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Future Classic Friday: Nissan LEAF

Published 20 September 2019

The Nissan LEAF is about to celebrate its 10thanniversary, so its arguably a bit new for Honest John Classics.

Bus as game-changers go, Nissan’s first all-electric model has the credentials of a future classic written all over it. It was, arguably, the first EV to be fully usable, and while its successor is a significantly better, less weird and more practical car with double the electric range, the first LEAF was as mainstream as EVs got at the time of its launch. 

It had an all-electric range of about 80 miles, which meant it was limited to short to mid-distance drives, but within that it also had the capacity to keep up with traffic and handle like a normal car. Given this was just six years after the oddball G-Whizz was the only all-electric car on the market in the UK, it was progress.

It was progress that continued unabated, too, with the battery range increasing by 35% over its life as Lithium-ion technology evolved, making the range anxiety that had thus far stymied electric car sales less of a concern. With every mile of extended range in its cells, the LEAF appealed to more buyers. 

Nissan Leaf (3) (1)

Of course, traditional petrolheads will hate the LEAF, as will spanner-wielders who like nothing more than tinkering with an internal combustion engine. 

But a line must be drawn somewhere and as cars evolve, so will nostalgia. In years to come, the pioneering electric cars will no doubt be remembered as iconic, thanks to the way in which they moved technology along. 

The car industry seems to have set its stall out in the field of electrification as our most likely source of future transport, and with it will come a wave of goodwill towards the cars that made that evolution happen, whether traditionalists like it or not. In years to come, when we have EVs with a range of 500 miles that need charging once a fortnight, it’ll be cars like the LEAF that made such progress possible in the first place.

And while we at HJ Classics love a big V8 as much as the next car enthusiast, we’re also fascinated by the machinations of the car industry itself. 

Nissan Leaf (4) (1)

If EVs are the future they look likely to be, then the LEAF could well be remembered as a modern day Ford Model T. A primitive example of the technology ahead, but one that made it accessible to the masses… 


Captain-Cretin    on 27 September 2019

The biggest issue with EVs ISNT the range, it is the cost of replacing the batteries.
Bought new, nearly new, or leased, maybe this isnt an issue, but those early cars (excluding the G-Whiz), are still selling for over £5,000, with a similar age, similar spec ICE car costing £500-£2000.
Add the unknown cost of replacing those batteries (you try googling it) - no answers for many early EVs, only speculation and a few posts from users 6-8 years ago; and you have an expensive car with potentially huge replacement battery costs.

I was looking at an old MiEV as a 2nd car, YUASA dont even list the battery cell it uses (original, or new formula).

goonlazy    on 5 October 2019

Check out the YouTube video by "AutoExpert TV" ...

"Nissan Leaf 'don't buy' warning ($33k battery replacement bill) | Auto Expert John Cadogan"

Battery cost is frightening (£17k in this example) and with Nissan LEAF there is no incorporation of liquid cooling of the battery. Madness!!! Even on the facelift model of LEAF, Nissan have not included this feature. Nissan are losing the plot!

EV buyer beware!

   on 29 February 2020

To address the replacement battery cost, the batteries will last the life of the car and in those cases where range has decreased sufficiently to warrant a new battery, you would never go back to Nissan and ask them for a new battery just in the same way you wouldn’t go back to Nissan for a new engine for your knackered old Qashqai. So what do you do? Well there’s companies springing up now that can refurbish your battery for much less than the cost of a new one. I believe there will be early Leafs knocking around for another 20 years as they are a great, reliable family car. Future classic? Maybe!

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