It took some time, but the Leaf is now officially for sale. 

After getting a chance to drive it around Metro Manila last year, Nissan Philippines Inc (NPI) has officially launched the 2021 Leaf. It serves as the brand's first-ever electric vehicle (EV) in the country and could pave the way for more electric models to become mainstream in the Philippines.

Nissan Leaf launch PH image

With its sleek hatchback design, the 2021 Leaf has a distinct yet refined appearance. The front fascia is dominated by a V-Motion front grille, and sweeping headlights. The rear, meanwhile, has boomerang-shaped LED taillights that appear inspired by the design of the Juke/Fairlady Z coupe. Last but not least, the Leaf is available with a two-tone exterior finish that gives the EV a sportier appearance.

Driving the 2021 Leaf is an electric motor powered by a 40 kWh battery pack. It makes a modest 150 PS and an impressive 320 Nm of torque. The 62 kWh version won't be offered in the Philippine market; at least not yet.

Under the New European Driving Cycles (NEDC), the PH-spec Leaf has a claimed range of just over 300 km. Like the fuel economy of gasoline-powered cars, the range can vary greatly depending on use/driving style. During our December drive of the Leaf in Manila under heavy traffic conditions and stopping for photos and video, we were able to achieve an estimated range of 205 kilometers at an average of 8 km/h. 

Nissan Leaf launch PH image

How can users recharge the Leaf? Apart from providing owners with a mobile charger for home use, NPI will also be putting up charging stations at select Nissan dealerships; actually, Nissan says they will become the largest quick charging station network in the country.

This will be exclusive to Nissan Leaf owners and will be free of charge for the time being. This will serve as the company's way of providing on-road charging for its Leaf customers. Speaking of charging, the Leaf's batteries can achieve an 80% charge in 40 minutes using a 50-kilowatt fast charger. 

Nissan Leaf launch PH image

In terms of safety features, the Leaf comes with 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, adaptive cruise control, and many more. The Leaf will also have the E-Pedal system that allows for easy driving in traffic using only the accelerator pedal. Other intelligent safety systems available include forward collision warning, lane departure alert, driver attention warning, and a 360-degree around-view monitor system.

Now we come to the price: the Leaf will retail for PHP 2,798,000. 

Yes, that price is high; actually, it's staggering for what is essentially a compact hatchback that has no emissions. Being a full electric vehicle, the Leaf may qualify for full excise tax exemption under our tax laws (TRAIN), but the lack of other exemptions (i.e. it doesn't qualify for JPEPA) means it pays full import duties, among other things such as the cost of manufacturing, components, and importation.