It’s a big milestone for electric vehicles as the Nissan Leaf celebrates its tenth anniversary. The humble zero-emission hatchback pioneered the segment and has since sold more than 500,000 units worldwide, with the landmark car ending up in EV-loving Norway in September.

Produced over two generations in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom, the Leaf is sold in 59 countries globally. The list includes Malaysia, where we have seen both generations being offered, the latest of which is currently priced at RM181,263. Increases in battery capacity, efficiency and performance over the years have allowed the car to evolve from a city commuter to a more versatile daily driver, Nissan said.

When it first made its debut, the Leaf had an 80 kW (109 PS) motor and range of 175 km on the NEDC cycle via a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery. In 2016, a product update added a 30 kWh battery to boost range to 250 km, while the 2018 second-generation model ushered in a 110 kW (150 PS) motor and a 40 kWh battery to deliver a 285 km range on the more stringent WLTP cycle. The e+ model, introduced early last year, is capable of a 385 km range thanks to a 62 kWh battery; it also offers more power at 160 kW (217 PS).

It’s estimated that Leaf owners have driven their cars around 16 billion kilometres worldwide, preventing more than 2.5 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions from being otherwise released into the atmosphere. The batteries have also helped power homes and businesses and providing emergency electricity during natural disasters, Nissan said.

So successful was the Leaf that it was, until fairly recently, the world’s bestselling electric vehicle, only being overtaken by the Tesla Model 3 earlier this year. Now, with a decade under its belt, the Leaf is handing over the baton of being Nissan’s flagship EV to the Ariya crossover, which will sire a new range of electric cars.

The Ariya’s spec sheet reads like an embarrassment of riches next to the Leaf’s. It’s available with all-wheel drive and up to 290 kW (394 PS), plus a range of up to 610 km using an 87 kWh battery. Time will tell if the car will rack up the same kind of success that the Leaf did, but the latter will still be remembered as Nissan’s first serious foray into the world of electrification – and the company hasn’t looked back since.