2012 Nissan Leaf Doubles Charging Capacity, Adds Cold Weather Package



Well hello there, Nissan Leaf. My, how you’ve grown. I hear your 2012 model is getting some significant updates.Let’s explore, shall we?

To address the weather concerns associated with electric vehicles, a new “cold weather package” will come standard with the 2012 Leaf. This kit includes: battery heater, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated front seats (front and rear) and a standard quick-charge port.

But an even bigger change is lined up for 2013 as well. Katherine Zachary, Nissan’s senior manager of corporate communications, confirmed that the Leaf’s on-board charger will double its current 3.3-kilowatt rating to 6.6 kW, allowing it to charge twice as fast as the current model. That could bringing charging time down from 8 hours on a 240 volt outlet, to just four hours or less.

As my father always says, “never buy the first-generation model of a new technology.” That’s because infant tech typically has the dubious distinction of being both overpriced and underwhelming. The Leaf was no exception to this rule, as this significant hiccup demonstrates.

Ah, but what a few years can do for fledgling young technology. It remains to be seen whether the price comes down for 2012–those figures will be out soon–but the car seems to be filling out nicely. Nissan’s EV should be hitting that sweet spot of technological maturity and affordability within a few years.

Source: Green Car Reports

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  • You know, it’s funny, my father always told me the same thing – which was true, but kind of sad when you think of how many cars are lemons in their first year of production (even the gasoline ones, with 100 years of R&D behind them).

    I think a lot of it is manipulative marketing. If they produced the best product they could in 2011, and didn’t have any advances for 2012, they couldn’t use the modifications as a selling point. I’d love to think this is just fledgling technology, but I have a feeling that it isn’t just that. Check out fueleconomy.gov for GM cars between 2005 and 2010 – they increase fuel economy by one or 2 mpg per year, you know that isn’t 100% new developments.

    • @ Doyle

      I’ve seen enough behind-the-scenes stuff to convince me that automakers spend a LOT of time and money testing their cars to high standards, especially these days. And I’m talking about all automakers. Many of them are crashing over 30 vehicles PER WEEK to test different safety features. The problem is, there is only so much testing you can do compared to what the real world offers.

      Even something as simple as a sideview mirror or a dome light requires a lot of money to design, build, test, and manufacture en masse.

      But there’s a lot of truth in what you say too. Most brand new vehicles have a lot of growing pains. So far though, I think the Leaf has done reasonably well, and I haven’t heard of any major shortcomings with the Volt besides the too-high price.

      • You know, I support consumerism, capitalism, and all that good stuff: it is part of freedom, and a very good part. Maybe I’ve gotten cynical or paranoid, but something about the nature of these developments has just started to get to me – I hate to think of people being manipulated, and in education I’m seeing a lot more of it than I’d like to see.

        I know these things take time and money, but I also know that sometimes they’re siphoning off a little more than some might consider ethical.

        • @ Doyle

          It is called planned obsolescence. Makers of everything from cell phones to automobiles and air planes have to determine how long certain parts must last. So no, you’re not wrong about companies “holding back.” Welcome to the consumer economy.

          I find it is better for my mental health if I don’t think too much about it. But everything I own, I own for its durability over everything else. I know my Compaq computer isn’t fast or sleek or even that nice to look at it. But the last one I owned was still running, four years and 400 GB (out of less than 500) later.

          But, as far as today’s automakers go, the market is so cutthroat that if you hold back too much, you risk being left behind. There is so much competition for a relatively small pool of buyers (about 10 million or so people) and so much information from the Internet regarding reliability and whatnot, that I really believe the automakers are all bringing their A-game right now. How long that will last is anybody’s guess, but even today’s economy cars are leaps and bounds better than the Lincolns and Cadillac’s of a quarter-century ago.

          • I am going to join the fray here…

            I think we are all starting to get that that this planned obsolescence is no longer sustainable… financially for the person buying nor for the environment.

            Products should only be allowed to the market that are safe, that benefit the most people possible and are really good. In other words, I think we need to have much more stringent standards for products released to market. They should cause a reduction in both spending and waste. They should be made out of fully recycled products only (or as close as possible) and every part should be designed to be fully recycled. Cradle to cradle is what I call it. This should be with all cars, all electronics, etc.

            There is no reason with our technological knowledge that we couldn’t be getting 100+ mpg for gas/diesel cars and 300+ miles for electric cars. Cars that get 15 mpg should not be allowed to market or should be taxed incredibly heavily and that tax should go to help r&d of green technologies.

            As Chris Martenson says in his ebook/video Crash Course… we are pretty much as peak everything right now (oil, coal, uranium, etc & are fast approaching peak water). He thinks these prices are just going to go one way – up as it gets harder and harder to extract them.

  • Got a 2011 Leaf and I don’t regret getting the first year model.

    I live in So Cal, so don’t need the heated seats / steering wheel. They need it for the other States. While it would be nice to have a 6.6 kw charger, I would rather they just go ahead and drop a quick charger (I have the extra port) about every 50 miles along the suburban freeways. Those only take 30 minutes for a 0% to 80% charge and for the most part, in the past month, I have only wanted access to one once, and by my calc, it would have only needed a 10 minute charge to get me home comfortably (40% goes to 65% would have been nice). The rest of my trips are just too short (under 80 miles) and if you are willing to charge day or night, the 3.3 kw charger is just fine. Even with So Cal Edison day rates, it just doesn’t compare to gasoline rates.

    • JST

      Jerry, very helpful stats. I’m looking at leasing a Leaf in VT–not available here yet, but I can get one in NC and bring it north. If I actually manage this, my limited driving range to a day job is feasible. I totally agree that we need Level 3 charging stations and hope these will come soon. (as http://carcharging.com/media/pdf/ChargePoint-Level3.pdf) Another thing we’ve talked about is the actual environmental cost for the juice. We have mostly water power here, but coal and nuc plants do have both a $$ cost and environmental cost to consider. Have you looked into any of these costs? tnx

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  • Arthur

    I have two leafs a 2011 and 2012, outfitted a hitch to carry a generator for backup on longer trips to Canada. Does fine, but eventually this won’t be necessary as more chademo’s come online. The 6.6 charger will be nice when using gen. Can then charge
    6 power bars instead of three using one gallon of fuel. For me this is 48 mpg backup.