The Nissan Leaf is a pure electric car, the most successful car without an internal combustion engine of all time, with more than 250,000 units sold since 2010. It is manufactured in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan, and is for many the electric car of reference.
On the other side of the ring, the Toyota Prius Prime, the plug-in version of the best-selling hybrid in history. In the fourth generation it differs by having more electric range than the hybrid, by losing a seat and by having a differentiated design (for some, like me, it's "better"). It can run some of the time on electricity and the rest of the time like any other hybrid: with gasoline and electricity recovered while driving.
The Nissan Leaf, in its highest capacity version (30 kWh), can do 172 kilometers according to the American EPA, compared to the 50 km that can make the Prius Prime without pulling gasoline. The Nissan has 109 hp, compared to 95 hp for the Prius Prime in zero-emission mode. In all other conditions the Prius Prime combines 122 hp. In performance the Prius Prime is slightly ahead of the Leaf (acceleration and braking), and beats it in top end, although the latter is almost irrelevant. European range approval data is like toilet paper, and it's good for what it's good for.
The Toyota weighs a little more than the Nissan, as it has more mechanical components, but it has a more dynamic behaviour due to the multi-link rear suspension and a lower centre of gravity thanks to the TNGA architecture. The Leaf boasts a larger boot capacity and five seats, compared to the Prius Prime's four.
Which one uses less energy? The answer is complex: within 50 kilometers, the Toyota wins, as it uses fewer kilowatts of battery power. Beyond that limit, the efficiency of the Prius is worse because the gasoline engine, one of the most efficient in the world, wastes 60% of the calorific value of the fuel. Beyond 170 kilometers, the Prius can keep going for several more hours, while the Leaf has to recover charge, a minimum of half an hour at 40 kilowatts to recharge electrons for another 150 kilometers.
In the opposite direction, over a distance of 170 kilometers the Leaf has not thrown anything out of the tailpipe, the Prius Prime has been polluting - albeit little - for 120 kilometers. In its defence, it must be said that no car in its category would emit so few pollutants, and in both cases they are light years away from polluting like a diesel, even though the Leaf belongs to an Asturian who owns a coal-fired power station in front of his house.
Finally, the Prius Prime is clearly cheaper, although the example is calculated based on US prices, but Spain will be different. Moreover, in our country will be much easier to buy a Leaf than the Prius Prime, as Toyota Spain will bring few, equipped to the top, and will be expensive. In contrast, Nissan offers the basic Visia, and with 24 kWh battery is much more accessible, especially if instead of owning batteries are leased to Nissan.
Which one is "better"? I consider the Prius Prime to be more versatile, leaving out the fifth seat, and more environmentally friendly over short distances. Over longer distances it's more practical, but the Leaf beats it. What if the Prius Prime didn't have an internal combustion engine and 30 kWh of batteries? It would go further than the Leaf charging the same kilowatts, produce less indirect pollution, but would have lower performance for less power. As far as I know, a pure electric Prius is not in Toyota's plans, and if they ever get around to it, it will be in the middle of the next decade and I doubt they will call it "Prius".
This infographic was made by subsidiaries of Toyota and Nissan, with data from the U.S. market. It serves as a summary of what I just explained. Except for the prices, the specs are the same.
Which one would you choose?