By on May 19, 2011

The previous day’s usage had left me in a pickle. With the 12 miles left and only nine-and-a-half hours charging time at 120V. Of course if I constantly had to remind myself, if I had a 240V charging station at home this would be a non-issue as the Leaf would have been completely full. However, my situation as it was, the Leaf was perhaps a hair over 40% charged when I left for work with the range indicator displaying 59 miles, hopefully enough for my 57 mile drive.

Since I needed all the juice I could get to make it to Burlingame I decided to forgo the pre-heating and let the Leaf charge to the very last second. Fortunately this morning was a hair warmer than the day previous being a brisk 40 degrees. Unfortunately the temperatures and humidity conspired to fog the windscreen. Without sufficient power to make it to work and use the defogger, I chose to defog the old-fashioned way: windows open.

Thankfully the climb up to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains was gradual in comparison to the re-charging trip down the other side. Once back on flat land the car indicated a range of 52 miles and I only had 40 miles ahead of me. Right as I was patting myself on the back, US-101 ground to a total and complete halt. We’ve all been there before right? You forget your purse or wallet, your car is running on fumes and that is the exact moment when you encounter heavy traffic. Much like a hybrid however, if you drive the car gently in the stop-and-go traffic the battery usage turns out to be relatively low. Of course if you are buying your leaf in California or a few other states, you would qualify for carpool access stickers making waiting in traffic a much rarer event. Since my car was not so equipped, I inched along the bay for 45 minutes traveling a whopping 5 miles in that time. Once traffic started flowing freely the car announced I may not have enough power to reach my destination. True to form, three miles before my exit the range indicator went from “3 miles” to “- – - ,“ indicating a depleted battery.

Trip distance: 57.1

Average speed: 32.4 mph

Travel Time: 1:45bad traffic

Average miles/kWh: 6.8

Range Left: 0

Temp: 40-48 degrees

Since Nissan needed to pick the Leaf up, I ponce again connected my trans-sidewalk charging cable and checked the display for a charge time: 31 hours to full. Ouch. I find I need to keep reminding myself that had I access to a 240V charging station at home, the battery would be more than half full on my arrival. Since the press fleet doesn’t come with some funky dryer-plug hacked charger (sort of a shame really) the emergency trickle charge cable was our only option. And there is the problem I see with some of the TV news bites I have seen about the Leaf; which I am sure will be re-ignited once the rumored Top Gear episode featuring the Leaf hit the airwaves: The 31 hour charge time is not likely to be an issue for buyers as most people seem to buy the home charging station.

Currently the Leaf is only available as a hatch back in two trim lines SL and SV. In reality there is little difference between the two trims as both receive 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps keyless entry and keyless go, power windows, cruise control, Bluetooth, navigation system with CD player, six speakers and iPod/USB integration. The SL model adds a spoiler solar panel (yes it seems as useless ad it sounds), automatic headlamps, fog lamps, a rearview camera, a cargo cover and the option to purchase the $700 CHAdeMO DC quick-charge port. Our SL tester was a pre-production model so it did not itemize the CHAdeMO port on the Monroney sticker; as a result the price as tested was $33,720 before rebates. As I live in California, after the $7,500 federal and $5,000 state rebates, the Leaf drops to a commuter car appropriate sticker of $21,220.

As I indicated before, weight constraints are largely due to the lack of window shattering stereo performance. Still, the system is adequate for most listeners. USB/iPod integration is about average for the segment allowing full control of your Apple device and playlist/artist/album browsing while on the road. Sadly like most Japanese vehicles sold on our shores, the Nav system is not operable when in motion and like other Nissan products this means you have to completely stop in order to enter a destination as the voice commands do not extend to destination entry. This is something of an odd choice for Nissan to make since you can easily spend far more time distracted by searching for that ZZ Top album than entering the address of that charging station you are looking for.

Compared to the Chevy Volt, the Leaf is $12,000 cheaper (after rebates) and qualifies for carpool lane usage over here on the left coast. Arguably the Volt is a car without the sort of lifestyle compromises that must be made if you used tour Leaf as a daily driver, but on the other hand, you could buy a Nissan Versa with that $12,000 and have two cars for the price of one Volt. Until the Ford Focus Electric surfaces later this year, the Leaf has little competition. [Correction: due to an amended Senate Bill in California the Volt and other plug-in hybrids will be allowed HOV lane access. Thanks to our readers that pointed this out. ]

How green is the Leaf? That depends on how you look at it. Although in terms of volume the US is the world’s largest producer of electricity from geothermal, solar and wind resources, these only account for 11 percent of the total electric production in the US (US Energy Information Administration 2010). As energy demand continues to rise in America the percentage of our power that comes from renewable resources has actually dropped rather than increased since the 1960s. Since 70% of all the electricity produced in the US contributes to global warming, you might almost say that any electric car driven in this country is half-powered by coal. Unless you’ve invested in solar panels, driving a Leaf could be said to be burning coal in a square state to feel green in California. I am told that despite the decidedly un-green power mixture in the USA, total greenhouse emissions from the Leaf (when you consider the power generation) are still lower than just about any car on the road today.

After three days of self-induced anxiety it was time for Nissan to collect the Leaf. As the battery powered commuter car was driven away slowly and replaced by its antithesis (a Mercedes CL550) I was forced to reflect on the previous 62 hours. Bottom line, the Leaf is a commuter car. This term has never been so appropriately applied to a single model before. While some may buy a Prius or Fiesta to commute, they are still multi-purpose vehicles while the Leaf has a more singular focus. Just like you would not expect a 2-door sports coupé to be all things to everyone, neither can we expect a short range full electric vehicle to be everyone’s cup of tea.

ABC News Polls indicated in 2005 that the average American’s commute is 16 miles. Let’s say we don’t believe that and use 30 miles as a number. In a hot climate like Arizona, a Leaf would essentially make it to and from work without issue even when driving it like a normal car. That in itself is the function. It’s not made for long commutes (although with an 8 hour day and 240V charging at each end, even an 80 mile commute would be possible.) If you can set your anxiety aside, have a 240V home charger or live near a planned 480V quick charge station and are looking for a commuter car, the Leaf makes more sense than any number of $21K cars especially when you consider the California carpool sticker. Before you jump on the Leaf pile, check with your tax guy as there may be some tax liabilities in regards to the rebates.

Nissan provided the vehicle and insurance for this review.

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

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131 Comments on “Review: 2011 Nissan Leaf: Day Three...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    So…did you make it to work? Maybe this was the day to take I-280 and cross over!

    Tell us how this ends!

    All in all, a very interesting and quite entertaining (at your expense) review. I agree this would be perfect in Phoenix – except for A/C use – but if your commute is short, well, fine.

    It’ll be interesting in the years ahead to see how electric and EV vehicles and their infrastructure play out in the world as viable alternatives to I.C.E.-only transportation.

    Well done!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      but if your commute is short

      It would work for 80% of the US as a commuter vehicle – at least in terms of range. 51% of the population does less than 10 miles, and nearly 80% do less than 20 miles each way, per day.

      http://www.bts.gov/publications/omnistats/volume_03_issue_04/html/figure_02.html

      • 0 avatar
        cmoibenlepro

        But you would need 2 cars and a private garage. That’s a lower percentage of the population.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        That’s a lower percentage of the population.

        To what – 60% of new car buyers?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It also won’t work for anyone smart enough to figure out that they’re consuming more of the earth’s resources by buying two cars to do the job of one. I worked with a woman who had thousands of hanging file folders thrown in the recycling bin in order to replace them with ones that were a different color while wasting most of her time on green websites, distributing green memos, and boring people feckless about green topics. She’s the target market for this car.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        It also won’t work for anyone smart enough to figure out that they’re consuming more of the earth’s resources by buying two cars to do the job of one.

        Most new car buyers are married and already live in a household with at least two cars. Why can’t one be a Leaf?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Do you really need help with that? Maybe they both work and neither wants their car to double as a leash. Maybe one of them stays home with the kids and needs a real car for kid duties while the other one needs a real car for their commute. Maybe the marital strife that would grow out of fighting over the real car wouldn’t be worth it. Maybe, like most real people, they each have their own cars which serve all of their own needs. Maybe they drive each other’s cars a couple times a year and want to keep it that way. I know a lot of women. I’ve yet to meet one whose car is as devoid of personal possessions as mine is. They nest. They travel with more than a wallet and a cell phone, and they’re more given to being prepared than improvising. This is all for people who don’t even care about cars. Throw in the meaningful number of people who actually care about their cars and you’ve just lost another big segment of the new car buying public.

        Besides, the fantasy that all new car customers live in McMansion communities with two car garages is just that. Lots of new car buyers have to live in hellholes like northern Virginia and the greater metropolitan area of NYC. There are millions of commuters with six figure incomes living in townhouses, condos and aparments, and almost all of them buy their cars new.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Maybe, like most real people, they each have their own cars which serve all of their own needs.

        All their needs? Is that why all families with more than 2 kids and a boat buy two 7 passenger SUVs? God forbid Dad wants to drop the boat at the lake while Mom is taking the kids to practice. Oh, wait, some people figure it’s enough to have an SUV and a sedan? Hum… it must mean it’s OK to not have each vehicle meet all of their needs.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        One being the Leaf would require both commutes to be with in range at all times of the year, including winter. The reason it requires both is that occasionally, someone will need to take a long trip. The other would be driving the Leaf. To me, I am not ready to buy a car that requires me to change my life style while driving it. I would have to be careful on side trips that I take. My job would not work for this as sometimes I have to make unexpected trips. Since it doesn’t work for me, my wife can’t have one either because I might have to drive it sometime.

        Honestly, too many limitations with the 100 mile range.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        In Japan Nissan has lost about 60% of their Leaf pre-orders. Yup, 60%, and that was before the earthquake. The problem is the key markets where you would think a Leaf would sell great, urban cores, are lived in by people who occupy condos and apartments.

        What they are discovering is let alone finding a 120VAC outlet to use, is getting a 240V station installed in their condo garage by their designated parking spot, or if they are in an apartment, convincing the owners to install the charging stations. The answers are no – and with a lack of charging options for urban dwellers the Leaf dies (and the Volt becomes an expensive gas burner) because they can’t charge the darn thing.

        If they can’t convince the home owners association, or apartment management to do the install – the concept is dead.

        Sure, 80% of Americans have a commute that is short enough to work, but only 64% of Americans are home owners, not all of them live in single family properties that they can do the install in. It isn’t as simple as my drive is short therefore I can buyeth an electric.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        One being the Leaf would require both commutes to be with in range at all times of the year, including winter.

        Which would include 70% of drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        And Ford has yet to build an F-250 that meets my needs as a commuter who doesn’t haul heavy items. How dare they!

        If this doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it. I fail to see how this is such an overwhelming issue when you could apply the same inane logic to just about any car, picking it apart because it doesn’t work on one simple criteria, one that isn’t an issue for a large number of people.

        And frankly, as a first generation vehicle using what is frankly still nascent technology, if that range is the only real issue, if it’s largely performing within the parameters Nissan has set out for it, you’re just going out of your way to dislike it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        but only 64% of Americans are home owners

        What percentage of new car buyers are home owners?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The state with the highest percentage of home ownership is West Virginia. Its been West Virginia for as long as I can remember, a period also marked by West Virginia being the poorest state in the nation. Lowest percentage of home ownership? Washington DC, where graft flows in the sewers. Next lowest percentage? New York, where most of the high income jobs are in the city. When I worked for investment banks and knew plenty of people ‘earning a phone number,’ their cars spent the week in garages under their buildings and then came out for weekend excursions to vacation homes or longer trips. Electric cars would be 0% useful for that. Next up in low home ownership rate is a tie between California and Hawaii, two places that might have the monied mental defectives that would buy electric. Too bad they’ll struggle to get near chargers on their street parked cars. Remember the lady from GM with the California parked Volt? She couldn’t install a separate circuit for charging and she wound up bumping her entire electrical bill into the gross consumer surcharge class.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        It would have been better if you just admitted you didn’t know.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        @jmo

        Pointless on how many new car buyers are home owners. Renter does not equal loser who cannot afford a new car. I mean what, if you live in Manhattan paying $10K a month for a west side apartment your a loser? We should all be so lucky! It does mean that 36% of the potential market is eliminated because they don’t own where they live and it is unlikely the landlord will pay or allow install of a 240V charging station – additionally it may not be possible. For example if I live in Capitol Hill in Seattle and park on the street as I don’t have a driveway and garage, then what? I own my own house, own my own land, where do I put a charger then? A lot of the addressable market of your 80% cannot even consider a Leaf, and likely couldn’t consider an alternative like the Volt. It is what it is.

        I don’t understand why you are so worked up. The Leaf would not work for me. It will not work for many people. It will work for some. But jumping up and down throwing out 80% this and range that won’t turn it into a reality that everyone will run to the Nissan dealer and buy a Leaf. For the money of a Leaf I could buy two Versas, and have cash left over for gas.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        It will not work for many people.

        Miatas and Boxters don’t work for most people either, but I don’t see folks here at TTAC railing about how impractical they are.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t see anyone suggesting that 80% of people could have their needs met by sports cars. More importantly, I don’t see any evidence that a corrupt government I’m on the hook for wants to give people who currently drive more capable cars $12,500(I live in California) in order to get them to give up room for their kids and dogs and make do with Boxsters or Miatas.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        CJinSD: “Do you really need help with that? Maybe they both work and neither wants their car to double as a leash. Maybe one of them stays home with the kids and needs a real car for kid duties while the other one needs a real car for their commute. Maybe …”

        No car can please every odd ball out there. If the car can appeal to 10% of the population enough to result in purchases, that’s 1.2 million per year. Out-selling Camry and F150 combined.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        wsn,

        I have no problem with that sentiment. There are some people whose priorities and requirements are satisfied by the Leaf. I don’t want to pay a third of their purchase price and I don’t want the government to try to skew the market so that the superior options commonly available today become luxuries only affordable to the same percentage of people who can afford AMG Mercedes today.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        My DD is an E60. It mostly does commutes and errands.

        I would not consider a Miata or a Boxter. I would, however, consider trading it for an E86.

        While a E86 wouldn’t let me carry as many people or as much stuff, it would meet my needs far better than a Leaf would. I’d still be able to drive as far as I might ever need. That E86 can still carry a car seat, and it has a trunk to carry stuff. Keeping the same NA I-6 in a smaller, lighter package, probably my net gas consumption goes down.

        I don’t need to carry large items or numbers of people, but that’s what our W251 is for.

        Nevertheless, the E60 is still a good car. It’s comfortable, and has the extra cargo / people capacity if I need to take co-workers to lunch or golfing.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        I don’t want the government to try to skew the market so that the superior options commonly available today become luxuries only affordable to the same percentage of people who can afford AMG Mercedes today.

        They already did once with the numerous SUV tax loopholes over the years…midsize wagons were once an eminently practical and fairly popular choice, now if you want one you’re pretty much screwed unless you can afford an Audi, BMW or Caddy. Yet you and the rest of the teabagger trolls on here are noticeably silent on that one, since the vehicles being subsidized are ones you like.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        HoldenSSVSE,

        You describe my living situation. I ACTUALLY live in Seattle, on Capitol Hill AND park on the street and rent, in a 1960 vintage apartment so for me, a Leaf or other all electric plugin vehicle would NOT be practical for me since I can’t even CHARGE it. Not here, nor at work either for that matter so it’s the ol’ ICE engine for me for the foreseeable future.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        MoppyMop,

        I wasn’t in favor of tax breaks for SUVs. Nor was I in favor of CAFE, which created the market for SUVs by making full sized cars inaccessible to the middle class. You testegargling leftists created the world of three ton station wagons with your early social engineering efforts, but you still haven’t learned to leave well enough alone. Not smart.

      • 0 avatar

        “And Ford has yet to build an F-250 that meets my needs as a commuter who doesn’t haul heavy items. How dare they!

        If this doesn’t work for you, don’t buy it.”

        Someone buying an F-250 doesn’t force everyone else to chip in 12 grand on it. With the Leaf (and Volt), you have to pay for it whether you buy it or not.

      • 0 avatar
        M 1

        “you could apply the same inane logic to just about any car, picking it apart because it doesn’t work on one simple criteria, one that isn’t an issue for a large number of people.”

        Like whether it’s green? LOL

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Moppy mop, the brilliant mind who can just come up with teabagger troll, boy that’s original and really pertinent. I wasn’t aware that we were discussing sexual preferences or politics, I thought it was about cars, electric ones.

      Show specifics about SUV loopholes, tell me where they are. SUVs became more common because of CAFE not tax benefits to buyers. Unless you can show me something specific I call bs on a little progressive troll who probably is getting paid by the word, or is it by the post? I bet by the word cause it was a longish post.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_179_depreciation_deduction

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas-guzzler#Gas_guzzler_tax

        And I’m not the one who brought politics into it, that would be CJ. It’s OK to say you don’t like a car without trying to justify your preferences with sanctimonious political BS, something that seems to be lost on quite a few of the commenters on here as of late.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Is that the best you can do? Again you fall back on the old trick of finding something that you can twist into making a point in your favor but it doesn’t. Did you think that I would be so intimidated by your link that I would fold up and go away whipped? Or was your idea that I couldn’t read and comprehend anything more than one syllable?

      Think for once in your life just how silly your reply was, citing a depreciation regulation that applies to small business owners vehicles’. Is everyone out there in your twisted imagination a dirty capitalist?, do we all own small businesses so we can drive evil SUVs? What small percentage of people does this appy to? You prove nothing except that you can come up with bogus links.

      Saying someone else did politics first is pretty infantile of you. Guess what you it comes up because to you politics is everything. There is no subject that doesn’t go straight to politics because it is your life.

      You never did tell us, by the word or by the post?, which is it?

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        Think for once in your life just how silly your reply was, citing a depriciation regulation that applies to small business owners vehicles. Is everyone out there in your twisted imagination a dirty capitalist? do we all own small businesses so we can drive evil SUVs?

        No, but it’s not like setting yourself up a phony business to get this or other tax bennies is particularly hard. You’re also assuming that 100% of legitimate small business owners who bought SUVs would have bought them over other choices without the subsidy, which is a bit of a stretch. And I guess you’re not even going to bother trying to make the argument that the gas guzzler exemption for light trucks didn’t drive their sales relative to similarly sized alternatives.

        Saying someone did politics first is pretty infantile of you. Guess what your kind did it first because politics is everything to them. There is no subject that doesn’t go straight to politics because it is your life.

        Go ahead, search my post history. You’re not going to find a whole lot in there about taxes, government or the Republican Party et cetera. Based on what I’ve seen so far I doubt I could say the same for either you or him.

        You never did tell us, by the word or by the post?

        Yep, when someone disagrees with me my first thought is that it’s got to be a communist plot. That right there is the hallmark of a rational mind.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      You are deluded. You do know that the IRS has rules that require a business to be real and profitable don’t you? Do you think that everyone is a thief because maybe that’s your inclination? You don’t know anything about business, goernment or anything except gimme free stuff.

      You didn’t answer my question word or post. You’re the one seeing plots, everyone cheating the goverment. You got to watch out for those evil capitalists in your nightmares. Why should I look up your posts? You’ve already proved to me that you’re mentally lazy enough to resort to tired insults and sexual innuendo. That tells me that your posts aren’t worth my time except to make fun of you.

      • 0 avatar
        MoppyMop

        So, basically you’ve got nothing so you’re going to resort to calling me a commie.

        FYI I am “self employed” as an “independent contractor” (as is common in the IT industry, as it’s a good way for companies to avoid things like benefits or payroll taxes) so I know all about how the laws on this work.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Your reading comprehension sucks, I didn’t call you a commie, your kind is worse. You’re an independent contractor? Does that mean that you are using the tax avoidance schemes you accuse others of abusing? Does that make it ok to you? After all, you got to have some principles and make a stand against that evil capitalism somewhere. But you having priciples other than baseless slurring of those who you hate and fear is beyond you.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Yep. I made it to work, the car said no miles to empty but coasted in on the fumes of electrons. I didn’t take it as low as some have, there are reviews out there that tell the tales of tow trucks, turtle icons and sudden drops from 20 miles to nothing. Mine was predictable and accurate. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      It appears that you were falling behind on charging night by night, every night a little worse than the one before.

      Would you have made it an entire week, or would you have to use a regular car one day a week to allow the Leaf to “catch up” on charging??

      • 0 avatar
        Alex L. Dykes

        That is exactly what was happening. If I had one of the hacked Nissan charger cables so I could have charged at 240V, or if I had a home charger, I would have started each day fully charged. This just shows that the Leaf would be fine with the 240 V charger and nobody should buy one without some form of 240V charging ability. That being said, with the 120V cable I could have let it rest a day and I would have been OK.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Of course, if you had to “let it rest a day”, that’d defeat the point of having the car as your daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “Of course, if you had to “let it rest a day”, that’d defeat the point of having the car as your daily driver.”

      Then buy two of them. A perfect fit for Beijing (where odd number licences are allowed on odd days only, and even on even days).

  • avatar
    mountainman

    This car would not work for my lifestyle. For me, a car is all about freedom, and I make plans on the fly. What a dork I would be if my buddies said “hey meet you at xxx for some drinks” – and I said, “oh, I can’t, my leaf won’t make it home if I meet you there”. Car = Freedom. This car is not ready for prime time.

    The main reason is that battery technology has not kept pace with advancements in the industry. Just look at the smartphone revolution. You have phones that last a day, day and a half at most. The battery tech has to catch up for electric cars to become appropriate modes of transportation.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I concur. The Leaf would work for 80%, maybe 90% of the driving that I do. But for that other 10% to 20% of things which deal with surprises and extra driving, the Leaf is an absolute non-starter.

      OTOH, something like the Volt would work far better than the Leaf. My basic commute and errands would be at least 95% on battery, and only the exceptional days would burn gas. But I wouldn’t be put out by surprises or exceptions, or have to rearrange my life around the car battery & charger.

      Personally, I can’t believe anybody in the US is buying Nissan’s Leaf, especially in places with “two-tier” electric rates like CA.

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        In the same boat, for four days a week my commute is 13 miles one way. A Leaf is perfect. For the fifth day my commute is that 13 miles, with an additional 106 mile drive between, with no time to charge. It is drive 53 miles, do a pick up, drive 53 miles back, and then 13 more miles.

        A Volt would perfect in this scenario, but not at $41K.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        Why discuss the Volt at $41K when you can get a Plug in Prius for less?

        A factory made 2012 will be available in spring 2012.

        Or you can buy a 2005-2009 Prius now and convert it to a Plug in or buy one that has already been converted. Way way under 40K.

        Toyota considers the hybrid “sweet spot” to be in the range of $15,000 to $27,000. Some have guessed $33K for the plug in version list price.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Toyota commands a lower price point than GM does, so of course, they target a lower car price. If Toyota commanded market-leading transaction pricing like GM, they’d look at Volt-level pricing, too.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “This car would not work for my lifestyle. For me, a car is all about freedom, and I make plans on the fly.”

      Then don’t buy one. Just like any other car, the LEAF isn’t intended to be all things to all people.

      As for me, I live in a town that’s 5 miles on a side, and I’m too damn busy with a full-time job, young children, and adding to my education in order to live anything like your lifestyle. So, I’m either driving <20 miles/day on the daycare-work-class circuit, or driving 600 miles/day to go see grandma. So, the Leaf would work very well for me, provided I have access to another vehicle 3-4 times a year (by renting or keeping a beater around to decorate my lawn). I'm likely to buy a LEAF as soon as our trusty old Prius stops being so goddamn reliable. :-)

  • avatar
    MrBostn

    This car is like my blackberry.

    Rename the car to the “Ryan Leaf” As in it looks good on paper but in the end, not so much.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    For me, the Leaf wouldn’t save me that much versus a $22K conventional ICE powered vehicle. While the combined state and federal rebates might make it attractive for some, at the moment both government entities are spending more money than they bring in.

    Lose the rebates and local fleet buyers may still be interested.

  • avatar

    From the point of view of carbon emissions, if your electricity is powered by coal, it won’t reduce carbon emissions; if it’s powered by anything else, it will reduce carbon emissions.

    I could swear I recently read in the NYT that the carpool lanes for EVs and HEVs was going away in July.

    I’m a bit confused about the hill problem. I know that to hypermile, you accelerate, adn then coast, and then accelerate and then coast. (I’ve gotten 40mpg in my Accord on the highway, where normally I’d get about 33.) Climbing a hill, and then coasting down (or doing some regenerate braking on the way down) should be the same, no?

    It is really amazing, given the drop in quality of life (relative flexibility of use of ICE vs e-) that people would even consider buying one of these. Yes, yes, I know it’s good for the environment, and I’m an environmentalist, but I have literally had nightmares about a world of electric cars with similar ranges.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      California changed their laws on September 1, 2010 with the passage of SB535. Single occupant ICE hybrids like the Prius, Escape hybrid, etc. etc. can no longer use the HOV lanes. The Chevy Volt WILL be able to use the HOV lanes with the change in the law – I linked to the story below.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      David:

      Pretending there are ZERO drivetrain / aerodynamic losses, Hills are like accelerating to 150 mph before coasting down. You need to invest a truly MASSIVE amount of energy to get to the top, before you can recover the benefit of that stored energy going down the hill.

      Unlike your driving analogy, if you don’t happen to have that full amount of energy in the battery at the start of the hill, you’re stuck. It’s not like you get to coast. You stop dead in your tracks partway up the hill, rather than going over the top.

      Or, for a simple example looking at finite power & energy reserves and the impact of hills, think about how far can you push a car across a flat parking lot, vs pushing it up a 1-story ramp in a parking garage. Sure, you get to coast the car when you bring it back down, but first, you got to push the car completely up the ramp…

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      That is for an ICE car. Electric cars work differently

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I don’t believe in Alex’s case you could hypermile on Ca. 17 – I’ve driven that road many times over the years when in the Bay Area, too many twists, turns and cars! On I-280 maybe. Certainly not on U.S. 101, I-680, 880 or any of the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      “From the point of view of carbon emissions, if your electricity is powered by coal, it won’t reduce carbon emissions; if it’s powered by anything else, it will reduce carbon emissions.”

      And coal is 50% of the electric generation mix in the USA, so it’s a win. But it varies by region — in some places, driving an electric car is only marginally better (from a carbon-footprint standpoint) as driving a 50mpg gasoline vehicle.

      (My favorite writeup on this is hard to find on homepower.com this evening.)

      People have beaten this one to death. I used to believe that electric cars were the same as gasoline cars, because the power has to come from somewhere. But the numbers show that it’s better, even if it’s no miracle. Also, electric cars are agnostic about the fuel source, so it separates two major problems in to smaller problems that are easier to solve individually — while still making substantial progress on one of them.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Yeah, so it’s a $25k car that lacks amenities, has low range, but has pseudo-green pseudo-cachet.

    Buy a farkin’ Corolla and spend the $9k you save on fuel. – about 80kmi worth in the Corolla, mostly on the highway.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Exactly.

      But a Jetta and save $9K on gas.

      Buy a Cruze LS and save $9K on gas.

      Buy a Kia Forte and save $11K on gas.

      Buy a Hyundai Elantra and save $10K on gas…

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Since when is pure practicality the sole reason to buy a car?

      • 0 avatar
        HoldenSSVSE

        For many buyers it is the SINGLE reason for buying a car. If it wasn’t the MazdaSpeed3 would be the best selling small car, the 3-series for midsize sedan, the 5-series for fullsize, and the Ford F-350 crewcab for pickup truck. For sporty car it would be a Grand Sport Corvette.

        There is a reason why Toyota sells so many toasters – and pure practicality is the biggest darn reason.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        For many people it is the single reason for buying a car but that is because so many people buy a car. As percentage they are not large.

        ps. The Toyota Prius would be the largest selling pick up truck if people bought a car for purely practical reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “Buy a farkin’ Corolla and spend the $9k you save on fuel. – about 80kmi worth in the Corolla, mostly on the highway.”

      So in 7 years you break even, keep it 10 and you come out a few grand ahead (assuming the battery survives). That doesn’t sound all that impractical to me.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The LEAF will work for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

    Couples with stay at home mom’s.

    Commuters who already have second cars and don’t need to go over 100 miles round-trip to their job.

    Even those of us who work from home and simply need a cheap runabout for daily runs in the area.

    All of these consumers will be able to benefit from the LEAF.

    What it breaks down to is this…

    1) You have to get a home charger. That cost will likely pay for itself within two years given normal 12k to 15k mile a year driving.

    2) You need to be ‘educated’ about this product. The LEAF is for folks who clearly understand the capabilities and limitations of an all electric vehicle.

    3) Out of all the vehicles available in the mass market, I would say the LEAF is likely the most capable of generating an enthusiast following.

    You can keep this vehicle unlike the Volt. Plus, you will get an incredible amount of information and conversation by visiting enthusiast sites over time. As an owner of two early Honda hybrids I can vouch for how these places can instill loyalty and interest like no other force in the modern media. It makes owners ‘keepers’, which hopefully Nissan will be able to succeed in doing.

    Is this car for the fearful and uninformed? No. It’s for early adopters and those who believe the economic and ideological arguments for this type of vehicle are valid.

    Given a choice between investing in the Arab dictatorships and Russian mafia, or the development of a new vehicle that offers a worthy technological alternative, a lot of people will likely chose the later. Others will add their pennies and realize that this car will likely save about $15k in gas costs over a 150k mile period vs. a vehicle that offers 30 mpg and at the current pump price of $4.

    I see this vehicle doing very well in the marketplace. We’ll see what happens.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      You can buy a Volt as well. I don’t understand why you say you can’t keep it. Enthusiast are everywhere for every car out there.

      I think this car in this version will not do as well as you expect. I think the limitations are going to drive people insane when they see how they actually drive. I think doubling the range and cutting cost will get more people interested. With a 200 mile range, I think this car would be successful.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I think the limitations are going to drive people insane when they see how they actually drive.

        Do you think that will really be an issue in a typical two + car family?

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        I don’t remember a time when either my wife or I drove more than 100 miles in one day during the workweek. So not only could we have one Leaf, we could both drive Leafs!

        When we holiday, we drive a 1980 motorhome, so that can burn all the fuel that we save.

        For all you angry, green hating people – just because it doesn’t work for your purposes doesn’t make this car ‘stupid’.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        The 100-mile range isn’t realistic. It’s pretty much the “best case” scenario you can get outside a contrived test track.

        Realistic Leaf range is more like 60-70 miles, assuming you never go above 35-40 mph. If you do any significant highway driving, then range is probably 40-50 miles.

        Yesterday was a big driving day for me, with a lot of errands, and I ended up driving about 80 miles, mostly highway. There is NO way I could have done this with a Leaf. At least, not in the immediately foreseeable future of EV charging only being at home. Based on the route, I’d have ended up dead on the road, needing a Nissan tow.

        On the other hand, the Chevy Volt would have done just fine. I’d have hit the first few points on battery, the car would have switched on the generator, and I’d have been good for the rest of the day, burning a whole gallon of gas. Maybe a gallon and a half if I rushed things a bit on the highway. And then I’d be back to running on pure battery today.

        And no, I wouldn’t be able to use the other car, because the wife needed it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        And no, I wouldn’t be able to use the other car, because the wife needed it.

        Because she has a 100 mile round trip commute as well?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        No, because she has errands, too, and we’re not going to turn both cars upside down for 1 day of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      I mostly agree with your list of who could use the Leaf, but it also helps to live in a moderate climate. Running the AC or especially the heater will narrow the range even more. At that point charging at work becomes a necessity for those with more than a short commute and few of us are able to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Given that the Volt is available for purchase and ownership, it appears that you’re a lot more uninformed that most.

      I see the Leaf selling out to early adopters in the first year, then getting obliterated by the Volt thereafter.

      The Leaf is nothing more than a novelty / fad vehicle, like the Smart. Once it’s past the “pet rock” / Cabbage Patch Kid phase, you can put a fork in it.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        The Volt is much more expensive and the addition of a ICE precludes the low maintenance/high reliability appeal of a pure electric power train.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        After Federal rebate, the Volt is no more expensive than the average new car sold by GM. After State / local / power rebate / subsidy, the Volt will be less expensive than the average new car sold by GM.

        The addition of onboard integrated generator makes the Volt usable like a normal car in the real world, rather than a glorified golf cart with an invisible tether to one’s home charger.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        You’re right about the lease/buy. My mistake.

        We’ll see about the success of the LEAF and Volt. I believe they will both be successful sellers unless gas prices completely collapse.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        Just returned from a little trip to Rome, a week ago.

        Place was FULL of Smarts.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      On paper, I would be the ideal candidate for a Leaf. I have a 27 mile round trip commute during the week. I have a house in the Boston burbs with a 2-car garage, and my wife stays at home with the chillin, schlepping them around in a Taurus X. Problem arises on the weekends: wife needs to tend to her sick mom, 80 miles r/t, while dad takes the kids to the children’s museum, 60 miles r/t, or two cars to grandma’s house for thanksgiving, 90 miles r/t, because dad is going to the Pats game that afternoon, 75 miles r/t.

      The issue is, the Leaf would be ideal for about 90% of the way I use my current car (Accord). It’s that other 10% that would present way too much hassle for us, when we have a lot of other things to worry about. Getting around 30 mpg in the Accord works for me, and I get to shift my own gears to boot.

      If charging stations start popping up everywhere, then maybe it’s a different story. I like the Leaf, but it’s an incomplete proposition.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    One nit.

    The Volt does not get the additional $5,000 government handout the Leaf gets from the broke state of California, however it does get the HOV sticker for single occupant access. You may want to update the story.

    Originally in July of 2010 California said no access – that was changed in September 1, 2010 when SB535 was signed into law, expanding single occupancy permits to 40,000 vehicles, expanding to include the Chevy Volt (among others).

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/01/chevrolet-volt-nissan-leaf-allowed-to-use-california-hov-lanes/

    http://gas2.org/2010/09/03/volt-can-use-californias-hov-lanes-in-2012/

    The Toyota Prius et al convetional ICE hybrids will lose access in the coming months.

  • avatar
    fozone

    The service intervals are published here:

    http://nissan-leaf.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/773326-2011-Nissan-Leaf-SMG.pdf

    It looks refreshingly minimal.

    Nissan’s own site says:

    “maintenance needs to be done for each of the required maintenance periods – for the first 82,000 miles it’s entirely possible (unless you’re unlucky) that all you’ll need is tire rotation; cabin air filters; and a handful of brake fluid flushes!”

    If that is indeed the case then at $21k the car does begin to make sense… if you can get over the range anxiety issues. I’m not sure I could…

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    The rebates are nice but you still have to pay sales tax on the purchase price. Even if LaHood’s proposal comes to pass wherein the rebate is applied at the dealer level, California for example still taxes you on the price BEFORE rebate is applied, your state may vary.

    In a related note, since LaHood said that the rebate should be applied “C4C” style, i.e. at the dealer level, is there also the same caveat that it ends up being counted and needing to be declared as income? I admit I do not know all of the details here, but am of the belief that the people who took advantage of the $4500 C4C rebate then had to declare that on their taxes as a form of income. Please correct me if I am wrong. However I am curious that if I am correct, would the rebate for the Leaf be treated the same way?

    Also, when the old rebates were in effect for the Prius etc., it capped out at certain income levels and a lot of people who bought Prius’ later found out they were inelgible for the tax deduction due to their income level.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    The self-righteousness and one-size-fits-all mentality of the Gaia worshippers here is breathtaking. You people are so self-absorbed that it has never occurred to you that others may have different interests, beliefs, wants and needs from you. Your cavalier dismissal of legitimate concerns about range, utility, cost and the like show your lack of understanding of others. In some of your cases your utter contempt for others shines through.

    In case you didn’t know it, your beliefs aren’t the only valid ones out there. Treat the rest of us with some respect and admit that we may just have some good points in out arguements. Like it or not, eletric vehicles, because of utility, cost and performance have crippling drawbacks in this country at this time. If you add in the continued robbery of taxpayers to subsidize the early adapters any arguement for electric cars is bound to be opposed by lots of thinking people.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      You people are so self-absorbed that it has never occurred to you that others may have different interests, beliefs, wants and needs from you

      Hi Pot, I’m Kettle. Nice to see something else Black here.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Now Psar, I’ve never considered you a Gaia worshipper and you don’t fit very well with most of the eletric disciples on here.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ psar…. In a one hundred mile radius of where you, and I live,and given our climate. How many of us could make a Leaf financialy viable?

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Another thiing Psar what you call self-absorption by me is really me defending my choices against people who don’t believe in choice. Most of the electrics here do want to shape everyone to be like them. I also don’t try and tell anyone else how to live their lives unlike some here.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        @mikey:
        Three questions will answer that:
        1. How far is it from Oshawa, Newmarket or Burlington to Toronto? (about 60km or so)
        2. What’s the Leaf’s “cold” range? (about 100km, one-way)
        3. Have you been to the parking lot of GO station during the week? (if yes, did you see that, for example, Whitby fills a thousand parking spots or more)

        As for financially viable, well, I don’t know what means. Let’s take the GO Station parking lot test: I saw a few SRXs, a couple Camaros, more than a few BMW 3-Series, Audi A4s and CTSs. Are those financially viable? If I drive downtown (not often; generally only at night) the parking garage I usually end up in sees me sandwiched between an SSR, several Porsches, lots of E- and S-Classes and hordes of Lexus RXs. Are they finanically viable?

        So what makes the Leaf any more or less financially viable than any of that? The viability test is a silly one: if you like the car, and you enjoy what positive attributes it brings, what’s wrong with that? We’d all be driving Toyota Matrixes if we were on a cost-justification-uber-alles scheme.

        Personal note: I don’t like in the GTA any more, but I am a little closer now than I was. The Leaf would—just—get me Toronto in good weather. In the winter, it would at least get to Oshawa, which is how I get to Toronto these days anyway. I’d prefer a Volt (for the occasional jaunt out to London or St. Catharines) but for 99% of the driving I do, a Leaf and a quick charger would do me well.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Psar, you make some very good points. Fact is, I would be an ideal electric car buyer to use as a commuter but I can’t afford specialty vehicles for narrow use. I have about a 5 minute, 3 mile commute one way during the week. If I cared to spend the money a Leaf would be great for that and all my other errands because I live in a small town.

        But reality hits, I can’t afford it as a second car and having an electric as my only car is impossible. I drive a 3/4 ton 4×4 diesel truck because several times most years I load up myself, my English Setters and my gear and drive 800-1500 miles to hunt grouse, pheasant, chukar and such. I used to keep a something like an M3 or a muscle car around for fun annd that will happen again. For now though, my hobbies determine my choice of vehicles. But my point is that everyone is different so the “everyone ought to be like me” coming from a lot of people here

  • avatar
    daviel

    The Volt and Leaf are just too much of a hassle. I can’t see them as practical transportation. They are too expensive. Maybe I drive too much for such a vehicle to make sense. I can’t see my motoring life governed by the sense that I am running out of electricity and the car will quit. Scenes of dealing with a dead battery in an ordinary car; not using the defroster or air conditioner or stereo because the car won’t make it. That seems to be the theme that runs through all the electric car articles here and elsewhere. I’ll pass, thank you!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m extremely interested in all this electric technology as it pertains to cars, whether hybrid, pure electric, or extended-range. It’s all a start of what will prove to be a very good thing.

    Look, at 60 years of age, I’m not the “get off my lawn!” type, just a never-intending-to-grow-up aging guy who loves cars and performance – not necessarily raw power – but “performance” in the sense of how the sum of an automobile’s parts perform as advertised.

    Welcome to the future! Embrace it! Prepare to change and enjoy the ride! I can’t wait!

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I’m curious as to why the scheduled maintenance includes brake fluid replacement at 15,000 miles (30,000 miles for the “less severe” schedule).

    That would seem excessive for an ICE-equipped vehicle. Is it because of the Leaf’s regenerative braking system?

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      I’ve never heard of brake fluid flush/replacement on a Prius (which has regenerative braking).

      oh, Change brake fluid every 15,000 miles or 12 months (whichever comes first) for SEVERE service. 30,000 miles or 24 months (whichever comes first) for NORMAL driving.

      “Brake fluid has a short lifespan primarily because it is an alcohol-based fluid that by nature absorbs water.”

      Apparently you are supposed to change brake fluid on all cars even though no one I know ever does other than during major brake repairs.

      http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=2152 has tons of talk about this.

  • avatar

    This would work for a lot of folks. Not as a primary car in a one car household, but for enough to make a sale.

    Early adopters will probably find a lot more charging than you’d think with a good extension cord-the novelty will get you a pass.

    When they become common, expect to find along with more charging stations, er, stations that will charge you, locks for electric outlets, especially in public garages.

    I’m sure the first “pay to charge” “gas station” has already been patented.

    A neighbor had a Chevy Volt which he kindly let me try out. It was more normal than anything else…..electric is cool for short ranges, and for most of us, that covers “town”, and “school”, if you don’t live in Montana.

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      Why does it make sense to have two cars to do the job of one? That’s what doesn’t make sense in the pro-Leaf argument.

      That the Leaf is a good commuter car… and that for other (weekend) uses, the owner will have an ICE car.

      Talk about waste!

      • 0 avatar
        SSVHD

        If people actually tallied the amount of miles they drive per day, most would see that the gen. 1 Leaf WILL work. Sure, there might be a few times per year where a rental ICE car would be needed.

        The reality in my suburban neighborhood is that everybody has at least two cars.

        How is one person driving a large SUV to work everyday not wasteful?

        80-100 miles not enough for an EV, don’t worry, next year at this time there will be more options and longer range.

        We’ve had our Leaf for almost a month. The ICE car has not left the garage since the Leaf arrived.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “Bottom line, the Leaf is a commuter car.”

    Given that, here’s the problem: the ideal commuter is a used car. Commuting beats the crap out of a car’s appearance and mechanicals, so it’s best done in something that has already had some depreciation run out of it.

    When the Leaf and Volt get to be used cars, they may not be competitive if the battery is starting to deteriorate. If so, a new Leaf is a poor choice – and so is an old Leaf. That doesn’t leave much.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Depends on how much deterioration we’re talking about and whether it’s BEV or EREV.

      If it’s a 5% or 10% hit on a Volt, that’s not so bad. You’ll still get 30-35 miles AER (instead of 35-40 miles AER), and you’ll still have an onboard generator when the battery cuts out.

      OTOH, if it’s a 15-25% hit on a Leaf, going from 60-70 miles AER down to 45-55 miles AER, that might be more of a problem.

      Of course, if this is 5 years down the road, and workplace charging is commonplace, then even if the batteries degrade 30-40%, you’d be OK because you’d have 60-70% capacity to cover 50% of the range required.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I do not think this was truly a review, but rather an exercise in identifying and testing the limitations of the Nissan Leaf as a pure EV. I think that was accomplished.

    Later TTAC may want to create some “ring” charts of range and environments showing what vehicle makes the most economical sense over various time frames and yearly mileage.

    That said, other automakers with EV programs are sitting in a good position.
    They get to see the market response and tribulations of the pure Nissan Leaf EV. Then they can make adjustments and jump in or revise their plans.

    As an example: It probably would not take a large effort to eliminate the ICE from a Volt and add more battery capacity to turn it into a pure EV. (Beijing market also!)

    I do like the idea of an almost maintenance free car. The throw away appliance is only a few steps away.

    I will still be waiting for that website “My Nissan Leaf ran out of power . com” Welcome to our forum, please “Leaf” your stories…
    So when a customer searches for Nissan Leaf information it could be a future marketing disaster.

    • 0 avatar

      Battery type has to be entirely different in EV. You cannot just “add capacity”: the resulting range is going to be pathetic (but a bigger battery of a hybrid could be charged in under an hour, due to its different chemistry).

  • avatar
    SSVHD

    Lots of good theoretical problems with electric car ownership, but the exception proves the rule–for most people who live in single family homes with a garage and a normal commute, EV’s work. Yes, a 2nd car, hybrid or ICE is going to be necessary from time to time.

    We bought a Leaf last month, my wife loves it(something common to EV owners). We haven’t needed to use the ICE car yet. A few days ago we drove 77 miles and had 16 miles left on the battery pack. Trip was mainly freeways with some hills–but we drove at the speed limit and were gentle with the throttle, no AC.

    We will save $20K in fuel that would otherwise literally go up in smoke over the 8 year battery warranty. We will save in maintenance over my wife’s ridiculous Mercedes parts and labor costs. We have solar power, so charging won’t have much of an impact on electricity costs.

    We will take some of the $20K in fuel savings and some of the thousands saved in maintenance on replacing the battery pack, which hopefully will cost less and have more range in eight years.

    Meanwhile, we’re driving a smooth, quiet, well equipped car with plenty of interior space, and great throttle response, that costs a fraction per mile of an ICE car for low $20K price.

    Lots of people tell me that solar and EV’s don’t make sense. They usually pay over $200 per month for electricity and drive two SUV’s with a fuel cost of over $500 per month.

    Who’s not making sense?

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I, for one, welcome the people whose “hobbies” include solar power and EV enthusiasm; they will bring the price into reach for the rest of us, and their experiences will lessen the fear involved with changing something so fundamental to our society – the sources and uses of energy.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      You aren’t making sense because I am paying for your eco holier-than-thouness. When all those things become subsidy free and work as planned, get back to me and brag. If smugness was a power source you wouldn’t need anything else, in fact we could hook you up to the grid and power a large metro area.

      And Shaker, do you welcome your new masters too?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Mike, you would have a leg to stand on if oil wasn’t subsidized.

        As it stands, we already subsidize it, as well as many other industries and interests, so in the interests of actually levelling the playing field it’s probably better to subsidize something that has a future net benefit then something that’s a sucking black hole.

        I’d agree with your point that nothing should be subsidized, but since that’s about as fantastical as unicorn-riding pixies delivering world peace and universal, guilt-free intercourse, I’ll take the next best option, which is equitable subsidies.

      • 0 avatar
        SSVHD

        As a small business owner, I am afforded many tax breaks, like section 179 which allows me to buy up to $500,000 of business equipment tax free each year. This is one of hundreds of tax breaks corporations receive, which of course includes big oil–subsidized in the billions–you’d think they were non-profits. At least these alternative energy subsidies go directly to the consumer vs. wall street, automaker and oil company subsidies.

        We spend hundreds of millions keeping oil routes secure around the world via our military. We lose soldiers who are protecting fuel convoys in war zones routinely. It costs $400 a gallon to get fuel to these war zones, many of which are fought in the first place due to oil.

        We spend 250 billion a year on foreign oil, imagine if we kept that money within our country, like using natural gas in our cars, as well as electric and hydrogen.

        New technology often requires government assistance to gain traction at the beginning–if our government doesn’t help with alternative energy research, infrastructure and adoption, don’t worry, other governments will, like China. At which point, we will be left in the dust in global competition.

        Oil and coal are not truly cheap energy sources, they affect the health of all of us and our planet. To not try to find a cleaner approach is short sited at best and to denigrate those who are trying to help the process get started is small minded.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        SSVHD, I don’t know what you’re running for, but you have my vote!

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Some people here mistake tax breaks for subsidies. They can be one and the same. Most of the people who think clearly here are anti-ethanol subsidy for example. But those who are confused are calling provisions of the tax code that allow deductions for depreciation, subsidies. They aren’t, that’s where you fail. You need to get this through your head: a subsidy is a payment. A tax break is a legal way to reduce your tax lialbilities.

        I’m not going to argue for or against the tax code as it is written now. But there are those here who deliberately misuse words to make a partisan political point. That should stop if you unless you are trying to hide your hypocrisy instead of actually trying to win an arguement with facts.

        One more thing, SSVHD, did say Edison, Bell, Whitney, Watt and all those people have any help at all from government? They came up with truly transformational technologies without any government money or help in any form. Or for that matter, Henry Ford, did a government grant get him started? The only things governments do really well is killing. They can develop technologies for that really well. Anyone who would vote for you is unfit to vote.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        You say as you post this on a network and technology framework designed, funded and incubated by government and academia.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Psar, you’re slipping up there, I expect better of you. I excepted defense technologies from that list specifically. The internet was started and funded by DARPA and the DOD. Sorry, but you can’t get by that. I’m right.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        Mike AR – I (as a tax-paying citizen as well) would rather see my money promote peaceful and sensible policies – though the immediate payout goes to early adopters, the country will benefit in the future, as opposed to my pocketbook right now. I’m willing to make that minor sacrifice. There have been plenty of things that the government has done with “my money” that I heartily disagree with, and I vote accordingly; that doesn’t mean that I get my way, and you shouldn’t assume that government will do as you wish, either – it’s the nature of democracy (as watered-down as it has become).

  • avatar
    chaparral

    The Leaf doesn’t have to make sense for 80% of us.

    If it makes sense for 10% of new car buyers, then Nissan will sell as many as they can make for as long as they can make them.

    It is just the first of many.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    If they could get the range up to, say, 200 miles, and have an infrastructure in place that would reduce the recharge time to around 30 minutes, the Leaf would be okay. Out on the highway, taking a 30 minute break every 200 miles wouldn’t seem to be that big of a deal.

    For now, though, to replicate the Leaf ‘experience’, it’d be a whole lot cheaper to buy one of those $9990 Versa strippo-specials and never have more than three gallons of gas in the tank.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      “For now, though, to replicate the Leaf ‘experience’, it’d be a whole lot cheaper to buy one of those $9990 Versa strippo-specials and never have more than three gallons of gas in the tank.”

      Haha, nice!

      But you missed something – to refill the 3-gallon tank, you can’t go to a regular gas station – you need to use a specially-made $2000 IV drip that requires “professional” installation in your garage!

      • 0 avatar
        SSVHD

        The stripped Versa would cost $10K, if you could actually find one on the lot equipped with no options. At 35mpg, you will still spend $11K on fuel over 8 years, if gas stays at $4 per gallon, then there’s maintenance costs of an ICE car–more to go wrong than with an EV.

        We just received a check for $5K from the state we live in for buying an EV, plus we’ll get a $7500 federal tax credit if we have that much tax liability, that puts our Leaf at $21K plus government fees–same as the Versa and 8 years of fuel, no maintenance factored in.

        The big question is how much to replace the battery pack? What is the residual value compared to the Versa? Unknown at this time.

        The Versa is a very different car than the Leaf. Leaf has much more equipment, like GPS, Bluetooth, Sat radio, rear camera, etc. The car drives better due to amazing throttle response, quietness, more weight with a very low center of gravity.

        The 240V EVSE costs $700 plus installation and permits. The car comes with 110V EVSE, there are 110 outlets to be had in the millions.

        This is the first mass produced EV. There will be many more and they will have lower cost/higher range. That’s the way consumer products work.

  • avatar
    william442

    This is progress. It is by nature slow. If this does not work, it will eventually lead to something that will.
    We change brake fluid regularly in all the cars.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Excellent observation. This car makes as much sense for me as a F350 as a daily commuter, but I won’t castigate anyone for getting one. I’m rather interested in how these cars ‘perform’ so to speak.

      As I read these posts, I get this image of some guy back in 1911 swearing up and down that these newfangled “automobiles” will never catch on… What could be better than a horse? Or they would be appalled that you have to pay to refill the fuel tank… (Wait, that’s still happening…)

      Personally, I think it’s a good thing that we’re diversifying our transportation base. Less gasoline used by Leafs, Volts, Priiiii, etc., means more for me!

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    Re: “Bottom line, the Leaf is a commuter car. This term has never been so appropriately applied to a single model before.”

    The Leaf is a single -purpose car, and as such, it has the wrong morphology. Why use the shape of a 5-seat, multi-use vehicle, with attendant cost and weight, when what is really needed to fulfill its purpose is a much smaller two-seater. Set aside the fact that the Leaf is at heart a Versa and thus easier to get into production, at some point, the industry needs to come up with appropriate technology to meet the actual, real-world needs of car users.

    The Leaf should never be called a $21,000 car, since government subsidies are not set in stone. These government welfare payouts primarily benefit the wealthier among us who least need subsidies. Speaker of the House John Boehner recently gave a policy setting speech demanding trillions of dollars in Federal budget cuts. Where do you think those cuts will come from?

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      Two seater vehicles don’t sell in large volumes. See the 1st gen Honda Insight vs the Toyota Prius. They’re usually not much lighter or less costly than five seater vehicles. In fact, since they naturally sell at lower volumes they benefit much less from economies of scale.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    HoldenSSVSE mentioned my lifestyle yesterday, down to the actual neighborhood and parking situation I have right now. I live on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, in an older post WWII building and rent and have to park on the street.

    Even if I could park off street, my building does NOT have any charging stations, let alone any real convenient 120V outlets so charging there is at best an inconvenience and at worse, impossible. There is good bus transportation and gradually, light rail is improving with the new University light rail link being built now with a station on Capitol Hill coming on line in 2016, the bus is now and easy to get to so alternatives there to leave the car charging to ensure a full charge, find a 240 or more volt charging station, non existent so far.

    Park on the street, no outlets AT ALL so for me, at this time, an all electric vehicle isn’t going to cut it as my employer doesn’t offer charging stations – and I live in Seattle, work in Bellevue and that’s a good 20-30 minute drive across Interstate 90 each way, in the afternoons, the trip can take almost twice as long if traffic is bad (and one leaves at 5pm instead of 4:30). My commute is well within the leaf’s range, but if I can’t charge the car in a timely manner, or at all, then what good will it do me now?

    And add to that, many of us city dwellers who have to do errands outside of our neighborhood from time to time have to drive in heavy traffic, even on the weekends to several places like Costco, which are at the extreme ends of the city, or drive to Tacoma, which is an hour a way, or visit a sister who lives an hour and a half away and then trips to the ocean (a 2 hour drive) etc, the Leaf would be outsville as so many of us who live in the city have only one car for daily use but the Volt would work, even if it means using the ICE motor every now and then, but again, price, some of us can’t go over $20K for a car to begin with so that limits what we can swing for a car and therefore, until the infrastructure is in place to charge all EV cars conveniently, I’ll stick with the ICE car thanks.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Is there some way to set the Leaf app to email you or alert you that your car needs to be charged? If I had one and got home and forgot to actually plug it in, I don’t think it would go over well in the morning. I sometimes forget to plug my phone in when it dies. So I’m curious if Nissan has done some sort of reminder/alert thing to tell you to plug it in.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    So I’m reading the leaf forumns at http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewforum.php?f=20 and the topic of stolen chargers came up

    Apparently the 120V charger is a $500 item so if you are parked on the street someone could steal your charger and eBay/craigslist it to get cash for it.

    Not only would you not be charged up when you got back (depending on how long ago it was stolen) but if you didn’t have a 240V charger at home you’d have no way to charge the car until you bought a replacement charger.

    Someone mentioned getting a padlock for their charger but if its a $500 item I wouldn’t expect a padlock to stop a thief.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      Apparently the upgraded 120V to 240V charger does 87% of the charging rate of the hardwired L2 240V charger. Fast enough to fix the problem of slow home charging but still portable and usable on 120V connections in the wild. Assuming you aren’t worried about theft the ability to charge off of a RV plug or 240V plugs of other types by way of adapters is interesting.

      http://evseupgrade.com

      Upgrade service for your existing Nissan EVSE (with 1 year warranty): $239
      New Nissan EVSE with the upgrade completed (with 1 year warranty): $789 (Ask us about stock levels!)

      Options:
      Add Chevy Volt Compatibility Upgrade for Nissan EVSE: $10 (Option unavailable in drop-down, please contact us for invoicing)
      Add high-quality 120V adapter cord (5-15P to L6-20R): $25
      Add short molded L6-20R cord for custom adapters: $20

      and the FAQ I though were interesting

      Will the upgraded EVSE work with the Chevy Volt?
      Neither the original Nissan (Panasonic) EVSE or the upgraded unit will work properly with the Volt. However, we have identified the cause, and can correct this with an additional upgrade. Then the unit will properly charge a Volt at 120 or 240 volts. The upgrade consists of additional added components, so there is an extra cost of $10 to include it with a standard upgrade.

      Are you also offering an upgrade for the Chevy Volt EVSE (Voltec)?
      Not at this time. We recommend an upgraded Nissan EVSE to Volt owners, as is much more rugged and better built than the Voltec unit, and in addition is more efficient. The Voltec is equipped with #16 AWG cable throughout, while the Nissan unit uses #12 AWG. We do not feel the Voltec unit is reliable and safe enough

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    Did you know modern electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Nissan Leaf have the charger built into the car?

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010/11/01/what-is-evse-its-electric-vehicle-supply-equipment-and-heres/

    When discussing electric vehicles and charging standards, things can get a bit confusing. Progress has been made in terms of unification, with the J1172 connector becoming a standard in most of the world. However, nomenclature still brings about plenty of conversational disorientation. Did you know modern electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Nissan Leaf have the charger built into the car? If this is so, what, you may ask, is the $2,200 Aerovironment “wall charger” that wants to sell me to charge the Leaf (or another EV)? Well, that wall charger or charging station is really just a device that safely allows electricity to flow. These “chargers” and the protocols established to create them are known as EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment), and they enhance safety by enabling two-way communication between the charging station and the electric vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      SSVHD

      The AV 240V EVSE only costs $700, the balance is installation and permit costs. Hacking a 110 EVSE that comes with every Leaf to 240V will serve the same function as the hardwired AV, or Blink EVSE.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        It was an old post, I copied it here just to help those of us that didn’t understand that the EVSE isn’t a proper “charger” like a power brick for a laptop is. Before this week I didn’t realize what it did or what the options are.

        To be clear on the “hacking” and “same purpose”

        The upgrade by evseupgrade.com makes it better and isn’t just some simple hack.

        The charge rate between the 3 options are closer to

        Nissan portable 120V EVSE ~1.4 KW/h
        Nissan/AV 2011 L2 wall mount 240V EVSE ~3.8 KW/h

        Modified portable EVSE at 240V ~2.8 KW/h

        Note: you have to pay for this, just plugging the stock portable EVSE in to 240V will fry it.

        So you can think of the modified portable EVSE as 75% of the charging rate of the L2 EVSE or as 200% of the charging rate of an unmodified portable EVSE.

        If you think of the modified portable EVSE at 75% of the L2, then the unmodified portable L1 is 37% of a L2 EVSE. Or in rough terms the L2 is 3 times faster and than L1 and a modified L1 240V is 2 times faster than L1.

        I’d be happy with the 240V L1 option but I’d still be having an electrician put a 240V plug in my garage if I went that route. It’d be cheaper than the L2 and it’d be fast enough for most people.

        But apparently someone still has Nissan thinking otherwise as they are talking about the Leaf having an even faster charger as an option in the future if needed (both as a factory option and as a refit for prior models).

        http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1056343_breaking-nissan-leaf-to-get-faster-charger-in-a-year-or-so

  • avatar
    SSVHD

    @MikeAR, I’m sorry about your anger issues. Let’s try to get this through your head:

    The $7500 Federal Incentive to buy an EV is a TAX BREAK, they do not write an EV owner a check. The EV owner will only get up to $7500 if they have at least that much of a tax liability. If a taxpayer is on the Alternative Minimum Tax Plan, they don’t get a $7500 tax break, if they don’t owe Federal taxes, they don’t get to deduct anything for an EV purchase.

    Regarding the government not being involved in anything other than making war, which, yes, is a huge percentage of our national budget-
    often fought in the name of oil-what would you call NASA? Last I checked, that was a government entity being subsidized by you and I. A lot of new technology has come from this government agency.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      VD, I’m sorry that you’re a blind doctrinaire liberal mooch. There are way too many of your kind around unfortunately. I am much better aware of what a tax break is, than you ever will be. The fact is that it is a waste of money on a technology that is worthless right now.

      And, what’s wrong you stooped to personal insults but you didn’t answer my question about all the non-government technologies through time. What’s the matter can’t win the arguement so you get personal wilh insults? The sure sign of a loser there.

      • 0 avatar
        SSVHD

        Yes, I’ve only run my own company for 30 years–not clear on taxes at all.

        If EV technology is so worthless, why is almost EVERY automaker on the planet planning to come out with EV’s within the next couple of years? I guess they’re not a brilliant as you.

        Yes, this country has many great examples of brilliant inventors. Many worked for themselves, many worked for large corporations who receive various subsidies and tax breaks from the government, and in many cases, whole industries started based upon government incentives and imperatives.

        When it comes to name calling, you must have confused my posts with yours, ditto in the case of facts. Your posts are baseless and banal. Actually, quite ignorant.

        You’re just another internet troll.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Aren’t we tough tonight. Troll away dude and just remember you can be anyone you want to be on the internet. You can be a brain-dead troll and I can be right. I have limited patience with people who can’t be civil and who mooch off taxpayers.

  • avatar
    SSVHD

    @MikeAR, I pay plenty of taxes, thanks for your concern.

  • avatar
    SSVHD

    Here’s a couple of exerpts from William Clay Ford Jr. on EV’s:

    Ford Motor Company may be one of the world’s oldest automakers, but that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past. William Clay Ford Jr., 54-year-old Executive Chairman of the Ford Board of Directors and great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, has penned a forward-looking editorial for Fortune that shows there’s innovative ideas at Ford from the top down. “For the first time in more than a century, some of the most fundamental and enduring elements of the automobile are being radically transformed,” says Ford, who then goes on to tout the upcoming all-electric Focus and PHEV and electric iterations of the C-MAX five-seater.

    “The turmoil in the Middle East, a growing demand for energy in China, and the fact that oil is getting harder to find – all this suggests that gasoline is going to get more expenive over time and that customers are going to care increasingly about fuel efficiency” says Ford, making a case for the estimate that by 2020, nearly a quarter of Ford’s fleet will be electrified.

  • avatar
    George B

    Alex. Bottom line. Do you think a married guy in California with a 3 car garage and a moderate length horrible traffic commute with car pool lanes would or could talk his wife into spending about $20,000 for a Nissan Leaf to avoid sitting in traffic PLUS get permission to buy a cool car for the weekend? To win her permission to spend money on a Nissan Leaf he gets to argue.

    1) Getting to use the car pool lanes gives him more time with the kids.
    2) Electricity costs less than gasoline plus he can charge it some at work too.
    3) Neighbors get to see the family doing their part to help the environment.

    Now for the tough part, since he wouldn’t be caught dead in a Leaf except for it’s better than getting caught in traffic, how does he also talk his wife into using the 3rd spot in the garage for a car he wants without getting stuck with a Leaf and a minivan as the only family wheels?

    Seems like a small market.

  • avatar
    Solarguy

    Excellent reviews, and comments!

    I’m on the list for a Leaf, which should be delivered in about 7 months. I live in the San Diego area, and have just installed 30 solar panels on my roof. This will zero-out my electric bill.

    I may add 10 more panels, to offset the additional electricity consumed by the Leaf 240 volt charger. I will be producing electricity during peak times, and consuming it to charge the Leaf during non-peak times (evening).

    I think the Leaf will be perfect for my needs. The range is not an issue for me, as I only drive around town, and will remain well within the range limitations. I have another car for longer trips, as necessary, which will be seldom used.

    The federal and state subsidies are attractive, and will make the purchase more affordable.

    Expensive? Yes, but over time, the overall fuel and solar electrical savings will eventually be worth it. It will be nice knowing that the sun is essentially fueling my car.

    My reason for being interested and solar power and the Leaf is principally not having to rely on foreign oil. The environmental concerns are secondary, as I don’t really think that anthropogenic climate change science is as solid as many believe. If it turns out to be true, well then, at least I’m doing part.

    It will be very nice knowing that less of my money will be going overseas to some regimes that don’t really like us, and who are killing our soldiers.

  • avatar
    Q5Quint

    I ride my bike mostly and being such a masochist also somehow have anywhere from 3-5 other semi broke-down dino-blood guzzling vehicles to pick from if the need arises.

    Last year I spent about $400 bucks building an electric bike and wow was that thing more fun than a sack of potatoes. It is a bicycle that freaking pedals itself. Hippie chicks throw the underwear they aren’t wearing right at me. Now I can be a lazy masochist for about 15 miles which is plenty time to grab some sushi, fair trade coffee, and swing by liquor store for some locally made tennessee whiskey. Ironically I also bought about 4000lbs of american steel in jeep cherokee chief form for the same price except it doesn’t move quite as well.

    Now I can both save and destroy the world at the same time for about 1/26th the price of a new leaf!

    This is a great review for those that buy new cars and I can eagerly await the fallout when these hit the used market. EV’s are a different mindset but in my opinion a happier more carefree one. With my motorcycle I am worried about which random engine component will attempt to shoot itself through the block and into my crotch next but with the electric all that we worry about is ‘if it has enough juice to get home’.

    My biggest thought is when these things (electric leafs) get to be the broken, abused, neglected and downright much more affordable used car that people like me can afford… who is going to take care of them? Will they be worth anything if a new battery pack is 5 grand? Could I swap in a 454 and a powerglide with that same 5 grand? My loins quiver with anticipation of the hybrid v8+ 4 barrel swaps we shall soon see. Only time will tell.


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