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Imported Nissan LEAF - a buying guide for Australia and NZ

How to buy a cheap, low-kilometre second hand EV from Japan

Nissan Leaf charging.jpg

The original Nissan LEAF, the ZE0 model, wasn’t very well received by the Australian public, so much so that many cars remained unsold on new car dealers forecourts for many years. 

Nissan Australia officially stopped selling the Nissan Leaf new in 2014 (dealers sold remaining stock into 2015). They were more expensive than imports, so dealers weren't interested in continuing to try to sell them. They restarted in 2019 with the ZE1 model.


There are 3 major designations of Nissan LEAF:


  • The first generation from 2012 - ZE0, is always Australian delivered.

  • 2013 to 2017 - the AZE0, only seen in Australia as a grey import electric vehicle.

  • 2018 onwards - the ZE1, also only seen in Australia as a grey import electric vehicle.

Note some ZE0 vehicles were not first registered until 2014 so don't confuse build date with first registered date. The ZE0 and AZE0 are considered to be Gen1 or older shape where as the ZE1 is the new shape. We've outlined the key differences between ZE0 and AZE0 below. 

​What price will you pay for an imported Nissan LEAF in Australia or NZ?


The reasonable price range of the Nissan LEAF means this EV has a solid following in many markets, retains value and are quickly snapped up when sold second hand.


Smart buyers have also tapped into the Japanese domestic market (JDM) imports to Australia; these are low-kilometre, good condition used LEAFs that can be picked up from around $18,000 from individual dealers or, increasingly, community bulk buy schemes.


The price of Nissan LEAFs can be seen for even less again perhaps as low as $12,000 but you should expect to see fairly degraded battery for that price. 


As with most other EVs, the Nissan LEAFs normally comes with a portable EV charging cable but if it's an imported Nissan LEAF we suggest you check if it's compliant with Australian standards before use. Many Japanese imports are delivered with a 200v portable charger which is dangerous when used on voltages found in Australia and NZ. 


You may also need a Type 2 to Type 1 electric car charging cable to enable charging of your LEAF EV in public.



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Trim and equipment levels available for imported Nissan LEAFs


ZE0 Leafs have two trim levels:

The X (lower end) and G (higher end). Both have a charge timer (to set start and stop times for charging off peak) and climate timer (to pre-heat or pre-cool the cabin while plugged in), Bluetooth connectivity, push button start, stability control, and 6 airbags. The G adds fog lights, auto headlights, reverse camera, and a solar panel spoiler to trickle charge the accessory battery (not the main traction battery).

AZE0 introduced a third lower end trim level S:

This made the X the mid-range. The main improvements of the AZE0 Leaf are improved battery chemistry (much slower degradation), 80 kg weight reduction with aluminium doors and bonnet (applicable only to Japanese models, UK models have steel doors/bonnet), more boot space, hill start assist, charge plug lock + light, insulated ceiling, dark trim option, and on X and G models: enhanced brake regeneration (B mode) and a more power-efficient heating system (heat pump instead of resistive).

All have the same 24 kWh battery (except 2016+ models that have a larger 30 kWh option), performance, and vital features such as the charge and climate timers. Note the absence of a parcel tray in all but the G trim before 2016. The parking brake in the ZE0 is electronic, while it is a classical foot-operated one in the AZE0 (less futuristic, but possible more reliable).

The number of airbags also varies by trim. For example a 2014 S may only have driver and passenger airbags, while a G may have curtain airbags. It is unclear exactly which trim levels and years have different airbag specifications.
You can easily tell the S trim by the large round manual climate control knobs instead of the digital climate controls of the X and G.

Trim comparison between Nissan LEAF AZE0 2012-2017


Nissan LEAF S trim.jpg

S trim centre console showing rotating dials absent in other trims

Nissan leaf X G trim Import

X & G trim centre console showing digital climate controls

Nissan LEAF language conversion, Japanese to English

If you buy an imported LEAF from Japan, obviously, both the instrument binnacle (where you read speed and battery range ) and the head unit or radio will all be in Japanese.

Using proprietary software, the EVolution team can convert both the head unit and instrument binnacle to English for you.


There are differences in functionality that come across with conversion. Some head units are converted with full Australian maps and Apple car play and Android Auto. Simply get in touch to find out more.

How to measure battery state of health (SoH) on a Nissan LEAF


Nissan LEAF 12 bars SOH.jpg

Count them.. all 12 bars or segments on this healthy battery 

nissan leaf 11 bars.jpg

Only 11 bars of battery health on this Nissan LEAF

All batteries degrade, but the odd one degrades faster than the rest. The key factors are if the car has been repeatedly DC fast charged or of the battery has been held at 100% state of charge for extended periods of time.  However, EV batteries have been lasting a lot longer than the manufacturers lead us to believe. That said, as the battery degrades, the car may no longer be suitable for your daily commute.

When purchasing a Leaf, you should check (or ask your importer) to check battery bars on the dashboard display. On the far right of the battery state of charge meter is a row of 12 bars with the numeral 1 at the top and the numeral 0 at the bottom. The lowest two bars will be red. Note the 12 bars.


AZE0 Leafs should have 12 bars. ZE0 Leafs may only have 10 or 11. It would perhaps be wise to avoid a Leaf with fewer bars, unless you can get a good deal and don't require as much range.

In the near future we will offer battery upgrades for used Nissan LEAFs but for now the operation isn't economical. We recommend you purchase the best Nissan LEAF you can afford, that suits your daily driving needs.

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Nissan LEAF Instrument Binnacle Head Unit Conversions

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