Armen Hareyan's picture

Is Nissan LEAF Simply a Modified Versa?

Few days ago we published an opinion piece at TorqueNews about the future of EVs and Tesla's role in it, in which the the writer called Nissan LEAF as simply a modified version of Nissan Versa. Here is why it is not.

The story in question reasoned that the Nissan LEAF is simply a modified Versa because Versa is the cheapest new car on the market, at just above $12,000 and the LEAF is nearly three times the cost of that. Marc Fontana from SF Area Nissan LEAF Owners group completely disagrees and says we should not be mislead by the similar design of Nissan LEAF and Nissan Versa. Here is Marc's comment from the same group.

I completely disagree. The LEAF is NOT a modified Versa. It was designed as an EV. The fact that it looks a bit like a Versa is misleading the uninformed into thinking so. We'd all like EVs to be more affordable, but to compare the LEAF to a battery powered Versa is not giving the LEAF designers much credit. If all you see when you look at a LEAF is a pricey version of a VERSA then you totally discount the research, engineering and frankly pretty amazing technology that goes into moving a 3500 lb vehicle with batteries.

For me, it is worth the premium price to own a zero emission vehicle.

Anyone who wants an inexpensive EV just because they want a cheaper fuel and could care less about the harm done by petroleum, frankly doesn't deserve to own or lease an EV.

By the way 2015 Nissan Versa Note Named to 10 Best Tech-Savviest Cars Under $20k List.

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


You really did not provide any evidence either way to refute the claim made by the original author.
Please add some value here !

I am a new Leaf owner (1 month in), and most of the anti-EV commentary overlooks one critical fact: The EV driving experience is different from driving an ICE. This seems obvious, but it's often overlooked by enthusiasts. These enthusiasts will carry on about the subtle differences in engine notes between a Mustang and a Camaro, but completely ignore the seamless and astonishingly smooth experience of driving a single-speed electric car. It is not just a different source of energy - it's a different driving experience.

When I drive my ICE car, the firing cylinders, shifting gears, noisy fans and so on seem somewhat ridiculous and overly complicated.

I'm not claiming that one is better than another - money no object, I'd probably be driving a Ferrari. But there are inherent and unique advantages to driving a battery car, just as there are serious compromises (range and battery degradation). Ignoring the inherent aesthetic advantages of the EV ownership and driving experience is something real enthusiasts would be careful to avoid.

"Anyone who wants an inexpensive EV just because they want a cheaper fuel and could care less about the harm done by petroleum, frankly doesn't deserve to own or lease an EV."

This is a really poor way to look at it. It's not about deserving to own a superior product, it's about a superior product displacing an inferior product because it's superior. This statement only serves to fuel arguments against elitism.

And I must agree with Mr. Ed. This article hardly refutes at all the claim that a Leaf is a modified Versa. The fact is the Leaf was based on the Versa. It's Nissan's other compact hatchback. That is obvious. They're made by the same company and they have the same form factor. But in no way does the Leaf's having been based on the Versa make it a modified Versa. A Pontiac Vibe is in fact the same car as a Toyota Matrix, with a few modifications. They were made in the same factory, sometimes by the same people. The Vibe could be legitimately seen as a modified Matrix, or vice versa. But the Leaf is a different car from the Versa. It has a different powertrain, a different fuel, different body style, different electronics, different aerodynamics. Most parts are not interchangeable. The car is substantially different, not just a modified version of.

That's what should have been in your article.

The Leaf is a modified Versa and there's nothing wrong with admitting that fact; the suspension is the same design modified for the additional weight of the Leaf; The driveline and battery are of course different; but, the size is about the same and they both are great little hatchbacks...except the ICE in the Versa is so old world and smoggie. You know what? I'll bet the Versa would make a excellent chassis for an EV conversion...maybe that why Nissan picked it!!!

Hate the be the bearer of bad news. The Leaf is just an electric / battery verson of the Versa. A "designed from the ground up" vehicle is not cheap. Nissan is already have issue's keeping the cost down while withstanding a warranty, anything they can do to save money is what keeps this car on the edge of affordable / not affordable. We all know you are paying more for the battery car, which is arguable if it will last long enough to get somekind of ROI vs. buying gas. As of right now, their best reason to purchase is if you don't drive much as it is because you live paycheck to paycheck, and you can take advantage of free HOV access in California. Other than that, they don't sell well, and keep horrible residual value. Probably because after all, it is just a Nissan Versa that you plug in instead of fill up. Driving experience aside, it's still small, not sexy, and has limited cargo space. Simple as that.

BEVs are destined to be small. Just making the vehicle larger requires a much bigger battery to maintain the same range. But then you are adding significant weight. More weight means frame, suspension, brakes, etc, all have to be heavier duty. Now that everything is truck grade to handle all the extra weight, you need even more battery to continue getting the same desired range. The extra battery also needs more space, and is also continuously bringing up the cost of the vehicle. Before you know it, you have a mid sized SUV that has over 50KWh pack, but can barely get more miles than the Nissan Leaf. (See Toyota Rav4 EV made by Tesla)

It's such a broken paradigm. The weight issue is just too tremendous.