The Nissan Leaf, a pioneer electric vehicle and one of the cheapest EVs currently on the market, is nearing the end of its life span. According to a report in Automotive News, Nissan does not plan on introducing a next-generation version of the Leaf and may even discontinue the nameplate altogether.
Production of the current version of the Leaf is set to wind down by mid-decade, the outlet reports, citing three anonymous sources. In the report, a spokesperson for Nissan declined to speculate on the Leaf’s future but did say that the company has noted a “renewed” interest in the Leaf amid high demand for EVs. (A spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.)
If Nissan follows through on its plan to discontinue the Leaf, it would be the latest pint-sized vehicle to fall victim to American car buyers’ insatiable appetite for huge, towering, climate-killing trucks and SUVs. The Leaf is currently the only electric car Nissan sells in the US, but later this year, it will release the Ariya, a new electric crossover SUV with up to 300 miles of range.
Notably, the Ariya is more expensive than the Leaf, starting at around $47,000, as compared to the 2022 Leaf, which started at $27,400. But despite the attractive price point, the Leaf never really achieved full liftoff. First released in 2010, Nissan has only sold around 170,000 Leaf EVs in the US over the last decade. Compare that to the total number of Tesla vehicles sold in the US in just 2022 — 564,743 — and you can start to see the headwinds facing Nissan. (The automaker said in 2020 that 500,000 Leafs have been sold globally since the launch in 2010.)
The automaker recently revealed its plan to spend 2 trillion yen (around $17.6 billion USD) over the next five years to accelerate the rollout of electric vehicles. That plan will include 23 new electrified models by 2030, 15 of which will be fully electric. The company is targeting a 50 percent electrification mix for its Nissan and Infiniti brands by the end of the decade. In the US, Nissan plans to take things a little slower, only targeting 40 percent of its sales to be EVs by 2040.
Based on some of the concepts highlighted by Nissan, the Leaf could be replaced by a compact SUV that the automaker is calling the Chill-Out. Nissan hasn’t released any specs or details about it, but the Chill-Out seems to be the closest to production of all the company’s concepts. It looks similar to the Ariya but utilizes the company’s smaller CMF-EV platform, which means it will probably be slightly cheaper than the $47,000 Ariya.
Whatever its future, the Leaf will certainly go down in history as the first successful mass-market EV in the US. Tesla often receives all the credit for helping kick off the race to electrification, and Elon Musk’s company certainly deserves some credit for pushing the rest of the auto industry in that direction. But Nissan’s role in spurring the shift to zero tailpipe emissions is undeniable.