Thursday, January 10, 2013

2nd of 4 - Initial analysis

We won't be having 2013 Leaf pricing changes published for awhile.

Nissan needs to sell Leafs beyond the enthusiast market  Will 2013 model changes help?

So let's talk changes.  Weight reduction in the amounts listed can only provide a small range improvement unless I miss my guess. Really to ring bells the Nissan needs about 120 miles - that would provide a 100 mile range through most of its life as range declines. For someone like me the five year loan period for a car is where I need range to hold up - after that I can consider a new battery. I'd be surprised if the weight reduction ups the EPA 73 rating to 80.  The heater improvement is important for winter range but leaving it out of the 'S' means the most sensitive group to range - economy buyers, are left in the cold with lower range when using heat.

No active battery thermal protection change or battery chem changes leave the Leaf vulnerable to loss of range over time. Recently Nissan 'somewhat' guarantees 75 percent capacity in 5 years or 60,000 miles - I do appreciate this but it is less then the typical buyer needs.  So EPA 73 becomes EPA 65. Tough to sell over the Volt for a couple grand more. I love my Leaf but I expect year 5 to be downright tough. Like many middle class electric enthusiasts I have put all my spare funds into buying 10k above my usual high milage low emissions econobox pricing.

The charge improvement is big to a certain segment - 4 vs 7 hours is what is represented by 6.6 vs 3.6 kW charging. If you have an late night economy electric rate time for this is big. For many flat rate electric users such as I - seven hours of sleeping charges just as well either way. So again appeal but limited audience.

I don't like to sound again like a broken record but the 'B' mode for added regen is going to appeal to the enthusiast and hyper miler. However again we rat race commuters tend to forget our hyper mile skills - again the market beyond the enthusiast is unlikely to buy for this.

Finally the upscale options - leather, sound.  If you are looking for luxury appointments - why not a base Tesla 'S'? Or the gas option to eliminate range worries the Volt provides.

Do not misunderstand - each years improvements have helped. Lost cost leases under $200 especially. However we will have to hope for more improvement or very low prices to make this the breakthrough change. I'm sorry to say that because I love the Leaf and Nissan's leadership in reintroducing EV's for the common market. Tesla's for the rich are well and good but they are the only all electric that is close to a full 'real car' replacement. For the ordinary buyer - I still believe it may still not be enough to sell the Leaf.


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