- 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.
- 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.
In January, 2014, I leased a 2013 Nissan LEAF SL. I had never leased a vehicle before, as by and large I believe that it is generally a better deal to purchase and drive a vehicle for 7-10 years. But I was intrigued by the concept of an all-electric vehicle. While come states such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Georgia had several options for an all-electric vehicle in 2014, sadly Tennessee and most other states had few choices. At the time, I could only test drive a Nissan LEAF. I could have ordered a Tesla Model S, but I did not have a spare $100,000 lying around and there was no such thing as a certified pre-owned at the time. My options were very limited, unless I wanted to go to the hassle of buying in one state and transporting to another.
After looking over the Nissan LEAF and talking to a friend who had leased one seven months earlier, I decided that perhaps I should lease a LEAF as well. I decided on leasing because:
- I was unsure how I would like being limited to a 75-80 mile range.
- I was unsure how I would like driving a smaller car (my previous car was a Honda Accord Hybrid and before that an Isuzu Rodeo).
- I had no idea how long the battery would last.
- I had no idea of how well the cars would retain their value. After all they had barely been on the market 3 years.
- How quickly is the technology changing? I was already reading rumors of a planned larger battery pack, and that Nissan were hard at work on a second-generation LEAF.
I decided that since this was still an early adopter item, perhaps it was best to lease. My original lease term was for two years, but six months before my lease term ended, I was offered a great deal to extend my lease. I could get two months free and keep my same monthly rate, plus I would be given an extra 12,000 miles. My monthly lease payment was about $100 a month, and the idea of driving the vehicle for an extra year for less than $1000 was appealing.
Fast forward three years, and I still believe that leasing of first generation all-electric vehicles is probably the smart thing to do. I will elaborate more on that in a future post. My only real regret with leasing is that I have constantly been on the lookout for what is going to be available in my market when my lease is up.
A Note on my lease: This was my first lease and I did something most people do not do. I traded in my previous vehicle and applied the entire trade-in value (a bit over $6000) towards buying down my monthly lease payment. Either way it would have averaged out to roughly $357 a month. What I didn't know at the time, is that generally you do not want to put a lot of money down on a lease, as if the car is totaled in an accident or stolen, you are out the cash you have already spent on the lease. Now that I know this, I probably would not make a huge payment at signing on a lease.
According to my favorite Electric Vehicle news-ish website, InsideEV's (insideevs.com), the Blink Network will cease to be part of Nissan's No Charge to Charge program effective April 23, 2016. This is a major bummer for those of us in Tennessee as the Blink network has the most charging spots in Tennessee.
Nissan's No-Charge-to-Charge program information can be found out at https://www.ez-charge.com/. This program started a few months after I procured my 2013 Nissan Leaf, and therefore I have not been able to participate in the program.
The middle-Tennessee market has three major EV charging networks:
- Blink Network (owned by Car Charging Group)
- NRG EVgo
My experience withe three networks is as follows:
- EVgo network of fast (DCFC) CHAdeMO chargers is the most well maintained in the area. I have never encountered one of their Level 2 (L2) charging stations (EVSEs).
- ChargePoint's L2 charging stations seem well maintained and the equipment seems quite durable. There are few around
- Blink's network, while prolific, is the least well maintained and least reliable. Area drivers routinely mention problems on community app/website PlugShare.com
To be fair to the Blink network I was able to successfully drive from Franklin, TN to Chattanooga, TN and back using their stations in the summer of 2014. The route between Murfreesboro, TN and Chattanooga, TN does seems to be the most stable on their network.
When I first got my 2013 Nissan LEAF, it was late January and the day I took delivery the temperature high was around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That night on my way home I had to stop at a quick charge (CHAdeMO) station. I didn't know how to get the climate control to turn on while charging and as the temperature dropped into the teens, I only charged long enough to make it home.
Shortly thereafter, I figured out that one of the easiest ways to get heat is to use the CarWings mobile app to turn the climate control on remotely. That said, I also recently discovered that it is also possible to do this without the mobile app. So, if you press the start button, without your foot on the brake, the car goes into a mode that allows you to use the radio but will not allow you to control the climate or windows. But, if you press the start button a second time, you have full control over the climate control.
A couple of days ago, I encountered two LEAF ownwers using a CHAdeMO unit and they either didn't know how to engage their heat, or decided that ~30-degrees after dark wasn't that bad. While I used the other CHAdeMO unit, I thought it might be a good idea to share this tidbit.
After nearly 11 months of driving a Nissan LEAF and 5600 miles logged, I thought I should share my 5 favorite things about this BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).
- Instant Torque
This baby can really zip around town, especially when not in ECO mode.
- Runs on 100% Electricity!
- Low Maintenance.
- Climate Control* and Heated Steering Wheel & Seats (all seats)
- Lots of cargo space.
* I find the climate control particularly great because you can schedule the days and time for it to come on. For instance M-F, 10 minutes before you have to leave for work. Additionally the with the CarWings App, you can turn the climate control on with your smart phone. Last, but not least, if your car is plugged into your EVSE (charger), and you turn the climate control on from your phone or schedule it, the car will draw power from the charging unit rather than your battery, thus conserving driving range.