Just the Brakes

 

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In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds.  As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner.  It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride.  This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;

it always happened at speeds below 30 mph

it was more frequent in cold or wet weather

it was always random

When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up.  Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.

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My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino

Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.

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The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.

12190057_10207024051892475_5148828535035350589_n The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive.   Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf.  My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car.  However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles.  In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf.  In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric.  So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200.  If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs.  I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.

eNV200

Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.

I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible.  In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.

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Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –

the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.

Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.

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Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC. 

After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.

Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?

I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone.  Murphy’s law.

I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.

A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again!  This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)

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As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code.  I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue.  She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP.  I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.

I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor.  Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.

She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ.  I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.

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I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.

A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement.  The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental.  This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!!  Ouch!!

THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!  

Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty.  I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way.  Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew!  I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty.  I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.

Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima.  She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW!  Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!

A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it!  When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week.  At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.

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A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday!  Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.

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In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts

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The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car.  This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead. 

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The defective components 

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The shiny new components

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The surgery is complete!

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On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)  

A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)

20160118_175001   Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!

Very well done!

(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)

Until next time…

“Plug into the future!”

Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.

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NISSAN LEAF REPORT for July 2014

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We have been driving our Nissan Leaf now for almost 11 months now and you are probably asking: Do we still like it after almost one year of EV ownership? What do we like about it? What don’t we like about it? Has it saved us any money?

Here are the answers.

Leaves7.5.14Do we still like it and why?

Absolutely, wholeheartedly and positively: YES!

What do we like about the Nissan Leaf:

For the last 10+ months it has been a wonderful vehicle that gets us around quickly, quietly and cleanly. It continues to be a joy to drive and we always look forward to driving it because it is fast, fun and easy to drive. When we are forced to drive Godzilla, our 1999 Toyota 4Runner, it continues to seem like an archaic, sluggish, noisy, smelly old fossil compared to the smooth, fast, responsive, clean, green Nissan LEAF.

fogleafI love the fact that the Leaf needs virtually no maintenance. Since I have had it I have only had to check the air in the tires and rotate them twice and wash it a few of times. As far as the old Toyota–I have had to change the oil/filter twice (I use fully synthetic, bio-based, American sourced and produced GOil) and those oil changes cost me almost as much as it has cost to power the Leaf for four months! Recently I had to replace the water pump and timing belt on the Toyota for a grand total of $650! That would power the Leaf for almost TWO YEARS at our current cost of electricity!!!

Issues

The Leaf has experienced no problems related to the mechanics and systems of the car. The only mishaps being two road hazard incidents that were out of my or Nissan’s control.

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 Tire trouble in Cherokee, NC.

Seat comfort.  The one major complaint I have about the Leaf is the design of the drivers seat–I still do not find it to be very comfortable although I have adapted to it a bit more. The non adjustable head rest is too far forward so I had to turn it around so that I did not feel like my head was forced forward all the time. It would also be very nice if the seat had a lumbar adjustment as well. This is more than likely my problem because no one else that has driven it has had any issue with the seat.

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Has owning the Leaf saved us any money? Let’s look at the totals for a clearer picture.

Mileage driven from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014.

Total all electric miles: 11,951 miles

Average miles/month: 1138.2

Average miles/week: 284.6

Average miles/day: 40.7

Electricity Usage from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

Total KWh electricity used: 2,727.6 (sources: 80% mains trickle charge at home, 20% on the road from level 2 commercial charging stations and 120 volt outlets at work and friends’ houses)

Average KWh used/month: 259.8

Average KWh used/mile: 4.0

Cost/KWh: $.09

The below electricity usage histogram is from the Carwings telemetric monitoring system.  Units on Y axis are KWh.

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Electricity Cost to Operate the Leaf August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

Total 10.5 month electricity cost to operate Leaf: $245.48 (2727.6KWh x .09/Kwh)

Note: The average ONE MONTH cost to operate the Toyota 4Runner is: $253.42!

In other words it costs us less to operate the LEAF for 10.5 months ($245.48) that it does to operate the Toyota 4Runner for ONE MONTH ($253.42)!

Average cost/month to charge Leaf:$23.37

Average cost/day to charge/operate the Leaf: $0.77

Average cost/mile/day to drive Leaf: $0.03/mile

The next histogram shows distance traveled and energy economy tracking as recorded by the Carwings EV monitoring system over the last 10.5 months

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Comparisons Before Leaf/After Leaf 

Before Leaf estimated cost to operate/maintain/repair our previous cars,  a 1999 Toyota 4Runner and 1998 Honda CRV, for the same 10.5 month time period: $4200 ($400/month x 10.5. (Toyota 250/month and Honda $150/month (fuel + maintenance + repairs)

Before Leaf Toyota/Honda average cost/day to operate: $ 13.33 ($400/30)

From this point on I will focus on the before and after Leaf cost to operate only the Toyota 4runner.  This is due to the fact that we purchased the Leaf to replace many of the miles driven in the Honda CRV and the Toyota 4runner.

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 1357.14 (1357.14/19mpg = 71.42 gallons x $3.50 per gal. = $250)

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/week: 339.28

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/day: 48.46

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $250

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.33

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.17

thedealisdone

Enter August 2013.  

Traded in 1998 Honda CRV for 2012 Nissan Leaf SL

After Leaf total Toyota 4Runner miles driven (10.5 months): 9210

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 877.14

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/week: 219.26

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/day: 31.32

After Leaf Toyota fuel cost from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

$1911.00

After Leaf Toyota maintenance costs: $750 (new water pump, new hoses, antifreeze, timing belt, oil and filter x2.)

After Leaf 10.5 month Toyota total operational costs: $2661.00

After Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $253.42

After Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.45

After Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.26

Fuel savings

Total fuel saved during 10.5 month period: 546 gallons/$1911.00

After subtracting power cost for Leaf: $1434.52

(Fuel $1911.00 – $245.48 Electric Cost ) =

$1665.52 saved!

Car payment offset: $350.67 x 10 months = $3682.35 payments – $1665.52 savings = $2016.51 out of pocket!

NOTE: If you find that any of my calculations are off please do email me because I am only human and I will be the first to admit that I do, can, and will make mistakes.

fastchargingDRIVING ELECTRIC IS A “NO BRAINER!”

The numbers show that the cost of operating our Toyota 4Runner has gone up a bit.  This is due to an expensive repair and several long distance trips out of state on family issues that were out of the range of the Leaf.  However, even with those factors considered and because we are only driving one gasoline powered vehicle, and the fact that we use the Leaf for almost all of the local trips within its range (unless the trip involves hauling a load or pulling a trailer), we have already saved almost $2000 in fuel costs in 10.5 months of EV ownership and applied that extra $$ to our Leaf car payment!

After the Leaf is paid off we will be saving even more!

leafteslaSharing a level 2 charging station with a Tesla Model S

Had we continued driving the ageing Honda CRV and Toyota 4Runner together we would have burned around 725 gallons of gasoline, spent over $2530 more in gas, possibly incurred several hundred dollars in repairs and belched out ~13,700 lbs of CO2* and other toxic greenhouse gasses into our shared atmosphere!

*1 gallon of gasoline burned emits 19 lbs of CO2. Source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm

By going fully EV we have saved money, reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating over 7000 lbs** of CO2 from being eliminated into the atmosphere and gained a maintenance free car that is fun to drive and seems to be very well thought out and well constructed…and we have more time to “stop and smell the roses***” while our EV charges.

 **Based on the Carwings telemetric data collected by the Leaf’s on-board efficiency monitoring system that compares the size of the Leaf to a comparable sized ICE cars tailpipe emissions.

***Go to the movies, out to dinner, shopping, have a pint a the pub…and/or have a pint while dressed like a pirate…

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Wow! All great reasons to love the Nissan Leaf EV be ye a scurvy EV driving pirate or a regular person!

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EV Note: How did we calculate our Leaf’s energy costs?

We use a Kill-a-Watt Meter!

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More good points about the Leaf!

Acceleration.  While it may not have the speed of a Tesla, the Leaf does take off from a standstill with amazing quickness.  As a friend once said “wow, it really sets you back in your seat!”

Handling: We continue to love the way the Leaf drives! It is quiet, smooth and very responsive on and off the pavement–and it is really surprising how well it continues to drive on gravel roads and ford shallow creeks.  Speaking of creek fording check out this video form an Leaf driver in England–all I can say is WOW!

And another one from Nissan

Cruse Control: I love the cruise! I consistently use the cruise to squeeze as much range and efficiency out of the Leaf.  Using the cruise lets the computer decide how much power to apply from the battery to the motor or, to the battery from the motor/generator when while coasting downhill so the car operates more efficiently.  The cruise also allows a set speed with more regen on downhill runs–this is not possible without using the cruise due to the increased drag from the generator unless the grade is very steep.  I have noticed that when the computer “drives” I always come out with more range at the end of the day.

Appearance: The quirky, cool, futuristic look of the leaf really lets me get my geek on and I love the Blue Ocean paint!

Sound: Or lack thereof…the Leaf is so quiet!  Other than the sound of the Leaf piercing the wind and the tires on the road the only sound it makes is a distant high pitched whine similar to a jet taking off in the distance.  This sound is not obtrusive in any way with the windows up or down.  In fact it is a unique and pleasant sound that I enjoy hearing because I know that the sound of the Leaf is the sound of the future.

Check out this video of what the Leaf really sounds like under the hood–very cool!

Ease of use: The Leaf is as easy to use as your smartphone…actually it is easier to use than most smartphones.  It is as simple as unplug, drive, plug in, sleep, repeat.

Winter: Heated seats and steering wheel. I love these features about the Leaf–I hardly ever turn on the heater!

Summer: I usually drive with the windows down but when I do use the air conditioning it works quietly and perfectly. Even on the hottest/coldest days I keep the temperature set at 70F and the AC draws very little power yet cools the interior nicely.

Climate control timer: a truly wonderful feature that pre-heats/cools the car while plugged in to mains power before leaving for work in the morning. I use this primarily in the winter to warm up the car before heading to work.

Stereo system: Great stereo sound that you can truly hear because the car is soooo quiet! The system perfectly syncs via Bluetooth, to my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 where I am able to access over 2000 songs that play in a truly random order.

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Well done Nissan and Carlos Ghosn–the visionary behind the Leaf!

More on Ghosn and the Leaf here.

Backup camera: what an amazing feature–I use it every time I put the car in reverse. The 2014-15 Leaf LE has a 360 degree camera that shows everything around the vehicle–a great safety feature for sure!

Regenerative braking: This system allows the car’s electric motor to act as a generator when the car is braking or coasting with the power generated feeding back into the battery for extended range–amazing!

Over the last 10.5 months I have regenerated a total of 23,437 Watt Hours! (according to the Carwings monitoring system)

At first that sounds like a stupendous amount of free power however, Watt Hours are not Kilowatt hours. Once we see that 1Wh = 1000 KWh we discover that although the Leaf did generate 23437 WH that then converts to 23.4 KWh of electricity for a whopping savings of $2.11. When we then divide that by the Leaf’s cost/mile to operate of we find that the Leaf gave back just over 70 miles of gravity assisted free Leaf produced power. Although at first that does not seem like much, it is $2.11 and 70 miles more than the Toyota (or any ICE vehicle) has ever or will ever give back in its entire lifespan. If this trend continues then I estimate that at the end of one year the Leaf will generate over 80 miles free range and close to $3.00 in electricity savings and that is good news for sure! EV’s give something back–internal combustion vehicles engine (ICE) vehicles only take giving nothing back but a very expensive ride, loads of waste heat, leaking fluids and toxic, life poisoning emissions.

On one particular excursion I made a documentary of my travels through the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina. On this journey I travel through remote areas of the mountains where not an EV charger, or gas station for that matter, can be found. Watch the journey below !

Leaf Improvements?

I can think of a few for Nissan to contemplate:

Audio system: While the stock stereo system is excellent, the new Bose sound system is truly incredible! I have also changed my opinion on the Leaf’s Bluetooth audio sync system that I reported on in the three month Leaf Report. At first I believed it was an issue of the car but now that my Samsung phone syncs perfectly, I believe it was an error in the Droid Razr, not the sync capabilities of the car.

Carwings: an interesting and informative system but it could be more accurate and user friendly.  If you have or are planning on acquiring a Leaf and you are a techie who loves data and knowing all there is to know about your Leaf’s health then you should consider picking up the Mycarma myEV datalogger that I blogged about a few weeks ago.  I will have one on my Leaf as soon as it is produced! The myEV was recently funded on Indiegogo and will be available this fall!    

Navigation system: overall well done but it does need some updating as well.

Charging system: I believe that the Leaf would benefit from an optional rooftop solar array covering the entire roof of the vehicle and possibly even the hood as in my badly Photo-shopped concept idea below.

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With the current advances in lightweight, flexible, high output solar technology and even solar paints, this would be a great addition especially on vehicles used in sunny areas. Imagine the loads of free power you could generate with this feature while your Leaf just sat in the sun drenched parking space all day while you were at work. Obviously it would not charge the Leaf’s battery to full capacity but it could only help just as the regenerative braking system does and both systems working together would be able to supply the vehicle with even more clean, renewable, free energy! In cars equipped with the rooftop solar option Nissan could also add USB charging/AC power ports inside the vehicle so that a person could charge their USB powered phones, tablets, cameras and other devices while the car was charging on solar power. I believe this should be an optional feature because some people would not be interested in it aesthetically–but other “geeky tree huggin’ dirt worshipers” like myself would jump on it in a heartbeat. Also, for Leaf owners who park in garages or under trees or live in areas where it rains a lot or is often overcast this feature would not be of much use.

More adjustable driver’s seat: as mentioned before it would be nice if the driver’s seat had a lumbar adjustment and the head rest could be adjusted fore and aft for more comfort.

Battery pack: obviously the battery of the Leaf needs improvement–the day the range of EVs pass the 300 mile mark they will be in all thinking people’s garages. This is the single most limiting factor of this otherwise wonderful vehicle. I have recently seen reports of a possible 150 mile range battery pack option for 2016 LEAF–now that would be a great improvement!

Wind noise:  Due to the aerodynamics and associated pressure differentials created when driving with the windows down, the Leaf can generate some rather unpleasant buffeting sounds that only seem to go away when the windows are up or at lower speeds.  This is not that big of an issue if you have just the front windows down or the front down and back down halfway or all the way…but sometimes, for whatever reason, it gets really annoying.

Tires: The seem rather thin and weak.  Some improvements would be nice.

Conclusions: even with the limited range and other little issues we still love our Nissan Leaf–it is a truly amazing car that has saved us thousands of dollars in fuel and repair costs and we do not regret our EV decision in any way. We are loving our pioneering decision and look forward to many years of EV adventure and savings!

Real world driving in the Nissan Leaf

Below are some graphic representations of some of my usual driving routes.

Home to work and back.  This is the route I drive most frequently.  Note that the last 3rd of the route is all uphill.  One way of this daily commute uses close to 1/2 of my Leaf’s range.  However, on the return trip I regenerate an average of 15 miles of range for most of that decent so that when I arrive back home I have the same or more driving range than I did when I departed work for home 🙂  This is a round trip of 27.46 miles.  No additional charge needed.

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On one of my other frequently driven routes I will drive to work, a nearby town on family business, then return home for a round trip of 49.47 miles.

No additional charge needed.

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This next route takes me to work, then on to one of my wildlife conservation study areas, and back home again.  It is a round trip of 60.75 miles and I usually do charge up to at least 80% while at work for that extra margin of safety.  However, I have driven the entire route without charging because the last third of the route is almost all downhill so I made it home with about 10 miles of range to spare…but that’s a bit too close for comfort.

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Another one of my wildlife conservation projects takes me to the top of a mountain and back down the other side on a twisty, gravel road complete with a small creek ford! I do not need to charge on this route due to the insane amount of regen I garner from the loads of downhill on the second half of the route.

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I often visit Asheville on business and pleasure after work.  This is a round trip of 98.81 miles.   It requires me to charge to 100% the night before and then to at least 80% in Asheville before returning home but this is not a problem because there are many level 2 charging stations (and soon a few DC fast chargers!) all around the city so I have never had an issue getting a charge.

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Long day.  One day in June 2014 my travels took me to work, then my wife and I took a trip to a brewpub in south Asheville for a pint and brats while the car charged at a level 2 station nearby, we then drove a 50 mile bat conservation route after dark in remote, mountainous–and very foggy terrain (video will be posted on this blog soon.)  The total mileage for the route was: 117.04 and I had to charge the car three times that day due to the mileage and terrain.  Note: at the top of the route the car was down to 11 miles of range but from that point on the route was almost all downhill so I regenerated over 25 miles of range and pulled into the driveway at midnight with about 25 miles remaining on the “guess-o-meter.”

anabatroute114

Longest distance driven in one day: 126.5 miles one way (not on one charge). This was an epic journey over two 4500 foot mountain ranges with two charging station visits, an overnight trickle charging episode while staying with a friend, a flat tire, a visit to a casino (for the food), a movie, and a total round trip mileage of over 300 miles!  Read all about it in a previous post and watch the video documentary of this epic EV adventure.

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(all route maps from mapmyride.com)

Public charging stations we have used.

BrightfieldTS (1.50/hr and free) Asheville, NC – Solar charging stations

Chargepoint (1.50/hr) Asheville, NC

Blink (DC fast chargers $5.00/charge) Tennessee

Eaton (free) Asheville, Hendersonville and Clyde, NC

Schenider (free) Cherokee, NC

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Interesting and unusual places I have charged my Leaf!

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Beside a Tesla Model S

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In the Anderson Nissan service department.

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At the beer and ice shack at the LEAF festival. *Note-the Leaf festival has nothing to do with the Nissan Leaf and in fact my Leaf may have been the only one there.

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Another view from the Leaf festival

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At the barn at Earthshine Discovery Center.  If you are looking for a great place to spend a mountain vacation, visit with your school, have your wedding or corporate retreat then look no further–Earthshine Discovery Center is your place!

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Again at Earthshine Discovery Center.  I plug into an outlet located in an Eastern Box Turtle rehabilitation enclosure operated by my company

Earthshine Nature Programs!

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Again at the Anderson Nissan dealership in Asheville, NC.

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Alongside a Chevy Volt while at the movies.

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Trickle charging at a LOVE’S somewhere in Tennessee on my first day of EV ownership. We drained the battery down to 6 miles of range due to highway speeds, high atmospheric and battery temperatures…I had to stop and charge here because I was only about 9 miles from a DC fast charger.

It was truly an epic adventure 🙂

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Trickle charging while watching people scurry about pumping their petrol powered vehicles full of expensive, toxic, dirty gasoline.  My cost: a hour of my time and a $5 donation to a local charity for access to the wall outlet.

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A local equestrian center.

The outlet is free standing beside the pasture…

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At a Hampton Inn in Cashiers, NC–yes, I am plugged into the outdoor lighting pole’s 110 volt outlet.  The Manager of the Inn did not have any issue with my use of the outlet.

hamptoninn714At another location at Hampton Inn.

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The future?

Maybe a solar powered house and car…

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Leaf Notes of note…

Once I was speaking to an individual about my Leaf and he said “You know, that thing burns coal and is dirtier than a gasoline powered vehicle.”  He said it in a snarky way as if to downgrade my EV and my choice–I believe he was just secretly envious and wanted a Leaf for himself.  I take his comment as a challenge to defend my decision to drive EV.  While it is true that the majority of the electricity I use to charge my EV is generated primarily by the burning of coal and natural gas and the splitting of atoms at centralized power stations, (and a small percentage of hydroelectricity, solar and wind generated electrons) that coal, unlike petroleum products, is locally sourced in the USA–not in Canada, in the arctic, or overseas, as with close to half of all petroleum products used in the USA.  Therefore much less energy is required in the extraction, shipping and refining to make it into a usable product.  So just where does our electricity come from…

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 Furthermore, the electricity grid continues to get cleaner as new wind, solar farms and solar EV charging stations are going online daily…

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…so the longer I drive the Leaf, the cleaner it becomes!  In the future I hope to install a grid-tied solar array on my roof which will make my car and home solar powered thereby allowing me to run my car on energy generated on my property–you can not get closer to the source than that (well, maybe if you are in orbit you could). This just cannot be done with a gasoline powered vehicle.

This same person went on to say that the production and operation of electric vehicles is far more energy consumptive and therefore less sustainable that driving a gasoline powered vehicle.  Well, I would say that he may have gotten his information from the linked article below (the author of said article may or may not have been funded by either: the big petroleum powered automakers, the coal and oil industries, and anyone who stands to loose big money when millions of drivers switch to EV’s) :

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/unclean-at-any-speed/

I do understand that many of the components that go into electric vehicles may be initially more expensive to mine, process and fabricate for use in an BEV or PHEV however, when those same components reach the end of their usefulness they can then be recycled many times over in succeeding generations of vehicles and other electronic components which will lower their cost and carbon footprint.  Couple that fact with the continued greening of the energy grid and the gloomy anti-EV picture painted by the previous author starts to look much brighter.  EV production also means JOBS!

Nissan Leaf production in Smyrna Tennessee!

Let’s face it, our society is a technological one, addicted to state of the art technology that is based on plug in electronic devices.  The  resources for these devices will need to be sourced somewhere so lets focus our energy on recycling existing resources, rebuilding the energy grid into a smart, clean grid and then lets plug in our phones, pads and our cars and charge onward into the future…

…it is the smart thing to do.

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The following articles and commentary’s stand up for EV’s as we do.

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517146/are-electric-vehicles-better-for-the-environment-than-gas-powered-ones/

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml

http://www.pluginamerica.org/

http://www.electricauto.org/

http://content.sierraclub.org/evguide/

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

Here’s George Takei’s take on EV’s

To recap: we love our EV and fully support the EV industry and we believe that a much cleaner, greener, future rides on plug in electric vehicles and we will support it 100%.

Track your EV’s performance with the myEV by MyCarma: electric vehicle logger & app

This is one of the greatest ideas in EV data monitoring I have seen yet!

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“The world’s first electric vehicle logger for individuals that can track energy consumption and State-of-Charge on (nearly all) production plug-in vehicles.”

–MyCarma

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If all EV drivers had one of these vehicle data loggers we could all keep better track of the health of our EV’s battery, monitor our energy usage, and communicate and compare results with other EV drivers across the region!

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But why would an EV driver want to log data from their EV?

According to MyCarma

“Here are the top 5 reasons we’ve heard from fellow EV owners:

  1. I want more data than what the dash shows me (ie. % SOC, not bars)
  2. I want to keep an eye on the health of my battery.
  3. I want to track my range throughout the year to see the impact of the weather, and to compare this to other EV owners in my area.
  4. The other data system you use went down. Again.
  5. I love my car and want to share my results with others that are in the EV community, and those that are considering becoming EV owners!

We’ve been listening.  And by adapting our fleet hardware and decodes (ability to log EV signals) we can give the community what it’s looking for. “

It gets better!  The myEV APP and window sticker.

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The APP allows you to track your EV’s info in real time and from anywhere as well as compare your results with the rest of your “team.”

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And then there is the window sticker.

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When you display the window sticker it tells other EV drivers that you are a member of a MyCarma myEV “team” consisting of a number of local EV’s.  When you encounter another EV “out there,” you can then scan the QR code on the sticker and either send the driver of the EV an “electric fist bump” for driving electric or, if they are charging and their EV’s SOC (State of Charge)  is higher than yours, you can text to request to unplug their car so you can get a charge.

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 Amazing!

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And there is even more!

Just read on to compare the myEV to the competition and see the benefits.

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So where can you get one of these remarkable new high tech toys that actually are not a toy but a useful high tech tool for helping you monitor the health of your EV?

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That is the catch…the myEV it has not been produced and offered for sale to the public just yet.

MyCarma, The company that makes the myEV data logger is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund the units creation.

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You can be a part of the creation of this wonderful new tool by contributing to the cause and help get this project funded and then one day you can have your own myEV!

Watch this short video about the myEV and learn why you should help make this amazing tool a reality.

Learn more about the myEV on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page and consider becoming a part of something amazing!

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NOTE: If you live in the Western North Carolina/Upstate South Carolina or East Tennessee area and drive an EV, please consider joining The Blue Ridge EV Club where we share EV information, news, stories and pictures as well as promote our EV’s and amazing new future tech like our EV’s and the new myEV!

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Blue Ridge Mountain Expedition

A few weeks ago I took my 2012 Leaf SL on a ~300 mile road trip to visit a friend.  My friend lives on the other side of two mountain ranges in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina USA. Take a look at the route (one way) with charging station locations* and elevation change profile that I calculated using www.mapmyride.com

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Chargers were few and far between but the Leaf performed admirably and had no issues that were the fault of the vehicle although I did have a leak in a tire due to a bit of road debris.  Totals for the adventure follow:

Total Miles driven on entire weekend trip: 319

Total Miles driven R/T: 220

Charging Time total for 319 mile trip: 22 hours (includes Lvl 2 and Lvl 1 overnight)

Charging Time total for R/T: 8.5 hours (Lvl 2 x 4)

Charging Time totals for entire 319 mile/3 day trip: 30.5 hours (includes Lvl 2 (8.5) x 5 and overnight/day Lvl 1 (22) x 3)

Maximum sustained speed: ~65 mph

Minimum sustained speed: ~30 mph

Time spent behind the wheel during R/T: ~7 hours

Time spent behind the wheel for entire trip: ~9 hours

Lowest Elevation: 1702 feet above sea level

Highest Elevation: 4563 feet

Total Elevation gain: 11,602 feet

Total miles regenerated for 218 mile R/T:~100!

Total cost of electricity for entire 319 mile route: ~$2.00!!

If I had driven my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the trip would have taken less time but it would have cost me ~$70 in gas and I would not have had so much fun!

I filmed the entire trek then compressed it down into the hour long documentary video linked below so sit back and enjoy an epic mountain adventure in a Nissan Leaf.

 

*Charging station information added to mapmyride map using Photoshop.

 

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First Service Visit

A few days ago I took my Leaf to the local Nissan Dealership–Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC–to have it’s tires rotated and a systems “check up.”

Here is how it played out.

After a quiet and petrol free morning drive of around 15 miles, I rolled up to the big service department door and it quietly opened admitting me into the cavernous and spotless bay that is somewhat reminiscent of a hanger bay on a futuristic spaceship from the mind of Lucas or Roddenberry.

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I eased up behind a ICE powered Nissan and then a pretty young attendant standing at a nearby computer station logged me into her system.

Se then told me it would be a few hours while they serviced the Leaf but that she would be glad to shuttle me to a nearby store while I waited.  I needed new boots so I took her up on the offer.  Before we departed I gained access into the service bays and snapped a pic of the Leaf before the servicing began.

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I was very impressed with the cleanliness, tidiness and brightness of the service department.  In my many years of auto ownership I have visited and worked in many auto shops that were the exact opposite–dirty, greasy and dark–kudos to Nissan for keeping such a clean, bright service department–it truly does make a difference!

The Nissan rep also plugged in my Leaf and charged it to 80% for free–a great service for EV owners that you will not see any ICE powered service departments offering.  Just imagine driving your land Rover or Corvette in to have it serviced and when you pick it up they have filled up the tank for free–it would be nice but it is not ever going to happen.

A couple of hours later I had a new pair of boots, my Leaf was finished, the tires were rotated and all systems were a go with a 100% score and I drove off in my Leaf with an 80% charge and smile on my face.

Thank you Anderson Nissan for a wonderful Leaf owners experience!

Thank you Nissan and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for making the Leaf a reality!

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Photo of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and a Leaf from Wikipedia

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Three Month Leaf Report

We have owned our Nissan Leaf now for just over 3 months and you are probably asking: Do we still like it? What do we like about it? What don’t we like about it? Has it saved us any money?

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(Photo taken at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute http://www.pari.org)

Here are the answers.

Do we still like it and why?  Absolutely, wholeheartedly and positively: YES!

What do we like about the Nissan Leaf:

So far it has been a wonderful vehicle that gets us from point A to point B quickly, quietly and cleanly. It continues to be a joy to drive and I always look forward to driving it because it is fast, fun and easy to drive.  When I have to drive Godzilla, my 1999 Toyota 4Runner, it seems like an archaic, sluggish, noisy, smelly old fossil compared to the smooth, responsive, clean, green leaf.

I love the fact that the Leaf needs virtually no maintenance.  Since I have had it I have only had to check the air in the tires and wash it a couple of times.  As far as the old Toyota–I have had to change the oil/filter once (I use fully synthetic, bio-based, American made GOil) and that cost me almost as much as it has cost to power the Leaf for half the time we have been driving it!  (more on that later).  Once, on a long distance camping excursion in the Toyota deep in the mountains of North Carolina, the upper radiator hose blew off due to a faulty clamp.  This sprayed hot, toxic antifreeze all over my engine and paint causing a real mess.  I was able to patch it together using the tools and parts I had on hand and limp slowly to my destination.  The next day I was able to repair it for under $5.00.

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Issues: The Leaf has had no problems related to the mechanics and systems of the car.  The only mishap being the tire incident on day 3 and that was out of my or Nissan’s control.  The one major complaint I have about the Leaf is the design of the drivers seat–I do not find it to be comfortable. The position of the head rest is too far forward so I had to turn it around so that I did not feel like my head was forced forward all the time.  It would also be nice if the seat had a lumbar adjustment as well.  This is more than likely my problem because no one else that has driven it has had any issue with the seat.

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(Photo taken at the Dogwood parking lot level 2 charging station in Hendersonville, NC)

Has owning the Leaf saved us any money?

Let’s look at the totals for a clearer picture.

Mileage driven from Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Total electric miles: 3939 miles

Average miles/month: 1313

Average miles/week: 109

Average miles/day: 34.7

Average max miles/day: 54.2 (average of miles driven above 35 miles/day)

Longest distance driven in one day: 92 miles (not on one charge)

Electricity Usage Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Total KWh electricity used: 887.7 (sources: 842.7 KWh mains trickle charge at home, 45 KWh  outside home with 25 KWh from commercial charging stations and 20 KWh from 120 volt outlets at work and friends’ houses)

Average KWh used/month: 295.9

Average KWh used/mile: 3.9

Cost/KWh:  $.09

Total three month cost to operate Leaf: $ 79.89 (887.7KWh x .09/Kwh)

Average cost/month to charge Leaf:$26.63

Average cost/day to charge the Leaf: $0.89

Average cost/mile/day to drive Leaf: $0.03/mile

Comparisons Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Before Leaf estimated cost to operate/maintain/repair 1999 Toyota 4Runner and 1998 Honda CRV: $1200 ($400/month x 3. (~Toyota 250/month and Honda $150/month (fuel + maintenance + repairs)

Before Leaf Toyota/Honda average cost/day: $ 13.33 ($400/30)

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 1357.14 (1357.14/19mpg=71.42 gallons x $3.50 per gal. = $250)

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $250

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.33 (250/30)

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.24 (8.33/34.7)

Traded in 1998 Honda CRV for 2012 Nissan Leaf SL

After Leaf total Toyota 4Runner miles driven (90 days): 2965.03

After Leaf average/month Toyota 4Runner miles driven: 988.34

After Leaf average miles driven/week: 247.08 (988.34/4)

After Leaf average miles driven/day: 32.94 (988.34/30)

After Leaf Toyota fuel used from Sept 1-Nov 30: $546.19 ($546.19/$3.50 per gal = 156.05 gal x 19mpg = 2965.03 miles)

Toyota maintenance costs: $60 oil and filter.

After Leaf Total cost in gas/maint: $606.19 ($546.19 + $60 oil/filter)

After Leaf 90 day Toyota total operational costs: $606.19

After Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $202.06 (606.19/3)

After Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 6.73 (202.06/30)

After Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.20 (6.73/32.94)

Total fuel saved during 90 day period:  $593.81 (1200-606.19)

Fuel savings after power cost: $ 593.81 Fuel – $79.89 Electric Cost= $513.92 saved

Car payment offset: $350.67 x 3 months =  $1052.01 payments – $513.92 savings = $538.09 out of pocket!

We have already saved over $500 in fuel costs in just three months of EV ownership and applied that to our car payment!   After the Leaf is paid off we will be saving even more!

Had we continued driving the Honda CRV and the Toyota 4Runner together we would have burned ~209 gallons of gasoline, spent over $730 in gas and belched out ~3971 lbs of CO2* and other toxic gasses into our shared atmosphere!  (4389 miles driven / 21 mpg av. of both cars  = 209 gallons of gas x $3.50/gal. = a total of $731.50 just for gasoline costs for three months!

*1 gallon of gasoline burned emits 19 lbs of CO2 source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm

By buying the Leaf we have saved money, reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating almost 952.95 lbs** of CO2 from being eliminated into the atmosphere and gained a maintenance free car that is fun to drive and seems to be very well thought out and well constructed.

**(156.05 gal x 19 lbs CO2/gal = 2964.95 lbs CO2 – 2012 lbs CO2***= 952.95 lbs CO2 saved) ***Based on the Carwings telemetric data collected by the Leaf’s on-board efficiency monitoring system that compares the size of the Leaf to a comparable sized ICE cars tailpipe emissions.

Wow! All great reasons to love the Nissan Leaf EV!

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(Photo taken at the BrightfieldTS solar charging station at UNCA Asheville)

More good points about the Leaf!

Handling: We love the way the Leaf drives!  It is quiet, smooth and very responsive on and off the pavement–it is really surprising how well it drives on gravel roads.

Heated seats and steering wheel:  I love these features about the Leaf–I hardly ever turn on the heater!

Climate control timer: a truly wonderful feature that pre-heats/cools the car while plugged in to pains power before leaving for work in the morning.

Stereo system: Great stereo sound that you can truly hear because the car is soooo quiet!

Backup camera: what an amazing feature–I use it every time I put the car in reverse.  The 2014 Leaf LE has a 360 degree camera that shows everything around the vehicle–a great safety feature for sure!

Regenerative braking: This system allows the car’s electric motor to act as a generator when the car is braking or coasting with the power generated feeding back into the battery for extended range–amazing!

Over the last three months I have regenerated a total of 6979.4 Watt Hours! (according to the Carwings monitoring system)

At first that sounds like a stupendous amount of free power however, Watt Hours are not Kilowatt hours.  Once we see that one watt hour = 1000 KWh we discover that although the Leaf did generate 6979.4 WH that then converts to 7 KWh of electricity for a whopping savings of $0.63.  When we then take .63 and divide that by the Leaf’s cost/mile to operate of $~0.3/mile we find that the Leaf gave back ~21 miles of gravity assisted free Leaf produced power.  Although at first that does not seem like much, it is $0.63 and 21 miles more than the Toyota (or any ICE vehicle) has ever or will ever give back in its entire lifespan.  If this trend continues then I estimate that at the end of one year the Leaf will generate ~84 miles free range and ~$2.52 in electricity savings and that is good news for sure!  EV’s give something back–internal combustion vehicles engine (ICE) vehicles only take giving nothing back but a very expensive ride, loads of waste heat, leaking fluids and toxic life poisoning emissions.

On one particular wildlife conservation field excursion (I work with reptile conservation) I had to drive uphill all the way to my destination near the top of a forest covered mountain to radio track two wild Timber rattlesnakes.  Upon arrival at the site I had only around 41 miles of range remaining on the GOM. After I completed my work several hours later and set out for home I decided to take several miles of steep, downhill, winding, dirt forest roads–which included a shallow creek crossing–to get to the mostly level highway at the bottom of the mountain.  When I arrived at the highway I noted that I had regenerated ~23 miles of range and then later, when I pulled into my driveway I was astonished to have 41 miles of range remaining–the same amount as when I started on top of the mountain! The Leaf’s regenerative braking system had provided power for almost 2/3 of the entire trip home–amazing!

Watch the video of the excursion below!

And check out another fun Leaf video I produced on my 2013 National Plug In Day adventure in Asheville, North Carolina.

Leaf Improvements? 

I can think of a few for Nissan to contemplate:

Audio system: While the stock stereo system and new Bose sound system sounds amazing I still believe that the audio operating system could use an upgrade (this may have been updated in the 2014).  In my opinion the search and filing system for the USB feature is not very well designed and could use some attention.  The connectivity between the audio system and Bluetooth devices also needs work.  The system has trouble when connecting to my Droid so I have since stopped using the Droid and use only the USB with a flash drive.

Carwings: an interesting and informative system but it could be more accurate.

Navigation system: overall well done but it does need some updating as well.

(I have not seen the 2014 model year Leaf–hopefully the last three points have been updated for the better.)

Charging system: I believe that the Leaf would benefit from an optional rooftop solar panel covering the entire roof of the vehicle and possibly even the hood as in my badly Photo-shopped concept idea below.

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With the current advances in lightweight, flexible, high output solar technology and even solar paints,  this would be a great addition especially on vehicles used in sunny areas. Imagine the loads of free power you could generate with this feature while your Leaf just sat in the sun drenched parking space all day while you were at work.  Obviously it would not charge the Leaf’s battery to full capacity but it could only help just as the regenerative braking system does and both systems working together would be able to supply the vehicle with even more clean, green, free energy!  In cars equipped with the rooftop solar option Nissan could also add USB charging/AC power ports inside the vehicle so that a person could charge their USB powered phones, tablets, cameras and other devices while the car was charging on solar power. I believe this should be an optional feature because some people would not be interested in it aesthetically–but others like myself would jump on it in a heartbeat.  Also, for Leaf owners who park in garages or under trees or live in areas where it rains a lot or is often overcast  this feature would not be of much use.

More adjustable driver’s seat: as mentioned before it would be nice if the driver’s seat had a lumbar adjustment and the head rest could be adjusted fore and aft for more comfort.

Battery pack: obviously the battery of the Leaf needs improvement–the day the range of EVs pass the 300 mile mark they will be in everyone’s garage.  This is the single most limiting factor of this otherwise wonderful vehicle.

Conclusions: even with the limited range and other little issues we still love our Nissan Leaf–it is a truly amazing car and we do not regret our EV decision in any way.  We are loving our pioneering decision and look forward to many years of EV adventure and savings!

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(Photo taken on day one on the Barr Nissan lot in Columbia, TN)

Notes

Public charging stations we have used.

BrightfieldTS (1.50/hr and free) Asheville, NC

Chargepoint (1.50/hr) Asheville, NC

Blink (DC fast chargers $5.00/charge) Tennessee

 Eaton (free) Asheville and Hendersonville, NC

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Sharing a free charge along side a Chevy Volt.

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Great New Leaf TV Commercial

A great new Leaf commercial from South Africa! 

And then there is the classic Lance Armstrong Leaf commercial.

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Charging Moments in a Leaf

Over the past few days I have found myself in some interesting locations that only photographs can accurately describe.

I call the first one 1.21 Gigawatts–if you know your movies you will get the reference.

1.21gwYes, that is a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

Another angle

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The back of the DeLorean

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While this DeLorean was not powered by plutonium and/or a Mr. Fusion reactor running through a flux capacitor (as evidenced by the two exhaust pipes) it was nice to see this beautiful piece of iconic automotive history sitting next to my fully electric Leaf.  Now if only someone (hint: Elon Musk) would develop an working “Mr. Fusion” reactor I would be the first to try it out on my Leaf:-)

I also found myself at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) where I snapped this photo of the Leaf and a really big tracking antenna.

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 This tracking antenna was used during the early days of manned space travel to track the Apollo era astronauts in orbit–an amazing piece of space history for sure!

Wildlife Conservation in a Nissan Leaf

A few days ago I drove my Nissan Leaf deep into the forest on a one lane dirt road in search of Zoe–Zoe is an adult Timber Rattlesnake!  I am following Zoe’s movements in order to learn more about the natural movements of a wild Timber rattlesnake in it’s natural habitat.  I bring my experiences and knowledge to the world via my Youtube chanel, nature blog and facebook page.  

This is probably the first time a Nissan Leaf has been used as a Timber rattlesnake tracking vehicle and possibly the first time a Leaf has been used in wildlife conservation.  

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After driving to the top of a steep mountain, parking at the end of a gravel road on a foggy, darkening mountainside I located Zoe and collected the vital biometric data and got ready to head home.  I noticed that my GOM said that I had ~41 miles of range remaining so I decided to take a remote, steep, one lane gravel road through the deep forest in order to benefit from the most regenerative braking and gravity assist (downhill) as possible to extend my range.  The only issue was a creek crossing–yes, a creek crossing.  It was a small creek but it must be crossed in order to make it back to the pavement.  Like any true pioneer I turned off the safety of the pavement and into the dark forest I plunged with LED headlights cutting  laser-like paths in the foggy blackness of the night.  Down and down the narrow, steep road wound until I came to the creek.  Would I tear out the bottom panels of the leaf on the rocks in the creek?  Would the leaf flounder and get stuck? Would it short out?  Like electrons through a wire all these questions and more went through my mind at warp speed…but I could not go back or turn around because the road was to narrow to do so…I was committed so I plunged into the creek…slowly…and the Leaf charged across with no apparent ill effects–woo hoo!!  Without so much as a wheel spin or slippage the Leaf negotiated the creek and the entire journey with no problems at all. While it may not be a 4×4 it is a very sure footed and capable car for steep, mountainous, gravel roads…and yes, even shallow creek crossings.

I must say that the car performed admirably while quietly climbing steep, wet mountain gravel roads without issue.  When I reached the bottom of the trek I realized that I had regenerated over 23 miles of range just by rolling downhill–amazing! Free power means more range, less money out of my pocket and less power I have to suck from the outlet and therefore a cleaner, greener ride!

When I arrived at home I glanced at the GOM and noticed that it was sitting on 41 miles range–the same range I had when I was at the top of the mountain at the start of the trek–truly amazing–the 12 mile drive home was powered by the car for free!

Watch the video of the adventure below!

The Leaf is an amazing vehicle!

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A few days after my snake tracking adventure I found myself in the city charging my Leaf alongside a Chevy Volt.

Premium parking + Free power = Bliss.

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Snake Tracks is a Timber Rattlesnake conservation and research project occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers, glimpse into the lives of two wild Timber rattlesnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog at: www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

We are not paid to operate ENP or to conduct wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers www.steepcanyon.com used with permission.

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National Plug In Day Asheville, NC A Charging Adventure

On September 29, 2013 I made a trip to Asheville, North Carolina on business.  The day also happened to be National Plug In Day and since I drive a Nissan Leaf EV I decided to visit a few of the charging options in the Asheville area.

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The first station I visited was the BrightfieldTS/Chargepoint solar charging canopy off of South Charlotte Street at the Asheville Public Works parking lot. It was easy to use but while I was there I had several non-EV drivers park in the EV only spaces–how rude.  Lucky for me I was able to get a slot and fully charge up the Leaf with no issues at all.

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The second station that I attempted to visit ended in charging failure–however, it was not the fault of the charger.  I had planned to visit the charging station on Aston Street at the Buncombe County DSS parking lot.  Upon arrival I was greeted with an empty lot with cables across the entryway and two unused charging stations sitting idle in the distance.  It seems that the parking lot is closed on the weekend so I was unable to access the chargers–what a bummer.  It seems like a waste to put two perfectly good charging station in a place where nobody can access them on the weekend when people are out and about wanting to spend money in town.  But trying to figure out why government does what it does is a losing battle so I drove on.

The third charging station I visited was the Chargepoint station at 81 Coxe Avenue.  This is a nicely located station if you are fond of one of Asheville’s claims to fame–local micro-brewed beer.  The charger worked flawlessly and while you wait for your charge you can take a few steps north to Asheville Brewing company–famous for its varied beers and wonderful pizza.  Or, only a few steps west of the station is Ben’s Tune Up Shop–a wonderful new restaurant and pub with great atmosphere and food–don’t miss it!

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The last station I visited was the BrightfieldTS charger on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville at the Reuters Center.  This station is also Solar powered and worked flawlessly.

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On the way to the last charging station I followed one of Asheville’s newest attractions–the Amazing Pubcycle–a pedal powered bar! What a cool concept, check it out in my video below and at www.amazingpubcycle.com

My Plug In Day adventure was a great success, I only wish I had seen more EV’s on the road–I saw not a one. Maybe next year I will organize a Plug In Day event in the WNC area, anyone want to join me?

Watch a video of my adventure below.

This is a map of the charging stations that are currently available and operational (but not always accessible as I found out) in the downtown Asheville, NC area.  Get yourself to Asheville and plug it in! Click the map for a larger view and more information.

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