It might not be as pretty, but this should hold over the true eco nuts for now.
When it comes to hardware, Tesla isn’t exactly shaking in its boots at the sight of the Nissan Leaf. Thought it ranks as the world’s most popular electric car and undercuts the Tesla on the price spectrum, it’s still down almost 150 miles in range compared to its main competitor. And then there’s the fact this humble writer still thinks Tesla owes a lot of its success to the fact no automaker aside from Elon Musk’s has an attractive fully-electric car on the market (hybrids like the BMW i8 notwithstanding).
Unfortunately, the Leaf makes no effort to remedy that problem. Shaped like the econoboxes that the auto industry seemingly uses to punish those wanting alternative sources of kinetic energy, the Leaf will do little to stir emotion in people who don’t use it as a step to a moral high ground.
Subjective critiques aside, that doesn’t mean that we should write the Leaf off entirely. Given its predecessor’s status as the most popular EV in the young but maturing market and Musk’s inability to ramp up Model 3 production to game-changing proportions quickly enough, the new Leaf could still very well be the car that acquaints the largest amount of the population with their first fully electric vehicle. To do that, Nissan had to get the mass-market aspects of the Leaf right, including practicality, enjoyment and use of cutting-edge technology to sell the alternative power source. Did it work? Thankfully we have Auto Express to tell us so we can stick to driving the remaining gas-powered cars.