The Nissan eNV200 electric Van…where and when is it for the USA market?

It is not as sexy as a Tesla.

It is not as everyday as a Nissan Leaf.

It is not as futuristic as a BMW i3.

It is not as unique as a Chevy Volt.

It is not as radical as a BMW i8.

What is it?

It is the Nissan e-NV200 all electric compact cargo van!

 eNV200

Above photo from: http://insideevs.com/nissan-e-nv200-sale-japan-october/

It is a small cargo-utility van based on the successful Nissan NV200 fossil fuel powered cargo van but it is powered by the motor and drive train of the all electric Nissan Leaf!

nissan-env200-ev-05-1

Above photo from: http://latestheadlinenews.org/2013/11/22/nissan-e-nv200-ev-tokyo-2013/

The eNV200 is a wonderful and incredibly practical cargo vehicle that will benefit so many large and small businesses, taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers, shuttle and delivery companies, nonprofits, schools, churches and other organizations as well as families that need to tote around several people, cargo, and animals, on a daily basis.  Its beauty is not only found in its practicality and simplicity, but also the very low cost of operation due to its all electric drive train that has been proven by the astounding success of the Nissan Leaf.

interior

Above photo from: http://www.nissanusa.com/content/dam/nissan/future-and-concept-vehicles/e-nv200/gallery/6_large.jpg

nissan-e-nv20--evalia -340011

Above photo from: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/nissan/e-nv200/first-drives/nissan-e-nv200-combi-first-drive-review

Nissan-LEAF-e-NV200avis

Above photo from: https://chargedevs.com/newswire/avis-denmark-orders-401-nissan-e-nv200-vans-and-60-more-leafs/

Unfortunately, this wonderful, small, electric utility van is not offered in the USA…yet.

Since it’s debut in early 2014 I have been patiently waiting for a revelation form Nissan about when the e-NV200 all electric small utility van will be released in the USA.

I have thoroughly searched the internet and found several great articles, reviews and open-ended, non committal commentary such as these.

http://www.env200.com/

http://www.nissanusa.com/future-and-concept-vehicles/e-nv200

http://www.autonews.com/article/20140609/OEM05/140609830/nissan-e-nv200-van-debuts-in-japan-but-is-it-a-good-fit-for-n.a?

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092763_nissan-e-nv200-electric-van-battery-adds-thermal-conditioning

https://chargedevs.com/newswire/avis-denmark-orders-401-nissan-e-nv200-vans-and-60-more-leafs/

http://2016nissancars.com/nissan-e-nv200-usa/

http://www.caranddriver.com/news/nissan-e-nv200-electric-van-photos-and-info-news

https://transportevolved.com/2015/03/03/nissan-officially-launches-7-seat-evalia-variant-of-e-nv200-electric-minivan-in-europe/

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/12/07/nissans-e-nv200-now-available-japan-us-release-delayed/

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092704_driving-nissan-e-nv200-all-electric-small-commercial-van

http://www.autoblog.com/2014/06/13/nissan-expands-us-ev-test-market-for-e-nv200-to-portland/

The debut at the Washington Auto Show:

Or follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk9USADkx5A

2016 Nissan eNV200 review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjMAchflGf0

Or follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjMAchflGf0

A review by Robert Llewellyn of Fully ChargedOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcf-NSkPE_w

 

Another good review of the eNV200

 

More from Fully ChargedOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGFt3i3kLqM

A video review by the Red FerretOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGxN2uShN5c

The Dalbury E: http://insideevs.com/nissan-e-nv200-transformed-worlds-first-electric-camper-van/

Dalbury E videoOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb1JTOrdbKU

As you can see the eNV200 is a very capable vehicle that is loved by many and, as far as I am concerned, its obvious benefits as a small, electric cargo vehicle outweigh any current range limitations. Unfortunately, I assume that from Nissan’s business point of view – this is not a practical outlook and I fully understand that position.

However, if Tesla can make a vehicle with a range close to 351 miles…and Chevy can make a car with a range of 238 miles why is Nissan taking so long to catch up, make a longer range battery, and get the eNV200 on the roads here in the USA?

I have questioned the “authorities” at Nissan in person and online and all I get is vague open-ended comments that lead nowhere and on one occasion a Nissan associate even attempted to re-direct me to another subject…hmmmm…why all the cloak and dagger…?  It is just a van…not an issue of national security.

After all my research and I have finally come to the conclusion that either-

  1. Nissan is working on and/or waiting on battery technology that will offer the longer ranges that many sources have reported will be in the next generation Leaf.  This technology could obviously then be applied to the van and thereby make it much more appealing to the US market where the average person drives a longer distance each day than in Japan, Europe, and the UK where the van has been available for the last year or so.  I would welcome longer range between charges so if this is the case I have no issue waiting.
  2. Nissan is planning to release the van alongside the redesigned Leaf in 2017 -possibly with the same battery options as with the second generation Leaf.
  3. Nissan has the technology in place for a 200+ mile range Leaf and/or van but is waiting to release the car at a later date in order to dispose of the current stock of older technologies.
  4. Nissan is no better than all the other fossil fuel fired car companies and in bed with the oil companies and does not care at all about EV’s – they are only producing the EV’s they now produce as compliance cars in order to offset the toxic effects of their other more polluting offerings such as the over-the-top nasty GT-R over 100k gas guzzling sports car or massive guzzler the Titan XD pickup.
  5. Or…Nissan is not planning on releasing the eNV200 in the USA.

Option one and option two make the most sense from my point of view.

Option three I can understand as well but I do not believe it to be the case as the technology in the Leaf and the van is essentially the same so one would think that Nissan would produce all the EV vans and Leafs it had in stock in order to maximize profits in order to produce the next generation of EV’s/vans with more capable range.

Option four…if this is the case I will have lost loads of faith in Nissan as a forward thinking company in position to rule the EV market.

Option five…well, I truly hope it is not an option.

Nissan Light Commercial Vehicles product planner Evan Fulton stated in this article that “If we had, say, a thousand business owners waiting, we could move very quickly.”  Well, I would be one of those business owners that would put an eNV200 to purposeful, and highly visible daily use should it become available in the USA so that leaves only 999 more businesses and individuals to get on-board with the eNV200 to possibly count for something.  If you are interested in the eNV200 please, PLEASE do contact Nissan or at the very least comment on this blog posting with your interest because Nissan needs to know there is interest so that the eNV200 will become a reality.

UPDATE as of August 2017: Hey Nissan, just look a the comments to this blog.  It looks like people in this country really want the eNV200 so why are you still dragging your feet?  Let’s do this thing!

nissan-env200-concept-dash-guage

Above photo from: http://www.trucktrend.com/cool-trucks/163-1201-nissan-env200-concept-photo-gallery/photo-gallery/#photo-10

I am usually a very patient person but just knowing that there are eNV200’s all over the roads in many other parts of the world, and that real people are enjoying daily use of these remarkable cargo-utility vehicles for purposes very similar to my needs…I just could not take the suspense any longer so a few months ago (years now) I wrote Nissan HQ in Atlanta in the hopes of being considered as a product tester for the eNV200.  Below is the letter for what it’s worth…

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Hello Nissan North America,
I would also like to personally thank Nissan for supporting the WNC area in working to build our EV charging infrastructure with the assistance of the installation of the first DCQC on the campus of Asheville – Buncombe Technical Community College and for bringing the Nissan Leaf EV to the world’s roads.  It is truly a remarkable vehicle that I have been driving to-from work daily since August 2012 and I am excited to see what upgrades and improvements are to come for the Leaf.
I am also very excited to someday see the eNV200 all-electric cargo van hit the roads in the USA.
If at all remotely possible, I would like Nissan to please consider my non-profit wildlife conservation organization, Earthshine Nature Programs, to be included in any future field/beta tests of the eNV200 van.  If Nissan chooses to select my company to test an eNV200 (if this is even possible) I would give it a very thorough beta test in an area that would give it great visibility.
Why do I say this?
1. Earthshine Nature Programs is a small 501c3 and currently, I drive my personal 2012 Nissan Leaf as our only company vehicle.  We are in great need of a dedicated company vehicle and, as we are an environmental/wildlife conservation nonprofit organization whose goals are to teach ways to better live with wildlife, conserve and protect nature, and live more sustainably by using renewable energies such as solar, wind and driving EV’s, to me it makes perfect sense to use a clean EV as our company vehicle and promote Nissan’s clean vehicles and clean charging technologies to everyone we meet.
solarcharging714UNCA
Solar charging at a local BrightfieldTS L2 charging station.
2. We drive our Leaf an average of 15k miles/year and all of these miles are in and around the Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, Upstate South Carolina and North Georgia areas.  We are very visible to the public in our Leaf however, other than a small front license plate, it has no company insignia that denotes who we are.  However, if we are able to one day acquire an eNV200 van we will have it outfitted with our company logos (see photo example) and (if a field test vehicle for Nissan or a vehicle donated by Nissan…) we would gladly apply any and all appropriate logos chosen by Nissan to the vehicle to make it more visible to the general public when we were out and about.  This could only help promote Nissan’s amazing EV technology to everyone we meet.
ENPoutreachvanconcept
The outreach van would be charged primarily via classroom generated solar energy from our our soon to be constructed, student-built and maintained 6 kW solar array! 
3. I would drive the eNV200 in all types or weather and various road conditions as I have been doing with my 2012 Leaf.  I have a ~30 mile round trip daily commute and this route takes me from my home at an elevation of around 2200 feet to around 3000 feet at my office.  This route consists of several miles of high speed driving at 55-60mph, several more miles of “country road” driving at speeds of 35-50mph, then ~6 miles of mountainous driving on curvy, two and single lane paved and gravel roads at speeds of 15-30mph.  I also drive to and from my various wildlife conservation/research study sites at least twice/week and I frequently make many wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and consultation “house calls” all around the WNC area throughout the year.  In all of my travels, on all road surfaces, and weather conditions, the Leaf has preformed above and beyond my initial expectations.  It is truly an exceptional EV.  Should I be able to partner with Nissan and acquire an eNV200 van, I would drive it in the same conditions as the Leaf in order to test it’s capabilities as an environmental outreach education, wildlife conservation and rescue and renewable energy education work vehicle in the cities, towns, and countryside of my service area.
4. I would also display/promote the eNV200 van at any/all National Drive Electric Week events, public car shows, farmers markets, and EV club meets that our local EV club (the Blue Ridge EV Club on Facebook) hosts or attends in the future.  In 2014 I was one of the Asheville “City Captains” for NDEW,  we put on a great show and I produced a video documenting the day, it is available via the YouTube link below. If you skip ahead to 6:28 there is a fun spin around downtown Asheville, NC in my Leaf and a convoy of EV’s that you may also enjoy 🙂
 Or follow this link to the video:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an9C_iILSzg
In conclusion, I believe that if Nissan chooses to offer/loan/donate an eNV200 van to Earthshine Nature Programs as a test vehicle, we will certainly be able to give it a wonderful field test and give it great visibility in the community. Also, as an early adopter and a science-minded person, I love to keep track of usage data.  As I have done with my Leaf, I would keep detailed daily written reports as well as video documentation on all of my experiences with the eNV200 van.  I would then post detailed stories with photos and videos on a blog similar to this one that would be dedicated to the eNV200.   This blog would allow people anywhere in the world to learn from my company’s experiences using an eNV200 van as a company vehicle and it would serve to further promote Nissan’s game changing EV technology to the world.
For more information on our nonprofit please visit our blog at www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com and our website at www.earthshinenature.com 
I hope to hear from you soon.
                                    ——————————————————-
It has been almost two years since I sent that email to Nissan HQ and in return I have received…silence.  Hopefully, this means that they are considering shipping my company a shiny new eNV200 complete with the new longer range battery technology as a Christmas present…or maybe a birthday present next July…
I can dream can’t I… 🙂
From my point of view as a forward thinking nonprofit business owner, science and renewable energy educator, and supporter of the rapid adoption of clean technology and energy innovation, I believe that once the eNV200 is released in the USA it will be a great seller among progressive small businesses all over the country and a great move by Nissan that I will support 100% just as I have done with the Nissan Leaf.
nissanvan
Thank you Nissan for working to create the future of transportation today, now stop wasting time and please bring the eNV200 to North America because many of us are  ready and willing and tired of waiting!
UPDATE 8/23/17: Still no contact from Nissan.  Still no eNV200 van in the USA.  Since I posted this article dozens of like-minded people have commented that they are also very interested in the eNV200 as a Nissan offering in the USA.
I wait in suspense to see if Nissan will surprise us all in September when it releases the redesigned Nissan Leaf with longer range and maybe just maybe along side it, the eNV200 small cargo van with longer range for the US market as well.
We can only hope Nissan has chosen wisely because if they wait much longer, other companies will grab the spotlight and they just might loose their lead…for example, have you seen the upcoming VW I.D. Buzz  or the Bollinger B1 and who knows what Tesla is working on…

NISSAN LEAF REPORT for July 2014

solarcharging714UNCA

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.

crows2

 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.

Leaves7.5.14a

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.

electricconsump10.5

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

energy.distance

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!

sunleaf

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

We use a Kill-a-Watt Meter!

killawatt

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.

1200px-Carlos_Ghosn_Leaf

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.

solarleaf

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.”

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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…

2010 grid mix

 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%.

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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