Nissan slashes entry-level Leaf EV by $6k

Nissan's new Leaf EV could be priced as low as $18,800 in 2013, as the company chases elusive sales and first-time electric car buyers with a refreshed, budget version. The company, already stinging from less-than-anticipated demand for the Leaf worldwide, had previously confirmed that it would be introducing a third, entry-level version of the car for the new year; now, it's confirmed pricing, though exactly how good a deal drivers will get depends on their local subsidies.

Nissan's base price for the entry-level Leaf will be $28,800, the company has confirmed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week. That's $6,000 less than the current cheapest model, and forms the bottom rung of a new, three car line-up.

With locally-decided subsidies, however, those in more EV-friendly states could save $10,000 off the sticker price, bringing the Leaf comfortably under the all-important $20k boundary. "Now, customers won't have to pay a premium for owning a green car that's really fun to drive," GVP Billy Hayes said of the new model, "and that's exciting."

However, the cheapest Leaf won't have quite the same kit bag as its more expensive siblings. For the new line-up, Nissan is adding an onboard fast-charging system that can apparently rejuice the EV in roughly half the time of before; that will be standard on the two higher-tier versions, but a paid option on the budget Leaf.