By on February 29, 2012

Last May, the Nissan Leaf was the hottest thing on the green radar. Limited production and a long waiting list for the press meant that Nissan was lending out Leafs (Nissan tells us that is the correct way to pluralize a Leaf) 62-hours at a time. With my long commute and lengthy 120V charging times, this meant a review with only 217 miles under our belt (read our three-part review here: 1 2 3). Now that a few thousand Leafs have found homes in Northern California and I had practiced my “range anxiety” breathing techniques, I was eager to see if the ultimate green ride was also a decent car beyond the batteries.

2012 hasn’t brought any changes to the outside of the Leaf, – it’s still offered only as a hatchback.  While the style can easily be called polarizing, and one friend thought it looked like a miniature hearse, passengers seemed to be split 50/50 on the look. Nissan tells us there is a reason for the chihuahua-lamps; aerodynamics and noise. When you create a car with a nearly silent drivetrain, wind noise becomes more obvious.  The shape of the lamp modules is designed to cut down on this element while in motion. The big-tire crowd will complain about the stock 205-width tires and 16-inch rims, but I didn’t mind the look. The rear lights? They just look cool.

Up to this point, essentially all cars heat the cabin with “waste heat” from the engine. Since the Leaf doesn’t have an engine, and the electric motor generates very little heat, the Leaf uses a 5kW electric heater to heat the cabin (roughly equal to 5 conventional space heaters). 2012 has brought a few welcome changes to combat this power draw:  heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel are now standard. The “luxury” touch of a heated tiller may seem out-of-place, but it takes considerably less power to heat the surfaces you interact with than the air in the cabin. The solution worked well for me, and I didn’t mind turning the cabin heating down to 61 degrees with my seat and steering wheel heating my touch-points on a 35 degree morning. Last time I was in the Leaf, I sacrificed everything in the name of range, but this time I drove it like a normal car.  Should you decide to use the cabin heater, rear passengers will notice some ducting improvements to make it more comfortable in the rear. At 31 inches, rear seat legroom is behind the Camry or Prius (36/38 respectively), but generous headroom all the way around made it possible to comfortably fit six-foot tall humans all the way around. We were also able to squeeze in two rearward facing child seats with two average sized adults up front.


Under the Leaf’s small hood lies an 80kW synchronous AC motor. Throw out most of what you know about engines when it comes to electric cars because they behave quite differently. Because the Leaf has a single-speed transmission and the motor redlines at 10,390RPM, the top speed is 96MPH. This linear relationship is important when thinking about the Leaf’s performance. 107 horsepowers are delivered between 2,730 and 9,800 RPM (25-90 MPH) while peak torque of 207 lb-ft is available right off the line from 0-2730 RPM (0-25 MPH) where it tapers off slightly.

Thanks to the low-end grunt, the Leaf posts a very respectable 2.92 second 0-30MPH time while the 0-60 time stretches out to 8.96 seconds (a considerable improvement over the 10.2 seconds the pre-production Leaf achieved in May). As you would expect with a 1 speed transmission, acceleration is very linear right up to its top speed. Due to some earlier complaints about the battery not charging properly in cold temperatures, Nissan added some basic thermal management in 2012 for the battery pack to keep it from loosing a charge when it is not plugged in and sitting in extremely cold weather.

Unlike your cell phone, the Leaf’s charging circuitry is built-in, and the “charger” is just a smart plug that communicates with the car and supplies the power to the car’s charger. 2011 and 2012 Leafs support three charge modes called Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 (Level 3 is optional on 2011 and 2012 SV models) via it’s internal 3.3kW charger. For those not in the know, Level 1 is 120V AC, Level 2 is 240V AC and Level 3 is 480V DC. Charging the 24kWh battery will take a little over 26 hours at Level 1 via the included “emergency charging cable,” just over 7 hours with a Level 2 charger (available in some public parking lots or installed in your garage at home), or just over 30 minutes if and when 480V quick charge stations become available on our side of the Pacific. Shoppers should note that Nissan confirmed the 2013 leaf will have a 6.6kW charger which would cut Level 2 charging times in half to just over 3.5 hours. The DC quick charge connector was a standalone option in 2011, but with Nissan pushing for DC quick charging infrastructure, they have made it standard on the Leaf’s SL trim for 2012 (still optional on SV). According to EPA tests, the Leaf’s range varies from 138 miles under perfect conditions to 47 miles in heavy stop-and-go traffic. The traffic test cycle was 8 hours long and the A/C was in use for the entire test. I had no problems getting 75 miles out of the Leaf driving it like I would any other vehicle we have tested, with the automatic climate control set to 68 during a mild Northern California winter and mixed driving. Like all battery-powered appliances, your run time will vary.

During our week with the Leaf we noticed considerably wider availability of charging stations than during our first all-electric fling back in May. Among the stations we visited was a “PlugShare” station at the home of Howard Page, who agreed to an interview with us. Expect a more detailed charging story later, but in essence Howard listed his home charging station on PlugShare (there’s a web site and an app) as available for use. To “fill-up”, you SMS message or call the PlugShare host and ask if you can charge. If the host is feeling altruistic, they say yes, give you their address and any instructions about charging at their home. Our Leaf spent 7 hours in Howard’s driveway one day saving me the $2 per hour at my local public parking garage with the Level 2 charger, as well as allowing me to make i home. The concept is novel to say the least; handing out free electrons to similarly minded early adopters hoping it all evens out in the end. At $5 a complete charge, I wonder how long this system will last without some mini-payment system? Sound off in the comment section below if you would share your charging station to those in need, and similarly, how is this different from a gasoline sharing program where you keep a gallon on your doorstep for passers-by?

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Last time we had the Leaf, our range anxiety prevented us from really thrashing the Leaf on windy mountain roads, romping the go pedal from a stop and mashing the brake pedal as we would with a normal car. A full week in the electron powered hatch (and careful pre-planned Level 2 charging arrangements) allowed us to do just that. The handling limits of the Leaf are, as one would assume, defined mostly by the 3,400lb curb weight and low rolling resistance tires. With the “40 MPG car” being all the rage lately, more and more cars are being sold with low rolling resistance rubber, so while the Leaf’s handling is unspectacular, so is the competition. The Leaf’s electric power steering takes some getting used to, but since the target market is unlikely to carve corners, it’s probably a non-issue. Whizzing along above 75 MPH is surprisingly easy and eerily quiet thanks to a nearly silent motor. Our last flirtation with the Leaf was fleeting enough that our Leaf was never fully charged, but this time, things were different.

To help extend battery life, hybrid vehicles never fully charge nor discharge their batteries – a luxury an all-electric vehicle cannot afford. This deep-cycling, or even the micro-cycling caused by regenerative braking when the battery is nearly full can shorten the battery’s life. As a result, the Leaf does something interesting, if you’re fully charged; the car won’t employ regenerative braking until the battery is sufficiently discharged. Why is this important? Because the Leaf’s braking is nicely weighted and balanced when regenerative braking, but for those first few miles in the morning when the battery is 100% charged, the mushy brake pedal feel was surprising and disconcerting until I checked in with a Nissan dealer’s mechanic. Again this probably isn’t a problem for the Leaf’s target demographic, but it does perhaps indicate some of the challenges of going all-electric. The suspension is tuned for a moderate ride, neither floaty, nor stiff and the chassis remains composed over a variety of road surfaces from gravel to pot-holed-asphalt.


The Leaf uses a modified version of the infotainment system available in other Nissan and Infiniti vehicles and includes a standard navigation system. iPod and iPhone integration is standard Nissan issue with on-screen access to playlists, songs, etc but no voice command ability ala Ford’s SYNC product. Speaking of voice commands, the Leaf’s navigation system curiously omits the ability to enter a street address via voice command, the only voice “command-able” destinations are saved destinations and the Leaf’s pre-programmed home address. As you would expect, you won’t find a power-sucking high wattage amp in the Leaf. The standard 6-speaker sound system does however have a neutral balance and is fairly competitive with the standard sound systems in the average mid-sized sedan. For those of you who still remember CDs, there’s a single slot located behind the sliding touchscreen which can also be used to update your nav’s map database.

I’d like to talk competition, but let’s be honest, there isn’t any yet. The Volt vs Leaf war is misguided at best because the Volt is not a pure electric car, as much as GM would like to claim otherwise. Ditto the plug-in Prius. Tesla cars will cost a king’s ransom and the i-MiEV sports one less seat, a considerably smaller interior and shorter range. The only real competition will be the 2013 Ford Focus Electric, which (on paper) appears to have the Leaf squarely in its sights. According to Ford, the Focus Electric will trump the Leaf with more gadgetry, a snazzier sound system, a more powerful 130 HP motor and some undeniably gorgeous looks. Ford is touting shorter recharge times versus the Leaf, but don’t be so quick to believe it. Both have similarly sized batteries (the Ford’s is actually 1kWh smaller) and Nissan has confirmed the 2013 Leaf will have a 6.6kW charger just like the Focus, so 2013 charging times will be equal. On the downside, the Focus is heavier, so despite claiming to be more efficient than the Leaf, if hill climbing is in your repertoire, use caution. The Focus is also $3,500 more expensive than the base Leaf and lacks the DC quick-charge port our SL tester was equipped with. Speaking of pricing, the Leaf starts at $35,200 and the SL model rings in at $37,250 (due to the addition of the quick charger, backup camera, auto healamps, fog lights and a cargo cover). If this price blows your mind, you’re not the target shopper. You’ll also need to factor in $1,500 (installed) for a home charging station (Best Buy tells us they cost $500 less than last year.)

Never before has buying an alternative fuel car meant as much of a lifestyle change. Diesel, natural gas, liquid propane and hydrogen vehicles all fill at a rate that is more-or-less the same as the average gasoline vehicle and deliver similar driving ranges. An electric car on the other hand delivers only 1/3 of the fairly standard 300 mile range you’ll find in most vehicles and takes 42 times longer to “fill”. If these drawback don’t bother you, the Leaf is a solid (if expensive) choice in the green car segment, but I’d wait for the 2013 model with the faster charger and perhaps for our review on the Focus Electric whenever we get our hands on one.

 

Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance and one full charge for our review.

Specifications as tested

0-30 MPH: 2.92 Seconds

0-60 MPH: 8.96 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.96 Seconds at 78.2 MPH

Average economy: 3.7 Miles/kWh over 689 miles

 

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104 Comments on “Review: A Week In A 2012 Nissan Leaf...”


  • avatar
    grzydj

    Another Leaf test in an area with nice weather.

    I still want to see one of these tested for a few months in a place with miserably cold weather that necessitates the full use of heaters, headlights, windshield wipers, seat heaters etc. Do all that in temperatures that are well below freezing and report back on range anxiety then.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      The California coastal climate is unique in the United States in being so moderate. Test the car for a year in Chicago or St. Louis to give people more of an idea of the car’s limitations. Winters in those places will require more than heated seats and steering wheel for comfort . . . and being able to de-fog the window glass is more of a necessity than a luxury one can do without, especially, say, in a snowstorm when it’s crucial to be able to melt the snowflakes as they strike the glass. While it’s true that, in the 1950s, most residents of those cities did without a/c in their cars and homes, today, people’s expectations are different. It gets plenty hot and humid in those cities in the summer. So, the a/c is going to be working; and if the car is left parked in the sun, it’s going to work extra hard to cool down the cabin.

      It’s no accident that many of these various “alternative” cars are being developed in California. The coastal area of the state’s mild climate minimizes the power needed for climate control of the vehicle’s interior. And being able to heat an ICE-powered car’s cabin with waste heat from engine is the sort of free lunch that you overlook until it’s taken away.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @DCBruce:

        I live about halfway between Chicago and St. Louis.

        I’m glad you have such admiration for the winters that I enjoy.

        But, seriously, any car that has been engineered like a normal car and drives like a normal car does fine out here in the winter.

        It’s just me that’s tougher. Apparently. :-)

        P.S. You’ve got to remember that Detroit is in the Great Lakes region, and so these kind of conditions are normal to the people who work in one of the bigger automotive design cars in the US. The Japanese cars I own (a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape) also do just fine.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        I won’t drive a car that looks like Jar Jar Binks.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      It’s pretty simple: the Leaf isn’t for everyone, or for every location. Batteries don’t do well in the cold. Big deal. The vast majority of the target market commuters are in places like Texas and SoCal that have mild weather.

      In fact, here’s a little guide.

      DON’T get a Leaf if:

      1. You live where there is heavy snow and extremely cold weather
      2. You want/need a truck or SUV
      3. It will be your family’s only car
      4. Your commute is over 20 miles
      5. Cost is your only object. You probably won’t save more in gas to make up for the additional car cost.

      DO get a Leaf if:

      1. You have multiple vehicles and one of your heads of household has a short-medium commute.
      2. You want to drive an entirely new type of vehicle, one that may not be economical now, but which will be in the long term.
      3. You are okay with spending money on innovation and novelty versus luxury, speed, or off-road capability.
      4. You see that a long term civilization switch from fossil fuel will need to happen at some point, so we may as well start innovating.
      5. You want to save the fossil fuel that is left for sports cars and track days, rather than wasting it on commuting.

      How frickin’ hard is that? I see so many comments about this vehicle that restate the obvious about what it can’t do. Guess what? If you need a truck, you don’t buy an economy car. If you need to haul people, you don’t buy a Miata. This isn’t really that complicated.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        Nissan actively promotes using the Leaf in wintry conditions and claims that the vehicle can get around just fine, and that battery warmers will help the charging system, but still nothing about range once you head out in bad conditions.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDSZiSpnUeA

        EDIT: Links still don’t work yet?

        Look up youtube . com v=bDSZiSpnUeA

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        I have missed that promotion. I was going by where they sell the vehicles.

        The thing I think that gets missed in these electric car discussions is that many, many people have short commutes. They start the car and get to work or the bus/train station before they even warm up the catalytic converter. Then they come home, sitting in lines of traffic to get there, maybe stopping off at a store or two for some stuff.

        Those are the perfect people for electric vehicles. There is no range anxiety, even if range is 40 miles. If they are going on a long trip, they can just take a different vehicle. I know quite a few people who fall into that category. It’s just not for everyone.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        ^^ this. The Leaf isn’t for everyone, but it works well for a number of people.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        Its well known the Leaf has a range of 50 miles under nasty winter conditions.. more if you recharge during the day.

      • 0 avatar
        boltar

        Thanks for this. Different strokes for different folks. (Possibly also different bores). So much effort devoted on this site to people wanting to eliminate choices in the market they just don’t understand.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      There’s a good reason why the manufacturers don’t sell the cars in climates where they won’t perform to the expected standard. I don’t see what the problem is with that. We expect these EVs to perform comparably to their gasoline cousins because they have four wheels and two headlights. EV technology is, and will be for the foreseeable future, complementary to gasoline transportation, not a substitution for it. There is no one solution to problems of energy use and transportation; time will tell how prevalent each one will be in the final energy mix.

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      Nissan did do pre-production cold weather testing on those in interior Alaska.

      How did it do?

      No idea, but it was traveling on a flatbed when I saw it…

      While I love the idea of an EV our Prius is probably as green as we can get at least until there is a major brake through on the battery front.

      Still I wonder why the performance under the harshest winter conditions seems to be a major concern for many EV commentators but is never even brought up on a rwd convertible review.

      Between a Mustang and a Leaf I think I would take my changes on the Leaf in 6 inches of unplowed snow at -45.

    • 0 avatar
      Invalidattitude

      There is a bunch of cold weather review of electric cars out there,not to mention hundreds were sold in Scandinavia, and there is no news about people freezing dead in LEAFs.

    • 0 avatar
      baristabrawl

      I live in Denver and we took delivery of our LEAF December 3. It’s not been a horrible winter but it’s been cold and it’s been snowy. The LEAF is great in the snow in ECO mode, almost never spins a tire. I can start heating my LEAF in the garage while it’s plugged in to the charger and when I get in it’s toasty and I’ve not lost any range.

      When getting on the highway on my way to work every morning I have to do one of those stupid onramps with the red/green light. I’m never passed. People in really zippy cars get to see the LED taillights every morning as I zoom off the line. Electric car, please make a note of it. :)

      From December, January and February of last year our electric bill has gone up $20. It’s not an exact science, but I was spending $60/week to refuel our SUV. I’m barely spending that a month to refuel the SUV, now.

      We don’t have the Cold Weather Package, so we don’t have seat heat, but I use the wipers often. My commute is 20 miles round trip and 10 of it on the highway. I usually have about 80% of my charge left when I get home.

      It’s not for everyone. If it was our only car it would be wholly impractical as we take frequent trips into the mountains and have a camper we haul with our SUV. It’s great for us because we are a 2 car family and we also have bikes and a Vespa.

      It’s funny to me that everyone worries about the cold, I’m honestly more worried about the summer months when it gets into the 90s and to 100. I can do cold okay, but I’m wondering if the A/C will kill me in range. I don’t care to be hot.

    • 0 avatar
      herekittykitty

      I live in WA state and have had my 2012 Leaf for 5 months now. Here is the disappointing truth about the range in cold weather: when the weather was pleasant and mild (60′s-70′s), I easily got 75 miles on a charge. Now that it’s under 40 degrees outside, I get about 40 miles on a charge.

      I’ve found this to be so predictable that I use the outside temp (clearly displayed on the dash) to gauge what I am likely to get: If the temperature is under 40, I’ll get a 40 mile range. Between 40-50 degrees, about a 50 mile range. I am afraid to drive it in the winter except for a few very local errands at a time.

      I drive conservatively, even using some hypermiling strategies and pre-heating the car in my garage while it’s plugged in, but it doesn’t help much. I can’t recommend a Leaf until they either start to employ some active battery temperature regulation methods (active heating and cooling, instead of passive cooling and no heating at all), or find a way to increase the range.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Looks, clever, well-executed, and actually as practical as an electric car can be these days.

    If people choose to buy these, though, I think it should be without any tax breaks, subsidies, or government help.

    The market, not political idiocy, should decide if we really want/need electric cars.

    • 0 avatar
      supersleuth

      If everything were left solely to “the market”, then (among many, many other things that you take for granted) the Internet via which we’re reading and commenting on this wouldn’t exist.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Not to mention the cheap gasoline that runs his current car. Anything resembling a “free market” only exists in dreary third world hell holes like Somalia. Almost all western economies are what can only be called state capitalism with the government bailing out and giving away tax dollars to the industries that own it. Privatized profits and socialized risks.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        And here I forgot to thank Alphose Gore for inventing the internet while he writes his global warming propaganda from his 30,000 sq foot mansion.

        Electric cars don’t deserve to have tax payer money pumped into them. Corporations can use their own private funds to invest in new technologies, not expect the taxpayers to foot the bill because some politician has environmentalist voters to pander to.

        Fisker and Tesla are doing SO well with the money we gave them and GM can’t even meet their sales goals with the Volt. Money well spent.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Really? The technology for the Internet was developed under government-funded R&D for military purposes. The physical bits that actually make it work — routers, fiber optic cable — are owned by private companies which charge market rates for their use.

        If people had no interest in paying what it costs to run the commercial Internet, then it wouldn’t exist. The original government-funded Internet would continue to exist for the government (defense) purposes for which it originally was created.

        It’s pretty annoying that green pork (electric cars, windmills, ethanol as a motor fuel) is justified by reference to the success of government-funded r&d which turned into commercially successful products. There’s no question that massive government R&D for weapons systems (beginning with World War 2 and continuing to the present day) and the manned space program as well as monopoly-funded R&D by Bell Labs resulted in many useful commercial products. But the commercialization of that r&d was left to the private sector and was not supported by the government. Government-funded R&D is not the same as government-subsidized commercial ventures.

        To take one example, the transistor was developed by Bell Laboratories in 1947 (funded by the monopoly profits of the Bell System telephone monopoly which was allowed to exist until the early 1980s). Its obvious applications in military avionics and aerospace (low weight, compact size, reliability) no doubt led to more government-funded r&d to make transistors cheaper, more versatile and more reliable.

        But the first transistor AM radio put on the market did not come with a government subsidy to the retail price, unlike, say the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt or (in the past) the Toyota Prius.

        If people had no interest in transistor radios, amplifiers, or transistorized TV sets, no one would have paid for them; and we would continue to have these devices run by vacuum tubes as they had been before 1960. In fact, in certain segments of “high-end” audio, vacuum tube amplifiers are considered better than solid-state; and many electric guitar players prefer the sound of vacuum tube guitar amplifiers. But there’s no government mandate or subsidy which drove transistorized electronics’ penetration into the commercial marketplace: these devices fail or succeed on their own merits and without taxpayer help.

      • 0 avatar
        supersleuth

        Aside from the fact that your admissions about publicly funded R&D already destroy your position, you really are unaware of the massive government subsidies and monopoly rents that have gone even into building the physical parts of the internet? You clearly have not a clue about how actually existing capitalism works. What do you think corporate lobbyists do for a living?

        There is no such thing as a modern economy without massive government involvement, anywhere. The question is whether we try to turn this to worthwhile public purposes (and in my opinion, the jumpstarting of an electric-vehicle infrastructure is such), or allow it to be turned entirely to the selfish ends of powerful individuals and corporations.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        “Really? The technology for the Internet was developed under government-funded R&D for military purposes. The physical bits that actually make it work — routers, fiber optic cable — are owned by private companies which charge market rates for their use.”

        Incidentally, so was the highway system, and it’s maintained by local contractors that are paid possibly _more_ than market rates to maintain it (due to Davis-Bacon). Also, federal school lunches were initiated for fears that there wouldn’t be enough adequately-fed boys eligible for Selective Service.

        Plus, how much $$ is spent on subsidies for oil companies (both directly and as a result of military spending to defend their logistics)?

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      Let’s get some perspective:

      $10K for each Leaf, assuming 40K of them sell per year, is 400 million dollars.

      The Iraq war, subsidizing oil, cost over a trillion dollars, or TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TIMES as much money. Even assuming the number of cars increases greatly, we could do Leaf subsidies for the next 100 YEARS before we equaled one Iraq war.

      In fact, if we had spent just *25%* of the trillion dollars we threw away on the Iraq war on solar and wind generation in the US, we wouldn’t need oil from the Middle East at all. The result would have been better national security and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the US. Actually, spending all that money here rather than in Iraq might have averted the financial meltdown.

      So where you see ridiculous subsidies, some of us see more sensible priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Fix spending with more spending? Sounds like AWESOME priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        Fix wasteful overseas military spending with far less, different, and productive domestic spending? Dunno, sounds awesome to me. Too bad that particular horse is already gone and the barn burned down.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        How about neither?

      • 0 avatar
        imag

        Replica – I hear your point. The key thing here though is that there is a legitimate time for subsidies:

        1. When there is a hurdle to overcome – in this case, high battery prices
        2. When overcoming that hurdle will result in a product that can be competitive in the free market
        3. The value to society of that eventual free market product versus the cost of getting it over the hurdle is net positive.

        These batteries are getting cheaper, and fast (http://gm-volt.com/files/DB_EV_Growth.pdf). I would argue that there is a large amount of societal value in getting viable electric cars. The cost to get them there is not large in the context. If you look at it just from a national security perspective it makes complete sense to reduce our oil dependence.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I don’t feel there’s a need for subsidizing new technology, such as EV’s and hybrids, by the government. There will be a time when the consumer will prefer an EV to an ICE vehicle. Once gas prices get really high, or some other factor, people will demand and mostly drive EV’s and other alternatively powered cars. The market will determine the value and prosperity of EV’s/Hybrids when they become economically viable.

        It would be interesting to see how “innovative” car companies would get overnight if gas prices were $10 a gallon. Wouldn’t take any government funds to fuel that level of ingenuity.

    • 0 avatar
      lpickup

      If you’re serious about this, then I will gladly trade in my EV tax credits if you abandon all the big oil subsidies our government hands out and don’t complain a bit about the price of gas reaching $8/gallon or more, because that, my friend, is what the free market would truly dictate. I also don’t want to hear any talk from politicians saying they are going to somehow magically make gas prices go to $2.50 / gallon.

      EVs can easily compete with gas vehicles on a level playing field. It is WAY more efficient in a well/mine-to-wheels measurement to power an electric vehicle, even WITH oil subsidies (why else would it cost only a fifth of the cost per mile in fuel to power an electric car). WITHOUT oil subsidies an EV would pay for itself in less than a year.

    • 0 avatar
      boltar

      Strange that the Chinese seem to be so much better at working and understanding the market thing than Americans who supposedly have had a longtime to learn. Yes, definitely, no subsidies for electric cars, but plenty of subsidies to gas and oils companies, and by all mean subsidized roads. Then when the market drives the price to $8.00 a gallon precipitating a national emergency we can sit around and pat ourselves on the back for not managing a transition to strategically safer fuels. And when we’re a third rate has-been country unable to compete with the nations that saw the strategic pinch that would have worked against their national interests, we can buy next gen generating equipment and electric vehicles at huge markups from them. Because it would be morally wrong to manage the market to allow the US to maintain its position as a first world country.

      We manage the free market with subsidies and regulations all the time when it comes to urgent issues of national competitiveness or survival. It’s just shocking that so many Americans are unable or unwilling to see how energy production and consumption issues — and particularly transportation issues — are about to turn the flip the world order on its ear.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Are we running out of oil?

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @replica:

        Yes. No more oil is being made at human timescales, so every time you burn a gallon of gas, there’s less oil on planet earth.

        Will it last your lifetime? Is there more than we think? If there isn’t more than we think, how quickly will the decline in production be? These are all open questions that I’ve seen debated endlessly. But, my first point still applies and, as long as we value oil, it must necessarily become more expensive in the long run.

        That said, I expect gasoline to still be available at gas stations for the rest of my life. I may not be buying it at those prices, though.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Interesting review. One thing about the Focus vs Leaf discussion, the Focus is also larger inside (and is not a big compact in itself) – 31 inches rear legroom is tiny when you think a compact Jetta is getting 38.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not so sure there’s more room inside a Focus.

      Most companies measure leg room with the front seat set for the average male, or something like that. Nissan and Hyundai measure legroom with the front seat all the way back. To compare their cars with others you must look at total legroom, not front and rear separately.

      Update: and now that I’ve looked at the actual specs…the LEAF’s front seat doesn’t go back very far–42.1 inches, vs. 44.1 in an Altima. So the total legroom is pretty low.

      Play on!

      • 0 avatar
        redrum

        This is what I like about CR reviews (I know, that is sacrilege here). They are the only publication I know of that independently measures rear seat leg room (as well as shoulder, head, and cargo room). All other auto reviewers just quote the manufacturer’s specs (which, as you point out, do NOT use consistent measurements), or give imprecise comments like “rear seating is tight for adults” (mmm, okay).

      • 0 avatar
        Tree Trunk

        Loved the front seat in Focus rental, but the back seat. What back seat? I could barely get in and out and fitting a rear facing car seat, lets not even go there.

  • avatar
    NN

    Put on some political blue-blocker sunglasses and look at the Volt vs. the Leaf, and you’ll see that the Volt is a much more practical, clever, and well executed vehicle. For practically the same price you get a car that can still provide all-electric transportation for your commutes (if you commute less than 40 miles per day, like most Americans), charges in less time, and can be used to drive long distances as a regular car can.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      The Volt also has far less electric range and costs quite a bit more. There would be an even greater net price difference but, strangely, Congress capped the per-KWH EV rebate at the exact KWH capacity of the Volt.

      The Volt is a mediocre implementation of a good idea. Using an RE-EV as a bridge technology is one way to electrify driving (yes, I think that’s a good goal, it diversifies our transport fuel suppply). But, for example, the Volt is rated for 2.2 miles/KWH (35/16) where the Leaf manages 4.1 miles/KWH (100/24). Some of that difference is down to the necessary weight of the Volt’s “backup generator” but Toyota manages a similar trick (Prius PHV) at close to 600lbs less than the Volt and gets significantly better Dead Battery Fuel Economy. Some of the difference is also likely down to the Volt’s “good enough” .28 CD (Prius is .25).

      The Volt is runner-up in so many ways that it’s really not “well executed” at all.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        The Volt uses about 10 kWh of its 16 kWh pack, so call it 3.5 miles/kWh.

        The EPA rates the Leaf at 34 kWh / 100 electric miles (counting charging losses at the wall) and the Volt at 36 kWh / 100 electric miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Johnbono

      Both cars are 10K+ more expensive than their non-electric competition. You will have to put a lot of miles on these cars in order to make up that kind of money you would spend vs a diesel or even a high mpg gas powered car.

      • 0 avatar
        Adamatari

        This type of car is not sold on an immediate payoff; instead it’s a form of insurace, in a sense, on gas prices and other issues. It’s also a status symbol, just like a Cadillac but with less gasoline.

        The Corvette ZR1 has performance on the level of Ferraris, yet the only people you hear yelping about how Ferrari drivers would save so much are Corvette fans. In other words, it doesn’t work that way.

    • 0 avatar
      lpickup

      …until you wanted to take a fifth person in the car.

      Hey, don’t get me wrong–I think the Volt is a great car for its target demographic. And I make the point as much as anyone that if you rarely need something (like more than 100 miles range per trip) then you don’t need to buy your vehicle to accomodate every single possible scenario. For me though, in choosing the LEAF over the Volt I just didn’t see the point of paying more for a car and adding the complexity of a gas engine when I didn’t really need it. That’s just me. As the author said, the LEAF/Volt competition is not really the point. Those are two different markets.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It appears progress is being made in the electric arena, which for me, can’t come fast enough.

    Q-U-I-E-T is what I like and I wish there was a better answer for my 100-mile-a-day commute than my 29-33 mpg average Impala, which is 8 years old.

    Other than a new job closer to home – unlikely at my age – I don’t yet have a clue on what I’ll replace my car with if I don’t wind up retiring first. Right now, as long as my Impala keeps running as well as it currently does and remains as reliable as wifey’s CR-V, not having a monthly payment buys a lot of gas!

    Good article, but living off CA Hwy 17 in the hills between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz, commuting to the Bay Area, isn’t as realistic as, say, Detroit, but a nice test, nonetheless.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The ICE was a great market equalizer…automobiles ran on the same principles worldwide. Climate/daylight did not matter. Now, we begin to unravel the commonness…I can see the electric cars being beneficial and prevalent in CA and the Southwest and Southeast. Michigan and Wisconsin?….not so much. So, regions of the country will continue to have different needs and different take-rates on electric cars, based on their fitness to adapt to the environment and on how quickly the technology can mature in order to be made suitable to harsher environments.

    So, don’t make ME pay for someone in Cali buying a Volt or Leaf….end the government subsidies. Or add LOCAL gas taxes to those jurisdictions to make the EV more desirable in markets where they are more fit.

    One-size fits all no longer fits. So, let’s stop pretending it does and work on a flexible energy policy which INCLUDES the ICE, along with other alternatives, and doesn’t PUNISH the ICE.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      “So, don’t make ME pay for someone in Cali buying a Volt or Leaf….end the government subsidies. ”

      Then can I have my money back for subsidizing oil companies both directly and indirectly?

      Howsabout all the mortgage interest and dependent deductions, and federal aid to education, that I don’t need being a single childless renter?

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        You get your money back from “subsidizing” the oil companies because you pay less for gasoline. If the government imposes costs (or withholds “subsidies”) uniformly across an industry, then the effect of that is passed directly to the customers of that industry. There’s no opportunity for one participant to get a competitive advantage over the other, if everybody pays the same.

        As for getting your money back for the deduction for dependents, who do you think is going to pay for your social security and medicare?

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      +1 I almost had to hold back a gag reading much of the rest of the nonsense from people convinced they are the ones who really know how our economy works.

      Do people also realize there are major differences in electricity cost across the U.S.? While CA, the Southwest and Southeast are better fits in some ways, they are worse in others, as those cities tend to be much more sprawling than the older, denser, more geographically compact cities of the north.

      I have no desire to see EVs fail or go away. Nor do I have any desire to fund them. As long as no central planner from D.C. starts trying to decide what we should and should not drive (and CAFE alone probably goes to far in this direction), I’m happy. Choose the vehicle that works for you.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    Yes I would allow charging from my garage, but I would request some sort of token, maybe a 6 pack…

  • avatar

    My idea, offered freely to any EV maker that wants to exploit it. (If they already do this then kudos to them.)

    I offer a use for the power that can’t be recaptured through regenerative braking when the battery is near fully charged.

    With a bit of coding in the climate control system to allow an upper comfortable hearing temperature for opportunistic heating (and lower for cooling), the system could dump up to the first 5 kilowatts of braking power during stops and/or down hill driving to running the electric cabin heater (or whatever load the AC compressor could soak up) instead of heating up the brake discs.

    Might make all the comfort difference on a short drive after a recent charge. If you can’t dump the energy into the batteries, why not heat up/cool down the cabin when it doesn’t hurt your battery budget.

    Inspiration? Those huge resistor banks on the roofs of locomotives.
    __

    I just Leafed (sorry) through the owner’s manual online and came up with a refinement for this idea.

    Even when the battery isn’t full charged, it seems that the traction motor might not be able to dump all available regenerative braking energy into the battery pack due to charge limitations based on battery system temperature. These would be further chances for opportunistic climate control use that would not impact range.

    “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      I was just thinking about this, and wondering why they didn’t implement it. Perhaps it does do something similar to this, but doesn’t draw the full load of the regenerative brakes, resulting in mushy pedal feel regardless. Maybe the added layer of complexity was deemed too heavy, too expensive, too unmarketable, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        30kW of possible regen juice would instantly ignite all those accumulated fall leaves in the air chamber of the brake resistor.

        Nissan oversized the friction brakes on the Leaf for that reason.

  • avatar
    protomech

    Fair review.

    Did you have access to a level 2 charge point on a daily basis? Was the charge point installed at home or at work?

    “Our Leaf spent 7 hours in Howard’s driveway one day saving me the $2 per hour at my local public parking garage with the Level 2 charger, as well as allowing me to make i home.”

    7 hours parked in some guy’s driveway is a fair bit of time — and enough for a full charge. What necessitated the full charge via Plugshare?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Actually, better than fair. It is pretty accurate.

      My brother and his wife own a Leaf (purchased in California and hauled to Manhattan, NY, on a flatbed behind their F150.) They charge it in the shared garage space of their highrise building @120V.

      This is all that’s available because 240v and 480v in a shared space is strictly verboten. So overnight charging often is not enough to overcome their range anxiety, since any public charging stations in the city are usually in use or blocked by non-EV cars parked there.

      Consequently, their Leaf is only used every other day, at best, while their Camry and F150 remain the workhorses for their transportation.

      Still, the Leaf does save them from having to buy gas every week. Now they buy gas for their other two cars about every two weeks, unless they go on long trips.

      The Leaf is ideal for metropolitan areas and grocery-getting, as long as you watch your range. The infrastructure does not exist to support EVs as yet.

      • 0 avatar
        SherbornSean

        I’m sorry, did you say that a couple have an F150, a camry and a leaf in a parking garage in Manhattan? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to get rid of two parking spots, take taxis or the subway to work and keep a Porsche for the weekends?

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Do you think that 3 car seats would fit in the rear?

    • 0 avatar

      Probably depends on the types of car seats. I’ve been able to fit three (two narrow Graco Turboboosters and one standard booster or big Britax) in the rear seat of anything with at least 45 inches of rear hiproom. The LEAF has 50.

    • 0 avatar
      rentonben

      Go find a BubbleBum car seat – it’s cheap and narrow. I can fit two rear facing carseats and a BubbleBum in the middle in my rather narrow Buick Regal. Too bad the color choice sucks – but it pretty much eliminates the three-across car seat problem if you can use one.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I doubt it, the rear seats are not exactly wide. Legroom is appropriate for four six-foot tall occupants but the fifth is a bit squeezed. Check out the video link where I sit in the rear and talk space.

  • avatar

    I suspect they’ll add cooled seats at some point, for the same reason they’ve added the heated steering wheel.

    To this comprehensive review I can add that, so far, the LEAF has been VERY reliable. We’ll have updated stats later today. A preview: with 56 cars in the Car Reliability Survey, none has required a non-software repair yet. (We don’t count free software updates.)

    http://truedelta.com/Nissan-LEAF/reliability-968

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      I can add that, so far, the LEAF has been VERY reliable.

      I think going forward this is going to be a huge selling point for EVs. It has a 1 speed transmission and the engine consists on essentially one moving part – talk about simplicity.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      I asked about that, and the Nissan guys said it wasn’t a priority because using the A/C isn’t a big deal. Unlike the heater, it’s only a small draw on the batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      jonny b

      Regarding reliability and maintenance, I’m surprised this doesn’t come up more as a selling point. No oil, no coolant, no filters, no spark plugs, no exhaust system. The list goes on. Why don’t they mention this in ads?

  • avatar
    RegistrationPlease

    Good review. Just a note here: I live in Fort Pierce, FL and drive for a delivery service, so I’m on the road all day. I have seen TWO Leafs – one on the road and one at the local dealers lot.

  • avatar
    RegistrationPlease

    Good review. Just a note here: I live in Fort Pierce, FL and drive for a delivery service, so I’m on the road all day. Since the release of this car I’ve seen TWO Leafs – one on the road and one at the local dealers lot.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      Here in CA I see about 5 a day. Not sure how many times I see the same car over and over, light blue seems to be the most common color.

      I used to see Volts quite regularly (mostly silver, so again could have just been a few cars) but haven’t seen one in weeks now.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        In NC, I saw the first Leaf just over a month ago, and then literally the next day I caught 3 different others. Since then I’ll see one every third day or so.

        I saw my first Volt about two months ago. Haven’t seen one since.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      In the Bay Area (SF/Oakland), I first saw both the Leaf and the Volt around last July. Since then, I’ve only seen the Volt maybe five times, tops, but I’ve seen dozens of Leaves. In fact, I probably seen one about every other day now. Of course, some may be repeat viewings. Also, the Leaf is a little easier to spot than the Volt, since I’m more familiar with its design.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      I see Leafs around town here on a regular basis. First one I saw was white, I’ve also seen blue, red, and the silver/gray version (don’t remember if the Leaf comes in silver or gray just remember it wasn’t something in that tone).

      Fwiw I think they make them in TN so its probably a selling point for TN buyers.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Oh, Alex: “Diesel, natural gas, liquid propane and hydrogen vehicles all fill at a rate that is more-or-less the same as the average gasoline vehicle and deliver similar driving ranges. ”

    I’ll give you diesel and maybe liquid propane, but CNG and hydrogen have nowhere near the energy density of gasoline, so their driving range is much more similar to a Leaf than a conventional ICE vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The CNG Civic has a range of approximately 250 miles and the Mercedes hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has a range of almost 400. I would call both of those well over the 45-100 miles in a Leaf and on-par with the 300 miles that many manufacturers target for gasoline fuel range.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Fair enough, but the Civic loses half it’s trunk to pull that off. Granted, a big ass fuel tank is a lot cheaper than a big ass battery. Mercedes claims a 240 mile range for the F-Cell, assuming they’re being optimistic that puts it midway between a Leaf and conventional ICE. My bad for ignoring the fact that hydrogen’s low energy density is partially compensated for by the fuel cell’s greater efficiency.

  • avatar
    ixim

    FYI, the lead character in the Netflix series, “Lilyhammer” drives a small EV in snowbound Norway. We never see it garaged or being charged. Unlimited range, courtesy of TV?

    • 0 avatar
      lpickup

      Agent Dunham on Fringe (who sometimes drives a LEAF–I’m still trying to figure the show out) drove from Cambridge, MA to a “lake” in NY if I understood that episode correctly. A “bit” of poetic license!

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        *That* Olivia Dunham exists in a *third* alternate universe (apparently, where Leafs have a 400-mile range). In a previous episode, her (acquaintance in that universe, lover in another) partner, Peter Bishop asks Olivia (when she unplugs the Leaf) “Are we gonna make it?” to which Olivia replies: “No problem”. (This was the second instance of blatant product placement, the first involving the Ford Explorer – if they keep it up, I’m going to reconsider my “devotion” to the show).
        That said, it’s a complicated and engaging show, which is why it and “House” are pretty much it as TV series for me.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    I scheduled Level 2 charging at local charging stations near work and home, and plugged it in at friend’s homes when I went visiting.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I really like it.

    I sat in one at the Pittsburgh Auto Show, and found that my 6’6″ frame fit in the driver’s seat pretty well. The back seats were tight.

    The Nissan booth babe couldn’t answer me this question: How does the $7500 tax credit work? If your annual taxes are only $5000, can you carry the extra $2500 over to the following year? If not, then EVs will naturally only be sold to those with higher incomes who can reap the entire tax benefit in a single year.

    Although the Leaf would be perfect for my commute (even in cold, hilly western PA), I’m not sure I’d pay $35k for it.

    • 0 avatar

      LINE 15 “If you cannot use part of the personal portion of the credit
      because of the tax liability limit, the unused credit is lost.
      The unused personal portion of the credit cannot be
      carried back or forward to other tax years.”

      http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8936.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Thanks very much! So the mythical tax credit really only works for people with a higher taxable income – so much for electrifying America’s roadways.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        anyone can lease the Leaf or Volt and automatically get the $7500 tax credit, no matter what your tax situation is.. then buy out the lease before the first payment and get a conventional loan if you want to.. the car will be $7500 cheaper since that was your down payment.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    “Unlike your cell phone, the Leaf’s charging circuitry is built-in, and the “charger” is just a smart plug that communicates with the car and supplies the power to the car’s charger.”

    Actually, the charging circuitry is built into your cell phone too. The difference between the Leaf and your phone is that your cell phone accepts DC input (usually 5V), whereas the Leaf accepts AC and does the AC to DC conversion internally. What you call your phone’s charger is just a DC conversion brick.

  • avatar
    lpickup

    As for sharing a home charging station on plugshare, I do that, but it’s doubtful I’ll ever be taken up on it because I’m less than 2 miles away from a Nissan dealership with 4 charging stations.

    The reason I offered to share is because for now the community of EV users is small and public infrastructure is in its infancy. I would be glad to let someone charge for a few hours (don’t know about 7 though!) and even give them a lift to a nearby store or restaurant. The cost to me would only be about 40 cents/hour (as opposed to leaving a 2 gallon can of gas on my stoop which would be what, $7+?) so I’m not worried about the cost per se, and I suspect the EV driver would return the favor, probably to my advantage. As I mentioned, I see this different from leaving gas out because gas drivers can easily refuel. Once charging station availability reaches a point where EV drivers could also easily get a charge, I would see no point to continuing to offer my charging station. Having said that, if someone knocked on my door and ran out of gas and asked if I could spare a gallon, I would probably offer to pour some of my lawnmower gas into their tank. I would also hope they’d hand me $5 for my trouble.

  • avatar

    for a “review” of a car, this didn’t talk about driving the thing. curious.

    i drove a buddy’s around the block. a $35k econobox. in a straight line, it was impressive. in corners, not so much. tried in on one of the bay areas famed “freeways”, one with the cement surface and heave gaps. the suspension was econobox crude. turning into the carpark at the end of my run, one of the rear wheels jumped on the small bump of a kerb.

    overall impression: pass. overpriced junk regardless its green cred.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It’s all over but for the shouting, Nissan has done it, they have changed the game. This is the first mainstream electric car and it looks to be a success what with Ford and their “me to” Focus (that’s a compliment in a way). Well done Nissan!

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I’m glad this is not another brick.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Leaf has been tested in our region. 4 months a year we have below freezing temperature -1 to -5 celsius. And snow on the roads – this means less traction and more rolling resistance. In thouse conditions real life range of electric vehicle drops to about 30% of the manufacturers claim.

  • avatar
    redav

    I’d like to see a combination battery & super capacitor for energy storage in EVs. Regenerative braking for start/stop driving would go through the capacitor because of its superior charge/discharge rates and resistance to degradation from cycling. The energy needed for steady driving would be provided by the battery.

    Also, since the capacitor can charge more quickly, it can be used for a quicker ‘refill’ when running low on juice.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Funny, I seem to remember Nissan saying they didn’t need thermal management in the Leaf when it was first rolling out.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    The world’s first truly-practical nuclear/coal-powered car!Hooray!

    And to be able to be smug and superior and greeny-pleased-with-yourself at the same time you are making the construction of many more nuclear and coal-fired plants inevitable!

    priceless.

    • 0 avatar
      SherbornSean

      Last time I looked at the news, we weren’t bankrupting our country and sending our young to die to secure supplies of coal or uranium.

    • 0 avatar
      lpickup

      Larry, mine is 100% solar and wind powered, thank you very much. And to buy enough renewable based energy from my utility to power my LEAF for a month only costs $16.

      Anyway, you clearly have no knowledge of the energy infrastructure and energy needs of electric vehicles in this country. At the current rate of market penetration of EVs it will be a long time before we come to the point that existing infrastructure won’t be able to handle the energy demands of EVs during the times when they are most commonly charged: off peak at night. By then, the energy generation portfolio should be significantly greener. This trend is already rapidly occurring.

      So you go on and keep sending tons of your money to big oil companies abroad. You can thank EV owners for reducing demand and getting our country towards energy self-sufficiency.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      Domestically produced coal and nuclear power.. last I heard we dont import any.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Good point. We also catch the occasional river or underground cavern on fire and export our hazardous waste and acid rain to other coutries with those two options, not to mention a nuke plant after an earthquake or tsunami. Let’s never change.

  • avatar
    marinebio_ken

    I’ve had a 2011 LEAF for six months/6000 miles to date, I live in northwest Washington state near the Canadian border (in winter we sometimes have cold air coming down the Fraser River) and with a lot of hills. The nearest stoplight is 18 miles in one direction (nothing much there though) and 22 miles in the other direction approaching the town of Bellingham. I also have a diesel Dodge 3/4-ton 4×4 pickup (in which I burn a biodiesel blend BTW) for hauling stuff or longer trips and a hybrid for the family. I looked into alternative energy because a) I’m a military veteran (cold war era) and kept up with the geopolitics, b) lived in Alaska’s Prince William Sound before the Exxon Valdez & did research on it afterwards, and c) we are seeing the initial effects of ocean acidification here and as a marine biologist I have to do something because it scares the heck out of me.
    For a variety of reasons I have to drive into town almost daily. I love my LEAF and haven’t regretted the purchase. Yeah it has it’s little shortcomings and is nascent technology but I do have plenty of range for 90% of my trips. Even when temps are in the mid-20′s. I’ll do up to 60 to 70 miles at a time, and during these 6000 miles I have NEVER had to recharge away from home except for out-of-county trips. We’re on the PSE Green Power program so we essentially use no coal, and electricity is cheaper here so I will use only about $1.70 of electricity to do what would take four gallons of diesel in the Dodge for a trip to town in part because of the stops/restarts for the errands.
    When the battery gets too inefficient I look forward to using it for emergency power storage for our frequent power outages and I anticipate it’s replacement will cost less than a new one now.
    BTW, with a few exceptions, this is the most mature string of comments I’ve ever seen and the first time I’ve ever been tempted to contribute a comment in what is usually a bunch of pseudo-political whackos. Great job, Truth about Cars.

  • avatar
    overbergerc

    Relatively new Leaf. Michigan. 100 – 80 miles per charge. 6 hour full charge at 240v. 380.00 worth of homemade adapters, 1 homemade 2x120V=240V adapter, and EVSEUpgrade’s 240V charger mod will get me anywhere if I’m not in a hurry. Makes for a nice, leisurely trip to the U.P. and back (1200 miles) 600 of which have no PEV charging stations available. Campgrounds, dealer 240V receps, granny’s dryer plug, Joes Bar unused fryer plug, Bobs garage welder plug, etc, makes this a great trip. Dailyl use, office and around town. We have a level 2 charger at work and I have 240V in my garage..along with the EVSE Box makes this a great car. oh, Full House off peak metering from Consumers Energy .06/KWH..for EVERYTHING IN THE HOUSE weekends and nights. No petrol and this car will smoke most anything off the line, hands down. I don’t know why people bash it. I have a Prius I love but 80.00 a month for fuel. I use it for out of town trips.

    Cheers

  • avatar
    Gizmoe1164

    I’ve owned a LEAF now since mid May 2012. We live on Oahu….no range anxiety on an Island. It’s the perfect commuter car in Hawaii. I also have 65 Solar Panels on our house with net energy metering with the local utility….zero electric bill. I plug in the LEAF before going to bed at about 9:30 in the evening, and the onboard timer kicks in, topping off the batteries at 80% as recommended by Nissan to prolong bat life, and the next day there’s plenty of juice for wherever the Wife wants to go. With fuel prices in Hawaii approaching $5 per gal the LEAF is the smart choice.

    Gary

  • avatar
    danielmt4061

    We live in a hilly, suburban Texas community just outside of Austin and commute roundtrip about 50 – 55 miles a day. First off, we do not lack for vehicles as we benefit from having several gas-burners and now this Leaf thing. Honestly, purchasing this used 2011 Leaf has just been an experiment for me to see if we could reasonably use a car like this before cutting back on any of our gas-burners. For my wife, the ultimate free spirit, it has been a good union. She has truly fallen for the Leaf, while her uptight anal companion (that would be me) is still experiencing range anxiety.

    At the beginning of the week, I drive a gas-burner and leave it parked at my office for any commuting needs that may arise during the week. This means that from Monday evening through Friday morning’s drive in, I am doomed to commuting together and I am at the mercy of the charge plug. In the mornings “up tight and anal” drives and I notice the range quickly decreases from full charge to about a 50 miles range, though the downhill portions of our trip and braking seem to help boost the range. In the afternoons “free spirit” drives and it’s almost like watching a kid play a video game as she tries to increase the number of trees that appear on the screen. We typically get home with a few miles to spare, but we do have to start charging. When we get home, we pull in the drive, plug in and then use another car for local needs.

    So far the car is still holding my interest. Moreover, I was surprised with the minor bells and whistles that we would have paid extra for on two of our really nice cars. In fact, it has features on it that my “luxury” SUV doesn’t have such as the phone pairing, GPS and satellite radio. But in defense of my luxury SUV, it is also 8 years old and those things simply were not available at the time. Another plus for the SUV, is the fact that I could squeeze the Leaf into the back if necessary, but the trade-off is that the less than 5 dollars I spent at a charging station while we shopped is hands down a winner compared to the roughly 80 dollars it costs to fill up the SUV.

    In terms of what other readers have said, I agree and no, it isn’t for everyone, but as a car snob, I am so far impressed. The good news/bad news for my region is that one, there are many charging stations within the larger communities such as Austin, San Antonio and Houston, but little to no stations inbetween these cities. Also for me personally, the bad news is that we live just one block outside of the Austin Energy coverage area, so we cannot qualify for the energy rebates, nor can we pay the $25 membership for six months of unlimited charging, even though we work within the Austin area. We are however lobbying our local power company to offer similar programs. I suppose as more and more of these hit the roads, perhaps the range issue will become less of a concern. But in the meantime, we are enjoying the car, though I cannot see ever being without one of the old fossil-fueled monsters.

  • avatar

    I live in Colorado which provides plenty of challenges (extreme temps and mountains, for example) for an EV. I purchased a used, 2011 Nissan Leaf, and have been keeping a diary about the experience. EV curious? Follow along! http://EVearlyAdopter.blogspot.com

  • avatar
    sdmacuser

    This is not a car. It’s an over-rated electric toaster that now sits in my driveway permanently incapable of driving even 75 miles straight w/o charging after only 7 months. In other words it’s a glorified golf cart that cost me over $300 a month in added electric use plus $264 in monthly lease cost. If your commute is over 60 R/T miles daily then you may not be the best driver for this particular vehicle. I also own a new Prius II which is far better than the Leaf and significantly less money without the constant range anxiety. I honestly wish I could just get Nissan to buy back the lease on this golf cart with its constant diminishing range issues and battery problems. I’ve reported to the dealerhip service department in Escondido TWICE in 7 months and both times they refuse to even sign me in or look at the car saying it meets specs. I told them it no longer meets my specs as an 80 mile commuter vehicle even though the dealer told me I should “consider this a 100 mile range vehicle”. Whatever happen to consumer lemon laws?


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