Will 2013 Be The Breakout Year For The Nissan Leaf?

2013 Nissan Leaf Having been available for sale in Canada for only a short time, the Nissan Leaf faces a challenge in making a place for itself in the Electric Vehicle (EV) market, particularly against known brands such as the Toyota Prius.

With total sales in Canada since 2011 of less than 500 cars, Nissan has a long way to go to build momentum in this country. In the US, total sales since the release of the 2010 model are less than 20,000.

The 2013 Leaf has been well received at the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Nissan has released some American pricing and availability information, but has not yet released anything specific for the Canadian market. It is likely that the vehicle will be featured at the upcoming 2013 Canadian International Auto Show in February with availability and pricing information.

In order to make an impressive 2013 launch, Nissan is taking on the market in both price and technology.

The currently available 2012 models SV and SL have MSRPs of $38,395 and $39,995 respectively. Reported pricing south of the border is showing a price drop of $6,400 (US) for the entry model. Once available in Canada, likely around April of 2013, a 2013 Leaf model S could be in the range of $25,000 with the price reduction and incentive rebates figured in. Current Canadian incentives include an Ontario rebate of up to $8,500 and in Quebec, up to $8,000.

For 2013, the Leaf will include improvements to battery charging time through a faster 6.6 kilowatt on-board charging system. The charger is expected to fully charge the battery in about half the time of previous models. Nissan is also building in several energy efficiencies that will directly translate to extended driving range. One of these is the "Eco Route" feature that will provide navigation information tailored to power saving.

By including an optional hybrid heating system to improve cold-weather performance, an increase in regenerative braking, refined aerodynamics and a variety of energy management improvements, drivers should see a marked improvement in drive range. These improvements have resulted in a 14% range increase for the Japanese version of the 2013 Leaf.

Non-performance improvements indicate that Nissan executives have been listening to customer feedback. These include an increase in cargo space from 24 to 30 cubic feet, leather seat and steering wheel options, improved sound system and the Around View Monitor system, which provides 360-degree visibility around the vehicle.

For both price considerations, and to enhance the buy-local appeal, the 2013 Nissan Leaf and its associated battery pack will now be manufactured in Smyrna, Tennessee. Previous models have been manufactured in Japan.

Nissan's New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, as announced south of the border, will cover the vehicle's battery for five years, or 60,000 miles (96,560 kms), whichever comes first.

The 2013 Leaf will be released in three models, the S, SV and SL.

The S is the entry-level model, marketed toward those who are buying solely on price. In the SV and SL lines, more features are added, such as advanced navigation systems, the 6.6 kW charger, automatic LED headlights and fog lights, a solar panel rear spoiler and more.

With all these improvements and feature options, combined with the price reduction, the 2013 Nissan Leaf should make quite a splash.

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