Next Tesla Model S Contender…Nissan LEAF?


Here’s one more Tesla Model S “competitor” to add to the list of so-called “competitors.”

It’s getting to the point where these comparisons are so ridiculous that it’s obvious that both industry analysts and journalists and searching far and wide in an attempt to find the Tesla Model S competitor that, in actuality, doesn’t exist.

This is likely the worse example yet.

Digital Journal states:

“The electric car could be considered to be the next great frontier in the evolution of the automobile, and there are several different contenders for this title.  There are many variants of the electric car, from plug-in hybrids to gas backup electric cars such as the Chevrolet Volt. However, there are only 3 companies that currently have a fully electric plug-in vehicle… there are two contenders that do sell their electric vehicles in larger numbers: Nissan and Tesla.”

Only 3 pure electric vehicles?  Hmm…okay, we must be overlooking the dozen or so others that are available today just so that we can compare only the Model S and the LEAF.

Here’s a look at the only 2 contenders, according to Digital Journal:

Contender 1: The Nissan LEAF

The Nissan Leaf is currently the top-selling electric plug-in car in the U.S. with 2507 sales in March 2014. It is the less expensive plug-in electric contender with a government subsidized MSRP of $21,480 US. In many ways, it is your standard modern vehicle with reasonable interior space and all the modern amenities. It has an 80 kW motor and 24 kWh battery. The Leaf can travel 73 miles (117 km) on a single charge and the battery can be recharged in as little as 5 hours at home using a charger dedicated for vehicle charging.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

There are concerns with the Nissan Leaf for vehicle range and there are rumours that Nissan will be attempting to double the range of the Leaf in order to combat “range anxiety”, a term that indicates that most people are not comfortable owning a vehicle that can only travel 117 km before needing a 5 hour recharge.

*Editor’s Note: Strikethroughs added to indicate that the statements are false.

Contender 2: Tesla Motors

We’ll save you from the Tesla talk, which is all positive as usual.  It’s clear that this comparison is a joke anyways.

Let’s move to the conclusion, which it too is full of odd statements and claims.

Who will win the electric car battle?

As it stands, the range of the Nissan Leaf confines it to short trips within the city, and is only viable for those who do not need to travel far from home each day. Even with the home charger, you could be waiting a while if your battery is low, and may require a second (gasoline powered) car which would relegate the Leaf to being a neat toy.

The approach of Tesla Motors is most impressive to me. It is logical that the largest current obstacles to electric vehicle ownership are range and “re-fulling time”. For the mass market, production capacity and cost/benefit ratio vs. gasoline powered cars are also considerations. The cost of battery technology and innovation of such technology would go hand-in-hand with these goals.

Don’t even ask what “re-fulling time” is and please don’t even try to explain the last two sentences of the last graph.

When stretching to compare two vehicles that have nothing in common aside from an electric drivetrain, it’s going to get messy.  Proof is above.

Once again, the Model S has no true competitor.  Until one becomes available, let’s just drop the Model S versus ??? comparos that make no sense.

Source: Digital Journal

Categories: Nissan, Tesla

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46 Comments on "Next Tesla Model S Contender…Nissan LEAF?"

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There’s no way any EV except Tesla can handle my daily commute/driving. With Tesla there’s no range anxiety:

Plus its a wonderful car on top of that. No compromises!

I’ve seen more Teslas on the road in my area then plug in hybrids and the other EV’s combined in that it’s a car that can truly live in a habitat that is unfriendly to electric cars.

Funny, when I clicked your link dead center in the middle of the page is the first sentence of the third paragraph which reads:

“Long trips are a different story and I have all sorts of range anxiety there. ”

..which did not seem to correspond to your comment very well.

Regardless, the Model S is a great car and it is the best option for some folks.

The next Tesla comparison is just around the corner.

BMW seems most fixated on those comparisons.

Tesla is slowly becoming the “Xerox” of EVs. The name implies electric. Xerox implied copiers. What eventually happened to Xerox?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

They invented a lot of neat stuff, then got strangled by idiotic corporate management and other corpthink problems (that is rampant at, say, legacy automakers). Their management was fearful, and the stuff they invented (which would go on to make Apple and Microsoft billions if not trillions of dollars over 40+ years) would have cannibalized their existing paper business so they Apple et al. walk away with it for peanuts.

Tesla will also fade away…. as soon as someone invents teleportation (for larger objects than they can teleport today).

It might be a while. Tesla’s cargo-rated Teleporters have kept the Alpha Colony on Mars, supplied for years… 😉

Japanese companies killed Xerox.

But lucky for Tesla, Toyota & Honda are fixated on fuel cells. Nissan seems to be stagnating a bit.

I suppose it depends on what the car is competing for. If the car is competing for the car with the most all-electric sales.. The Leaf is certainly a contender. And when the next generation comes out with 150 miles range. That will certainly give Tesla a run for its money on the low-end. Obviously the Leaf will never appeal to the high-end customer.

It should be interesting to see what nissan does. They will have to switch chemisties of their battery though. Right now they use LMO which is the same as the Volt.

The following chart I put together (with Argonne’s help) shows the various chemistries for the EV’s out now. It is a handy chart to save for future reference.

Nice chart, but it should have $/kWh in addition to $/kg.

Nissan Leaf batteries are very heavy, so hopefully somebody develops an upgrade for it that weighs the same, but stores more.

Which ones on this chart are more energy dense?

The Tesla batteries.
Not sure about 5v Spinel though(LMNO).
Maybe 5v spinel is what LG has up its sleeve.
If you look at the chemical make up about all they did is add Ni to the LMO (Volt/Leaf) Chemistry.
Note also that the Tesla batteries also have Ni.

The down side of Tesla’s chemistry is it has a fairly low cycle life so Tesla just puts in a huge battery (kwh’s) to keep the cycles down.

Honestly, I don’t get most of Eric’s criticisms. The Digital Journal article is clearly not just comparing the cars, but the different approaches that Nissan and Tesla are taking in the EV market. What’s wrong with that?

And most of the statements that Eric accuses of being “false” actually sound very reasonable to me. “Range anxiety” is very real (just witness all the comments on this and other EV-centric forums that focus on range) and no, the Leaf is not a practical solution for long distance travel. The 73 mile range is also accurate (since using long distance mode on a regular basis would damage the battery). The only statement that is obviously wrong is the claim that there were only 3 companies making pure EVs (but back in April when this article was written, the i3 was not available yet and no other company has a serious market presence). And attacking obvious typos like in “re-fuelling” is just silly.

A little less fervor and more rationality please. 😉

Eric is correct where he crosses out the 5 hour recharge comments.

What is you “rational” take on the “neat toy” comment? I thought it exposed bias.

Well, it’s an opinion piece (and clearly marked as such). So what’s wrong with some bias?

What is wrong with bias, well if you preach “A little less fervor and more rationality please” to Eric, you can ask the same from Digital Journal.

Obviously the 5 hour charge time is a big fat lie. Most Leaf car buyers optef for quick charging capability which charges the car to 80% in 30 minutes and 90% in about 35-40 minutes. I owned a Leaf for three years so I quick charged around a hundred times to be able to go 120 -150 miles a day with only a short half hour stop 🙂

Even the 6.6KW charging rate is 20 miles of range per hour. That is more than enough for many people.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Adequate for intracity cycles, commuters, and range-extended applications.

Intercity? Not so much.

Incidentally, GM remains at half that for L2 charging, even on their Spark EV. That is thunderously stupid, and indicative of their stale ‘leadership’ vs when Lutz was there.

I think you didn’t read about the Spark EV having DC fast charging, which it does. Just like the Leaf. However, the Leaf in its current form is 6.6KW plus optional DC fast charging. This is the first couple years. Decades ahead. Nobody wins this game. It is a cooperative push forward for all the automakers. New standards for charging units, more knowledge about charge rates versus battery life, knowledge about home wiring versus public charging infrastructure and more. GM knocked down default charging for 120V plugging in to 8A due to a worry about overdraw on 15A circuits and bad sockets. Now it is up to the buyer to manually switch to 12A every time for 120V charging. One thing missing is some sort of public charging future on a grand scale. This means 100s of 120V plugs at airports and similar at commuter train stations and parking garages. It is up to the driver to bring their own fuel. So, oversizing EVs with giant batteries like the Model S – or with combined technology as in an EREV – are the only way to do the inter-city drives. But – why is the Leaf the #1 selling plug… Read more »

How many leaf owners have a DC charger in their garage?

Come on guys, some common sense please. The 5 hours are not far off the mark.

when an EV enthusiast is writing the articles, asking for “common sense” might be asking a bit too much.

i too think that the edits to the “digital journal” piece are pretty ridiculous.

5 hours is way off the mark. No one drives their BEV until the battery is dead. You’d be stranded.

We usually drive down to around 30%, charge back up to 80%, usually takes around 2hrs. Quick enough to run out and do another trip. We often do 100 mile days.

The statement that Eric marked as false was that the Leaf battery took at least 5 hours to charge. That is clearly false and Eric was right to say so.


You must be new around here FFY. Eric often writes Tesla-worshiping articles that are nothing more than click bait.

Tesla has widely announced that they will compete in the $35,000 segment for EVs, which is the segment that the Leaf basically owns at this point. Nissan has to be thinking in terms of what they will do about that, when and if it happens.

So no, they don’t compete in the same market segment right now, but they will.

I agree completely, although I don’t think the journal article was intended to be that forward-thinking.

In 2014, Nissan owns the entry-level EV market and Tesla owns the long-range (high price) EV market. Nissan is looking to move up in range while Tesla is looking to move down in price. In 2017, they will meet in the middle and there will be a true competition.

With any luck, both will not only survive, but get stronger, feeding off the competition to continue improving.

A 150-mile Nissan Altima BEV would own the market if it were $28K or less.

I’m more interested in which company/car will turn out to be the next Leaf. I don’t think the Mitsu i can get there — it’s too obviously less car, even if at a really attractive price point.

As I keep stressing, we’re still in the very early “sorting it out” stage of the cars-with-plugs technology and market. We’re going to see a lot of things change, players rise and fall in prominence, and more than a few surprises along the way. (The next potential surprise — good or bad — that I’m waiting for is the announcement (later this month?) of the 2015 Leaf pricing.)

I think the reason why the Mitsubishi i-Miev hasn’t been able to grow that much is that it has a 62 mile range vs the leaf’s 80 mile range. Of all the electric cars on the road out there. I think it will most likely get a range raise before the leaf maybe to 80 to 90 miles on a charge which would help it out by 30%.

I think the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S are practically the only competitors.

They are the only BEVs available nationwide until the i3 this month. All the other choices are compliance CARB only vehicles.

Most people don’t want to deal with an EV. For those people who are searching for an EV, you will be comparison shopping the LEAF and Model S.

I know several people who own or owned a LEAF that bought a Model S.

The Model S is considered by some performance buyers. Its more functional than luxurious, so I’m not sure about luxury market. But most definitely considered by someone looking for an EV.

The choice is range vs. cost.


I don’t get this article. Why bash the Digital Journal’s article?

I have a Leaf and Digital Journal gets it right – my Leaf is just a around-town commuter. It will never be my only vehicle. In order to have the Leaf, I have to keep an ICE car for long trips. Heck, some of my around town trips are 70 miles round trip (one suburb to another) and I don’t use the Leaf for that. Too much range anxiety, especially in winter.

That doesn’t make the Leaf into “just a toy,” which is what the DJ said.

Instead, the Leaf is the primary car, and the ICE is the “second car,” only used occasionally for long trips.


Bloody shivers running down my back.

The low range of the Leaf has been disappointing; however, an even greater disappointment has been their inability to improve it timely.

What angers me about this is that the EV1 had a 70 mile range back in the 1990’s. The existing leaf has had the same range for at least five years now. Along with that every car maker keeps coming up with more and more 80 mile EV’s which I’m sick of.

The reason you have all these “comparisons” is that ev know-nothings are writing about TSLA – as if they are experts on Tesla the company and the market it operates in.

The other point I wanted to make is that the idea of “competition” right now sort of implies that there is a fixed market size, and the competitors divide that up. I don’t think this is true by half. Both of the market leaders are supply constrained, Nissan and Tesla. If they actually fulfilled all their orders, I believe the market would just get bigger. There is a HUGE gap in buyer knowledge about electric cars. I know people here who spend large sums on gas for commuting, in excess of $5000 per year. At this rate, even if you had two gas cars, parking one or both and using a Leaf only for commute would more than pay for the cost of a lease. Yet when I ask them why they don’t they tell me it is too expensive to switch to an electric car, or they heard there are range problems, etc. These kinds of issues disappear when people realize that most or all of what they have come to believe is nonsense fed to them by the press. That is why I believe that the market could grow, in fact by orders of magnitude. The point is… Read more »

+1 on supply being the main competitor in the EV world. With the exception of the ELR who has any stock?

As for Nissan and Tesla competing that will happen when Nissan release a NISMO racer with 150+ mile range or Tesla release a sub $35k car. Neither will happen soon until then you have 2 clear products differentiated on everything but drive train. Even comparing the i3 or volt to the Leaf is a bit of a stretch.

“competition” refers to market segments; and yes, there is a segment of the market for EVs. the problem is that that segment is small compared to the general automobile market. one flaw in your “analysis” is that you seem to assume that electricity is free; it isn’t, but it is less expensive than gasoline. another problem is that you don’t realize that range *is* a problem; BEVs require trip planning, something that an EV enthusiast is willing to do but most people would not want to do. there is also the issue of recharge time (for EV) vs. refill time (ICE); for an EV enthusiast, 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours…none of these wait times are a problem for the EV enthusiast who is willing to plan his life around his BEV. most people, however take the view that the car should fit their lifestyle and not the other way around. i think that the BEV approach taken by some companies is a way to get quick, albeit small, market results since early adopters are going to value maximum EV range, even if it limits the general purpose nature of the vehicle. so the current EV market is less constrained… Read more »

Funny thing about that.

Every other EV available that isn’t a Tesla just so happens to basically be a Nissan Leaf, with some slight modifications. With few exceptions, they all:

1) Are hatchbacks.
2) Have about 80 miles of range, give or take a couple of miles.
3) Cost around $30,000 to $35,000.

It seems that everyone wants to compete with Nissan, and not Tesla, in spite of the fact that Tesla is selling their more expensive car in roughly equal numbers to the Leaf.

So this was a Model S vs. Model S comparison. 😉

These are the same guys that write the “The New __________ is an iPhone/iPad Killer!” headlines.