Is the Philippines really ready for the Nissan LEAF?      

Updated May 18, 2021 | Same topic: Best Advice for Car Buyers

Nissan Philippines is taking a chance with EV technology.

As the cliché goes, ‘better late than never,’ which could very well describe the Nissan LEAF’s delayed arrival to Philippine showrooms. The second-generation electric vehicle certainly took its sweet time in coming here, considering four years have passed (enough time for a mid-cycle refresh) since making its global debut.

Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF finally reaches our shores

Fans of electric vehicle (EV) tech will have something to look forward to, but what about the rest of the market? In the pilot edition of Philkotse’s Shift Happens podcast, host Stanley Chi discussed the Nissan LEAF’s prospects in the country with the Philkotse editorial panel.

Shift Happens Pilot Episode

Content manager Jacob Oliva expressed the LEAF’s main attribute in lacking a combustion engine. “Electric nga siya, so hindi ka magga-gas. Hindi ka pupunta ng gasoline station para magpa-gas.” (It’s electric, so it doesn’t need gas. You won’t have to go to a gasoline station to fuel up.)

He likens it to a regular appliance that simply needs to be plugged in for charging. This is a strong selling proposition for the model, considering that petroleum prices in the Philippines among the most expensive in the world.

Stanley with Philkotse team

Stanley Chi (top right) engages the Philkotse editorial panel on the maiden episode of Shift Happens

But a sticker price of Php 2,798,000 might not be something that majority of the market would go for. “Maraming nagulat doon sa presyo niya, to be honest,” explains content editor Martin Aguilar. “Ang defense ni Nissan is because merong import duties na kailangang bayaran, which is around 30 percent.” (Many were shocked at the rather high cost, to be honest. Nissan justified the pricing because of the import duties to be paid on the model, around 30 percent.)

Asked if the LEAF could be considered ahead of its time in the country, content lead Joseph Estabillo replied, “In a way, although hindi naman siya yung kauna-unahang EV na dumating dito. There have been others…I think this would probably be one of the first from the mainstream brands.” (In a way, although the LEAF is far from the very first EV released here. I think this would probably be one of the first from the mainstream brands.)

Nissan LEAF on highway

The LEAF should be good for a week of commutes between home and office on a full charge

Korean carmaker Hyundai previously marketed two of their EV models here, namely the Ioniq electric and the Kona EV, priced at Php 2.05 million and Php 2.38 million, respectively. Both models have since been dropped from the lineup. The rest of the local EV offerings mostly come from Chinese marques such as those from BYD, Chery’s Arrizo 5e, and Changan’s Eado EV460.

Korean carmaker Hyundai previously marketed two of their EV models here, namely the Ioniq electric and the Kona EV, priced at Php 2.05 million and Php 2.38 million, respectively. Both models have since been dropped from the lineup. The rest of the local EV offerings mostly come from Chinese marques such as those from BYD, Chery’s Arrizo 5e, and Changan’s Eado EV460.

EV charging

One obstacle to widespread EV adoption is the lack of available charging stations

Despite the presence of EVs in the market prior to the LEAF, Jacob points out that the segment has yet to find broader success among a greater section of its target customers. “Sa totoo lang, ang number one talaga na malaking tulong para EV industry…is gobyerno. Dalawa yan eh, infrastructure saka taxes.” (To be honest, government plays the biggest role in helping the EV industry through two things: infrastructure and taxes.)

Owning technologically advanced EVs such as the LEAF would be challenging if no charging network exists to support them. In other countries, he adds, there are financial incentives for customers to purchase EVs, and those are initiated by the government.

For his part, Joseph says that the lack of infrastructure problem could have been addressed with a transitional hybrid vehicle such as the Kicks e-Power. “That would have been a very good transition to electric vehicles,” he notes. “Pag sinabing hybrid vehicle ang isang sasakyan, gumagamit siya ng combustion engine with an electric motor. Ano ang special dito sa Kicks e-Power? Meron siyang combustion engine pero hindi nakakonekta sa gulong.”

Nissan Kicks e-Power

One workaround to the infrastructure problem could have been hybrid vehicles such as Nissan's Kicks e-Power

(When you say hybrid vehicle, it uses a combustion engine with an electric motor. What’s special about the Kicks e-Power is that the combustion engine isn’t connected to the wheels.)

A series hybrid system such as e-Power negates the need for an external charging system since the combustion engine supplies the necessary electrical power through an onboard battery. And since the engine doesn’t spin the wheels directly, it’s free to run at its most efficient speed even when the vehicle is standing still, reducing emissions.

Nevertheless, Jacob adds that there are still many misconceptions about EVs that people need to shed, especially when it comes to range. “Yung LEAF naman, yung range niya is pang-Pilipinas talaga. Yung Pilipinas kasi short drive country ito eh, hindi ganun kalalayo ang drive dito. So 311 kilometers of range, sobra-sobra na yun.” (The LEAF’s range is appropriate for the Philippines since relatively short drives are the norm here. The 311-km. range is more than enough.)

Nissan LEAF on road

Overcoming the challenges met by EVs is one of the LEAF's missions

For Martin, EVs are the future of mobility, especially with ASEAN countries already starting to shift away from combustion engines. “The good thing is, parang indication siya ng early adoption ng Philippines sa electric vehicles. Inaantay lang natin talaga yung concrete policies and better incentives, and syempre more charging stations para mawala sa mga tao yung range anxiety.”

(It’s an indication of the Philippines’ early adoption of electric vehicles. We’re still waiting for concrete policies, better incentives, and more charging stations so that range anxiety won’t be an issue.)

More insightful discussions to power automotive knowledge at Philkotse.com.

Know more about Nissan LEAF 2021

Nissan LEAF

<p>The Nissan LEAF is an electric-powered five-door hatchback fitted with a wide array of advanced features for modern-day driving. It is one of the best-selling electric vehicles globally, featuring a 311 km maximum range. It features a sporty exterior detailed with the latest innovations. Inside, it is equipped with a wide array of comfort and convenience features. Nissan Philippines is offering the LEAF at Php 2,798,000. Available colors for the 2021 Nissan LEAF with the two-tone blacked-out roof include Pearl White, Vivid Blue, Gun Metallic, and Magnetic Red.</p>

From ₱2,798,000

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Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Author

Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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