Did the Nissan Leaf Finally Lose Its Lead in the Affordable EV Race?

The Nissan Leaf introduced affordable electric transportation to the modern era in 2010. But with competition getting hotter, it looks to be losing its lead.
Written by Andrew Koole
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Oct 5, 2022
For years, no one could touch the Nissan Leaf as an affordable
electric car
. While many automakers tried to compete, the Leaf didn’t find a worthy rival until Chevy introduced the Bolt at the end of 2016. 
Since then, it’s been a race between the two
cheap EVs
to the bottom of the price range, with Leaf winning every year—that is, until now. 
Chevy recently cut the Bolt’s MSRP to match—and then exceed—the Leaf’s offer. It seems to be too much to contend with, as Nissan announced the coming end of its cheap EV in July.
Jerry
, your car insurance super app, took a closer look to find out what’s really going on.

The Nissan Leaf’s dominance struck down by the Chevy Bolt

The first EV to reach the mass market for under $40,000, the Nissan Leaf preceded the
Tesla Model S
by two years and cost over $21,000 less when the Tesla debuted in 2012. 
Many competitors attempted to knock the Leaf off its position in the 2010s, from the Ford Focus Electric to the Honda Fit EV and the Toyota RAV4 EV. None of them came close to the Leaf’s popularity and price until the Chevy Bolt arrived on the scene.
In terms of price, the Chevy didn’t really start rubbing shoulders with the Nissan Leaf until last year. From 2017 to 2021, the Leaf was at least $5,000 cheaper than the Bolt. But that difference shrunk significantly in 2022 when Chevy lowered the Bolt’s MSRP from $37,500 to $31,500. 
Nissan attempted the same thing, cutting the Leaf’s starting price from $31,600 to $27,400, but when Chevy slashed the Bolt’s price again midway through the year, bringing the MSRP just under $26,600, Nissan couldn’t keep up.

The other source of the Leaf’s demise: sales

It took a few years for the Chevy Bolt to really compete price-wise with the Nissan Leaf. But that didn’t stop the GM subbrand from surpassing the Japanese rival in sales. In the first full year the Bolt was available, Chevy sold almost twice as many Bolts in the U.S. as Nissan sold Leafs. 
That lead rose and fell in the following years, but Nissan never managed to catch up. Even with
GM’s massive recalls
last year, the Chevy Bolt outsold the Leaf by nearly 10,600 units. 
Part of the Leaf’s problem is its battery. In 2010, its 73-mile range was an impressive feat. But as the industry standard increased, Nissan failed to keep up. 
In 2022, the Nissan Leaf with the best range, the Leaf Plus, can travel 226 miles on a charge. The Chevy Bolt can go 259 miles before needing to be plugged in, and other affordable models like the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV outperform the Leaf, too.

The Nissan Leaf will stick around, for now

Automotive News
says Nissan plans to discontinue the Leaf once the car’s current generation runs its course, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see the end of the Leaf right away. 
Nothing’s been said about which model year will be the last, only that production will end midway through this decade. A 2023 model has already been announced.
If you want a cheap way into the EV revolution, the Nissan Leaf will likely still be available for the next couple of years.
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