Nissan says that when the 2013 Nissan Leaf goes on sale, it will have a lower starting price, more cargo space and a new onboard charger that reduces the Leaf’s charge time and helps improve its range.

One of the major changes to the 2013 Leaf is a 6.6 kW onboard charger. According to Nissan, the new charger not only shortens the 220-volt charging time from about eight hours to four hours, but by moving the charger to the front of the car, Nissan significantly increased the Leaf’s cargo capacity. Nissan says there’s now 24 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 30 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That’s a significant jump from the 2012 Leaf’s 24 cubic feet of overall cargo space.

6.6 kW onboard charger

With the new charger, as well as changes to the aerodynamics, regenerative braking and “improved energy management,” Nissan says in a press release that the updates will improve the Leaf’s range. The EPA hasn’t released test results, but the EPA says the 2012 Leaf can travel 73 miles on a fully-charged battery.

In December, Nissan also announced that it changed the Leaf’s new electric vehicle warranty to cover battery capacity loss. Battery maintenance is provided for five years or 60,000 miles on batteries that show less than 75 percent of charging capacity. 

Another significant update is the new base S model, which Nissan says will be less expensive than the SV model. Before tax credits, the 2012 Leaf SV starts at $27,700, but Nissan hasn’t announced the starting price for the Leaf S. According to Kicking Tires, the S trim won’t have a 7-inch display, cruise control, alloy wheels, navigation system or six speakers. There are also three new option packages, which include tech amenities like a seven-speaker Bose stereo and an Around View Monitor. 

Around View Monitor

Kicking Tires says Nissan created the S trim in hopes that a price drop will attract customers who avoided the Leaf because of its price.

“This past November saw CEO Carlos Ghosn admitting that the car would miss its U.S. targets, with just 9819 units unloaded here last year—fewer than half of the expected total,” writes Car and Driver. “Nissan's competitors aren't exactly smiling about the predicament, either, as many of them have sunk considerable funds into the development of their own EV programs.” 

Automakers want to increase electric vehicle sales, but a study conducted by Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs doesn’t offer much hope for Nissan or the competition. Researchers found that most consumers aren’t interested in all-electric vehicles because their range is limited, their price tags are high and recharging them can be a hassle.

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