|Yes, that is fairly fresh snow next to my fairly new Leaf|
I took delivery of my 100% electric car, Nissan Leaf, on Feb 25th - culminating a buying process that lasted atleast 10 months. Even though Leaf is a brand new vehicle with a myriad of new technologies, it has been a totally trouble free month of wonership. Join me after the break as I talk about the experience so far.
First some background, before I talk about my experience with the car.
We are a 2 car family - I had been driving a '98 Nissan Maxima as my daily commuter. My wife drives a Hyundai Santa Fe. When we go out together, we took one of the cars - Santa Fe if we need more space or going on a long trips, the Maxima otherwise. So, yes we have 2 Primary cars. Reviewers should take note of this - not sure what planet they live on - but this is the reality for majority of US households.
Leaf has replaced the Maxima. Within a week of getting Leaf, I sold the Maxima through Craigs List in a painless process within 3 days.
We live on the Sammamish Plataue, about 900 feet above the low lands surrounding Lake Sammamish. We are an eastern suburb of Seattle, some 25 miles away. My commute to the nearby city of Issaquah is short and downhill on roads that are 35 mph or 40 mph max speeds. Frequently my daily trips are longer at 20 to 30 miles because of work or shopping needs, with a few of those miles on the freeway.
I've been charging using the free Blink EVSE (aka "charger") from Ecotality. It is a "smart" EVSE with wi-fi, web connectivity and shows the amount of energy used to charge. It reports the daily usage to the server where we can see the stats. Unlike Leaf, Blink is rather buggy, though I've not had any problems charging the car. The extra features are a hit & miss. A new firmware to fix these issues has been promised and is eagerly awaited.
Leaf keeps track of and shows several statistics that are invaluable like miles/KW-hour (or mpkwh). I've been noting this down for each day, along with the type of trip and temperature. Leaf also has telematics - CarWings - that keeps its own statistics. Unfortunately Leaf's stats and CarWings's stats don't match currently, something Nissan says is it is working on to fix.
The most interesting part of living with Leaf has been that it is no different from earlier. I still drive my Leaf, my wife takes her Santa Fe. We haven't had any long trips this month, so all our trips together have been in Leaf. This is one thing slightly different from earlier - we make an effort to drive in Leaf when we go together.
My daily commutes, with the short distances involved has been very easy with Leaf. The max distance I covered commuting on a day was about 50 miles - mainly because I forgot to take the laptop and had to come back home, doubling my commute that day.
Charging has been very easy too - I spend about 30 seconds everyday to charge - 15 seconds to connect and 15 seconds to disconnect the cable from Blink. No more waiting in queue at the Costco gas station to fill the car. I charge to 80% on weekdays and 100% on weekends. I'll cover the reasons in my next post.
When we take Leaf out in the evening, I charge for an hour or so. I had gone to my dealer to pickup the plates - which is a round trip of about 60 miles. In the evening we wanted to go out for dinner - which meant it was prudent to charge for an hour before leaving. That day I finished with 17 miles of the range indicator, but not the "Battery Low" indicator on Leaf, even though I drove around a bit near home to try and get that.
Surprisingly, not many people stop and stare at Leaf. The only people who seem to notice are the people who already know about Leaf. I've only had a few strangers ask me about leaf till now. They all knew about Leaf already. Ofcourse, the main question is how much range do I get per charge and how do I charge.
So, how much range does Leaf give ? It varies.
Surprsingly, the miles/kwh I get depends more on the weather than on the speed. I get about the same miles/kwh in my normal daily sub-urban commute and in mixed sub-urban/freeway commute with 65 mph as max. The efficiency has ranged from a low of 3.4 miles/kwh to a high of 5.0 miles/kwh. Instead of giving one range number at these efficiencies, I prefer to give multiple ranges, estimated using the efficiency numbers shown by Leaf. More details in my next post.
Efficiency : 5.0 miles/kwhA quick note on the driving experience - which has been widely covered by various reviewers. The low noise level is very nice and I'm now used to it. So is the lack of vibrations and the presence of easy torque from the get go. I notice all these conviniences only when I have to drive the fossil car on days my wife takes the Leaf. That is how it is with materialism. The luxuries are noticed only in their absense.
Range (till battery low) : 100 Miles (est @ 20kwh)
Range (till turtle mode) : 110 Miles (est @ 22kwh)
Range (full) : 120 Miles (est @ 24kwh)
Driving : Mixed with 10 miles freeway, 15 miles suburban
Climate : Sunny & Warm @ 50. No climate control.
Efficiency : 3.4 miles/kwh
Range (till battery low) : 68 Miles (est @ 20kwh)
Range (till turtle) : 75 Miles (est @ 22kwh)
Range (full) : 82 Miles (est @ 24kwh)
Driving : 11 miles suburban. Little regen, since charged to 100%.
Climate : Cold & Wet @ 35-40. Climate control all the time, set to 70 Deg.
I can't imagine going back to an ICE car as my primary car - just as I can't imagine going back to a small standard definition TV for daily viewing. This sums up how I feel about EVs, after a month of living with one.