Nissan already had its work cut out in designing a hybrid—whatever it made had to measure up to Toyota’s hugely successful Prius. Then it needed a name, which came at the end of a process blending business, culture, and the law. Possibilities must be cleared in hundreds of countries, not only for copyright restrictions but for potential unintended hilarity: see Mazda’s “Bongo Friendee” van and Daihatsu’s “Naked” minicar. The result is the green-sounding Leaf.
The availability of a suitable name was "a minor miracle," a Nissan exec tells Bloomberg. "We go through a vetting process to avoid words that have negative connotations or links to sex and violence." An analyst says of the car, which rolls out in the US, Europe, and Japan next year: "Nissan is staking its future on the Leaf, and its name must match up with consumers’ needs and their subconscious."