2016 Nissan Leaf: Nissan can’t keep up BMW i3 and others

BMW i | December 30th, 2015 by 13
Nissan Leaf Shawn Molnar BMWBLOG 14 750x500

The original Nissan Leaf was actually one of the first true mass-produced EVs to hit the market and it came with a relatively affordable price tag. What you got for around $40 grand was a pure BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) hatchback with some nice creature comforts and an interesting “tree leaf” display to show how efficient you were driving. The original Leaf had an electric range of about 84 miles or so, similar to that of the later-coming BMW i3, and could charge in under an hour from a 240-volt charger. After some government incentives, the Nissan Leaf was actually a pretty decent deal for anyone who wanted comfortable, reliable and affordable electric mobility. But then the BMW i3 came along.

Nissan Leaf Shawn Molnar BMWBLOG 4 750x500

The BMW i3 is still a fascinating vehicle, despite the fact that it’s already about two years old. BMW was able to offer an electric car that had more space than the Leaf, the same electric range, infinitely more creature comforts, better handling, better performance and a far more high-tech construction for just a bit more money. For just a couple thousand dollars more, the BMW i3 was the clear winner and has won multiple awards since its inception. However, people have been complaining about the i3’s range a bit lately, probably due to Tesla pumping out 200-plus mile range cars pretty consistently. And now Nissan has a new Leaf for 2016 that has quite a bit more range than before.

For 2016, the Nissan Leaf has an electric range of 107 miles, according to the EPA, which is 23 more than before. While 23 additional miles might not sound like much, the fact that it can crest 100 miles is actually quite good for a small electric car. Aside from the range, the Leaf has…zero changes. It’s essentially the exact same car as it was before and, I’m sorry Leaf fans, but that’s simply not going to cut it these days. With so many other automakers debuting fascinating new EVs and plug-in hybrids, the Nissan Leaf looks downright old. Its dated design, prehistoric feeling interior and decade old technology makes the Leaf look primitive in comparison to modern cars. Nissan edging out 23 more miles out of its Leaf seems akin to a caveman just discovering fire in the age of smartphones.

bmw i3 nissan leaf 750x500

The BMW i3 is already a couple of years old and it’s still a technological marvel in comparison to the Leaf. It may only have 80 miles, but it does it using a smaller battery, is faster by a good margin, has a carbon fiber reinforced plastic chassis construction and is significantly lighter despite being much bigger. But that’s just the i3. The new 2016 Chevy Volt is also a very good plug-in hybrid that drips with new technology, the Audi A3 e-tron is a fascinating new plug-in and that’s just what’s out right now. Tesla is readying a Model 3, BMW is working on a new i Division car and Audi is going to be debuting a 310 mile range SUV in a year or two. In comparison to what’s going on in the automotive world, the new Nissan Leaf seems like a Microsoft Zune in a world of the iPhone 6s.


BMW made a massive leap forward in the EV world with the i3, as it offers such a great all-around package for far less money than anything superior, such as the Tesla Model S. In fact, you can have two BMW i3s for the price of one Model S. However, Nissan seems to be stuck in the past a little bit, not offering anything new or exciting in its latest attempt at the EV world. If Nissan wants to keep up with BMW, Chevy and Audi, it’s going to have to do better. Hell, it’s barely even cheaper than those cars and offers far less. For now, the Leaf poses no threat to the BMW i3.

[Source: Green Car Reports]

13 responses to “2016 Nissan Leaf: Nissan can’t keep up BMW i3 and others”

  1. gReG sKi says:

    I bet we can count the i3 owners on one hand, thank you very much. The Nissan Leaf is the only mass produced electric car period all others are just Compliance Cars meaning the major auto makers (no Tesla is not one of them) were forced to comply and build 1,500 of them and than quit making them.

  2. raleedy says:

    This is not a very objective presentation. The Leaf’s base price is under $30k — so under $22,500 after the Federal tax rebate — which, by the way, is fully available to leasing transactions through Nissan, in contrast to the partial pass-through that BMW offers. So the price differential can be as much as 100%. In addition, the interior space of the BMW is tiny compared to the Leaf’s.

  3. CDspeed says:

    There are several things the Leaf has that the i3 does not for some stupid reason. It has four real doors that don’t trap you when in tight spaces, the windows roll down, and the rear passenger can get out on their own rather then depending on the person in front. It also has seating for five, and a bigger trunk that isn’t shallow. I have driven the Leaf, yes the i3 is more fun to drive, and has a greater cool factor, but the Leaf is admittedly more practical. The i3 didn’t come along, and spoil anything for the Leaf, as high tech as the i3 is, it doesn’t do anything better aside from the way it drives which is sad. I liked the i3 enough to buy one, but your giving BMWi more credit then it deserves.

  4. Chris Llana says:

    Next-gen Leaf not too far off with lots of upgrades.

  5. William Cervini says:

    …and they say the LEAF looks dorky??? The BMW is a clown car for sure.

  6. Ryan says:

    Sorry but this article is just not the majority ev buyers opinion. Most ev buyers prefer practical over cutting edge cool factor. Also, IMO the BMW looks worse than the leaf. I love driving my leaf and I’m sure id love driving the bmw but I’m in it for the $ and with my leaf I’m saving big plus the environment benefit. That’s it. Nothing cool about my leaf. It’s my a-b car 90+% of my driving. I mean, to me it’s really cool but I’m a 30 something dad who doesn’t care about being cool. When I want a car that has better performance than my leaf I’ll buy a Corvette, not an i3.

  7. RobSez says:

    I’ve been driving a Leaf since 2011. Nissan hurt their reputation early on claiming 100 mile range that just wasn’t possible. Yes, the Leaf design is dated and yes Nissan seems to only be making incremental technological improvements. However, because of their earlier stumble, they have worked hard to improve “real-world” performance and most importantly they’ve been honest about their numbers. I keep hearing about 200+ mile BEV Tesla competition coming, but where are they? The Leaf may not be bleeding edge sexy, but it is practical & reliable.

    The good news is the rising tide, and the competition that comes with it, raises all BEVs. I’m glad to see BMW, Chevy, Ford and others finally taking the EV market seriously and bringing their A-game to the competition. This can only mean driving an EV will get better for all of us.

  8. Daniel says:

    The sales numbers appear to disagree.. 2015 US sales YTD: Leaf 15k – i3 9k and this does not include the 30kWh Leaf

  9. David H says:

    i3 doesn’t get close to 80 miles range here in the NE… Try 60…

  10. dieselspeed says:

    Nico, you have not done your homework:

    “BMW was able to offer an electric car that had more space than the Leaf, the same electric range, infinitely more creature comforts, better handling, better performance and a far more high-tech construction for just a bit more money. For just a couple thousand dollars more, the BMW i3 was the clear winner and has won multiple awards since its inception”

    i3 has 4 seats, leaf 5, leaf also has a slightly bigger boot and is about $10k cheaper. They have the same range in the real world.

    Now there are some things that the i3 does better: it is more fuel efficient than the leaf (most fuel efficient car in production currently), comes with a plug in hybrid version, it is much more fun to drive, should last longer since it is not made of steel that will rust over time, active thermal management of its batteries which should translate into longer lifespan (only time will tell).

    I lease an i3 BEV and I am very happy with it but the price of admission is too high. here in new england taxes and insurance are so high that I am thinking of buying a used leaf when my i3 lease is up ($2k extra in insurance per year, $2k in property tax for my town for the first year alone).

  11. nataku83 says:

    This article is unfortunately full of incorrect assertions, none of which are backed up by fact.
    You claim the I3 is much larger than a Leaf, but the actual cargo area numbers are 15.1 ft^3 for the I3 and 23.6 ft^3 for the Leaf with the rear seats up. The leaf is 175″ long, while the I3 is 157″ long.
    With federal tax incentives, the Leaf MSRP is $21,510 (S w/ comparable 24kw-h battery to the I3’s 22kw-h battery) while the I3 is $34,900 (non REX) – that’s 62% more expensive, hardly a small difference.
    Finally worth mentioning are quick charging standards. The Leaf supports CHAdeMO, which is still the most common open quick-charge standard while the I3 is using the SAE combo standard. While SAE combo is rapidly expanding, it’s still less common than CHAdeMO.

    The I3’s composite body structure is revolutionary and is really what makes the car stand-out, both offering straight-line and cornering performance as well as efficiency. The I3 also uses a superior battery, with active thermal management, although the latest Leaf battery is demonstrating improved robustness to temperature extremes. In terms of EV owners’ priorities, I don’t think it’s enough to really sell the I3. It does a disservice to the I3 to make up assertions about it’s superiority where they’re just not true.

  12. jontiki says:

    I can do a lot of other things with the extra cash not used for an i3…..

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