Living The Leaf Life, Update

In honor of Earth Day I thought I’d update folks on my Nissan Leaf experience. Short answer: yes I still love my car. No, I haven’t had any issues — not with range, nor with anything else.

The one question everyone always asks when I’m out and about is, “what kind of gas mileage do you get?” To which I always answer, “Zero.” Ha ha. People are still wrapping their heads around the idea of a non-internal combustion engine. And I get that; it’s a big change. The concept of a car without a tailpipe — which doesn’t require regular oil changes! — is a big effin’ deal, to paraphrase Joe Biden. You know what else the Leaf doesn’t do? Get hot. You come in from a long drive and the hood is pretty much cool to the touch.

The Leaf’s Carwings software tells me I average 7 miles per kWh. Based on that, we calculate I get the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon. That’s factoring in what NES charges for electricity on a $3.65/gallon gas price: since we have a solar array on our roof and are actually selling our power several months out of the year, it doesn’t quite work out that way for us. But you get the general idea.

And no, we haven’t seen any uptick in our electric bill; in fact, as I’ve mentioned before, because of home energy efficiency work we did last year like insulation and ductwork sealing, we’re actually using less electricity than last year, when we didn’t have an EV.

All of this has to be presented with a big caveat: I don’t drive a lot, mostly just in-town stuff. So, “your mileage may vary.”

Last week I saw this story in a local paper about the number of public charging stations which go unused. We see these stories a lot these days, and they annoy the hell out of me. Fer crying out loud, people: the Leaf has only been available in this state for, what, a year? Jesus. Give it a rest. This stuff takes time. Quit yer whining.

You know, I’m always hearing people say, “there’s an EV charger at such-and-such place and .. I never see anyone using it!” My response? So what! How many times do you see empty handicapped parking spaces? Or how about those parking spaces retailers reserve for expectant mothers? I see them at shopping malls and grocery stores all the time, and they’re always empty. No one bitches about those, do they?

These are things that retailers do to serve their customers (except for handicapped parking, which is required by law). If you’re going to be all “free hand of the market” about this stuff, then let a business owner do what they think serves their clientele. Don’t get your shorts in a knot because you think you know better. I’ve got a steaming cup of STFU with your name on it.

I mostly charge my car at home. Sometimes I charge when I’m out and about, but because I live in town, these public charging stations are not for me. They’re for Leaf owners I know who live out in Williamson County and come into town to do their business. These public chargers will be used as the number of EV owners increases.

And let me add, I’d use the ones down in Brentwood and Williamson County if I knew they were there. There really needs to be a better way of letting people know where these things are: some kind of standardized signage or something. Carwings is supposed to tell you where chargers are located but half the time they don’t show up on your console screen until you actually use one.

So far, the Leaf life is working out really well. Last time I crunched the numbers I calculated I spent $8 a month on transportation, versus the $100 or so I’d spend previously. The economics work, but also: it’s just a great little car.

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14 Comments

Filed under Earth Day, electric car, energy future, environment

14 responses to “Living The Leaf Life, Update

  1. dolphin

    I’d love an all electric vehicle. I hoe by the time I need to replace my car, there will be one out with a sufficient battery, or charging stations will be widespread enough, to safely and consistently at least allow for my 58 mile each way commute to work twice a week.

  2. I had started typing a reply but, as is my wont, gone off on a tangent and I will put that rant up on my blog, after bit.

    Suffice to say, the energy problem in this country has numerous causes that must be recognized, discussed and acted upon.

    Your Leaf is but one of a multiplicity of the remedies available. Refusing to consider EVERY alternative to NO POWER is not merely important it is suicidally stupid to not do so.

    I’m looking at putting solar panels on the roof of my house and using them to power my truck; where do you get the extension cords?

    • …where do you get the extension cords?

      Hah. Reminds me of my problem with the whole “Spiderman” concept. What happens to the webs he uses to swing from skyscraper to skyscraper? They just magically disappear in the movies. Makes no eco-sense.

  3. LMAO. I thought I was the only one annoyed by all those spider webs. Can you knit with them?

    • OH MY GOD. I thought *I* was the only one! I mentioned this at a writer’s workshop once, why I hated Spiderman because that one little omission ruined the whole thing for me. If they had just explained that one thing – -webs dissolve in the rain or whatever. But NO. And everyone in the room looked at me like I was crazy.

  4. What does the Leaf cost?

  5. Jim

    I will relook at it in about 10 months when I go to buy a new car, but so far the finances are not in favor of getting a Leaf vs. a small fuel efficient sedan. If I get something like a Kia that gets 30-35 miles per gallon on average then I will not spend the difference in cost over the life of the car in gasoline and oil changes.

    This is changing the topic somewhat, but I have what I think is a great idea for electric cars. The cars need to standardize on the electric battery pack that they use. Then they need to make it such that it is a simple way to pull out the battery pack and replace it with a fully charged pack. That way, gas stations could keep charged batteries on hand and swap them out for a nominal charging fee ($3-$5?) and you would be on your way with a new fully charged car in just a few minutes. This would be similar to changing out your propane tank on your gas grille at home.

    • They are already swapping out batteries in Japan. It’s a major mass-transit thing. Japanese taxis run on swapable EV batteries.

      It would be nice if there were a way to buy the car but just rent the battery. That would make the cars more affordable. Most of the cost is in the battery right now though those prices have dropped dramatically.

      • Jim

        Battery prices will continue to drop as the technologies improve and the market expands. It just takes the early adopters like you to get the ball rolling :).

  6. Joe

    SB, have you checked this site for finding charging stations? http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/ – I see several listed for Williamson County, as your example.

    • Yeah that’s a handy tool … what I need is for these to show up in my car when I’m out driving!

      • I was dismayed to see that there is only one station here in Cincinnati, at Duke’s office downtown & it seems to be private. Two others in the outlying counties – that’s it. Holy cow.

      • I thought Ohio was one of the six DOE test markets? I think there are more charging stations in Cleveland. Tennessee is definitely ahead of the curve.