I took a Tesla Model S 90D road trip to New Jersey recently from North Carolina. As you can probably tell, I enjoy talking about it. I used Autopilot about 90% of the time. It worked well on Interstate, but can’t be trusted in construction zones, on secondary roads or anywhere there are not clearly visible lane markings on both sides of the road. Just like traditional cruise control, there is a time and place to use it — or not.
Charging was not an issue. I just stopped at the Tesla Superchargers that were indicated by the on-board computer (two stops/day, four stops for the entire 750 mile trip to NJ). There were more superchargers along the way than needed so I even passed up a few. The biggest change was to my stomach. After a free breakfast one morning at my hotel, the car needed a 40 minute charge about an hour later. So I had another light breakfast while waiting. Next trip I can eliminate double eating by staying at a hotel with a “destination charger” so the car starts the day with a full charge or at a hotel that doesn’t offer free breakfast!
While at my son’s home, we converted an unused 30A/240V dryer outlet to the outlet used by Tesla (identical to outlets installed for electric ranges). I used it to charge the Model S as a test even though there is a supercharger only 10 miles away. I set the Tesla to charge at 24 amps which is 80% of the 30 amp breaker on the circuit as recommended by the National Electrical Code.
The car is fun to drive. I gave my daughter-in-law, Sibel, and grand daughter, Isobel, their first ride in an electric car. When I “stepped on it”, Sibel let out a short scream and 5-year old Isobel said “do it again, grandpa!”
The only strange car behavior was that the computer locked up once while driving. The car continued to drive normally, but I was without navigation and radio for a couple of minutes so I could have missed a turn if there had been one. The computer automatically rebooted itself and returned to normal. I plan to ask Tesla about that. Perhaps car computers need rebooting occasionally just like desktops. I also thought the A/C was a little weak compared to my old Acura, but that might just be a learning curve on the way I use the controls. Outside temperature was 90+ most of the time I was driving.
All in all, I really enjoy the car. The more I learn to use the features, the more I like it. I haven’t yet dared try Autopark and Summon. I don’t want to ding up the car prematurely!
Editor: When Bill finally gets around to testing out Autopark and Summon I hope he decides to write about it and post it here :-
The biggest adjustment for me has been the the feel of the regenerative braking and the accelerator pedal. It feels a little like driving a golf cart. When you let up on the pedal, the car starts braking immediately, so you only have to use the brake to fully stop the car after it has already slowed to a crawl. After 3000 miles, it is finally beginning to feel “normal”. I suspect next time I rent a gas car, that car will feel strange.
The below photo of my Model S was taken at an SAE J1772 charger normally used by Leafs and Volts but which can also be used to charge a Tesla with a supplied adapter. It charges more slowly than a supercharger, but is a good backup if I ever need it. I was trying it out to make sure I knew how to use it.
Editor: Just last night I had the privilege to meet with Bill and several other members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at a planning meeting for the upcoming National Drive Electric Week EV car show we will be hosting in Asheville, NC. (Read more about it and sign up here). At this meeting we all parked our EV’s around the recently installed BrightfieldTS solar EV charging station at Earthfare in south Asheville for some truly electrifying photos – take a look at this one with Bill’s Tesla front and center below!
Thank you Bill for your exciting story of Tesla ownership! I hope to join you one day with a Model 3 🙂
Ads that fall below this line are not supported or endorsed by Bluewater Leaf or the owner of this blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts
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.
The defective components
The shiny new components
The surgery is complete!
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!)
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.
In July of 2015 I documented a full weekend of travels in my 2012 Nissan Leaf.
I did this to show anyone and everyone interested in the Nissan Leaf, or in driving electric, just how I use this remarkable plug-in electric vehicle on a daily basis.
What you will see in the video is a typical summer weekend for me driving my Nissan Leaf EV.
All video footage was recorded by myself and friend Pierce Curren as we traveled between Brevard and Asheville North Carolina over July 4th weekend 2015.
Lengthy travel segments have been compressed using time-lapse techniques.
Please visit Pierce’s Scaly Adventures and learn more about Pierce and his families mission to educate the world about the truth of wildlife, animals and the people that are working to conserve, protect and understand them via his true reality TV show Pierce’s Scaly Adventures.
It is a known fact among EV owners that their cars use regenerative breaking systems to help charge the car’s battery and extend its range. Regenerative breaking is defined as:
“In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.” Source Greg Solberg, Firmware Engineer Tesla Motors. Read more of Greg’s great article on regen here.
“Vehicles driven by electric motors use the motor as a generator when using regenerative braking: it is operated as a generator during braking and its output is supplied to an electrical load; the transfer of energy to the load provides the braking effect. Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.” Source Wikipedia
Regenerative Breaking mechanisms have been used for over a century, have a very fascinating history, have many very interesting applications including early experimentation with the Amitron and Voltswagon concept cars by AMC. Regenerative systems developed by are now used on the worlds best selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and all other EV’s and hybrids on the roads today.
An interesting video on how the Nissan Leaf’s power/regen system works:
I have owned my 2012 Nissan Leaf now for 13 months and have been keeping detailed daily notes on SOC, distance driven, temperature and other data points of interest. Recently I started taking notes on the regeneration that my car produces during my daily commute. Specifically a the 3.4 mile section of my commute that is almost all downhill (see a graphic representation of the route below).
Recently I began to wonder just how far per day this 3.4 mile descent with 845 feet of elevation loss would take me on braking and gravity produced free fuel. In the hopes of answering that question with some degree of accuracy I developed an experiment with the procedure listed below.
Every day I used in the experiment I drove as I do on a normal day; in ECO mode and with all possible environmental variables such as road conditions, traffic conditions, different routes*, elevation loss or gain, temperature, humidity, wind resistance, tire resistance, speed, accessories used, and others variables in order to keep it as real world as possible. *I do not drive the same route every day due to errands I often to run after work.
UPDATE 1/25/15; Speaking of environmental variables effecting regeneration, on one recent occasion I had to drive the 3.4 miles section of route immediately after a motor-grader had scraped the road. The road surface was the consistency of something like thick beach sand mixed with damp oatmeal. The car bogged down a bit but powered through it but the regenerative breaking system was practically useless since I had to keep gently accelerating in order to keep moving forward. At the bottom of the 3.4 mile route I had regenerated only 1 mile of range. I am sure this will lower my overall average just a bit once I recalculate the numbers at some point this spring but science can be a harsh mistress.
The data (so far)
Regenerated potential range at the end of the route for seven days during November 2014
16.0, 14.0, 11.0,13.0, 7.0,14.0,15.0
= 90/7 = 12.85 average miles of potential range regenerated per day.
However, as we EV drivers know, this potential driving range is not an accurate representation of real world driving range due to the variables mentioned previously. In the attempt to deduce just how far in reality the car would go on the regenerated power from the 3.4 mile daily descent, I needed to calculate the distance the car would travel before reaching the pre-route SOC on the GOM (my Leaf is a 2012 so it does not show battery state of charge as a percent–it is a calculated guess by the on-board computer of mileage remaining based on vehicle system health, environmental conditions and driving style.)
I first recorded the SOC from the GOM at the top of the route, drove the 3.4 mile route, stopped at the bottom and recorded the number of regenerated miles, reset the trip odometer to 0 and drove until I had reached the first recorded SOC from the top of the route.
The resulting number is the real world miles driven on Leaf regenerated free fuel. The 7 day adjusted test results are listed below:
16.5, 9.0, 13.1, 7.5, 8.0, 8.7, 9.3
= 72.1/7 = 10.3* average miles of potential range regenerated per day!
*I continue to keep a daily record of regeneration on this route, so this number will change as I average in those numbers. In the spring of 2015, I will post an update to this story with the updated findings.
Based on the data for the short time period in question, the results seem to indicate that during this 3.4 mile descent my car generates an average of 10.5 miles of potential real world range per work day when driving this route. This data also suggests that the Leaf often powers itself home for free since the route is only 9.3 miles in length from the bottom of the descent to my home. I have documented this fact many times when upon reaching home the SOC is at or above the starting SOC when I left work.
This ads up to a substantial amount of Leaf produced free fuel, but how much in a year is possible?
10.3 miles per day!
10.3 x 5=51.5 miles per week.
51.5 x 4 = 206 miles per month.
206 x 12 = 2472 miles of Leaf generated free electric fuel per year.
If these numbers are accurate, then my car, simply by rolling downhill on the same 3.4 mile route described above, for 5 days each week, regenerates enough power in a year to power itself for the equivalent of two months worth of driving*, all freely powered by the Nissan Leaf! *I drive an average of 300 miles per week (300 x 8 = 2400)
I use a Kill A Watt meter to keep track of my Leaf’s power consumption.
How much has this potentially saved me in power costs for the Leaf?
Driving my leaf costs an average of .03 per mile so .03 x 2472 = 74.16
$74.16 potentially saved each year just driving home from work every day!
And this is only for this one route. I drive several other routes where I pull a good amount of regeneration from long descents so I wonder how much am I saving in power costs from those routes?
In a rough comparison, if I had to drive my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the same distance that my Leaf has driven on freely produced regenerative power, it would have taken me around 8 tanks of gas and cost me around $360.00 in gas at current fuel prices of $2.84/gal! (2472 miles at 2.84 (per gallon) x 16 gallons = $45.44 x 8 (tanks) = $363.52)
Let’s just think about this fact – is there a consumer available, stock built, gasoline or diesel powered vehicle anywhere that will produce it’s own fuel. No. The facts are in: petroleum powered vehicles only take hard earned money from the owner, give nothing back but a ride, require lots of expensive fuel and maintenance, are often noisy, contribute to a polluted environment, enable the continued destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems through oil drilling/strip mining and pipeline construction in fragile environments, are not energy secure, and even fund terrorism. EV’s give so much back, have very low maintenance costs, are quiet and fun to drive, can be fueled on domestically generated energy and renewable energy generated at home or work and are therefore energy secure, do not fund terrorism, and produce a portion of their own fuel…for free! It is no wonder that some automakers, fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, and certain oil soaked politicians, are afraid of EV’s and will stop at nothing to ruin their image with negative ad campaigns and tactics.
The simple reality is this; while the currently available electric vehicles do have some range limitations, they are far better in so many ways than petroleum powered vehicles. Given time, advancements in battery technology, expanded charging infrastructure, and the support from the people and our purchasing power, the EV will one day dominate the roads. Once a person drives an EV and experiences the joy of driving electric, freedom from the gas pump and from years of costly maintenance, more money in their pocket, the resulting cleaner air and environment that comes from driving EV, and with the ever growing option of powering their EV from home generated renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro-hydro–they will see that driving electric is the better choice and will hopefully trade in or recycle their old gas guzzler in favor of the future of transportation, the EV.
Once on the site just fill out some information and click the “Contact” button to give the organizers your request.
During the weeks leading up to the main event, there will be other local learning opportunities:
Wednesday Aug 20, 6-7:30pm, Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Thursday Aug 28, 6-7:30pm, Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Saturday Aug 30, 8am-12 pm, Transylvania farmers Market – Farm Fair in Brevard, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Saturday, Sept 13, 8 – 1 pm, North Asheville Tailgate Market, UNC-Asheville Campus. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Wednesday, Sept 17, 2:30-6:30 pm, Weaverville Tailgate Market, Weaverville, NC Community Center overlooking Lake Louise. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Wednesday, Sept 17, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659
Thursday, Sept 18, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Revenge of the Electric Car followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659
Friday, Sept 19, am, Workplace Charging Workshop at Asheville Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center. Businesses learning about providing charging at their sites (Register for this workshop by contacting Bill Eaker, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saturday, Sept 20, 10 am-6 pm, Weaverville Arts ‘N Autumn Festival, 30 S. Main Street, Weaverville, NC outside of the Town Hall. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
Saturday, Sept 20, 8 am-1 pm, Asheville City Market at the Asheville Public Works Parking Lot, 161 S. Charlotte St, Asheville, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.
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.
Do 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.
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 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!!!
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.
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.
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
The below electricity usage histogram is from the Carwings telemetric monitoring system. Units on Y axis are KWh.
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 ONEMONTH ($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
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
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
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
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 ) =
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.
DRIVING 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!
Sharing 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!
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…
Wow! All great reasons to love the Nissan Leaf EV be ye a scurvy EV driving pirate or a regular person!
EV Note: How did we calculate our Leaf’s energy costs?
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.
Well done Nissan and Carlos Ghosn–the visionary behind the Leaf!
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Again at the Anderson Nissan dealership in Asheville, NC.
Alongside a Chevy Volt while at the movies.
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 🙂
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.
A local equestrian center.
The outlet is free standing beside the pasture…
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.
At another location at Hampton Inn.
Maybe a solar powered house and car…
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…
Furthermore, the electricity grid continues to get cleaner as new wind, solar farms and solar EV charging stations are going online daily…
…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) :
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.
The following articles and commentary’s stand up for EV’s as we do.
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.
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.
(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
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!
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!
(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.
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.
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!
(Photo taken on day one on the Barr Nissan lot in Columbia, TN)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Blue Water Leaf does not support and is not responsible for ads that may appear below this line.
We have had our Leaf for two weeks as of today and the odometer just rolled over the 2000 mile mark. Do we still like it?
No, we LOVE it!
We have driven over 500 miles gas free and emissions free and that is a wonderful feeling!
We have charged at home, at work, at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station, at a friends house and the Leaf continues to get us where we need to go and preform flawlessly.
As far as range, it really has not been a concern. I tend to average between 45 and 70 miles per day and on the lower mileage days I only need to charge it when I return home from work in the evening, plug it in and it is ready to go again the next morning. On the longer days I will start with a full charge, drive the 15 miles to work-that are mostly uphill, plug in to top off the battery, then drive the remaining miles–also uphill. The downside is that all the uphill miles really drain the battery. The good news is that on the return trip home I regen and therefore reclaim a good portion of the energy I lost when climbing the mountains.
As an example of this, yesterday I went to work with a full charge. The GOM said that I had 75/84 mile range (75 in D/84 in ECO). I drove as I would an ICE vehicle–headlights on due to the fog, stereo on and fan on low. Upon arrival at work the GOM said that I had 45 miles of range remaining–about average for my daily morning commute. I decided to plug in the Leaf at work and top it off on the chance that I may make an extended journey after work. After work I departed deciding not to make the extended journey and just go straight home. I had received a full charge over the course of the day and had a range of 73/81 as I set out down the mountain for home. As I made my way down the mountain–a rather steep, 3 mile gravel road in a remote forest–I watched as the Leaf regenerated loads of energy into the what I thought was a full battery. By the bottom of the mountain the GOM said that I had 91 miles of range! WOW! Then I made my way home driving normally. I am in no way a hypermiler and I drove most of the way in Drive only shifting into ECO when going down the three mile gravel stretch and two short inclines on the way home. Upon arriving at the bottom of my driveway–a very steep hill of about 1/8 mile in length–I shifted into D and up I went to the top. Upon arrival at my house the GOM stated that I had a 74/82 mile range! I had one more mile of range than when I left work with a full charge! How did I just drive all that way and not loose range? The simple answer is regenerative braking+lots of downhill=free clean power for the Leaf produced by gravity, inertia and the Leaf! So very cool! How many of you ICE drivers can say that about your petroleum consuming, carbon belching dinosaurs? I strongly suspect that the answer is none. ICE vehicles give absolutely nothing back in return–they only consume. That is how they are designed and that is how they operate. A well designed EV is a balancing act between give and take. The operative word here being give–a word never before associated with the automobile.
I am discovering that in a mountainous area, if driven carefully and with planning and forethought, an EV can reduce your electric costs if driven and charged in a way that maximizes the regenerative capabilities of the vehicle.
If a mountain EV owner has the ability to plan where and when to charge their EV so that they are able to take full advantage of regenerative braking then they can take full advantage of the vehicle’s technological capabilities and further lower their energy use by letting the car charge itself as much as possible!
On top of that if an EV owner has the ability to install or use a solar, wind or hydro charging station at their home or office then they could further unplug from the coal fired grid and become cleaner and greener for it.
Over the last weekend I had to be in nearby Asheville, NC for a show–I present wildlife awareness and conservation shows at events, seminars, schools, camps, birthday parties and so on. I decided to drive the Leaf the 25 miles to Asheville and plug it in at one of the BrightfieldTS solar charging stations in the downtown area to let it charge while I was presenting. I arrived at the charging station at about 9:15 to plug in.
The only problem was that I had not received my Chargepoint access card in the mail yet so I had to call Chargepoint to have them activate the charger. I called and was put on hold for about 30 minuets! My program was at 10 am and it was about 1.5 mile walk to the location of the program–time was ticking away and I was starting to sweat! While I was on hold it was interesting to watch people in ICE cars drive up to the station, pull in to park, pause for a moment to read the EV parking only sign then back out in disgust because these four parking spots were reserved for EV’s. I felt quite privileged actually and I believe rightly so because I have taken the plunge into the future of transportation in this country and that should be acknowledged by at least a parking spot reserved for me to charge my EV with free power from the sun! More ICE drivers came and went and one Subaru owner just thumbed his nose at the sign and ICED the right hand slot then a Toyota Prius driver pulled in his non-PHEV, and while I watched he parked and walked away as if to say “I can park there because I have a hybrid.”
Sorry buddy, this slot is for EV’s only–hopefully they received a ticket for their blatant disregard for EV drivers. Later in the day I saw a parking services employee and I asked her what they do when they find an ICE car in an EV slot. She replied “we give them a $25 education–a ticket.” I smiled and told her where she could find two cars parked in an EV only station. She thanked me and hurried off–hopefully to go ticket them before they escaped in their carbon belching cars.
While I continued to wait I wondered what the orange safety cone was for in the slot to my left but I just figured it was possibly a broken charger. Finally the Chargepoint rep picked up the phone–he sounded like he had just awoke after an all nighter–he asked me a few questions for proof of my ID and then turned on the charger and I was charging–WOO HOO!! I plugged in my car and trotted off to the other side of town to present my program. During the program I received a text from the charging station that my car was charged and I may want to unplug my car–very cool! After the program I walked across town back to my car only to find a city police Chevy Volt charging next to my Leaf–nice!
It is really cool to see the Asheville city government using the Volt and charging at a Solar charging station–thank you Asheville! Now I know what the safety cone was for–saving the space for the Police Volt…hmmmm. Notice the older pick up ICEing the far right hand slot above–how rude! I was tempted to go find the officer but I had to get on the road.
I unplugged my Leaf and looked at the charger to see what the charge for the charge was–less than $5.00! My car was fully charged with truly green electricity made from the sun via the PV solar panels on the roof of the charging canopy–NICE!
Now if only everyone who commuted less than 75 miles per day would switch out just one of their cars to a plug in EV, put solar panels on their roof and/or plug in at solar charging stations–what a difference that would make in the world. The air and the Earth would be cleaner, we would be healthier, we would not have to rely on as much dirty foreign or domestic oil, there would be more jobs created to build and maintain EV cars and the EV infrastructure and on and on…
The beauty of the BrightfieldTS charging canopy is that excess power from the solar panels is fed to the grid for everyone to use which simply means more power from locally harvested sun and less from coal!
The future is now and it runs on the sun! It is time we all accept and embrace that fact. The internal combustion engine is the past–it is time to go EV!
Thank you BrightfieldTS for installing and maintaining your wonderful grid-tied solar charging stations–you are true visionaries!