Cheaper Nissan Leaf confirmed to spur 2013 EV sales

Nissan has confirmed a new version of the Leaf electric car will launch this year, a cheaper model to lower the cost of entry to EVs, though the car company is yet to announce actual pricing. The new Leaf S – which will go on sale alongside two more feature-packed variants of the car – should hit showrooms in February, Nissan says, with the primary compromise being the absence of a new fast charging system.

That 6.6kw charging system will be a standard option on the top two tiers of Leaf – known as the Leaf SV and Leaf SL – and should significantly reduce the time it takes the get the car juiced up and back on the road. In fact, the updated charger is expected to roughly halve charging time in comparison to the 2012 Leaf, the batteries of which can be filled in around seven hours.

Those who opt for the cheapest 2013 Leaf will have to pay extra for the fast-charge system, part of Nissan's cost-cutting for the new car. It will be produced in Nissan's Tennessee plant, with the batteries manufactured in a nearby facility. Options will include a more premium interior with more advanced infotainment systems.

Range for all three variants will be improved over the models on sale in the past two years, as Nissan tries to be more competitive against popular rivals like Chevy's Volt. The Japanese company sold under 10,000 Leaf cars in 2012, half of its target amount.