Archive for June, 2015

The Good, Bad & the Ugly: My LEAF at 1 Year: SilverLEAF Chronicles 5

Contributed by Dr. Sarah

A year ago I made the leap I’d been promising to take by buying the greenest car I could afford: I bought the all-electric NissanLEAF, and launched the SilverLEAF Chronicles blog series.

The SilverLEAF is celebrating its first birthday with our family.

Now that we’ve weathered a summer and a (hard) Chicago winter, here are my honest reflections on what I love — and what I would change if I were Nissan.

What I love about the NissanLEAF:

1. It’s green

First and foremost, I love what I expected to love, it’s green-ness.

I now drive knowing that the eco impact of my car is minimal. In my previous Toyota Avalon, I used to plan my trips carefully and take mass transit when I could.

The LEAF car has no emissions. None.

My passion for living green– and voting green– is inspired by my love for my two young kids. Driving this car is an act of fierce love. As a parent, that feels good.

2. The cost

Between tax rebates and no cost for gas, this car pretty much pays for itself.

You can get a top of the line LEAF for around $300 a month, and basic model for around $200 a month.

And you never pay for gas. Ever.

I charge at home about half the time, and the electric bills have not gone up noticeably.

And, the car is virtually maintenance-free– no oil to change, no belts to replace.

I’ve met LEAF owners who say that they pay less per month to own a LEAF than they paid for gas in their conventional car.

From a sheer cost standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.

3. It’s sporty

The SilverLEAF is peppy! I test drove the Prius, and it was sluggish.

For reasons having to do with electric motor technology, the LEAF has a lot of pick up. And it handles well. It’s fun to drive!

I met a LEAF owner who said he feels like he’s driving a sports car.

My ten-year-old son thinks it looks cool, too!

4. LEAFs build community

When LEAF owners pass each other on the road, we wave at each other.

We talk to each other when we run into each other, sharing stories about the car.

I had no idea I would be joining a community when I got this car. It’s an unexpected perk!

What I would change about the NissanLEAF:

1. The engine sound

In a state of nature, an electric motor is silent. Wisely, Nissan has added a high pitched tone that is emitted when the car is driving under 15 MPH to cue pedestrians that a car is coming.

The problem is, it doesn’t sound like a car motor, so pedestrians wander out in front of it without looking. (There are other reasons at this point in history, having to do with things like walking into the street on our SmartPhones!)

I get why Nissan would want it’s electric car to have a unique sound that differentiates it from a gas powered car.

But this is a safety matter.

2. The battery range

We’ve driven this car– without stopping to charge–close to 100 miles (on its first day with us!)

If you learn how to drive very efficiently, which I’m still working on, it can be driven well over 100 miles.

Longer battery range would make it work more readily beyond local driving, which would be great. Some of us suffer from “range anxiety,” especially when we’re having to run either heat or air conditioning, which drain the battery.

I hear that Nissan– and other companies– are working on new battery technology which will give it about 30% greater range. That will be wonderful.

Would I buy a NissanLEAF again?

Absolutely. I plan to swap out my current leased NissanLEAF for the new model in two years– when longer battery range comes on line.

Happy Birthday, SilverLEAF!





June 29, 2015 at 8:16 pm Leave a comment

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