A Canberra couple has documented their journey buying a 62kWh e+ Nissan Leaf – a long range variant of the popular electric vehicle offered by Nissan overseas but not in Australia – as a “grey import”.
Grey imports offer a chance for people to buy models – and more recently also variants – of vehicles not offered in Australia, both new and secondhand.
Recent changes to the grey import laws, coupled with a small number of new electric models available locally, means that models like the 62kWh Leaf (which is only available new here with a 40kWh battery) could help fill a gap in the lagging local EV market.
A recent Evenergi report covered by The Driven has also touted a business model that would see more electric vehicles brought into Australia, where a lack of policy has forced car makers to direct new stock overseas.
While this plan has met with considerable opposition from the local car industry, it hasn’t stopped Shane and Karen Maher who will take ownership of their new Nissan Leaf from Japan in August.
“To our knowledge it will be the first privately imported e+ Nissan Leaf into Australia,” the couple, who flew to New Zealand to test drive the vehicle, citing a lack of adequate charging infrastructure in Australia for a five day test drive, told The Driven.
After returning home, the couple decided to buy the Nissan Leaf – but not through a dealership.
— EV4ME (@EV4ME2) May 29, 2020
For a start, they could only buy from local dealerships the 40kWh Nissan Leaf, which has a driving range of 270km based on the European WLTP cycle and in real world driving this is more like 240km.
Because they were after something with more than 320km driving range, they opted for the 62kWh Leaf which has 385km driving range (WLTP).
The process involves employing an agent who will bid for and arrange shipping for the vehicle, among other things, then getting a compliance check in Australia. The Mahers also share which charging cables and wall chargers they opt for their new Leaf.
In a post on the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) Facebook group, they said that, “This is not about the car, its an idiot’s guide (Myself and Shane, being the idiots) to the process. It will be somewhere in between a success or failure.
“Imagine not having much money, and being able to purchase a 40kWh Leaf from Japan for between $34k-$37k. Instead of buying a new one [in Australia] for $54k.
“Not everybody has a lot of money. This is another way of buying a second hand Leaf, even when there is a very, very small second hand market locally,” wrote the Mahers.
You can view their latest video on the process below.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.