By on May 17, 2011

When I was a kid I was told that by the time I was 30 we would all be piloting nuclear powered flying cars. Reality, of course, has dictated that gasoline is still the most cost effective way of delivering what the average person considers a “normal driving experience.” In an attempt to change not just how we “fuel” a car, but the very way a car is integrated into our lives, Nissan has released the first volume produced electric car in North America. Yea, yea I know about the GM EV1, Toyota Rav4 EV and the Ford experiments, but let’s be real, Nissan has already sold more Leafs (Nissan tells me the plural is not Leaves) in the first few tsunami-effected months of this year than GM sold during the two years of EV1 production. How did they do it? We borrowed a white Leaf for just under three days to find out why 20,000 have already pre-ordered one of these pure-electric cars.

The first thing you need to learn about an electric car is the term “range anxiety.”  First used to describe the 60-mile optimistic range of the EV1, it is something of a real concern with any vehicle that takes several hours to “refuel.” Before badgering Nissan ad nauseam to test the Leaf, my own research indicated that the 90-120 mile range should be sufficient for my 53-mile one-way commute assuming I was able to charge the car at both ends.

When the Leaf was delivered to me bright and early Tuesday morning, I have to admit that range anxiety was already setting in. I had prepared that morning by bringing with me two 50-foot and one 100-foot extension cords just in case (never mind that the car was only about 40 feet from an electrical outlet.) I spent my evening the day before researching charging stations only to find very few on my long trek home. I had already been warned that since a “portable” 240-volt charging station is not officially available (although plenty of forum guys have hacked one together successfully, only the 120V “Emergency” trickle charging cord is provided to the press. Knowing that using this cable would result in long charge times, I plugged the car in the second it arrived.

Of course since I work in an industrial area built in the 1960s when the only electric cars were either in The Jetsons or on the golf course, street parking is the name of the game. This meant I had to resort to running the cord out my office window, across the lawn, over the sidewalk and into the street to charge my parallel-parked Leaf. The beep indicated something was underway and I waited for something magic to happen (I’m not really sure what I expected). It didn’t. It was just an ordinary car refilling very slowly with its fuel of choice: electrons. Once plugged in –and trying very hard not to think of how many laws I was breaking by having a tripwire across the sidewalk– I took out the iPhone 4 that Nissan loaned us to see how the CarWings app works in person. One quick check revealed a range of 108 miles and a charging time of 3 hours on 120V to full.

Normally I take a press car out for an immediate spin, at least around the block to pair my phone to the Bluetooth, see where the iPod goes, check out any whiz-bang features and generally acquaint myself with the car. The Leaf was different however. My irrational fears made me believe that even opening the door would leave me without enough power to make it home, so I decided to wait until lunchtime to go run an errand at Lowe’s. Running a lunch-time errand has never given me chills before, but my 12-mile round trip to Lowes filled me with “range anxiety” as I could only have imagined.

Trying to calm my racing heart as I accelerated to 65MPH in about four-minutes (saving juice) I decided to explore the interior. The Leaf doesn’t come across as being “built to a price” like some of the interior plastics and hard seats I found in the Chevy Volt during a quick spin in November. Instead, the Leaf can be best described as “built to a weight.” That weight savings explains certain features that you would normally expect in a $35,000 car that are missing in the Leaf such as leather seats, lumbar support, squishy dashboard bits, dual zone climate control, or an up-level bazillion-speaker sound system. Fortunately for my six-foot frame, the driver’s seat is surprisingly comfortable, even sans lumbar support, and my six-foot-five partner was as comfortable as he is in any mid-size sedan on the market.

Back to that short trip; I arrived at Lowe’s only to find the doo-dad I was looking for was no longer stocked. It was at that moment I realized driving an electric car may take some adjustment to my usual routine. In truth however this adjustment could be made in any car to save gas, but in an electric car the charging time makes “calling ahead” all the more important. On my way back I visited my favorite private road for a bit of 0-60 testing during which the Leaf ran to 60 in a recorded and reasonable 10.2 seconds. (So much for those 7-second tumors floating around the web last year.) My desire to run to 60 from a stand-still thrice consumed 10-miles of conservative driving battery. Discouraged,(but thankful I had remembered to bag my lunch) I bypassed the fast-food joint and cruised slowly back to the office to resume my illegal trans-sidewalk charging.

 

Trip distance: 11.8

Average speed: 32.2

Travel Time: 0:26

Average Miles/kWh: 4.1

Range Left: 88mi

Outside Temperature: 58

After pugging my Leaf in, I was reminded I had to swing by Almaden for a meeting after work on my way home. This trip would put additional strain on my range because it involved a longer distance (15 additional miles) and more time on Santa Clara county expressways where high-speeds are mixed with frequent stoplights, a bad combo for efficiency. Fortunately the Leaf includes a standard navigation system to help limit your battery-draining wrong turns, however it lacks a feature which I would find handy: a mode to direct you the most efficient way rather than fastest or shortest distance.

After an additional three-hour 120V charge, the CarWings app said I had a range of 105 miles so I un-plugged, packed my extension cords and was off. The balmy weather of the San Francisco peninsula gradually gave way to the warmer valley temperatures of San Jose as I drove south. I’ll be the first to admit that I love my air conditioning, but I reminded myself that my trip home involved crossing a 2,000ft mountain pass in the dark, so I simmered quietly inside the Leaf.

Trip distance: 43 miles

Average speed:35.6mph

Travel Time: 1:25

Average miles/kWh: 6.8

Range Left: 59 miles

Temp: 69

After my meeting (and 3:30 minute 120V charge) I once again unplugged, packed my cords, and hopped in the car to head home. As it was now dark I discovered the other concept that was new to me: reduced range when using the headlamps. As we all know, it takes electricity to light a bulb and although the Leaf’s trendy LED lamps are much more efficient than your average halogen, they still took a slight but noticeable hit on estimated mileage.

One of the big benefits of the Leaf as a commuter car is the fact that it has none of the maintenance costs associated with a regular car. There is no engine oil or transmission fluid to change, there are no spark plugs, no air filter, nothing to tune-up or smog check, no muffler to rust. The only maintenances items according to Nissan are the brake pads, but as the Leaf does a large percentage of the braking task with the electric motor to re-charge the batteries, expect those pads to last many years without issue even in mountainous terrain.

Speaking of that terrain, my last trip of the day took me up a fairly steep 2,000ft mountain pass on my way home. The high torque from the electric motor and single-speed transmission make driving the Leaf in hilly terrain easier than the 106HP and 207 lb-ft of torque would seem to indicate. The way the motor in the Leaf delivers power is quite unlike anything you’ve ever driven before, so my recommendation would be to just take those performance numbers with a grain of salt until there are more pure electric vehicles on the market to compare against. With my first day drawing to a close and the Leaf giving me a 48-mile to empty indication, I plugged it in hoping that 8-hours of 120V charging might at least get me past the half-full mark. Good thing I put that electrical outlet next to our driveway.

Trip distance: 25.2 miles

Average speed: 46.2mph

Travel Time: 40 min

Average miles/kWh: 4

Range Left: 48 miles

Temp: 58

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one “tank of gas” for this review.

Checkout the other instalments of our Leaf trilogy:
2011 Nissan Lead: Day Two
2011 Nissan Lead: Day Three

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148 Comments on “Review: 2011 Nissan Leaf: Day One...”


  • avatar
    bobp

    “Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.”

    One tank of gas eh?

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    “Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.” Too funny.

    Nice review. It would look like Nissan has a pretty capable EV. The big question is will the infrastructure sprout up fast enough to support this? There are already proposals for/existing laws about running cords across pedestrian walks…..just ask any northern city dweller with a block heater.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’m curious. Does the Leaf have an OBD-II port? Federal laws, and many states’ emissions testing, *require* a port… but what would it check on a Leaf?

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      I think it would make sense to have an OBD port as a way to do diagnostics using an industry standard tool.

      One thing I have learned is that since the Leaf has no tailpipe emissions, some components common to gas or gas/hybrids are not required to have as long of warranties. For instance, the on-board 110VAC charging system on the Leaf falls under the bumper-to-bumper (5yr/60,000mile). On the Volt, the on-board 110VAC charger is required by Fed and Carb to have 8yr/100,000mile warranty due to if it fails, the gas engine may have to run more to charge or propel the vehicle, resulting in higher emissions.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It does have an OBDII port, but what information it shares is a mystery to me. I am told that it delivers all the normal stats plus Leaf specific diagnostics. I’m sure that’s motor RPM, temp, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      EyeMWing

      The same stuff a normal OBDII port delivers. The OBD-based emissions testing is just the state plugging in and checking to see if you have any trouble codes being thrown (just in case you somehow rigged the lightbulb)

      As for the PID data – it’s up to manufacturers to choose which PIDs they do and do not support. There are no mandatory ones. So it just doesn’t respond to any requests that don’t make sense, just like a normal car won’t respond to any requests about its EV battery or hybrid system or whatever.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    How do you plan to test your maximum range in the Leaf under real driving conditions? By constantly recharging the car, you’ll never be able to accomplish that!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yes, and then again, no. It’s entirely likely that you’d plug your car in when you get to your destination, much like you would your cellphone. You wouldn’t, and probably could not, refuel a gas car at your workplace.

      • 0 avatar
        1996MEdition

        My workplace goes ballistic if you have a small fan or personal heater sucking up their electricity……I don’t think they would feel that good about me plugging in a car.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        What if you paid for the electricity?

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        A small fan? So about 5 cents a day in electricity? Even a 1000 watt heater at less than a dollar per eight hour day should be acceptable. It doesn’t sound like they value you much as an employee.

      • 0 avatar
        Slow_Joe_Crow

        The no fan or heater rule is probably more safety driven than stinginess. Where I work they have charging stations on site (with Nissan Leafs plugged into them ) but they still won’t let you put a heater in your cube for fear of setting the cube on fire.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    Time to update the templates.
    >Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

    I’ve heard of people getting similar range anxiety the first time they use a diesel vehicle, nervous that they won’t be able to find diesel pumps. Granted, we do have a successful diesel refueling infrastructure in place, or trucks wouldn’t be too useful, but I get a similar vibe from some of those folk, and I find it grating.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      At least with a diesel engine, you can put a 1 gallon jerry can in the trunk. I don’t think there’s an easy way to store 40-50 miles of emergency electricity in the trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Honda sells a “Nissan Leaf Emergency Charger”.

        Buy a Honda Generator & put it in your trunk!

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        BTW, if you Top Gear the Leaf, and charge it from the Honda generator, I’ll bet Honda would refund the cost of the generator for the publicity value of being able to stream video of one of their generators rescuing a Nissan Leaf.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        SVX pearlie,

        How long would that take to run? Think about it, you are charging the battery to get yourself home. It could take you sitting on the road for an hour or more with it charging the battery.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      You’d have to live under a rock to have diesel range anxiety in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Range Anxiety on a Diesel? Pshaw!

      With a Jetta worst case scenario of stop n go urban driving with the AC Cranked you have over 350mi on a tank. Freeway crushing you have ~550mi before the hunt for fuel starts.

      When I owned a Diesel Liberty KJ I used to Start thinking about my fuel stop ~350 miles into the 20.5 thank.

      Now you do get Cold Start Anxiety in climes where it gets crazy cold.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      Speaking of range anxiety and Diesel fuel. I once was moving from IA to TN (or was it TN to IA) and had to stop in IL for Diesel at a Flying J.

      Unfortunately they only had one consumer sized Diesel pump and there was a motorhome blocking it with another Diesel vehicle waiting. So I pulled the rental truck into the commercial lanes to grab some Diesel.

      Good news was there were plenty of free pumps on the commercial side and the desk was willing to let me pump that way. Bad news was the filler restriction was for the smaller consumer diesel (surprise!) so I had to trickle fill a large tank (50 gall, 100 gall, I don’t remember now). Before I was done both of the people had gone through the consumer diesel pump and I was still pumping. I have no idea if I paid more or less per gallon by going to the other pump I was just trying to fill up and get back on the road. I also have no idea if the fuel quality was any different. I didn’t have problems with the vehicle so I have to assume it was the same stuff or close enough not to matter.

      Now compare that to an electric only vehicle. What if the gas station you go to has 4 gas pumps and 2 electrical chargers but you have to sit there at the charger while dozens of cars go in and out at the gas pumps how would that make you feel? May only be an issue for the rare long trip where you are forced to charge in an unfamiliar place but that’d be better than calling someone for an emergency charge on the side of the highway.

      I’m all for Plug in Hybrids but electric only would be a huge leap in mindset. You’ll have to think ahead several moves in that game.

      Oh and make no mistake if you gave me a Leaf I’d brag about it and drive it proudly. I’m just more likely to buy a Prius so long as gas is common.

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    “Maximum range” is another concept people will have to learn to forget.
    In a conventional car, you get your best range by hitting the road, keeping close to 55MPH, and not slowing down for anybody, including kids, animals, or sirens.
    In a car that uses electricity, that’s not necessarily the case, especially with regenerative braking.
    If your primary use of a vehicle is 400 mile highway road trips, an electric car is not yet the best choice for you.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    You are averaging about 250w per mile – pretty impressive. In most areas that 250w costs 2.5 cents. You can go 40 miles for a buck at that rate, or 160 miles at the current price of gasoline.

    Range is a problem for long trips, but 90% of American families could use this is their second car, with little or no modification of travel patterns.

    • 0 avatar
      sean362880

      250 watt*hours/mile, not watts.

      Long tailpipe argument here: I figure that’s ~9×10^5 joules/mile. Figure 50% transmission*production efficiency, so we had to burn ~2*10^6 joules worth of coal. At 3×10^7 joules/kg of coal, and ~3 kg CO2/kg coal, that’s .07 kg of coal, or 0.2 kg CO2/mile.

      200 g CO2/mile = 130 g/km.

      Which is pretty good for a gas powered hatchback, pretty crappy for an electric whose sole purpose is cutting CO2 emissions.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        “Joules/mile”? There’s a unit I’ve never seen before.

        I think you’re a bit conservative on those estimates. In any case, the U.S. gets less than half its electricity from coal, and the Bay Area much less than that.

      • 0 avatar
        djoelt1

        The average C02 per kwh for PG&E is .575 lbs due to their generation mix (this is where the Nissan Leaf reviewed is located). So that is 65g/mile. A car would have to get 140 mpg to reach that.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        sean362880, it’s unfair to compare gasoline consumption with coal-electricity. You should compare gasoline consumption with gasoline-electricity, because you can’t fuel a regular car with coal.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        @wsn
        Why? Why not compare to the actual profile of how electricity is generated in this country? That’s not 100% coal, either: for the US, on average you have 44% coal, 23% natural gas, 20% nuclear, 8% hydro, 1% petroleum, and the remaining 4% is filed under “other renewables” (presumably this holds all of our solar, wind, geothermal, etc).

        So, by my count, on average, 32% of the electricity going into this thing isn’t generating CO2 at all, and of the remaining, natural gas has lower emissions than coal.

        edit: also, I’d like some actual numbers on plant-to-motor efficiency. I know grid losses are only about 6%, and while I can’t get any numbers for losses from charging and discharging the battery, 44% seems a little high.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        @aristurtle

        I think what wsn meant was the total inputs for gas, meaning transportation, refining, distribution and whatnot. He’s right. I had forgotten about that. If you’re going to do well-to-wheel calculations for EVs, do ‘em for gas too.

        That’s what sean362880 did not do in his original comparison. He didn’t add in the other factors for the gas powered hatchback he mentions as an example.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        Or you could do it the way Renault does it. Use the French electricity generating data in other countries

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        @aristurtle

        That 4% is probably mostly waste incineration.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        @aristurtle

        My logic is very simple. Say, there is a Versa consuming 10,000 gallons of gasoline in its lifetime. That Versa didn’t consume 100 ton of coal.

        Now if we replace that Versa with a Leaf. We have already saved 10,000 gallons of gasoline. If only 5,000 gallons are used to generate electricity to fuel the Leaf, the electric car is a clear win. That’s the basic logic.

        Now you may want to say “but the current electricity supply uses coal.” The question is now “why generate electricity with coal, but not gasoline?” There are two explanations:

        1) There aren’t enough gasoline (at least not as an economical alternative). — This is resolved by using the Leaf to replace the Versa.

        2) For convenience. It’s hard to transport coal. You don’t see coal tankers and you don’t see coal fueled cars. — That means if you switch from gasoline to coal, there is a hidden value you have just created.

    • 0 avatar
      theo78-96

      If you pay a peak rate of 25c / kWh :

      = 25 c / 4
      = 6.25 c per mile.

      If you travel 25 miles each way to work :

      = 25 x 2 x 0.0625
      = $3.12.5 per day x 5 days
      = $15.62.5 per week.

      ———-
      If a small ICE car averages say 25 MPG, then :
      = 50 miles per day x 5 days per week
      = 250 miles per week.

      then
      = 250 miles / 25 miles per gallon
      = 10 gallons.

      at $3 per gallon :
      = 10 x 3
      = $30 per week.

      • 0 avatar
        basho

        I average 25 mpg in my 2000 Continental with a 4.6L V8. Hopefully that small ICE car has an average closer to 35mpg.

        So the equation should be:

        If you pay a peak rate of 25c / kWh :

        = 25 c / 4
        = 6.25 c per mile.

        If you travel 25 miles each way to work :

        = 25 x 2 x 0.0625
        = $3.12.5 per day x 5 days
        = $15.62.5 per week.

        ———-
        If a small ICE car averages say 35 MPG, then :
        = 50 miles per day x 5 days per week
        = 250 miles per week.

        then
        = 250 miles / 35 miles per gallon
        = 7.14 gallons.

        at $3 per gallon:
        = 7.14 x 3
        = $21.42 per week.

        Over the course of a year the EV would save you $301.6 in this example.

        At $4 gas the savings is $672.88.

        If you approach EV’s from a purely financial perspective…then how much more did you pay for that EV than you would have spent on a comparable ICE powered car? At a savings of $672 (in this example) it would take quite a while to recover the price premium of the EV.

        The EV is a bad financial decision for all but those currently getting in the teens per mile in their current vehicle. The focus for EV purchase should be on the lower demand for foreign oil and smaller environmental impact. Those two factors should not be discounted and are worth paying a little extra for IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        And I only pay 10c / kWh so assuming I had the money for the up front purchase the marginal cost per mile would be in my favor.

  • avatar
    segfault

    “The only maintenances items according to Nissan are the brake pads…”

    And rotors, tires, wiper blades, pollen filter, and batteries for the smart key. The point still holds, there should be a lot fewer maintenance costs on the Leaf, if you ignore the lithium ion battery which will eventually need to be replaced out of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      In other interesting news, the air conditioner is charged with powdered unicorn horns and the suspension is lubricated by magic elf grease (you don’t want to know where that comes from), both of which are permanent non-service items.

    • 0 avatar
      Type57SC

      What’s the Leaf’s warranty period on the battery?

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        8 years, 100,000 miles. The battery in the Leaf is supposed to be better than what they use in laptops, but I’ve never seen a laptop battery that was useful after 8 years.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        segfault, the 8 year old laptop you saw was built in 2003. I have reason to believe a 2011 battery is better than a 2003 one.

        As how Nissan (or the battery provider) know this new 2011 battery can last that long, they probably tested it under high temperature as a simulation. So a month’s testing could be equivalent to 8 years (purely speculative numbers to illustrate the point).

  • avatar
    jmo

    should be sufficient for my 53-mile one-way commute

    Are marathon commuters really the market for EVs?

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It’s all relative. If you can charge on both ends of the trip, the range isn’t too much of a problem, providing you start with a charged battery. Stay tuned for the next part in this three-part series.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        If you were able to make it work I bet the total cost of ownership after 10 or 15 years would be very low.

        Look at all the talk we hear about head gaskets, coolant leaks, transmission issues, etc. An EV is just so much less complex and more reliable a technology than a ICE. At 106 miles a day plus some weekend driving you’d put 300 or 400k miles on a car in 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        jmo: Spoken like a man who has never experienced the shockingly short lifespan of the average laptop battery!

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I’ll be enjoying a 100-mile R/T commute in a few months, so an EV isn’t an option, at least for now.

      What happens if you get stuck in traffic for any length of time due to a breakdown or accident? Do you live in the valley? I am somewhat familiar with the area in which you at least commute to, and pretty sure you aren’t driving to and from Mt. Hamilton every day!

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        If he gets stuck in traffic, he sits there using almost no energy, unlike a gas car. EVs excel at stop-and-go conditions too. His range might actually go up in that case. High freeway speeds are what kills range, along with hills.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        It seems like “stuck in traffic” would not be much of a problem unless he needed cabin climate control (heat/cooling) and, possibly at night with illumination . . . although I thought LEDs used tiny amounts of power.

        That would be quite different from the phenomenon that happens in the snow belt cities where people get stuck in traffic jams, idling their engines . . . and then run out of fuel, causing even bigger traffic jams.

        Advantage: Leaf on this one.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        LED power consumption compared to incandescent bulbs varies depending on actual light output (lumens). Up in the range of headlights (as high as 2000 lumens), which is an LED worst-case-scenario, incandescent lamps are still burning about twice the power of an LED lamp.

        For lower lumen levels (such as interior lighting or room lighting) the efficiency can climb as high as 10X.

        A 50% reduction is pretty good, but they still suck a HUGE amount of juice.

        Hmm… you know, if you’re sitting there not moving, I wonder why you’d need full-brightness headlights? Might be an opportunity for efficiencies there…

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        DC Bruce,
        What do you think running the heater would cost an EV while stuck in traffic? That is probably the biggest energy usage out there. I don’t think this is advantage EV.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      If your commute is long enough to cause range anxiety when the battery pack is new, what happens several years down the road as the battery pack ages? The Leaf is a good commuter car, but the real range per charge is the range you get from the battery pack just before you pay big bucks to replace it.

  • avatar
    Nick

    There are tons of people around here (Toronto and the adjoining burbs) that drive to and from the commuter rail or subway stations, very often in the 10-20km range, that would be happy to have one of these and for whom daytime recharging isn’t an issue. And many of them have fairly comfortable incomes. I won’t be surprised if I see these popping up everywhere (assuming they are available).

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Only problem there is that Toronto might be too cold for current battery technology. In the winter, range would plummet.

      • 0 avatar
        nonce

        If it’s a commuter rail station, it’s an excellent place to put in some electrical outlets, even if only to trickle-charge and keep the engine and battery warm.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        Toronto being cold is only an issue after the first few km. Charging the battery keeps it heated. It takes a while driving for it to cool off and the only way to get it dead cold is to leave it in a parking lot with no charging.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick

        Actually, as a former resident of Manitoba where virtually all parking lots have electrical outlets for the very necessary block heaters the EV might be an even better choice. Assuming the heater works well, which it had better.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Nick: If the TTC or (especially) GO Transit were to put charging stations in their lots, and especially if they put those spots in prime locations near the gates, I think more than a few people would do the EV thing for convenience alone.

      @healthy skeptic: this is a good question. The range looks like it could be cut nearly half (to be fair, many gas cars do nearly as poorly, percentage-wise, in very cold temperatures). Apparently the car is being localized for Canada in small ways; it would be interesting to know if Nissan would offer some method of warming the battery to Canadian and cold-State Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Toronto in February in an EV. Sweet.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    I’m wondering if Nissan has considered including including an EV-equivalent AAA tow-coverage.

    Given that these are being sold in test markets that are urban in nature, to folks who are mindful of their limitations (hence the range anxiety) having a 10-mile complimentary tow/simultaneous charge, at the ready for days when you forget to plug or run the AC/lights, usable for several ‘emergencies’ a quarter. That could ease the stress while folks learn to adapt to the technology.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “a longer distance (15 additional miles) and more time on Santa Clara county expressways where high-speeds are mixed with frequent stoplights, a bad combo for efficiency”

    In an ICE car yes, but in an electric car regen braking will return most of the energy used for acceleration. Steady cruising at speed is what eats the range.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Sadly this theory proved to be incorrect, even when driving gingerly in ECO mode and not using the brake pedal much. Regenerative braking only recovers a portion of the energy used to accelerate.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Hmmm. Sounds like they lowballed the regen percentage to keep the braking action ‘soft’, or maybe there was an issue with dump charging the batteries?

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        As I understand it, the heavy-duty brake regen systems like you read about for city buses rely on enormous, heavy, expensive capacitors rather than batteries. (In some ways that’s just terminology, but you get the picture.)

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Braking still dissipates heat. That will not be recovered. Also, I don’t believe the battery can take in the energy fast enough because it will actually harm the battery itself. You don’t get much of it back.

      • 0 avatar
        musiccitymafia

        To reduce losses could the braking energy wind up a coil … which would slowly unwind and charge the battery.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    I have a great idea! What if you could pull into an “electron” station and change your empty battery for a full one, in case you run out of electrons!

    I’m off to apply for a patent.

    Oh wait…

  • avatar
    jimtubbs

    My Leaf is less than 2 weeks old and I have logged over 500 miles with several 60 miles trips from Nashville TN to Manchester Tn Charging at Robert’s Nissan in Manchester to recharge each trip. When the L3 charger is installed at Cracker Barrel I will charge at that location and also on Sundays at Church with the modified L1 Charger. No range problems.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Interesting – Does the dealer apply their usual markup for refueling as everything else?

      More seriously I am interested in how you pay for the electric when charging away from home

  • avatar

    Very interesting review.

  • avatar

    Great review so far, Alex.

    I’d love to have reliability stats for these as soon as possible. A few owners have signed up already, so hopefully we’ll start having some stats in November. I’m also interested in seeing how many of the 1000+ Prius owners currently signed up swap their cars for a LEAF (or perhaps a Volt, though I’m sensing less enthusiasm for the Volt among my members).

    To help with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      I plan on keeping my 2005 Prius until they stop selling gasoline. I’m in a multicar household and that is my newest car so it’s 2 or 3 purchases away from being replaced in some other decade.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Seen 3 of these already.

    And 0 Volts. But then again, those are nailed to the dealer lots (because they are so popular and Government Motors can’t build enough of them the dealers are afraid to sell them :)

    http://www.cars.com/go/search/newBuyIndex.jsp?stkTyp=N&tracktype=newcc&mkId=20053&AmbMkId=20053&AmbMkNm=Chevrolet&
    AmbMdNm=Volt&mdId=35025&rd=100000&zc=67201&enableSeo=1

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I think this is a case of YMMV. I’ve seen a few Volts around my area and in my travels on the East Coast, but I haven’t seen any Leafs, nor can you configure a Leaf or check dealer stock for Leafs through the manufacturer’s website, two thing you can do with the Volt.

      If there are supposedly 20k people who’ve pre-ordered Leafs, then why are there 59 out there in the world on dealer lots?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      What does showing 600 Volts for sale on a website prove? 600 Volts and how many Chevy dealers in the US?

      • 0 avatar
        Jimal

        I didn’t go through the entire list but I wonder if 600 or so is the number of dealers in states where the Volt is currently in limited release. I’m sure there are more than the 59 Nissan dealers in the states where the Leaf is in limited release, but I thought they were all spoken for…

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Garbage……Odd….I was just thinking,how informed, objective,and down right intersting,the comments have been so far.

      Then a troll comes along.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      The price difference between the LEAF and Volt is only about $4k in Canada – so I can’t see much sense in getting a LEAF.

      Both could be “zero” emissions on a short commute, but the Volt can still be used for longer trips with ICE power.

      The price difference is nowhere near the cost of an extra car for long trips. Rental cars would be an option for LEAF owners who stick near home most of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Bridge2farr

      Do you have anything of substance to offer?

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    I’ve been seeing one of these pretty frequently during my commute. Every time I pass by it it seems to make more and more sense (as a second car)

  • avatar
    slance66

    I have a 3.25 mile commute each way, but it still wouldn’t work for me. I do occasionally need to travel 70 miles each way to a different office. Even going out to lunch could be challenging. It wouldn’t reach Boston and back, or Cape Cod, or most other places I travel. You cannot expect to be able to charge it on both ends. You really need to be able to make the round trip without charging.

    If it cost $5000 and was the size of a Fiat 500, I could see it as a third car. But at this price, what benefit does it provide anyone really? A Prius makes much more sense. Maybe an electric motorcycle?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Interesting review. I think of how this car would fit into my life. I want only one car tho. I wonder if range anxiety gets less as time goes on and you get used to what it will actually do. Like deciding whether or not to bring a phone charger on a trip, i guess.

    I live in the Northeast, in Philadelphia. Most of my driving really does not take me that many miles away, but there’s alot of time sitting in traffic. I suspect I would worry about that – especially with heat or the AC goin. Add in wipers, and the radio. You might only travel 20 miles, but it could easily take you 90 minutes -or more – to do it. So I am concerned.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    So you pull into the parking lot, get out and open the back door — and realize your laptop is still at home.

    Interesting quandry in the Leaf — you sit at your desk for 3 hours while it charges enough to get you home. Then you sit at home for 3 hours while it charges enough to get you back to the office. OH! Now the office is closed!

  • avatar
    Banger

    “(So much for those 7-second tumors floating around the web last year.)”

    Quoth Ahhhnold: “It’s not a tumor!”

    I think you meant “rumors,” but I digress.

    Interesting reading on the new Leaf. And I’m glad you got the proper pluralization question settled right up-front. “Leafs.” Totally counter-intuitive to say, but makes sense from a branding standpoint.

    I’ll be interesting to read Parts 2 and 3 to this review, for sure. I can see this kind of thing working great for a lot of commuters. If I didn’t have to occasionally drive my own vehicle for work purposes (but shhhh…don’t tell my insurer), I’d be looking at one very carefully in a few years because my actual commute is less than 20 miles a day, typically. Perfect for a Leaf.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    There isn’t anywhere that I need to go that is more than 8 miles from my house, so I have already decided to go electric at some point. The problem is that I don’t make enough money to get any benefit from the federal tax credit, so it may be a while until that happens. My magic number is 20 grand. Once I can buy an electric for that price, I’m sold.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      “There isn’t anywhere that I need to go that is more than 8 miles from my house”

      That might be the most depressing thing I have ever read.

      Unless, of course, you own a personalized Airbus A380 and the airport is only 7 miles away.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    … Nissan has already sold more Leafs (Nissan tells me the plural is not Leaves) in the first few tsunami-effected months of this year than GM sold during the two years of EV1 production.

    Well, thank God Nissan didn’t leave us hanging like Toyota. Still no official word for more than 1 Prius…

    But wait! What about Canada?!? There’s a below average hockey team that already owns “Leafs”…

  • avatar
    M 1

    “I’ll be the first to admit that I love my air conditioning, but I reminded myself that my trip home involved crossing a 2,000ft mountain pass in the dark, so I simmered quietly inside the Leaf.”

    followed by

    “Temp: 69″

    Do you actually run the AC when it’s 69 outside???

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    In theory, I would love one of these for an around-town runabout. But the cost is WAY too high! I don’t commute, other than once a week or so to the airport. But for the amount of running around I actually do in town, I could drive a 10mpg musclecar and not notice the hit too much. As a previous poster said, if it was $5K and the size of a Fiat 500, I would be all over it. $35K, uh, no. That will buy a lifetime of gas for something alot less limited.

    What I really want to see is a test in the winter in the North. See what the range is when it is 30F outside, heat on full-blast, A/C on help the windows defrost, headlights and wipers going? AND since it is snowing to beat the band traffic is going 5mph.

  • avatar

    Someday I will die.
    When I do reach St. Peter, I will share stories with him of all the time I spent 30 mph above the speed limit and how many cars (like this) I smoked on straightaways. I’ll be able to laugh and giggle about how much money I wasted on super premium unleaded to make my 6.1L HEMI go VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

    What I will not be able to tell him is that I saved any money buying a hybrid. I won’t be able to tell him I sacrificed the comfort of Dual zone HVAC and power lumbars and massage chairs with ventilation. I won’t be able to tell him about boring commutes moving at anything less than 75mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott

      Good for you. If he exists, you better hope St. Peter cares as little for the world and its inhabitants as you do, or you might be facing a somewhat warmer destination.

      • 0 avatar

        Someday The radiation inside the earth that drives Plate tectonics will cease. The earth will freeze over. Later still, the sun’s Hydrogen will burn out and the Earth will freeze even more. It will be a dead planet. But…amist all that nothingness, will be the metal bits left over from cars that I drove. Cars that astonished others on the road as they maintained ridiculous speeds and laughed in the face of posted speed limits.

        I do not measure life by each breath I take. I measure it by moments that take my breath away.

        I. WILL. RESIST. THE. GREEN. MOVEMENT.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      I also fail to see how smug attitudes like yours differ from the smug attitudes that greenies are often accused of having. Pot meet kettle.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    Agreed that I forgot to account for the CA’s electric mix. I accept that 65 g/km is closer to the mark.

    Still, I reckon the tradeoffs are still not enough for me to consider a Leaf. For short trips, I’ll bike.

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      In the Leaf you could make a 30 mile one way commute, go 20 miles out of your way running errands and still make it home with over 20 mile range to spear.

      Unless you bike like Lance Armstrong the bike is out for that sort of travel.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      California buys some of its electricity from other states. When those other states then need to generate more electricity than previously, that extra might very well come from dirty sources (even if it is only used in those other states as per California’s clean energy laws). Burning coal for your own electricity or causing others to burn coal for their electricity so they can give you more of the “clean” electricity isn’t really saving the world.

      • 0 avatar
        Diesel Fuel Only

        Yes, CA imports lots of power, but the statistics published by the CA Pub. Service Commission (or whatever it is they have) will take into account the source of the power generated and the power consumed in the state, you just have to be sure that you are citing the right one.

        California is below the national average in nuclear power generation, inc. the power that Los Angeles gets from the Palo Verde Plant in Phoenix.

        It imports some power from pacific NW hydro.

        It is above average in natural gas generation.

        Probably somewhat above average in coal generation. The four corners plant, a ginormous coal plant in Nevada, sends lots of its power to Cali., for example.

        Illinois, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia and CT have the most nuclear generation proportionally. The Watts Bar 2 plant in Tennessee, begun years ago and not finished, will be completed in a few years as the newest nuke plant in the US.

        And yes, you do have to take into consideration the source of the power used to make the semiconductors when you talk about emissions from solar photovoltaic.

        Hope that helps.

  • avatar
    LimpWristedLiberal

    Apprehension, discomfort, inconvenience. All this and more can be yours when you ride a motorcycle to work.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      I think that is a lot more true with an EV.

      Then again I’ve taken a sportbike 800+ miles just for a 24 hour visit up to see a friend and loved it.

      I find riding to be a heck of a lot more relaxing than driving.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    For the cash, I’d much rather have a Fusion Hybrid with options. Plus, the Ford drives pretty well – unlike other hybrids like the bland Prius or utterly gutless CT200h.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    So I live in a rural area, but only have 33 miles ea. way to work. Assuming I can’t charge at work (Work on 4th floor of a 20 story building and garage the car 2 blocks away), would a new leaf be able to get me TO work and home in the dead of winter? I can live without heat/AC but I do need the battery to be able to operate headlights & get me 65 real miles@55-65mph when the temperature might be as cold as -10F.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      65 miles @ 65 mph in a Leaf, I would hazard a guess of 300wh/mile, so let’s say 20 kilowatt-hours a day. The traditional rule of thumb for balancing discharge rates and lifespan on lead-acid batteries was to have a battery pack rated at twice your average usage. Deep discharges don’t use up li-ions as much, so I think 133 to 150% of your average use would be sufficient. The Leaf has a 24kwh pack, so it might be doable but you’d have little margin for error or reduced capacity due to cold. Drive a gas beater on the cold days?

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    Why not have a 250cc diesel engine as a range extenion option on the Leaf? It’d be charging while you’re at work like those truckers who run their refrigerator trucks all night long at the truck stop.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    Was in Austin, Texas this past week and saw several “EV only” parking spots in the downtown area, both surface lots and, I think, garages. No takers yet. I suppose the point is that if a gasser parked in the spot the charger would be blocked. In this case, the entire lot was full except two spots. Shouldn’t be too long before there are takers in that town.

  • avatar
    tuckerdawg

    Porsche Primavera anyone?

  • avatar
    Forty2

    Cars like the Leaf, Volt, Prius et al are for people who are bad at math. I’m no rocket scientist but I do know that spending $25-30-40,000 on any of these sleds will buy a HELL of a lot of fuel for all but the most egregiously-thirsty used gasoline-powered car. I paid $1700 for one of my cars and nothing for the other one.

    Look, I’m all for saving the planet etc. but not all of us can afford a shiny new Leaf; in my case I CAN afford it but I choose to save my money rather than blow it on a woo-woo status symbol. The only way buying a non-gasoline new car makes any sense is if you drive far in excess of 12K miles a year, and good luck doing that with this Leaf thing, which sounds like a pain in the ass even if you only drive it 40 miles a day.

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      Hybrids not only sold as new cars, bought a nice two year old Prius for 15K last year. That is comparable to most other used cars.

      So much for the Hybrid premium.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        No, there is still a hybrid premium included there. The Prius isn’t a very big car. While “mid size” by the EPA, so is the Cruze. How much is a Cruze, Elantra, or Focus going to cost after 2 years and the same mileage?

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        Got my Prius for 10K + taxes and so far my maintenance has been to change the oil, oil filter, air filter, and put a new set of 4 tires on.

        I expect to replace the 12V battery (about $150 at the dealer or $90 at batteriesplus) sometime in the next year or so (the factory battery is 6 years old). http://blog.dkranch.net/2010/06/replacing-prius-12v-battery.html shows what it looks like. If you really need step by step instructions some crazy guy put this on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4jw5T3LprA

        I might have to replace the wipers in that time as well.

        It has less than 80K miles on it and the factory brake pads are no where near worn out so I can’t imagine ever having to buy brake pads.

        It’s 6 years old and the big battery pack the fudsters always talk about being so expensive to replace has never been replaced and I have no fear of ever needing to replace it.

        I expect I’ll just keep driving it with minor maint for years to come. The only thing I fear is ethanol. Right now its 6 miles out of my way to get 100% gas.

    • 0 avatar
      nels2727

      I think you make a good point. dhanson865 points to the 10K price for a prius with ~80K miles on it. In this inflated used car market a similar condition civic, focus, Mazda3 etc, and go for about half that price and get you 25-30MPG in mixed use driving, and mid-sizers that offer more space than the prius are simialrly priced. From a “green” standpoint I understand that the most environmentally friendly driving one can do is to keep fuel efficient cars on the road as long as possible. I haven’t done the work personally, but I understand that auto production is carbon intensive. Add in the environmental costs of strip mining for hybrid/EV battery production and the problem intensifies.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        @nels2727, How many mid size or compact cars do you know of that can fit a refrigerator in the back and close the hatch/trunk lid? I did that and had my boss drop his jaw and say I thought that car was too small to put that in there. (of course I got that reaction back when I was driving a Taurus Wagon way back in the day so it’s not just Prius that people misjudge the cargo capacity on).

        And still:

        Get 60 MPG in typical warm weather use (I get 38MPG worst case and over 100MPG best case with lots of 40-70 MPG in between)

        Comfortably seat 5

        Have keyless entry + Smart Key

        Be the one of the most reliable cars in its class

        have one of the lowest maint costs in its class

        yes you can get a car with more interior room (minus cargo flexibility) and worse gas mileage for the same price.

        Or even a much larger vehicle (Truck or SUV or Minivan or Van) with much greater cargo space/flexibility and much worse gas mileage.

        yes you can get a car with less interior room and less cargo space and worse gas mileage for less.

        What you can’t get is a car with all the features the Prius has for the same price or less.

        And what you won’t do is save gobs of money driving a car with all the luxury features the PRIUS has that costs half as much (because it’ll use more gas/repair money unless you are lucky or do all the repair work in which case I have to wonder what your time/effort is worth to you)

        And you won’t be driving as nice of a car if you do choose to drive a beater and save lots of cash.

        But beaters are clearly cheaper in the long run, which is why the 2nd car is a 98 Saturn SL2, it is way cheaper than the Prius and still works and yes we paid less than half of $10K for it (easily below 5K and that was years ago), I just won’t be looking for an econobox beater to replace it when it stops being cheaper to drive. I’ll look for a car with nicer features that is reliable and efficient and I’ll buy it hybrid or not, electric or gas, just so long as it isn’t diesel, nat gas, or hydrogen fuel cell based.

        Oh and you can say what you want about nicer fuel efficient cars being easy to find below $10K but I’m not in Atlanta or any of the other markets where you can find cars at nationally low prices. I just wasn’t in the mood to buy out of state and drive it back to save $1000 (taxes, gas, time off work all eat into the price savings). At the time I bought my last car I bought it for several thousand dollars below book value near the beginning of the acceleration scare and I don’t regret the purchase one bit.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Alex… with a 53 mile one way commute, you seriously need to consider a new job or moving!

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Great review as always Alex.

    If I ever get a free moment, I would love to drill down some numbers and figure out whether the Versa or the Leaf would be cheaper to own over a 10 year period.

    Let’s say 12k of driving a year. Pricing for repairs and maintenance primarily performed by independent mechanics. Opportunity cost of investing the price difference between the two models taken into account at a 3% interest rate. $3.75 average gas price.

    I’m willing to bet the numbers would come in fairly close between the two models… with perhaps the potential for battery and charger repairs for the Leaf possibly weighing against it.

    If Nissan ever came out with a warranty comparable to what Honda offered for their IMA battery (10 year / 150k), it would be a wonderful revelation. But until the demand for this type of vehicle tapers off I just don’t see it happening.

    An interesting discussion of the Leaf’s Battery Warranty.

    http://nissan-leaf.net/2010/11/16/follow-up-nissan-leaf-battery-warranty/

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    I recall reading somewhere that heating and cooling seats rather than the entire interior of a car was much more efficient, and that car makers were developing this. If true, this could preserve some of the Leaf’s energy used for hvac.

    If tens of thousands of golf carts find useful roles in North America, then surely cars such as the Leaf will also.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      It’s even more efficient to just dress appropriately. In cool weather, the only necessary heat is that to keep the windows clear. I won’t deny that the heat feels good on a cold day, but this car won’t be used during winter anywhere that it actually gets cold.

      Of course, every girlfriend I’ve had would argue that heat is the most important feature of a car in cool weather. So heated seats it is! Personally, I don’t think I’d bother heating cloth seats even at -40C. Well, maybe for a minute or two when they’re rock hard!

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        I used to think heated seats didn’t make sense. Then I tried a heated mattress pad and now I’m converted.

        No car I own has heated seats but I understand how much more efficient it is to have the heat under your body vs having it over you.

        I won’t pay for heated seats in a bloated package but if the car integrates seat temp into the cabin air controls so I don’t have to think about it I’d consider it a plus.

      • 0 avatar
        colin42

        Except in all ICE cars to heat the cabin is “free” as the engine produces excess heat if you need it or not – the electric heated seats cost weight & electricity. And before anyone suggested it running engine coolant through the seat wouldn’t be very practical

        I agree with the statement for cooled seats

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        @colin, you don’t need to pump liquid through the seat the cool it, you can pump cold air through it just as you do on Vans and luxury sedans that have air conditioning for the 2nd row seats. Just pump that air into a cavity in the seat back.

        I’ll agree that mild cabin heating is free. But those extreme northerners that run the heat full blast with the fan on high to keep the windows clear and keep feeling in their fingers are probably using more than just the free portion of the heating capacity.

        I can also say even though I’m not in the extreme north I’ve been in situations where I needed the heat on the windows and my lower 2/3s were cold and feet were freezing because all the heat was up on the glass. Heated seats would have been nice in situations where the rear window defrost + HVAC on defrost are barely keeping up. If my thighs are being heated my heart will transmit the spare heat to the feet.

        So I think it’d make more sense to have the heat under the thighs/butt and the air conditioning in the backrest.

        Oh, and one more point. In some cars the fan can get so loud that I can’t hear outside noises and can barely hear the radio. Having heat/air that is more directly transferred means I can have the fan speed lower and drive more safely with the ability to hear traffic/pedestrians around me.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I live in MN, not sure if I qualify for extreme Northerner status, and generally have my heat on just to the right of center to clear the windshield. I can’t handle getting into a car that is blasting heat from every vent. It makes me physically ill.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        MN? yeah, you qualify, which is probably why you feel that way about heat. In Florida we blast the heat when it drops below 60! LOL

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Nissan has already sold more Leafs (Nissan tells me the plural is not Leaves) in the first few tsunami-effected months of this year than GM sold during the two years of EV1 production.

    So they’ve sold more than zero? :D

  • avatar
    cresttwo

    53 mile one way commute? Is this a joke? Buying an electric car for you is like some guy with emphysema sitting in an oxygen tent switching to low tar cigarettes.
    How about we start building walkable communities?
    Our country is so screwed.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Welcome to California, where the state tries to impose high mileage standards on cars but has building codes that mean people live 50+ miles from work. We’ll collapse soon enough from overregulation.

      In similar news, we have “low flow” toilets that conserve water so that California can remain the #1 *rice* growing state in the union. Rice! Really!

      Electric cars are really the wrong technology (at the moment) for 50 mile commutes. How much could you charge anyway during the 9 or 10 hours you are at work? And, at the moment, electric grids are most strained during the standard work hours. It makes more sense for the people with shorter commutes to be using the electric vehicles and the people with longer commutes to switch to 40 MPG small cars.

  • avatar
    shaker

    So goes the “EV Paradox”, at least in the early adoption phase. The short range limits the usefulness of the car to those who don’t use a lot of gas anyway. My 1.8 mile each way commute would be perfect for this car, but I do occasionally have to drive a 40-mile round trip in the winter months for off-site testing; in which case “range anxiety” could set in (assuming that I couldn’t juice up at work).
    You’ve also exposed the worst-case scenario of using 120V (the least efficient and most time-consuming way) to charge the car.

    That said, the “geek” in me wants this car, but it’s not economically justifiable…

  • avatar

    I’m all for green cars but the whole extension cord and plugging in everywhere you go has got to be a pain. Just so you don’t have range anxiety. They need to work on better technology for longer last trips which I’m suite sure there already doing. Hopefully in 5 years or so we will have cars that go 300 mp/kw

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    That range anxiety issue is just a killer for this car. I can’t fathom re-working my schedule around my vehicle’s ability to operate! I guess if one buys a Leaf it is a good idea to get out a map and draw a 40 mile radius around your house. You are going to get to know that area very well! As far as 20,000 “pre-orders”, isn’t that just folks who plopped down all of $99 to get on an over-hyped waiting list? Isn’t Chevrolet’s Volt outselling Leaf handily? Even though it is not marketed in the 50 states?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I agree that range anxiety is going to limit the market for this car. But, I am also understanding that the Leaf isn’t being produced in the same volume as the Volt, so the Volt should be outselling it. For me, the Volt makes more sense. In north Texas, we get extreme heat in August and it gets pretty cold in January and February. My commute is about 22 miles one way. Occasionally I have to drive and extra 45 miles in the middle of the day without warning.

      Now, the economics of either car do not make sense for me, and I won’t be getting the first generation of either car, but if I had to, it would be the Volt to me.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    The notion that an electric car must have a “payback” compared to a gas car is, quite simply, silly. What’s the payback on adding a Turbocharger to a 911? What’s the payback on going +1 on wheels when buying a car? What’s the payback on alloys vs. steelies? What’s the payback on a sunroof? What’s the payback on a nav system or leather? Jeesh! There isn’t any! But the person buying it has a set of motivations and for those concerned about their carbon footprint, the electric car is a clear clear win, even in areas of the country that have the highest Co2/kwh electricity. And when solar drops by half in the next 4 years, what company is going to be positioned to take advantage of that? The company with 5 years of real world road experience in making electric cars and seeing how they perform in the real world, or a company that has never done an electric car? It’s prudent for most car makers today to have a limited production electric car.

  • avatar
    Diesel Fuel Only

    I think that these would, however, make sense for some applications. Like those “to go” cars city dwellers rent by the hour to go to the mall (where presumably there will one day be charging stations) or as regular old rental cars if all you’re using it for is going from the airport to your hotel or tooling around town, or as a second car in a two car household, or for your kids to drive to school.

  • avatar
    SpottyB

    Ahhh, the convenience of CA for this review. I want to see this done in a rainstorm to make it more interesting. All this running of extension cords and such…

  • avatar

    The problem is that the sweet spot for pure EVs is pretty small. I’ll give you some extreme examples:

    – My wife has a 6 mile round trip commute, and drives mostly locally. No problem with range anxiety, but also no money savings. She’d be best driving a fully-depreciated vehicle, even one that got awful gas mileage. Fuel costs are simply not a factor when you drive so little.
    – I drive hundreds of miles for work every week. My commute is only one round trip per week, but that trip can be from 200-500 miles, too short to have flying commercial make sense, and the routes don’t have good rail service. Way too far for an EV. It’s mostly highway driving, so even a hybrid is less beneficial than it might be for most. A diesel or something like a Cruze Eco would be the best choice. Ultimately, though, the cost of depreciation over those distances annihilates any fuel savings. I end up driving fully-depreciated, comfy old land barges. I get paid mileage, which would go furthest with an old, yet efficient car, but I’m not interested in suffering while I travel.

    You have to fall in the category where gas is a significant expense but not so much you depreciate the shit out of the thing, or go too far for your battery. Of course, you could buy one out of enthusiasm – EV geekery isn’t all that different from other forms of automotive lust – but let’s not pretend there is any rationality from a personal perspective. If you want to spend more to save the planet, that’s fine, but I’d personally rather spend more to be comfortable or to drive something fun. It’s not better or worse, just different.

    When EVs reach the point where they make sense for my situation, my mind may change. I do think they’re neat – I also like gadgets – but not very useful for my family’s lifestyle.


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  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States