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.