Herewith, a brief update on our experience in living with a Nissan Leaf…
- Bottom line: We like the car a great deal, even more than we thought we would. It’s really quiet (more on this below), it’s a pleasure to drive (ditto), and the recharging stuff is, well, a work in progress.
- Quiet: I haven’t used the radio except to test it briefly, simply because it’s such a nice and unusual experience to drive car that makes almost no noise except for wind and tire sounds. After driving the Leaf for a few days I drove my wife’s 2009 Civic EX, which I thought of as a very nice, quiet, smooth, etc. car. Compared to the Leaf, it delivers an astonishing impression of gears in motion. Just the minor lurches from normal upshifting of the automatic transmission was noticeable (the Leaf has a one-speed transmission, so there are no upshifts).
- Driving: It has really nice acceleration and braking, and it corners surprisingly flat, no doubt thanks to the low placement of the very heavy battery pack.
- Charging: We’ve decided to continue our experiment of living with the 120v charger (technically an EVSE) that comes with the car. So far, it’s working perfectly, but if we find we need something other than overnight recharging, then we’ll spring for a 240v capability in the garage (which will serve us with future plug-ins) and find some way to get a 240v-friendly adapter thingie.
- Speaking of the 240v thingie, it turns out that the place I mentioned in a prior post, EVSE Upgrade, will upgrade your Nissan-supplied thingie for about $240 and then downgrade it for free at a later date, which is perfect for people leasing a Leaf.
- And speaking of leasing, as I’ve said before, right now you would have to be out of your mind to buy a Leaf instead of leasing it. The odds of the Leaf 2.0, due in the 2015 model year, being both better and cheaper, and therefore hammering the resale value of the Leaf 1.0, are very high. Yes, leasing is expensive on a per-month or per-mile basis, but I think it’s still a much better arrangement right now.
- Laughing like the Jack Nicholson Joker in the first Batman movie when driving past gas stations has not lost its charm yet, and I suspect it won’t for some time.
- Big picture: I think the Leaf is certainly a “real car” that should work exceptionally well for anyone who can live with the range limitation. This means either being able to do your daily driving on a single-charge or having access to a charger sometime during the day, such as while you’re at work. In general, outside of some pockets of sanity (like some parts of California), the availability of public charging points is still pretty sketchy. I think we’re about to see a big change there, however, as the Leaf S greatly increases the base of EVs in the real world, and more and more businesses see the value of offering low cost or free recharging to its employees and customers.