A decade of innovation – the Nissan LEAF’s incredible journey

Nissan is celebrating 10 years of the all-electric LEAF, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle (EV). The pioneering LEAF hit the roads in December 2010. First sold in Japan, Europe and America, it is now driven in 59 markets. Customers worldwide have bought more than half a million LEAF electric cars.

In Canada, the LEAF and LEAF PLUS have won several awards since 2012. The LEAF was named Natural Resources Canada’s “Most Fuel Efficient Vehicle in its Class” for 2012. Then two years in a row, LEAF PLUS was awarded the “Canadian Green Car of the year” by AJAC in 2019 and 2020. In addition, LEAF and LEAF PLUS, have won several awards and accolades from Canadian automotive media outlets.

Small in size but big on innovation, the Nissan LEAF laid the foundations of modern-day electric vehicles. By reimagining the very idea of what a car is, the LEAF is helping customers, cities and governments to create a more sustainable future. It does this by going beyond mobility and exploring new ways for electric vehicles to plug into everyday life.

The LEAF’s battery technology is helping power homes and businesses, while broader Nissan EV innovation is at the heart of vehicle-to-grid energy management services. LEAFs are also helping out during disasters.

It has been quite the journey, with many milestones. Here are some key ones:

2010: History is made: the world’s first 100 per cent electric car for the mass market

Nissan’s vision was to tackle urbanization and industrial development by building a car that emits no carbon dioxide but is still loads of fun to drive. The first-generation LEAF had powerful acceleration and handling, delivering smooth driving performance. Unique features allowed drivers to use their cellphones to check the car’s battery level or manage air conditioning remotely. A 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery powered the first model. Fully charged, it had a range of 200 kilometers.

Nissan worked with governments, municipalities and electric power companies to promote electric vehicles and develop an extensive charging infrastructure. When the LEAF was first arrived, Japan had about 200 CHAdeMO1-standard quick chargers. Today, there are more than 30,000 of these chargers around the world.

Nissan made history and the world took notice: The LEAF became the first electric car to win a string of prestigious awards including “European Car of the Year 2011”, “World Car of the Year 2011” and “Japan Car of the Year 2011-2012”.

2012: Game changer: A car that powers your home

Two years after introducing the LEAF, Nissan became the first company in the world to unveil a system that lets customers share power between their homes and cars. With Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) system, LEAF owners could store energy in their car battery and feed it back to their homes whenever they wanted. They could charge the car’s battery when demand and rates were low and use it around the house during peak times.

At the same time, the LEAF began to make a difference during natural disasters that interrupt electricity supplies. It served as an emergency power supply on wheels, which could also store energy where needed. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, the LEAF took part in a smart grid project, helping stabilize the power network.


2012: First upgrade boosts range to 228 km

Improvements to the electric powertrain, gave the LEAF more power and extended its range to 228 km. This gave drivers extra peace of mind as they planned how and when to charge their batteries. More range did not mean bigger components. In fact, the new electric powertrain was smaller. The volume was reduced by 30 per cent and mass by 10 per cent. Reduced power consumption also enabled new perks, like heated seats and steering wheel.

In 2014, LEAF sales broke through the 100,000 mark.

2015: Second upgrade adds more tweaks and even greater range

Battery improvements began to accelerate. The LEAF got a 30-kWh battery and a range of 280 km, all without compromising cabin space or charging time. Even with the added capacity, the new battery could be charged to 80 per cent in the same time it took to charge its predecessor.

The update also included new safety technologies. These included Intelligent Emergency Braking, which uses a front camera to detect vehicles and pedestrians.

The LEAF celebrated its fifth anniversary just before sales hit 200,000 vehicles.

2017: Breakthrough moment: Second-generation LEAF offers 400 km range, e-Pedal and ProPilot technology