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Archives: Nissan Leaf - Advantages & Disadvantages

Originally published in November 2010
Simon Nguyen

With today’s emphasis on green technologies combined with rising gasoline prices, it is natural that there is very strong demand for energy-efficient cars. Case in point, hybrid vehicles like Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are well received by consumers. The next innovation in automotive technology appears to be zero-emission electric cars. Top automakers like General Motors and Nissan have already announced worldwide launches of their electric vehicles. Among the new models, Nissan Leaf has garnered the most attention due to the fact it runs solely on electric power.

When the Nissan Leaf is released this winter, it will be able to stake claim to the title of the first all-electric car produced for mass consumption. This is one of the vehicle’s key advantages. While there are a number of electric cars on the market, very few run entirely on electric power. The Chevrolet Volt, for example, uses electric motors but does include an internal combustion engine powered by gasoline. The distinction is likely to give the Nissan Leaf a marketing advantage over its competitors, as the vehicle is 100% electric and thus produces virtually no air pollution.

Another important advantage Nissan Leaf has over other electric cars is its relatively low price compared to most of its competitors. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Nissan Leaf will be priced at $32,780 before any federal tax credit. This is a lot cheaper than its chief competitor Chevrolet Volt, which is priced at $41,000. Additionally, purchasers of the vehicle will likely receive a bigger tax credit since the Leaf is a zero-emission electric vehicle. In term of features, the car is compactly built spotting a contemporary design. The Leaf is also expected to produce very little noise while operating. Although this is a good thing overall, it has actually prompted Nissan to include a feature that emits non-irritating sounds at low speeds to warn pedestrians of the vehicle’s presence.

Will the pending release of the Nissan Leaf be able to spark consumer demand for electric cars? While electric cars such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf will undoubtedly put this new technology on the map, they are likely to encounter formidable obstacles in the short term. Even though the concept of electric car has been around for quite some time, there are still many consumers (including some owners of hybrid cars) who continue to have doubts regarding the performance and reliability of 100% electric cars. It will take the consumers some length of time to accept Nissan Leaf and the likes as excellent alternatives to cars that run on fossil fuel.

Another disadvantage for the Nissan Leaf is the tough economic environment in major markets like the U.S. and Europe. The Leaf will be released at a time when the world economy is still recovering from a difficult recession. Even at a heavily discounted price, there may not be enough demand for the electric car. The key indicator to look for is the 2011 sales numbers for Nissan Leaf as well as Chevy Volt. If the numbers are less than the initial sales of the Toyota Prius, they may signal short-term troubles for the Nissan Leaf and electric cars in general. 

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