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Driving the Electric Nissan Leaf (Interview)

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Driving the Electric Nissan Leaf (Interview)

Donn Davy is a green building consultant, who with his wife, just purchased an electric Nissan Leaf. He generously agreed to the following interview.

Q: What are your personal impressions of the Leaf?

My wife and I love the car, and we vie for time to drive it. It feels quiet and peaceful to drive it. We both don’t feel good about driving gas-guzzlers anymore.

Q: What interested you in it initially, and why did you buy it, compared with other fuel-efficient vehicles, such as a Toyota Prius or Chevy Volt?

We planned on getting an electric car years ago. They are best for the environment, and we try to live in an environmentally friendly way. We have solar panels on our house, and we knew we could use them also to power an electric car. (We are nature lovers and amateur botanists.)

Q: Do you do all the battery charging at home, or are you able to find charging stations while traveling?

There are not so many remote charging stations available – normally we plan our driving so we have enough charge so we don’t need to charge other than at home. We have used remote charging at a Point Reyes restaurant, a church in San Francisco, and a college in Oakland using standard outlets.

Q: How long does it take to charge the battery to full when it has been depleted?

It depends, though we have never depleted it fully. Five and a half hours is the longest charge for us, and we charge in the middle of the night. The car actually calculates when to start charging, and we set the charger to turn off at a certain time. For 110 chargers we get about 5 miles of driving time for one hour of charging, and at 220 maybe 3-4 time as many miles for the same charging time. There are fast chargers available up to 80 percent of a full charge in 30 minutes, but they are not widely available, and not open to the public in our area.

Q: Reports put the range at 60-100 miles. What kind of range have you been getting?

Exactly that. If you are driving 70-75 on the freeway you probably will get about 60. The lower end of the range is for the freeway speeds. It has a lot of power and pickup, and will go 90 mph. Driving carefully with a blend of  freeway and city miles, and using the Eco Mode to drive carefully, I have driven 80 miles, with 15 left over on a single charge. After the battery gauge indicates it is empty, there could still be 15-20 miles left. We think with careful driving we might get over 100 miles.

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1:49PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Thank for this info. I'm in the process of deciding which EC to buy!!

8:42AM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

I'm on the waiting list for the LEAF too (as well as planned solar panel installation in my home), too bad the wait list is so long and I wonder why there's no problem with deliveries of other cars - couldn't hurt the economy if they hired additional people to build more.

11:34AM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Monica, it is zero emissions vehicle from the tailpipe. Smog is created from vehicle emissions, not from power plants. Most people don't live right next door to a power plant. If all vehicles in cities were electric, there wouldn't be any smog, or fine particulate matter that causes respiratory illness and contributes to heart disease, and even lung cancer.

1:24AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Noted with great interest, thank you Jake.

11:08PM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

Sorry, but as long as there are coal-fired electric plants, this is NOT zero emissions.

Yes it reduces dependence on foreign oil, but while THIS leaf is mostly solar powered, if we all had one today, the vast majority certainly in my state would be powered from coal or nuclear. Neither of which are especially "green." And there would still be smog from the smokestacks.....

10:31PM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

I am so pleased at your report also, as I want to learn as much as possible about electric cars in general.
Still a bit of homework in the battery charging or longivity, but striving nicely... good to see.

6:19PM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

very cool. thanks!

7:50AM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

Oh when, WHEN will the cute, modern little Nissan Leaf come to South Africa... I WAAAAANT one... but not at $34000 (that comes to R238000, straight conversion, no import tax, rebates, etc. :( That's hefty! Oh, and down here we haven't even started thinking about setting up charging points - haha - we're still fighting off Shell Oil coz they wanna F-up our countryside to find gas... GRRRRR... but I digress. PS: Rebates! you guys get REBATES from (gasp) your government... oh, I wish, our Gov still struggles to give home owners the pathetic rebate on solar panels, so how on earth will they cope with electric cars. It's all very sad and silly...

11:14PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Range increases will be awesome. I do hope that very soon these electric cars can charge quickly and hold their charge for cross-country road trips, too, with charging stations posted at frequent intervals...I think we may be heading off disaster...not in time for too many species now or for a while, yet, but, there is now hope on the horizon.

9:39PM PDT on Jun 11, 2011

Let's just hope that the US sees sense and adopts the same rapid charge ports that the rest of the world will use - there's no excuse to be different just for the sake of being different. And what about stations that just give you a new battery, taking the old one to charge up and then give to someone else? - would make time spent charging a battery a non-issue. And if we could get power companies on board to source energy from renewables instead of pandering to the fossil fuel lobby, this would leave no excuse for anyone to NOT drive an electric car.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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