By on June 14, 2010

So, Nissan has released video of its production Leaf making “forward” (above) and “backward” noises, but it seems that there may still be some details to work out. For one thing, the Leaf’s official battery range stretches from 138 miles to 47 miles, according to gm-volt.com. Your mileage may vary, etcetera. But wait, there’s more! One blogger recently tried to insure a Leaf… actually, he tried to get an insurance quote for a Leaf. Can you tell where this is going?

According to the write-up at nissan-leaf.net, the closest thing available to a insurance quote for the Leaf is a rep who

felt that because the technology was new and the car had not been vetted as of yet, the premium would probably be 10-15% higher over a similar vehicle, and that it would fall in line once the appropriate tests where done on the vehicle.

Apparently this is not an uncommon problem. The Leaf goes on sale this year… someone should probably get a couple of actuaries on this.

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18 Comments on “Nissan Leaf: Sounds Good, But What About Insurance?...”


  • avatar
    blowfish

    Ins co are very conservative people, they will all want to wait & see if these EVs will bite, in the mean time u can afford EVs u can afford the high premiums.

    Few situations arise are

    Should she took a dip into the water, boat launching is probably leave it to the experts with gas or diesel engines.
    I was told a BMW 2002 got floated away as they backed too deep into the water.

    How about a car accident, will they have a master kill switch like the race cars that installed a master battery switch up on the hood so the Ambulance , Tow truck personnel will cut the power if they had to.

    If some way is safer than LPG or Natural gas cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Michal

      I drive an LPG converted vehicle and have no problems with the safety of the system. The system self monitors for gas leaks while the car is off and has two valves (one at the engine, one on the tank) for shutting off the gas. Tanks are filled to 80% max capacity and it takes a severe impact to rupture them. Test videos on youtube for car fires require the car to be engulfed in flames for several minutes before the tank’s valves vent gas to prevent an explosion. By the time the tank vents the occupants would have long been toasted.

      LPG and CNG cars have been used for over 30 years, but lithium battery electric cars have yet to be widely tested in the real world. What happens if the battery pack is partially crushed? Traditional Li-ion cells fitted to laptops and mobile phones sometimes catch fire under these circumstances. A lithium fire is very difficult to extinguish.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Anyway, 15% more insurance on a rather inexpensive compact (probably classed pretty much the same as a Versa except for a 50% higher purchase price) will not be all that much in the grand scheme of things…

  • avatar
    mythicalprogrammer

    Hey, they gotta start somewhere. Those early adopters ain’t going to care. Gotta <3 those early adopters.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I’ve seen 150% surcharges on Civic Si insurance quotes, so this isn’t so bad.

  • avatar
    mcs

    This is one of my favorite lithium battery overcharge videos. This might be one reason for the insurance issues. Imagine late at night while you’re sleeping and your Volt or Leaf is charging in the garage. Then, something goes wrong with the charging circuitry and…

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I saw the full video touting the research and thought that went into creating that sound ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwPwx-YxIZM ). I’m struck that they had to spend four years, consulted with so many groups and apparently had teams of people, all to figure out what kind of artificial noise the thing should make. For all of that, it turns out that the best choice sounds a lot like special effects from 50s Sci-Fi movies.

    On the insurance, however, they companies can probably guess what repair costs will be, but they’ll probably need to wait and see if the people who choose them demonstrate a propensity for smashing into things.

  • avatar
    twotone

    What about hydrogen cars that you can’t park in a garage due to explosive vapors? Anyone try to insure a Hindenburg?

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I hope you’re kidding. Hydrogen technology has come a long way since 1937.

      I’d be much more worried about the fire risk of a gasoline-powered car parked in the garage – just ask a fireman.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Having gm-volt.com make a statement on the Leaf’s battery range is like asking a Republican what they think of Obama’s economic policies. Although in this case they were quoting Nissan.

    Managing expectations will be very difficult for EVs, including the Leaf and Volt. Nissan and Chevy (“Chevrolet”) will be called liars by opponents, and the True Believers will cling to the most optimistic ratings.

    I am a Leaf fan, but it appears that you’d better only have a 20-mile one-way commute just to be safe, and be sure to plug in every day. This would work for me most days, but it wouldn’t be cost-effective.

  • avatar
    ez3276

    I’m an Arizona insurance agent. If I get a call on one of these I’m going to insure it as a golf cart until I get told otherwise. It should be a pretty inexpensive policy.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Agreed, silent cars will likely be more dangerous than cars emitting some level of sound, but anybody wonder what it will be like to walk around on the street with all the cars emitting an annoying “white noise” sound like that?

    Are they in-league with hearing-aid makers?

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    I suspect that the reason for caution from insurance actuaries has nothing to do with the safety of the vehicles, and everything to do with the unknown costs for repair of these vehicles.

    Know anybody with an aluminum Audi? Ask them about the joys of insuring advanced technology.

    Oh, and then there’s a rule I always follow – when in doubt, charge too much now and lower it later if the competition forces me to do so evidence warrants

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Explain to me why a few parkade rendered LPG, Natural gas cars Persona non grata?
    Is like in the old days check your arms before u enter a watering hole, restaurant etc.

    Hindenberg’s fire wash caused by the fabric, rather than the Hs, but H2 is very flammable.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I’m an Arizona insurance agent. If I get a call on one of these I’m going to insure it as a golf cart until I get told otherwise. It should be a pretty inexpensive policy.

    No worries, if there is any large unusual payouts done by the ins co, u bet the Premuim will go skyrocket the next morning. Afterall they’re there it make mulla not charity works.
    All the Bookies I mean Actuaries all cohoots together, no different than credit rating agencies.
    Like trying to get another loan when your first one is in arrears.

  • avatar
    shaker

    If they’re going to require sound emission, at least give the customer a choice (at purchase, or a selector on the dash) of at least 4 “approved” sounds.

    I’d prefer something different than the video – it’s sorta “Blade Runner avoid copyright infringement” – ish.

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