Only one battery spec will be offered

This year, Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) is set to enter the largely untapped battery electric vehicle (BEV, or just EV) market with the Leaf. They announced in early 2019 that they will be launching the second generation Leaf in 2020, and will become the largest car company by sales volume in the Philippines to launch a BEV.

Many are curious though: What will the Philippine market Nissan Leaf be like, what features will it have, how it be charged, and most importantly how much will it cost?

The first question is which Leaf will the Philippines get. There are two distinct international versions of the Leaf. The first is the 110 kilowatt (150 PS) model with the 40 kWh battery which is known as the Leaf S or SV in the US or just Leaf in the UK. The other version is the 160 kilowatt (218 PS) version with the larger 62 kWh battery which is the Leaf Plus in the US or Leaf E+ in Europe.

We've been asking insiders as to which model our market will get, and we've been told that it will be first version of the Leaf with the 40 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery and the 110 kW motor. Under WLTP test cycles, this model has a quoted range of about 322 kilometers, while under the JC08 test they quote the range at 400 km. We won't be getting the 62 kWh Leaf Plus or E+ which has a longer range and the more powerful motor.

This model has a quoted urban range of about 270 kilometers in urban settings, though we expect it to be a bit lower given the heavier traffic in places like Metro Manila. Nevertheless, during our own casual urban testing (but realistic) abroad through, we were able to drive 183 kilometers of city streets, smooth highways and mountain roads, and still had 28% charge remaining.

Given that, we expect the Leaf EV to have a local driving range anywhere between 200 to 250 km in our urban settings. It is also worthy to note that higher ambient temperatures are expected to affect the driving range available from the battery, though we've also been informed that Nissan is testing the Leaf in local conditions to see how it actually performs, and how much range is lost due to higher temperatures. 

The Philippine-market Leaf will have most of the normal features expected of a modern EV. It will have the typical power features, safety equipment and more. The vehicle will come with Nissan's single pedal drive system, otherwise known as e-Pedal; basically with this mode activated, you can drive the Leaf just by modulating your right-foot's pressure on the throttle. Lift off, and it will come to a smooth full stop on its own.

It is worthy to note that PH Leaf models will not get the ProPilot system; Nissan's new generation driver assist package that doubles as a semi-autonomous smart cruise control system on the highway, up to and including the ability to steer to stay within the lane on a highway. Too bad we won't get it; we expect it's because of the lackluster lane markings on our roads, and the generally unpredictable behavior of other drivers that would render systems like ProPilot as a potential liability. 

As for charging, the Leaf can be charged overnight at home to full capacity provided your parking spot or garage has a 220-volt outlet. Each Leaf will have a basic charging harness that can plug directly into the outlet. We've been told that Nissan is looking to offer a special charging wall box for homes, but will require some kind of special direct wiring to the main line.

On the road, given the absence of EV charging stations at major petrol stations (except for less than a handful of UniOil stations), we learned that Nissan is looking at putting up charging stations at selected Nissan dealers for Leaf customers. As to which dealers, we can't be entirely sure, but we expect that not all Nissan dealers will have them; most likely selected dealers around the major metropolitan areas.

This will be the on-road charging solution for Nissan Leaf customers up until the major stations start to put up charging units for commercial use. Using a fast charging station, the PH-spec Leaf 40kWh should be able to achieve an 80% charge in 40 minutes.

Now we come to the pricing. The Leaf the Philippines will get will be a Japanese-made model. That's important because (1) it does not qualify for the ASEAN Free Trade Area and (2) it doesn't qualify for JPEPA because there's no engine and as far as we know there's no electric motor equivalent under those rules. That means the Leaf will not benefit from any tariff breaks, but it will be exempted from excise taxes under the tax reform (TRAIN) law.

As for how much, we've been informed that Nissan Philippines is looking at pricing the Leaf EV between PhP 1,800,000 to 2,000,000. The pricing isn't final yet which is why we don't have an SRP, but it is likely that only one variant will be offered. It's also worth noting that the other BEV from another major car company, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, is available for indent order at PhP 2,048,000.

Do you think the Leaf will succeed with that kind of pricing?