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Living with the Nissan Leaf....6 month update!

Discussion in 'Hybrid, PHEV & EV Electric Cars Forum' started by gangzoom, Apr 6, 2015.

  1. gangzoom

    gangzoom

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    ***Six month/3000 mile update ****

    So I've been the owner of a 109 BHP, 100 mile range full electric Nissan Leaf for the last 5 days....My previous 3 cars have been a: Honda Integra Type R, Nissan 350Z, and a tuned BMW 335i running upto 380bhp...

    So how I find swapping my BMW for a Leaf??

    [​IMG]

    to a

    [​IMG]

    The first thing to say is that the current generation of EVs have two main short comings compared to ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

    1: Battery range needs to increase by about 30-40%.

    Unless you can afford the Tesla S (£50K+) if your daily commute is more than 30 miles one-way I wouldn’t bother trying an EV. Realistic range of the Leaf in current chilli temperature is around 70 miles, so a 60 mile daily round trip will have some ‘anxiety’. People do it, but I couldn’t.

    2: Initial upfront cost needs to come down.

    I’ve ‘bought' my Leaf for £13K….but that’s with a £5k government grant, Nissan taking £5K off the list price, and some fancy leasing options on the battery. If you look at an i3 £30K (before government grant), that’s a lot to pay for what is essentially a city car.

    Both these two points, are been addressed, Nissan is set announce a 150 mile range Leaf in the next 18 months, and prices will come down, as battery technology gets cheaper.

    So with these two issues in mentioned upfront what do I think about the Leaf?

    In short - I love it, and I wouldn’t swap it for any of my previous cars :D

    1: The EV drivetrain

    In the last 10 years spending £££ on a car has never been a issue for me, my last three cars have been:

    Honda Integra Type R
    Nissan 350Z
    BMW 335i (modified to 380bhp)

    So believe me, the last thing I want to drive around in is a 3 cylinder shopping trolley regardless of how cheap it is...I really really wanted to hate the Leaf on the test drive, but I was sold on the EV drivetrain by the time I had pulled out of the dealership.

    The truth of the matter is, even though the Leaf is a pretty mundane family run-about, and has a EV motor only capable of 80kw (109bhp), it delivers on the power in a way no ICE car can ever manage.

    The ability to access 100% torque at 0 rpm, along with the concept of NOT having any gears or any engine noise/vibration, makes for a really fun and refined driving experience.

    Now that I've got use to the driving experience delivered by the EV drivetrain of the Leaf, I honestly have to say I wouldn't swap the Leaf for any of my previous cars :confused0068:....and the really exciting thing about EVs is the current crop of car are essentially 1st generation machines.

    2: The technology:

    I love gadgets, the 335i was pretty poor in that respect, our current Lexus has almost too much, but the Leaf is in a different league. Bluetooth audio/keyless entry/reversing camera etc (it's got all that).

    Ok interior isn't covered in cow skin, and hasn't got the iPad interface of the Tesla. But you can tell this 'car' is more a technology product than a traditional car.

    You can re-mote control charging and the climate control system on the car, Live read outs of the energy use etc

    [​IMG]

    Nissan will will even analyse all the data and compare you to other Leaf drivers...It's like Strava but for cards!!
    [​IMG]

    3: Cost of ownership (lack of)

    My Leaf is currently reporting 4.1 miles per kWH of electricity.
    Economic 7 rates = 6.6p/kWH (My economic 7 meter is going in next week)
    Leaf therefore cost 1.65p per mile to ‘re-fuel’ - not including any free charging...

    My 335i, assuming 25mpg (realistic mpg in urban traffic), £1.15/l = 20p per mile in fuel

    Our IS300H, assuming 50 mpg, £1.15/l = 10p per mile.

    So the Leaf cost 12(TWELVE) times less to refuel than the 335i, and 6(SIX) times less to refuel than even the very economical Lexus….

    That said, running costs of a car has never been a concern for me, but for those wanting the cheapest to get from A to B, the Leaf is very hard to beat!!! (Even when compared to just walking/bus)

    4: Range / Charge:

    The first thing everyone asks me about the Leaf is range…Despite only using it to get around the City, I’ve managed to cover some 150 miles in the last few days, and the issue of range hasn’t bothered me once!!

    [​IMG]

    I plug my phone/laptop into the mains at night, and now do the same with the Leaf. It's less hassle than visiting a petrol station at 6am in the morning.

    Realistic range is about 80 miles, so unless your been stupid on purpose and don't understand the limitations/concept of range/charging I cannot see how anyone could run of electricity…There are also a whole load of ‘free’ charging points in various places if you look.

    [​IMG]

    Battery life also doesn't appear to be an issue. After an initial rapid full in charge capacity, Tesla owners report 94-92% battery efficiency at 50k, with a 1% drop in charge capacity every 18K miles or so….Just for reference my BMW has done 60K at time of sale, and had cost me in excess of £3K in repair bills using a friendly trustworthy local mechanic, that bill would be closer to £6K had I used BMW dealers.

    [​IMG]

    The likes of Toyota/Honda are still obsessed by hydrogen fuel cells, these guys need to wake up and smell the air, battery EVs are here, and people are buying them with real money (like my self).


    Insummary:

    I’m 100% sold on the concept of battery EV as the future mode of transport. Having probably spent the best part of £50K+ on ICE cars over the years, I cannot see my self parting with a single penny for another ICE machine. The Leaf may only have 1/4 the power of previous BMW 335i, but the EV drivetrain is so much better than the ICE setup I’m not missing the BMW at all…..the fact using the Leaf to get from A to B is actually cheaper than walking/public transport is a bonus.

    Finally I cannot do a whole write up on EVs without mentioning the car I will own next…The Tesla S.

    Tesla is a technology company with little previous experience of building cars. but in 2013 with only their second ever product, the Tesla S. Consumer Reports (American version of Which) called it the ' The best car ever tested'....2 years running...Can you imagine how good the 2nd/3rd generation EVs will be??...I cannot wait to see how the car industry develops over the next 5-10 years, I think much like how Apple shock up the entire mobile phone market in 2008, Tesla is going to do the same to the car industry.

    Top Picks 2014 | 10 Best Cars of the Year - Consumer Reports
     
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    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
  2. Delvey

    Delvey
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    Great review.
    Speaking of the torque. I remember one pulled up along side an A class merc with what seemed like some banter between the leaf driver and merc driver. They both shot from the line and the merc was left for dust. They really are quick.
    One question. Does motorway mileage use less electricity? As I imagine like petrol cars that more energy is used to get the thing moving?
     
  3. gus607

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    A good comprehensive review ! Please keep updated.
     
  4. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP
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    Our local council has just taken on some Hydrogen buses.
    There must be a reason they're doing this over electric-only?
    Range?
    I'm just thinking Hydrogen can't be as 'wide of the mark' as you seem to think it is, if companies that rely on their vehicles for income are going for it.
     
  5. paulyoung666

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    Good review and nice to see praise !! , weird to think that may very likely have had a hand in the production of the battery pack in your car , if I was at work at the time , there are higher capacity packs coming along that I believe have the 30-40% more power that you mention :)
     
  6. gangzoom

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    Thanks for the comments

    I wouldn't consider using my Leaf for any long distance commuting, there just isn't enough energy stored to use if for long trips.

    Interestingly the Tesla S requires 4bhp less than the Leaf to maintain 70mph (14 hp vs 18hp), and at 100mph the that increases to 10bhp....So when I upgrade to the Tesla, I'm actually swapping it for a more economical car :laugh:

    Drag Queens: Performance Data and Complete Specs

    With regards to hydrogen fuel cells, on large machines like buses/trucks it most likely does make sense, but why bother with the complexity for normal cars when you can already plug something like the Leaf into virtually every house in the UK without any additional infrastructure/investment?? Still it will be interesting to see how it develops, but personally I have no hesitation in sinking £50K into a Tesla S if I had that kind of money lying around :)

    I'll keep this thread updated as the months go on...I suspect winter will be the biggest test for the Leaf interms of range.
     
  7. EndlessWaves

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    I suspect the gap will be narrower. Both because there's no engine to keep ticking over and because batteries are naturally two way so it's easier to recover energy from braking etc.

    Toyota as in the company that's one of the leaders for producing go anywhere vehicles? Batteries would have to improve massively if the next Land Cruiser was to be powered by them. Given the previous history of battery technology it's understandable why Toyota sees the development of fuel cells as worth the risk.

    An electric car is beautifully minimalist in it's design. It's a single system for everything the vehicle needs to do.

    @gangzoom: How did you find the leaf compared to rival electric cars like the Zoe?
     
  8. Alan CD

    Alan CD
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    This is an interesting thread - thanks gangzoom.

    It's rumoured that the next generation Nissan Leaf will be a huge leap forward compared to the first generation Leaf. Apparently, in a couple of years, the range would be increased to about 250 miles (400km).

    Nissan's big battery production factory is developing one step further and hope, by 2022, to produce a cheap enough battery pack that delivers a 300 mile range.

    That is the range where I will show some interest in purchasing a battery powered car.
     
  9. paulyoung666

    paulyoung666
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    When you see what goes into the production of a battery pack I reckon most people would be amazed at the complexity of them and then maybe understand the cost a little more , I know I was surprised when I first started !!!!
     
  10. gangzoom

    gangzoom

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    The problem I have with hydrogen powered cars is the fact people moan enough about where to 'charge' a battery EV, despite the fact pretty much every house in the UK is already on the main grid. As far as I know there is only a handful of places in the whole country where you can get hydrogen, and that's before you come to the cost....I can see the moaning/criticism already ;)

    But I'm open minded, I love our hybrid Lexus, if Toyota/Lexus can deliver a hydrogen powered EV in the next 5-10 years, I'll happily replace our Lexus with it....One thing is for sure, neither me or the wife will be buying another ICE powered car again :)

    I haven't driven any other EVs, but will hopefully do on 9th of June when I take the Leaf to Mallory park!!

    Electric Vehicle Demo Day

    As for battery range, the Tesla S already has more than range for my needs....It's just the high price of entry that's limiting ownership opportunity :(
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2015
  11. FZR400RRSP

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    Wake me up when electric cars can do 500 miles and re-charge in 5 mins.
    Cheers
     
  12. gangzoom

    gangzoom

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    Don't worry, you can keep on sleeping for a long as you want, after-all every one is free to spend their £££ anyway they like :)
     
  13. FZR400RRSP

    FZR400RRSP
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    Absolutely.
    I'm just demonstrating I'm not anti-EV.
    I'm just anti EV the way they are now.
    You're evidently willing to give up on driving any meaningful distance, which is fair enough.
    I still like my weekends away, EV's are (excuse the pun) miles away from being suitable for me.
     
  14. lovegroova

    lovegroova
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    One thing which might be worth mentioning/questioning from your excellent review is that
    it is certainly possible for many people to recharge whilst at work, which means that commutes of 70-80 miles each way are more than feasible.

    My only concern over these is that our current (puntastic!) electrical grid is expected to struggle in the near-ish future, and a big rise in electric car use will hurt this even more, so it may be that the £5k subsidy will disappear, and the cost of electricity will rise. But for now, enjoy - these are so much nicer to have around than stinking diesels.
     
  15. mikeburns

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    Don’t forget that the majority of people charge during the night when the grid is least active, hence why I get my electricity at 4.5p a KWH.
     
  16. paulyoung666

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    Oiiiii , I like my stinking diesel !! , sorry :( , had a couple of drives in a leaf , once around the test track at work , mind you I prefered the gtr I also drove lol , apparently the biggest problem with it is people having range anxiety ....
     
  17. gangzoom

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    I've found the range of the Leaf to be around 70 miles, you can push it for more if you like anxiety, but for my commute of 5 miles range isn't a issue.

    Clearly when we go and see family 150 miles away we're going to take my wifes car....but than again there are plenty of YouTube videos showing people going crazy and doing 200-300 mile road trips in the Leaf...That is just crazy in my book :rotfl:

    Upping the national grid to cope with demand is a concern, but actually the Leaf when plugged into a standard 3 pin plug in the garage draws 2.1 kWH, which is about the same whats used to make a cup of tea.

    Also did the first proper charge of the car last night using home plug (as opposed to 'free' public electricity). Had about 35% charge remaining on the Leaf yesterday before plugging into the mains, so with the Leaf having a 24kWh battery, in theory it'll need 15.6kWh to recharge to full.

    Our energy monitor says we used 23kWh of electricity yesterday, current average daily use (without having to charge the Leaf) is 7kWh. So the Leaf pulled an additional 16 kWh to go from 35% charge to 100%....So the transfer from main grid electricity to Leaf battery is not quite 100% charge efficiency, but its not far off (probably around 95%).

    [​IMG]

    So why waste energy creating/transporting/storing hydrogen, when you can just use that energy direct to re-charge the battery pack. I also notice the current range of hydrogen fuel cells cars have a range of around 300 miles....so virtually the same as the Tesla S...Only difference been you can buy and use a Tesla S today with no problems, where as hydrogen storage/transportation infrastructure is non-existent...I have a feeling people waiting for hydrogen fuel cells EVs will be waiting a long long time :).
     
  18. un1eash

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    The range thing would drive me mad, even now when the car says you have 80 miles left I start thinking about a refill. I'd be plugging an electric car in every night not wanting to risk running out of charge. Its a shame the high cross rooftop car park doesn't have any electric car points as I'd be able to charge one for free every day when at work.
     
  19. gangzoom

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    LoL, the John Lewis car park is barely 5 minute walk away :)
     
  20. un1eash

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    I get free parking in the rooftop car park and my office is 1 minute walk away, it doesn't extend to the John Lewis side.
     
  21. mikeburns

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    I've done a couple of long trips in the LEAF, the range issue turns a dull trip into an adventure! It can be addictive, and the more miles you drive the more money you save.
     
  22. gus607

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    I could easily live with the current mileage ! Not everyone wants or needs 500 mile trips.
     
  23. blicky_1

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    I like others have said could not live with the current range (but would change in a heartbeat for 2-300miles)

    A question though, If you run out of 'juice' where does that leave you? breakdown cover or does the AA/RAC now carry rapid chargers (like they carry a can of fuel) :D
     
  24. PSM1

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    I believe if you run out of juice the agreement is the recovery vehicle will take you to the nearest charger. Also if you want to do a longer journey Nissan will lend you a conventional car for 14 days a year so more than enough for a few weekends away etc.
    If you have a second conventional car in the house then most people could probably live with an EV no issues for at least one of those cars.
     
  25. gangzoom

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    Nissan have a specific EV recovery service and I believe they essentially tow the car to a charger....But as mentioned, with a realistic range of 80 miles, and a really accurate range predictor, you have to be really pushing your luck/just ignoring the warnings to run out of charge.

    Personally I couldn't run the Leaf without a second car in the family with greater range....A leaf and a Tesla on the driveway at the same time would be perfect for our household needs :)
     
  26. lovegroova

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    The big difference being that a kettle takes a couple of minutes to boil, a car takes many hours!

    I'm sure people made similar comments about the lack of petrol stations aka infrastructure when petrol cars first appeared over a hundred years ago!

    Presumably it only takes a couple of minutes to refuel a hydrogen car which is where the advantage lies at present (fast charge batteries notwithstanding), and the fuel tanks can (and will) be made larger in time.

    However, as I've pointed out many time before, electric cars like the Leaf, and even moreso the Tesla S, are more than adequate for the vast majority of people living in the UK, where most journeys are short, and even the longest that most people do are rarely more than a couple of hundred miles (people living in the extreme north of Scotland are excluded - you know who you are ;) )

    Hydrogen cars make more sense where long journeys are more common (the USA for example) and is probably why the likes of Toyota and Honda (whose main market is the USA) are investing so heavily in that technology. It's similar to their concentration on hybrids when European manufacturers were sticking to diesel.
     
  27. blicky_1

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    It's funny I asked this as I saw one being recovered on the M4 today! :)
     
  28. Epicurus

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    Just to clarify what you said in your earlier post, is driving it like driving an automatic car except with just one forward gear? Can people with automatic only licences drive them?
     
  29. mikeburns

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    Yes, for now EV's don't have a gearbox.
     
  30. IanW1977

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    How many miles per annum do you do OP ?
    Just wondering what your total cost per mile is based on 5 years ownership (including purchase price, servicing, maintenance) ?

    Based on our tootling 4k miles per annum I worked out the wifes car costs £670 per annum in Fuel, £235 Tax and say £400 maintenance per annum. Based on buying the car 5 years ago for £5k works out that for 25k miles over 5 years it's cost 46p per mile (This assumes the car is worth £0 now !)

    My car alas works out a little less at 40p per mile based on 5 years ownership for 3k miles per annum.


    For our family I think it would be ideal as mostly our journeys are 5-10 miles each way with the kids clubs and schools being 1-2 miles away.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015

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