CNET Wonders: Can The Nissan LEAF Compete With $2 Gas? – Video


2016 Nissan LEAF

2016 Nissan LEAF

Video Description:

The 2016 Nissan Leaf adds range and a modern new battery, but still hates the year ahead. We explain the MPG-boosting tech you probably never thought of, and run down the most popular EVs on the road.

Brian Cooley wonders:

“Nissan Leaf, EV missionary or right car at the wrong time.”

One of Cooley’s first observations is that the LEAF is “ugly”. It has never been a car prided on its aesthetic, but style doesn’t break a car, in our opinion.

On the inside, however, he points out that there is a barrage of electronics, buttons, and displays to keep your eyes busy.

2016 Nissan LEAF

2016 Nissan LEAF


  • Range: 84 to 107 mi battery-only
  • MPGe: Up to 126 city / 101 highway
  • Battery: 24-30 kWh 360 V lithium-ion
  • Engine: Electric
  • 8 years, 100,000 miles warranty on SV and SL trims
  • 5 years, 60,000 miles warranty on the base S trim
  • Bose premium sound and multi-camera package on upper models


  • Nissan LEAF S – $29,010
  • Nissan LEAF SV – $34,200
  • Nissan LEAF SL – $36,790

There’s some evidence that gas prices under $2 a gallon is holding back some electric cars at the moment. As EVs continue to add range and come in at a lower price, this won’t prove true forever. And we all know that gas prices will go up, it’s just a matter of time before $2 gas is a thing of the past.

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41 Comments on "CNET Wonders: Can The Nissan LEAF Compete With $2 Gas? – Video"

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Hey what the flip is this? This story isn’t about the Model 3 or Tesla at all?

sidenote: where are all the sarcastic “InsideTesla guys” today of all days?

Standing in line?

+1000 😀


You’re welcome.



(Actually did.)

This story is not just about Leaf, but all EV. Recent digital trends interview with GM EV guy (Darin Gesse) suggests gas price is largely immaterial to EV sales. However, far bigger detriments to current Leaf are Bolt, and of course, Model 3.

I have seen people try to argue that low gas prices don’t matter to electric car sales numbers, to which I would reply, “It depends.”
No potential Tesla S buyer is going to say, “Heck, electricity would cost almost as much to charge a Tesla as gas does to fuel my Audi. I think I will stick with the Audi.”
But you can see someone wavering on buying an electric car thinking to themselves, “My G35 costs me almost $40 a week to fuel for 250 miles, an electric car would only cost me $6 to charge the same amount of miles. That adds up!”
Drop the Infiniti buyers gas prices from $3 a gallon to $1.60 a gallon and going from $19 for gasoline a week to $6 a week for electricity isn’t as big of a motivator as going from $40 to $6.

What you say about type of buyer makes sense. One should also add that even the cheapest EV is smoother than most gas cars.

But energy pricing is more expensive for EV in many places at the moment. EV that gets 3.5 mi/kWh and $0.19/kWh (SoCal base rate) would pay $0.055/mi. At $1.80/gal, that’s equivalent to 33 MPG. Most gas cars of comparable size get better at highway.

Here in Quebec, canadian dollar, 3.79$/gal and 0.08$/kwh. Ev still makes sens.

here in Virginia I get 5 miles/kwh at 7.7 cents/kwh and 40 mpg at $2.09 per gallon gasoline for my 2016 Volt. Fuel costs are still way cheaper on electric.

Is that 5 mi/kWh including charging loss? What counts is wall to wheels, so assuming 80% efficiency, that’s about 4.2 mi/kWh. Not bad considering you pay so little for electricity.

SoCal is so whacked. They give great EV incentives, and they stick you with HUGE electric bills. $0.19/kWh is just to start, and tops out at $0.40/kWh! That’s even more expensive than most public chargers.

SoCal has it right. You want to waste electricity, you’re going to pay exponentially higher rates.

Socal Edison starts at 14.59c for the first 333kWh, 20.37c for the next 100kWh, 23.79c for the next 250kWh, then 30c for everything above. We were never higher than tier 2 before we got an EV – now we’re about halfway up tier 3.

It actually appeared to be an ad for the Tesla Model 3 to me

If it came with AWD (optional), respectable range (esp in cold weather) and was easier on the eyes it would be an easy sell for most practical people. At least that’s my opinion based on 3 years of LEAF ownership talking with ICE drivers.

Yawn…. can an $100/month iPhone mobile contract compete with a $20/month landline? Nice try Kochs. Your time is over.

Exactly, gas prices are a nice seconndary savings, but if fuel costs drove all car buying decisions then the only sedans would be Priuses. EVs are just a better car propulsion technology. Manufacturers can charge a premium for that; provided its well executed (eg once cell phones were reliable, land lines’ days were numbered)

Gas prices don’t “drive” electric car sales but saying they don’t play a role is short sighted.
I used to tell people my Volt cost around 2 cents a mile to fuel. Most people were getting around 20 mpg and when they figured out what it cost to fuel their car per mile compared to my Volt it was real eye opener for them when gas was over $3 a gallon.


I don’t find the LEAF particularly ugly and no, I don’t have one myself. BMW i3 however, that is an ugly car!

The LEAF is overpriced unfortunately. If you remove the battery from the car it’s still very expensive compared to similar fossil burners. There should be plenty of room to cut the price of the LEAF and when the Bolt hits the market they will absolutely have to. But priced right then yes, the LEAF can compete.

Used LEAFs are a steal!

You can get low mileage 2013 Leafs for $9500 all day long.

This video is kind of dated. Gas is $2.63 in most of California now.

And gas is about $1.80 where I live.

National average *just* tipped $2.00 recently.

“(WASHINGTON, March 28, 2016) The national average price of gas climbed above $2 per gallon last Thursday for the first time in 2016, and average prices have increased for 21 consecutive days. Today’s average price of $2.04 per gallon is up six cents per gallon on the week and 30 cents per gallon for the month. Despite the recent increase, average gas prices remain 39 cents per gallon less than a year ago.”

CA pricing is due to switchover to summer blend. Winter could (will?) bring it down. OPEC is going nuts, more so from seeing long lines for Tesla reservations.

Nissan is simply offloading their obsolete limited range generation one Leafs and producing PR to sell them.

If you just must have an EV, reserve a model 3 Tesla and lease the Leaf while you wait for your model 3. But, be careful, Nissan’s policies for EV customers are poor at best, for example; there are reports, the Nissan dealers always insist you pay for damages when you turn the car in and there is no battery upgrade for the first generation, if you decide to buy the car…don’t get stuck with an obsolete EV.

Tesla understands EVs so there is a good chance their policies will be better for the customers. Nissan appears to center their policies around their experience in ICEVs and they don’t understand there is a difference yet.

He complains an awful lot about the gauges in the Leaf… I’d like to turn that around about gas cars…

On most gas cars there’s this great big RPM gauge, if I have to worry that much about the RPMs, I’m going to park this thing and run away!

I had a co-worker drive my LEAF the other day. He noted there was a lot to look at on the dash. To the untrained eye, yes. That’s true. But, like on gas cars, you start to learn which gauges can be ignored for the most part.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV has the most simplistic gauge cluster out there. I like that because I don’t like to be distracted while driving.

Good point, all though I’ll admit that I’d love to see the little “grow a tree” thing disappear. I’ve been tempted to cover mine with black tape or something.

I watched the video, but I must have missed something important. Can the LEAF compete with $2 gas or not??

I calculated dollars spent, and my LEAF has a break-even point around $1.50/gallon gas. We saw that (and a bit below) for a while here in Texas, but things are now at $2.00/gallon and climbing. Yet my electricity bill stays the same. I like that electricity prices are far less volatile than gas prices.

Oh, absolutely. You should see what the outrage is like here though. Here’s the rundown: I live in Vancouver, Canada, and while that in and of itself means “target market for suckers to get ripped off by The Man in so *many* ways”, we also have a nice winning streak going: first off, the plunge in the price of oil has not been kind to the Canadian dollar. Since the entire world pays for oil in American dollars, that means that Canadian gas prices haven’t exactly dropped in lockstep with American gas prices. Add to this, the fact that we pay far more tax on gas than Americans do, and the other fact that we actually export all our oil to American refineries just to *make* the gas. All of these factors have made it so that the price of gas here in Vancouver hasn’t even fallen below $3.60 USD a gallon. And when you change that into CAD, you really don’t notice much of a dip in prices at *all*. It went from $1.38 a litre last summer to $1.10 a litre a few weeks ago. Not exactly the record lows that Americans have seen, which would have been… Read more »

For a nice laugh, CNet should ask the same thing of the Toyota Mirai and Honda FCX.

As somebody who has owned two Leafs, I sort of agree with their assessment that the Leaf is marketed primarily for environmental and fuel saving reasons only. I do think the Leaf is going to have a very hard time keeping up with all of the new EV competition out there. Of course, we all know that a revised body style is coming for next year.

Leaf 2.0 / IDS can’t come soon enough…

My LEAF is powered by my solar array as many are, so maybe when gas prices hit $0 this will be a factor. Otherwise, no.

Things that I think can’t survive $2 gas for a prolonged period:

The following nations oil industries:
USA (shale first, deep sea next)
Russia (arctic)

The following nations governments:
United Arab Emirates

5% of Nissan US sales last year were the Leaf – it will survive quite happily until all this none sense in the oil market sorts its self out, if nothing else Nissan can’t hit its EU emissions target without it. Come back in 2 years and either the oil industry will be seriously short of money or oil will be back to around $100 per barrel.

Cooley is right, the leaf is an ugly box on 4 skinny wheels which drives badly.

Also, I have no problem getting EV as my next short distance car, but not unless I am up for a new car. Why would I send thousands of dollars down the drain when I can wait for the EV tech to evolve. And it will as we all know.

But the car has to drive well, more less like the S model but without all the high end features and rich-man’s price Give me power, handling and decent style and I am all yours …. Regardless what the price of oil is in 4-5 years.

The price of oil has very little to do with that, it’s all about timing, do I need one, and EV offerings.

Mr Cooley hates economy cars… I think he drives an old V8 Country Squire wagon… so … as a judge of the aesthetic… his taste is suspect. We currently own 2 Leafs and love them. You mostly just plug them in… unplug and drive them normally, plug them in again. Only if you need to charge in the field do they feel any different to drive than most cars. Other than being more zippy and solidly powerful than most V6 cars.

PEV drivers don’t worry about gasoline prices … they think in miles/kWh (km/kWh). Current electric rates for home charging have been very consistent for the past 20-30 years, unlike fossil fuels which have higher volatility!

Alternatively, the best comparison between PEVs and ICE-Vs is “Cost per mile” (km).

Soon there will be a “3” and a BOLT. 200 mile range will be the new minimum (and at less cost than a premium leaf, – at least for the $30,000 BOLT).

Nissan better stop talking and start releasing a car that can go farther.

I remember the BIG FROWN Ghosn showed after looking at a BOLT – I’m sure he realized that his LEAF won’t compete. Soon, he’ll also have to compete with the ‘3’.

No one will pay more for a car with half the range. Ghosn is to his great chagrin is going to have to spend some money developing EV’s since the competition (Tesla and GM) is passing him by.