Nissan LEAF 2014 Driven

Nissan LEAF Driven

Red Nissan Leaf

The Nissan LEAF is the pioneer in electric motoring that jump started the dawn of a new powertrain. The first mass produced electric car available for purchase is a proud statement to make.

What I like:

Nissan-Leaf-charging-station

  1. Some giddy up off the line. For an ‘economy’ car this has some great acceleration off the line and will feel faster 0-30 mph than any 4 –banger on the market.
  2. Good head room and surprisingly good leg room for the rear occupants. High quality interior materials (trying to justify the price tag)
  3. Back office messaging through Nissan’s Car wings gives you real time status on charging.
  4. 6.6kw on-board charger.
  5. The charge port is in the front. This makes easy access for charging the car at a public charging station. No need to back the car in to the parking space.
  6. This is a purpose built electric car. Some of the competitors (Ford comes to mind) have modified the existing chassis to carry the battery while compromising the occupant or luggage space. The LEAF has no compromises on trunk space or any other area where they needed to stuff a battery.
  7. Looks better than a Prius. (I may be a Prius hater) The LEAF’s looks better than the Mitsubishi IMEV and Toyota Prius….(Ugly beauty contest…)
  8. The range calculation is very useful and has enough conservativeness to get you from point A to point B without too much stress, just as long as point A and B are not more than say 45 miles apart. Nissan’s use of telematics in the LEAF is also impressive at delivering useful data such as Charge start, charge stop and metering and data analytics.

What I don’t like:

2014-Nissan-Versa-Electric-Vehicle

  1. Now for the truth. A $30K Versa? Built on the same platform, about the same size.
  2. Styling, I think it’s on the side of ugly, I actually don’t mind the large head lights but they just don’t flow well together with the car. Looks, not great. Then there are the tuner bits which make no sense: Nismo…ev….is there a Nismo Versa?
  3. Quiet, almost too quiet. Wish the electric drive made a little more noise inside the cabin (I guess you can call me crazy, right?)
  4. Resale value – These government incentives have killed the resale value of the LEAF. You can routinely find the LEAF listed for 15K – 17K on the classifieds, this for a car that retails for $28 to $36K is a bit steep of a drop off. So you ask why a used LEAF isn’t a god deal? Well on to my next point..
  5. Battery degradation: Over they life of the battery, the capacity will diminish from power cycling the battery. I’ve personally seen this affect several users where after a 2 year period where they can no longer continue with their commutes. One user has a 45 mile commute, one way up hill the other way down hill. Going down hill, not too many issues makes it to work with ~ 7 miles of range. The other way up hill causes some issues. The driver must keep the car under 55 mph on the interstate and not run any accessories such as A/C and Heat in order to have the capacity to make it home. Now for those that don’t have to get everything out of their battery they are able to stretch this battery degradation by charging up to only 80% State of Charge. By filling up to only 80% State of Charge will cause less heat stress on the chemical reaction and save some battery life.
  6. Quiet, almost too quiet. Wish the electric drive made a little more noise inside the cabin (I guess you can call me crazy, right?)
  7. Range. The range is a concern, you realistically can’t use the LEAF beyond a 45 – 50 mile trip without the use of a recharge or some severe stomach ulcers brought upon by the stress of making it to your final destination.

Charging Equipment Recommendation for Nissan LEAF

aerovironment plu-in charging station

Since the Nissan LEAF after 2013 has a 6.6kW on-board charger the recommendation would be to have a EVSE / Home Charger with a 30 Amp output to match the capability of the vehicle. After all, you’ve paid to be able to charge faster having the 6.6 kW charger so you might as well make use of the speed it’ll deliver. For analogy, if you’ve bought yourself that 65 Inch high-def flat screen TV for your living room you don’t want to hook it up to a VCR, you want Blue Ray High Def projected through that TV. Same is with your charging station solution.

Nissan-Leaf-Charging-Ports-2014

The Nissan LEAF also offers a Chademo DC- Fast Charge port on the vehicle as an option. This option will come in handy for longer commutes or possibly emergency situations where you would like some juice fast. The Nissan Leaf can charge using the Chademo charge port from 0 to 80% State of Charge in about 20 Min. If you live in the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) these Charger will be readily available for your use from companies like NRG and AeroVironment which control the West Coast Electric Highway. In other areas there won’t be much demand or incentive to put inn a Chademo DC Fast Charger so these will be scarcely seen. If you live in the West coast, go for this added option. IF you live elsewhere then may be better skipping the Chademo DC Fast Charge port as an add on because you’ll never see one.

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