The Leaf has never been a huge sales phenomenon, but it helped cement mass-production electric cars and was one of the first EVs to capture the imagination of early-adapters.
The i3 was also a pioneer of 21st Century electric cars – as BMW’s first stand-alone all-electric car, it sold in 74 countries around the world.
The Leaf arrived in 2011, which seems bogglingly long ago considering electric cars have only really taken off in a big way in the past couple of years. It gained clout for being inexpensive, quirky, and one of the most dependable electric cars normal drivers could buy.
But Nissan has now decided to fade out the Leaf by the mid-2020s and replace it with shiny new all-electric cars like the new Ariya. Honestly, it’s not that surprising, because electric cars have come on leaps and bounds since the Leaf first launched.
While the latest Leaf manages 226 miles, which is still good for a city car, many EVs are now managing 300 or even 400 miles on a single charge. It hasn’t really had much of a style update over the years either, while the newest electric cars are extremely futuristic. But it should always be appreciated for being a true trend-setter.
The final BMW i3 rolled off the production line in Germany in June – the very last of 25,000 vehicles manufactured over eight-and-a-half years. The i3 is one of the most distinctive electric cars, and that’s part of why it became a best-selling premium compact EVs.
We acknowledge this car is a little 'marmite': the carbon-fibre body panelling is an acquired taste; and the interior looks like something out of a Pixar film. But it’s brilliantly fun to drive and won loads of fans because it’s uncommonly light for an EV, which makes it nippy as hell.
As well as being light-years ahead of rivals by using carbon fibre and aluminium, it's also one of the most sustainably-made electric cars. Expect to see Eucalyptus, kenaf, wool and chemical-free in the ingredients list of the i3, making sustainability cool way before it was a buzzword. It really cemented the idea of electric cars as a lifestyle.
In celebration of this car's legacy, 10 special 'HomeRun Edition' i3s have been made, and we love this heartfelt finale for such a forward-thinking and progressive car.
We're super excited that a brand-new Mini Countryman Electric will take the place of the i3 in the world of BMW. The exact date for the Leaf's departure is yet to be announced, but hopefully Nissan will give it the send-off it deserves.
But just because these cars won’t be made new in the future, doesn’t mean that they aren’t a brilliant used buy today. Our reviews are the best place to find more out about these cars, while our online showroom has a huge range of stock just waiting for you to make the next step to electric.
By Freda Lewis-Stempel