Way back in January 2014 I picked up a Silver Nissan Leaf (2013 model) assembled at Nissan's Smryna, TN plant. Due to concerns over how I would like a Leaf, or any electric car for that matter, I went with a two year lease. At the time I was convinced that within 2-3 years there would be a lot more EV choices available in Tennessee and the rest of the country.
Boy was I wrong on how long it would take auto manufacturers to start releasing compelling all electric vehicles all over the United States. Heck, even Nissan took what seemed like a long time to increase the size of their battery packs.
Fast forward to August 2018, and I still have the 2013 Silver Leaf I had originally leased for two years, thanks largely to deals that Nissan offered me to extend my lease twice. I have about six months left on my lease and will be returning at the end of the lease. So I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on the Leaf, now that I have driven one for about 54 months.
Things I really like/love about my Leaf:
- The fact it doesn't use gas!
- The instant torque! I still get a thrill when punching the accelerator.
- How quiet it is. I disabled the startup sound and freaks my first-time passengers out when I start driving and they didn't know the car had been started.
- Nimbleness - it is easy to move it in and out of traffic both in town and on the interstate.
- Heated Steering wheel and seats.
- Storage space - it can hold more than your eyes think it can.
Things I think could be better in my 2013 Leaf SL:
- Active Thermal Management for the Battery Pack. Sadly, th e 2010 thru the 2017 model Leaf's use of only air intake to cool the battery pack has to lead to high battery degradation.
- Interior issues - some portions feel cheap, and several places do not fit well.
- Seats - fine for short commutes, but not so great for longer drives.
- Lacks support for playing audio from Android devices over the USB port. But you can use Bluetooth, if equipped.
- NissanConnect service - I could write a whole blog post on issues related to this. It had such promise, but has been a big let down.
- Cup holders could be in a better place. And are in a better place in the 2018 model refresh.
Overall, I have been pleased with my decision to lease the Nissan Leaf. I still enjoy driving the Leaf and enjoy how smooth it rides. I feel a little let down every time I have to drive a combustion engine car these days. I have had some battery degradation, and now can only get about 65 miles on a full charge. Quite frankly, the Tennessee heat is just too much for air-intake only to cool the battery pack. Nissan Leafs have suffered much heavier degradation than their competitors that use active thermal management. I believe that Nissan is going to have to up its game here in order to remain competitive, otherwise it may lead to mostly one-time only owners.
In my opinion, the 2010-2018 model Nissan Leaf's are great commuter vehicles if your round trip is less than say 60 miles or you have access to a EV charging station at work. Since many first time EV owners leased their vehicles, you can routinely pick up a used one for around $16k with all the bells and whistles. A slightly used Leaf may be a better deal than a brand new one, even with the federal tax rebate.
Until next time... Cheers!