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History of the Nissan LEAF

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Side view of a white 2022 Nissan Leaf SV Plus
Nissan Leaf SV Plus
Photo: Nissan

The all-electric Nissan Leaf (stylized as LEAF) was introduced fairly early compared to many other automakers. As one of the first BEVs on the market, the Leaf was a uniquely designed vehicle with a very specific audience. Now, the Leaf competes with plenty of electric competitors but maintains its legacy with a few updates.

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Early history and updates

Sales of the Nissan Leaf began in Japan and the U.S. in December 2010 before it went on sale in Europe and Canada in 2011. The Leaf was a pioneer and quickly became the world’s best-selling all-electric car. Initially, all models sold in America were produced at Nissan’s Oppama, Japan, facility. But in January 2013, production of the Leaf for commercial use was switched to the Smyrna, Tennessee, manufacturing plant.

The first generation of the Leaf had an 80 kW motor capable of 110 horsepower. Its full range was originally projected to be closer to 100 miles, but it typically maxed out closer to 73 miles as noted by the EPA. The Nissan Leaf entered its second, and current, generation in 2017 (for the 2018 model year). Notable updates included a longer range, more power, and advanced tech like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

A white 2011 Nissan LEAF is parked with its lights on while a man talks to the driver
The LEAF had similar light styling as the JUKE subcompact crossover
Photo: Dominic Alves via CC

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Recent generation

The latest iteration of the Nissan Leaf is much more modern than it was during its debut. The exterior lines are much sharper and it’s even available in a two-tone paint option of Pearl White Tricoat and Super Black. The 2022 Leaf has an estimated all-electric range of 150-226 miles, depending on the trim level you choose. That’s quite an improvement from its early days!