The 2024 Nissan Leaf has regained eligibility for the federal tax credit. Nissan announced today that the Leaf now complies with the more stringent battery component requirements stipulated by the updated Inflation Reduction Act guidelines. Leafs manufactured in 2024 and sold on or after March 6 can qualify for the partial $3,750 tax credit.

For EVs to gain the full $7,500 tax credit, they have to meet the new sourcing requirements for both critical minerals and battery components—it seems that the Leaf only meets the latter. The starting MSRP for the Leaf is $28,140, before taxes and fees. If you qualify for the tax credit, the Leaf can be had for approximately $24,000. Nissan is also offering a lease bonus of $3,750.

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The current-generation Nissan Leaf is aging fast.

The Nissan Leaf was way ahead of its time when it launched as a 2011 model-year EV in the U.S. It turned heads and made people take EVs somewhat seriously. But over the years, rivals have caught up and forged ahead, leaving the Leaf somewhat in the dust. 

An increasing number of EVs are now regaining their federal tax credit eligibility after stricter IRA requirements were enforced from January 1, 2024 onwards. Some 43 models qualified for the federal tax credit last year, but that number plunged to 19 at the start of 2024. However, the number of EV models that qualify is increasing again. Some of the other recently qualified EVs include the 2024 Volkswagen ID.4, Honda Prologue, and Cadillac Lyriq.

With stiff competition in the EV market, it makes us wonder if the aging Leaf can still hold its own.

Let's get some numbers out of the way first. There are two variants of the Leaf on sale in the U.S. First you have the base Leaf S with a 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery with 149 miles of EPA range. The other option is the Leaf SV Plus with a 60 kWh battery capacity that enables 212 miles of range.

2023 Nissan Leaf US-spec model exterior rear three-quarter view driving

In a day and age when 300-mile Teslas and Hyundais are ubiquitous, the Leaf certainly falls short.

Even though the Leaf was among the first mass-produced EVs in the world—Nissan sold hundreds of thousands of units worldwide since its 2010 debut—in recent years it has lost its appeal to Teslas and other EVs.

Don't get me wrong. The Leaf is among the more affordable EVs in the U.S. But used models cost half the MSRP of a new one. Assuming you get one with a healthy battery, it will likely provide just as much value in terms of range and charging, depending on your needs.

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Apart from its small battery and limited range, the dying CHAdeMO plug is also a drawback in an age when the vast majority of non-Tesla EVs use the CCS plug for DC fast charging.

Moreover, the industry is moving towards Tesla's NACS charging standard, which is now officially called the SAE J3400 plug. Nearly every major U.S. automaker, including Nissan, is preparing to provide a NACS adapter to its customers and later have the NACS connector built into the vehicle. It’s a smart move, as the Tesla Supercharger network is by far the largest and most reliable charging network in the U.S.

Major U.S. charging networks, including Electrify America, have announced that they will phase out CHAdeMO in the coming years, which severely limits the Leaf's prospects. But if you’re not a mile muncher, the current-generation Leaf still seems adequate. For short-distance commutes around urban centers where CHAdeMO plugs are still available, the Leaf could make sense, but only in the short term.

2023 Nissan Leaf

But if you need big infotainment screens, cars that can dance and fart, with blistering acceleration times and 300+ mile range, look elsewhere.

Given where the industry is moving, a used Leaf would arguably be a better choice. Also don’t forget that a third-generation Leaf is on its way. It will likely have a radical new design and it allegedly rides on the Ariya’s CMF-EV platform. That means more horsepower, a bigger battery, and certainly more range. And it’s safe to assume that it will have NACS compatibility. It is expected to break cover sometime in mid-2025.

Even if CHAdeMO is on its way out in the U.S., the Leaf’s legacy is far from over. It's just that the current generation happens to fall short against its more modern, suave, and software-defined rivals.

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