Posted May 16th 2013 12:00PM
Look at the 2013 Nissan Leaf – even one parked next to a 2012 model – and you'll be hard-pressed to spot the differences. Changes and updates have been made, but you have to know the details to tell. It's sort of like listening to a hipster tell you why Interpol and The National have completely different sounds. We should mention upfront that Canadians will have to wait a little while longer before they can stroll into their local Nissan dealership to pick out a 2013 model year Leaf. For now, you'll be shopping for a 2012 model year, which, as you'll find below, is not so different from the latest version.
Nissan says it didn't reinvent the Leaf because what the company has created is working. Over 25,000 Leafs have been sold to our neighbors south of the border (a few thousand have been sold here as well) – amounting to 62,000 around the world – since the car went on sale in late 2010. That may not sound like a lot, but it's heads and shoulders above any other all-electric car available anywhere. The car has its detractors – boy, does it ever – but Nissan knows it's hard to argue with real-world success.
We recently spent a few hours driving the new Leaf around the hills of central Tennessee after a visit to Nissan's new 44,129 square-metre (475,000 square-foot) battery plant. What we learned there provided a lot of hints about the company's electric future. Nissan may be leading today, but company head Carlos Ghosn has made huge, multi-billion-dollar bets on zero-emission technology and the rest of the world has been very slow to prove him right.