uncertainty. Who is coming to the rescue? France! Renault just revealed a cheaper, pure-petrol Renault Clio that’ll start at just $22,000 (pictured is the hybrid version).

The new Clio TCe 90 is powered by an efficient three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine capable of returning up to 54.3mpg. Priced from just £17,795, it’s not only some £1,300 cheaper than the model it replaces, it’s also up to £3,000 less than its direct competitors.

In response to its enhanced quality levels and generous specification, industry specialists CAP have calculated that the new Clio TCe 90 will retain up to 58% of its value after 3 years/30,000 miles, a significant uplift over its predecessor.

For even more efficiency, customers can opt for the new Clio E-Tech full hybrid, which emits as little as 96g/km CO2, returns up to 67.3mpg (WLTP) and provides a range of up to 550 miles. The petrol/electric version is available on Personal Contract Hire at £229 per month.

Thanks, France!

The Big Question

If you’re the CEO of Nissan, what do you do with this information?

Popular Stories

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
89 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
9 months ago

That Clio would make for a lovely Sentra/Leaf replacement. Just rebadge it and call it a day.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
9 months ago

Hmmm. If I were CEO of Nissan, I guess I would commit financial crimes in Japan and get smuggled to Lebanon in an instrument case.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
9 months ago

> If you’re the CEO of Nissan, what do you do with this information?

I print it out and shove it in a keyboard flight case for safekeeping.

Ron888
Ron888
9 months ago

How can you talk about the Bolt that way without mentioning GM lost money on every one! Journalism this bad is cringey.

But i like the asterisk.Solid humor that

Torque
Torque
9 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

That’s a big part of the problem…
No auto maker outside of Tesla, BYD and Alion are actually making Any profit on their EVs. For every other auto maker the question is How Much money they are Loosing on Ever EV sold.

P161911
P161911
9 months ago

What isn’t taken into account is how many Leaf owners were like me. In 2014/5 it was basically free to get a 2 year lease on a new Leaf in Georgia with the $7500 tax rebate. I believe that Georgia was the number 1 or 2 Leaf market. Without that incentive I would have never considered a Leaf. Looked at a Soul EV, but they were about $100/month more. The Leaf lease was replaced by purchasing a used 2014 Chevy Volt.
One of my biggest automotive regrets is not buying the Leaf outright. The dealership had a one weekend deal where for $6400 I could have gotten out of the lease and owned the Leaf outright with only about 20k miles on it. They were getting so many lease turn ins that they couldn’t find a place to put them all.

Kyle Finke
Kyle Finke
9 months ago

How crazy is it that GM completely botched the Bolt recall, changed their mind on battery replacements, and still folks are coming back for more? Must be the amazing dealers you have to go through…

ProfPlum
ProfPlum
9 months ago
Reply to  Kyle Finke

I’ve never driven one, but I’ve talked to Bolt owners a few times when I’ve charged my EV at a station. They just like the car; they seem to be “a car takes me from A to B” people. Many said the price is right, it is easy to park, and most seem to be used for local or short trips.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Just gonna post my points;
1. Betamax was also far superior but lost because of the way they marketed it. Limited who could use their format wanted to do a Microsoft.
2. Your loyalty section that people won’t wait for preferred brand to supply needed vehicle is why I said weeks ago any non union plant ramp it up, any free funds invest in non union.
3.Bolt VS Nissan buy the Nissan or wait a year for no Bolt.
4. The problem with a dedicated site, even one as glorious as this is it doesn’t look at anything outside of its genre. And the China Economy is about to collapse. I am talking The Great Depression collapse. Due to billions invested by the Chinese government to prop up speculation in the world wide housing market. Just one company Expelleron or something like it has an 18 billion dollar hole. It can’t renegotiate because the Chinese government caught it lieing and cheating. But every other high volume Chinese housing investment company is billions over invested. Their housing market is hundreds of billions under water and they can’t support it any longer and they certainly don’t have money to support the car manufacturers. They will be screwed not making and not buying cars by January 2024.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Betamax was not far superior, it was at most a very slight improvement in image quality that wasn’t noticeable on consumer model TVs of the era, and at the least, dead even with VHS. It lost out for very good reasons, mainly recording time, but also the restrictive approach to the intellectual property

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I bow to your knowledge just got mine from an old mag.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I think the notion comes from very early on – the original playback speed of Beta did have slightly better image quality than the original VHS SP (but not enough to be noticeable on a typical consumer TV, so it wasn’t really much of feature), however, Sony quickly introduced a slower speed setting to better counter the longer play time of VHS, which degraded Beta’s picture quality, and, eventually, they started removing the original speed setting from their players entirely, making the slower speed the new standard setting, which was effectively at parity in quality. Anyone who really put that much stock in having the best of the best for movies at home was going to be happier with DiscoVision anyway, since that trumped both of them. Unless you wanted to record TV shows to watch later, than VHS was the only rational choice.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

E.g. Japan circa 1992…

Alex Bessinger
Alex Bessinger
9 months ago

As someone who works on EVs for a living, I can definitely say there are some things that Nissan got right with the LEAF. Apart from the Gen 1 2011-2012 models having some issues with onboard chargers, the powertrain on them is rock solid reliable, so it’s pretty rare to have any issues there.

The “Gen 1.5” LEAF starting in 2013 is totally different underneath than the old models, and they have been using mostly the same powertrain ever since (even 10 years later, the LEAF still uses the EM57 motor, just with a more powerful inverter).

It really is disappointing that Nissan never really tried to improve upon the formula they created. It was pretty clear even early on that the LEAF had issues in hot climates, as evidenced by a study performed by Tony Williams in 2012: https://mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?t=10040

Given how good the rest of the car is, if Nissan would have just invested a bit into the platform say around 2015 to give it a liquid cooled battery, it would probably be a much more popular option these days. Back in 2017-2018 it was even rumored that the upcoming LEAF Plus would have liquid cooling for it’s 62kWh battery, but that never came to pass.

Unfortunately it seems Nissan has relegated the LEAF to die on the vine, and it will not live to see another generation, nor will they ever have access to CCS or NACS (at least not with any help from Nissan, though 3rd party options my become available).

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago
Reply to  Alex Bessinger

Is there any way for someone to efficiently retrofit a liquid cooling system to a Leaf?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I suspect that doing that would require a redesign of the pack as well as changes to the car itself to enable the mounting of a radiator and related liquid cooling bits.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago

Which begs the question éternelle:

How Hard Can It Be?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

From an engineering perspective, probably not hard.

From a company beancounter approval perspective, probably Very Hard.. “The battery design lasts long enough for the warranty to expire… in most cases. It’s cheaper to leave it as-is. Our brand/vehicle reputation and image has no value anyway”

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
9 months ago

Funny how everyone else somehow figured it out. Even Fiat.

Come on Nissan, are you gonna get shown up by FIAT?

Last edited 9 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Myk El
Myk El
9 months ago

Same thing I’d always do as CEO of Nissan. Use the partnership with Renault to get the Alpine A110 approved for sale in the USA, badge it as an Infiniti, get mine and quit. I know it has nothing to do with the data presented, but I don’t want that job.

M K
M K
9 months ago

If you’re the CEO of Nissan, what do you do with this information?
The right answer is always the same…1) Partner with someone else that can build a good EV, put a Nissan badge on it and a NACS plug. 2) Focus your attention on building the boxy BOF SUV that Land Rover didn’t have the guts to do right. 3) Build a large tower to hold all the gold coins you’ll earn. 4) Swim in gold coins.

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
9 months ago

The new Clio TCe 90 is powered by an efficient three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine capable of returning up to 54.3mpg.

Note, these are likely British gallons which are ~1.2x an American gallon, so this would be equivalent to ~45 mpg. Still pretty good, though.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago

Step 1: Buy a Delorean
Step 2: Add flux capacitor
Step 3: Travel back in time to design meetings for first Leaf
Step 4: Dope slap every idiot who said it was okay to air cool the battery

I’m pretty sure the Leaf single-handedly did permanent harm to consumer sentiment about EVs because the battery degrades so fast.

I say this as someone who briefly considered picking up a Leaf for cheap, but then read the horror stories about battery degradation and realized that an EV which basically can’t travel outside of my city wasn’t going to save many miles on my ICE cars anyway. Yeah, the Leaf was first, but it was also the worst thing to happen to EVs so far. Oh wait, the yoke was briefly a thing…okay, second worst. 😛

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Actually the 1st part of your comment was the most logical in this topic. The 2nd part failed. Now us car fan biological beings research. The majority of buyers put the same amount of research in as they do trying to find the best political candidate. Ads and price and if available it will sell.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Sure, but people being the way they are, if one person gets bitten by a rapidly degrading battery they will tell their friends, and if this happens enough (which it did with the Leaf) then suddenly you’ve poisoned public opinion for a wide swath of the population. No research needed. Word of mouth can be both the best and worst thing for marketing.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

I get you and you aren’t wrong but this is a fitting argument for prior years. Now less than 1% at that time bought EVs. And those early adapters accepted issues. Hey Teslas are still running down EMTs and suffering from spontaneous combustion. The new adapter has no one to discuss. If they did Tesla would have died before solving the problems. If less than 1% own who do ask? But you make good points about nonnew technology.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Yeah, honestly I’m being a little hyperbolic here (an overly extreme opinion on the internet?! Perish the thought!). I do think the Leaf has harmed EV public perception, but it’s probably not the worst thing to happen. The non-Tesla charging networks are also a strong contender there.

Toecutter
Toecutter
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Air cooling the battery is perfectly fine if you’re using the right kind of battery and/or program the inverter’s max current draw keeping the battery’s limitations at high temperatures in mind. Nissan did neither.

Ben
Ben
9 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Maybe so, but AFAIK Nissan is the only one still trying to make it work and so far they’ve failed pretty miserably.

Toecutter
Toecutter
9 months ago
Reply to  Ben

They could use some CALB LiFePO4 batteries, large AH size as a single series string. Hobbyists do it with great success frequently. They may not be a battery 100% optimized for the specs Nissan has in mind(especially packaging requirements), but they do work, with minimal hassle or bullshit. Hobbyists run them for hundreds of thousands of miles without even needing a BMS.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
9 months ago

Cheap used Leaf seems like a fine car for a high school kid to commute to school/job/sports. Any input on which ones to buy?

Chad L
Chad L
9 months ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

It’s the perfect use case for an old, unloved Leaf. Lots of advice on Reddit r/Leaf. I’d recommend a 2015 or newer for a battery/range boost, if it’s in the budget. Avoid cars from hot climates if possible.

Sum Gai
Sum Gai
9 months ago

Happy Columbus Day, Matt!
Leaf owner here – I love this car and will keep it until the wheels fall off.
That said, I think the Leaf is a victim of Ghosn-ism. Carlos Ghosn wanted to increase market share by pumping out as many Altimas and Rogues as possible. This came at the determent of everything else including quality/R&D/design/refresh cycles/etc. His fingerprints are all over Nissan and not just the LEAF. The leaf was more collateral damage if anything.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Regarding Shawn Fain’s sartorial splendor – the unemployed people in downtown Detroit regard autoworkers as “The Rich”. And AOC wore it better.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Not since the 1993 Houston Oilers has a group of people blown such a huge lead

The 2017 Atlanta Falcons might have an argument.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
9 months ago

I would say the gen 2 Leaf needed a liquid-cooled battery, the extended-range model to be standard *at a minimum* and CCS charging.

Everything about the car part of the Leaf 2 makes it a better road-trip car than the Bolt – comfier seats, more trunk room, lower profile – but the EV part of it makes it unroadtrippable.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
9 months ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

With EV conversions being as popular as they are, I wonder how many people have tried to upgrade the batteries in the Leaf? If it’s a decent car aside from the battery, it should make for a better EV conversion than most since it’s already an EV.

Toecutter
Toecutter
9 months ago

The Nissan Leaf would have been a better car if they didn’t at all care about appearance, and went for the lowest drag body that they could. The 2005 Mercedes Bionic had a 0.19 drag coefficient, which is a great starting point for a Leaf-like shape and form factor. The Leaf we got had a 0.28 Cd, which is middling compared to all of the gasoline powered cars sold, and thus its efficiency was also middling as far as EVs go, in spite of being a smaller vehicle.

With a 0.19 Cd value, the Leaf would have had a range increase of more than 25% on the exact same battery, for very little added cost. This would have had the effect of increasing battery life by reducing depth of discharge. Nissan also needed to add some sort of thermal management, due to the type of batteries they chose to use. Alternatively, they could have went with a more robust LiFePO4 chemistry.

Longevity and efficiency were NOT the major design considerations in this car. It was a “compliance car” and it shows.

If I ran Nissan, I’d offer a 3rd generation Leaf, built to be cheaper than the last two, with more range, a smaller battery pack, and with a focus on drag reduction and mass reduction to get that range. Aesthetics would take a much lower priority than a low Cd value. There would even be a stripped-down model intended to compete with the base model Versa. A sub-$20k EV with at least 150 miles range at 70 mph would be the most basic model using a 25 kWh battery, with an optional longer-range 35 kWh battery for 200+ miles range offered near the $25k price point. Even the base model Leaf would accelerate from 0-60 mph faster than the new Nissan Z, in order to broaden its appeal, and the Leaf would now be RWD. The base stripped-down model would be a lightweight car of around 2,500 lbs but the top trim fully loaded model, around 3,000 lbs.

Thevenin
Thevenin
9 months ago

If you’re the CEO of Nissan, what do you do with this information?

I think Nissan should chase the value game. With the Bolt leaving, the Equinox EV being the size of a CR-V, the Kona and Niro outgrowing the size class, the Mini having bad range, and the EX30 being a dark horse with unknown volume, there’s about to be a market vacuum for “affordable barebones EV hatchback.”

My strategy is simple: put the smaller 63kWh Ariya drivetrain in the Leaf. The 63kWh Ariya has low range and charging for a crossover, but in a Leaf has ⅔ the consumption. Back-of-the-napkin calcs tell me this would have around 250 miles and 6 miles/minute charging, which blows subcompact EVs like the Kona out of the water and even puts flagships like the Mach-E to shame.

Don’t bother with features. People don’t love the Bolt for its comfort or tech, they love it for what it can do at that price. Vehicle to grid? Forget it, we don’t need science experiments. ProPilot? How about NoPilot. Massive touchscreen? Nah, just raid the parts bin from the Kicks. Lean into utilitarianism, not minimalism.

The New Leaf would not need to be attention-grabbing, because at $35k it’ll undercut anything it can’t outperform — doubly so if you bring production stateside. Have a promotional event where you drive one coast to coast to prove to the EV nerds that the thermal management issues are gone. Market it as “America’s best-selling economy EV, now with NACS charging and an all-new battery!”

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
9 months ago
Reply to  Thevenin

Agreed. Nissan is already known as a bargain brand, so this would just make sense. I was looking at buying a leaf pre-covid just because of the price point, DESPITE it being a Nissan. I also have a couple friends who own them and really like them for short around-town stuff.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
9 months ago

Anecdotal, but I had a former coworker with a first-gen Bolt and a friend with a second-gen Leaf. The Bolt owner had nothing but praise for the Bolt, and eventually replaced it with a Bolt EUV. The Leaf owner liked the car at first, but found CHAdeMO to be a huge hurdle to charging when out and about, and then the battery started losing capacity at an alarming rate and the car was replaced by an ICE vehicle (I think a Corolla, if memory serves). As others have commented, Nissan simply missed the boat on updating the Leaf as requirements changes and new competition emerged.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
9 months ago

“the Nissan Leaf would have been better off with no second generation”

I agree with this statement. I own a 2016 Leaf and I love that car. It is a great car for the purpose it intended to serve and the era in which it was released. I always saw the first-generation Leaf as a proof of concept and not an attempt to build an EV to compete with ICE vehicles.

The second-generation Leaf seemed like a phoned-in effort at best. That Nissan equipped it with a CHAdeMO charger tells you all you need to know. CHAdeMo chargers were being phased out when these cars were new. Today, it is very hard to find a CHAdeMO equipped fast charger, and almost impossible to find one that works. Nissan built a Leaf with a bigger battery, but who cares? You still couldn’t road trip a 2G Leaf due to the practical inability to fast charge. Overall, the 2G car wasn’t much of an improvement over the original Leaf.

I am not mad at Nissan for the mediocre 2G Leaf. I am mostly surprised Nissan couldn’t do any better. That makes me wonder if the Ariya will be as good as other modern EVs. For that reason, Nissan probably shouldn’t have released it.

Last edited 9 months ago by Stig's Cousin
Parsko
Parsko
9 months ago

You keep asking us “if you were CEO of Nissan” hypothetical questions, and I will give the same basic response:

Burn… it…. down.

As head of Nissan, you’re pretty much the inverse equivalent to the head of the water treatment facility in your city. Your primary product is shit. Except, in the case of Nissan, it receives nice clean product and generates shit while the sewage treatment plant receives shit and generates a clean product. I know which one I respect more.

Last edited 9 months ago by Parsko
Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
9 months ago

Re: Leaf loyalty, I have a friend who was the Spiders Georg of Leaf owners with 3 first generation ones and a second generation Leaf since 2011. He recently bought a used Tesla Model 3 solely for ease of charging on long trips. His Leaf is now the city car in his all electric fleet

Turn the Page
Turn the Page
9 months ago

“We’re built on the blue-collar working man. The middle class is the bread and butter of the United States,” owner Holly Johnson told Fox 2 in Detroit. 

“I make car parts for the American working man, because that’s what I am, and that’s who I care about,” said Ray Zalinsky.

Chad L
Chad L
9 months ago

Hyundai/Kia also missed a big EV opportunity with fleeing Leaf owners. They were on my shopping list until the recent theft spree and absolutely shameful response of “use a Club” as chronicled here. The choice between another Leaf or a barely-leased Bolt with a fresh battery was a no-brainer.

Nissan’s biggest screw up on the Leaf, in my opinion, was not being more generous with battery replacements, warranty or otherwise. The passive battery cooling is a known shortcoming and limits road trips, but the battery chemistry on the early 24 and 30 kWh packs caused them to degrade excessively even when treated with care and kept in cool locales. Nissan could have set up a battery recycling/exchange program at cost to maintain owner loyalty, and worked to improve battery cooling and retire Chademo during the model refresh. Instead they just tossed some new body panels and a parts-bin dashboard onto the same old Leaf and tried to sell you a “new” one.

89
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x