Electric Vehicles are a major thing now in Australia, and Nissan was the first manufacturer to bring the EV to the country. A review of a 2nd Generation Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle.
To date EVs (electric vehicles) in Australia have had a cult following with a niche few. Their high purchase price, low battery range, availability of charging stations, and futuristic (almost weird) looks have kept them out of the mainstream.
Nissan was the first major manufacturer in Australia with an EV in 2013. Since then, a number of manufacturers have followed, mainly European models, but sales were lower than expected. Tesla has since taken over the headlines and expanded the market to sedans and SUVs. A cult following of their own (you have to pay to be in their Facebook forums), their large purchase price has limited their market to a small few.
2019 will see the release of the next generation of EVs in Australia. The Nissan Leaf, Tesla 3, and BMW i3. All take EVs to the next level, addressing most of the key concerns the Australian market has had. Their ranges are longer – expecting the average Australian to only need to charge once per week. Their prices are more affordable than previous (but still expensive). Their connectivity is terrific – introducing Apple and Android into Australian cars for the first time. And their look is more mainstream. All of these factors will open up EVs to a much wider audience than today.
Of the 3, the Nissan Leaf will have the highest mainstream appeal due to its price. While none of the 3 manufacturers have announced their Australian pricing, the Leaf is expected to be around the $50,000 mark and will appeal to the luxury small car market. The Tesla 3 will come in slightly higher, but will capture the mid-size car market, and the BMW i3 is set to be the most expensive, closer to the $80,000 mark, appealing to the luxury car buyer.
There’s still a lot of mystery about EVs in Australia. But in China, Norway, and California, EVs are now a normal part of life. According to research firm Kantar TNS, 62% of Australians believe that EVs are the way of the future, and 29% are considering purchasing one over the next 3-years. If EVs are inevitable, the question is how do you decide if and when one is right for you?
In the future, we won’t be talking vehicles, we will be talking connectivity, mobility, and energy.
What you need to know about EVs
So does the next generation Nissan Leaf address the concerns that Australians have?
Concern No. 1: Driving range
The next generation of EVs in Australia has increased their driving range to close to 300km. The average Australian drives 38km per week according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is set to reduce as urban areas increase public transport and ride-sharing. The Leaf has a driving range of 270km; so for the average Australian, they only need to do a full charge once per week.
Having said that, it does depend on how you drive. The Leaf comes with a number of driving modes. The better the drive, the more charge you use. That is, if you like a more responsive, smoother, faster ride, you’ll have to charge more regularly.
Two-thirds of Australians own a garage. More than most countries. Our typical driving routine is from home to work, or home to school. And we’re already in the habit of having to charge our mobile phones overnight. This current behaviour lends itself to EV adoption.
Concern No. 2: Price
EVs have typically been more expensive than their fuel counterparts. While 70% of Australians are willing to invest more for lower running costs, there does come a point where the cost outweighs the benefit. However, the next generation of EVs is set to come at a lower cost, bringing them in line with the current luxury car market. The next generation EVs also compete (even excel) in offering the higher end specifications.
But the move to electric goes further in terms of return on investment. One of the features that is unique to the Leaf is 2-way power. Which means that energy stored in your car can be used in your house, and vice-versa. Creating an efficient grid system for your house and car, if you have solar energy. This adds to the return on investment debate, potentially reducing your home energy bills, and is surely the way of the future.
The Nissan Leaf verdict
Regulatory and social change means that increased EV adoption is inevitable. The question of if (or when) you adopt will depend on your current vehicle and lifestyle requirements.
If you’re one of the 29% of Australians that are considering purchasing an EV over the next 3 years, you will have more options than ever before. The second-generation Nissan Leaf will be the next step to making EVs more accessible. It’s fully spec’d, nicely designed, and great to drive – a vehicle that will suit those who want to enter the EV market in the small car range, and who are looking for a higher-end vehicle.
For those looking for a larger EV option, you’ll have to wait a little longer. The mid-size Tesla 3 is set to be in Australia in mid-2019. However, the reported back orders and production line problems are likely to see this date delayed. Other manufacturers are catching up, which will no doubt open up this market further.