Living The Leaf Life

I’ve had my new, all-electric Leaf for about 6 weeks, and I was out of town for two of those, so really it’s been a month of driving time. So here’s my update.

First of all, I totally love it. I love not worrying about gas prices anymore (how much is gas? Anyone? Bueller?). I love all the gadgets and doo-dads, which let me add are not unique to the Leaf. I still get confused by the keyless entry … on more than one occasion I’ve left my keys in the car, which is a good way to get your car stolen. I also sometimes forget to put it in park (which is the push of a button) before turning it off (another push of a button.) Too many buttons to push; I’ve been driving for 35 years and old habits die hard.

I’ve put a little over 400 miles on the Leaf and have taken it on the interstate just twice. I love how it drives, love how quiet it is. After years of driving an SUV I love being small again. I forgot how great it is to be able to zip in and out of parking places.

But I know, I know .. you want to know about the range, don’t you? That’s the first thing everyone asks: how far can you go on a charge? My answer is: I don’t know! It depends on how you’re driving (interstate or surface roads), if you’re in “eco” mode, if you’re running the A/C and have a car full of passengers, etc. The Leaf has regenerative braking, so you’re recharging your battery as you drive, too. So it’s hard to tell. So far the rule of thumb — 100 miles — seems about right.

Let me add, I have a friend with a Leaf who lives in Williamson County. She drives her daughter in to Nashville every day and says the Leaf goes further than you think. She put 1,200 miles on her car in three weeks so she would know. I haven’t had a chance to put my car to that kind of test yet.

My first two weeks I was a mileage hawk, I’d freak out if my charge got below 60 miles. I was paranoid I’d run out of charge for some bizarre reason. Now I barely pay attention to it. One of these days that will get me into trouble, I’m sure.

Plus, it’s not like there’s a rule that you have to be on empty to recharge! I’ll recharge at 70 miles if I think I’m going to be doing a lot of driving the next day. The charge issue really is not as big of a deal as I thought it would be. There are several public charging stations around Nashville and I’ve taken to using the one at the Publix grocery store, too. I plug it in and can get another 10 or 20 miles while I’m doing my shopping and other errands. Multi-tasking!

The second thing everyone asks is, “what’s your electric bill like?” I have received two electric bills since getting the Leaf and both showed we used substantially less electricity this year than the same months last year. That’s a reflection of the home energy efficiency upgrades we made earlier this year — foam insulation in the attic, insulating and caulking in the crawl space and duct work, etc. (People, if you haven’t done this to your home, go into your wallet right now, pull out a $20 bill, and throw it in the garbage can. Now do that every week. That is an illustration of what you are doing by not insulating and caulking your home.)

So again: I don’t know! Suffice it to say, I’m not using so much electricity to charge my car that I’ve countered the effect of our home energy efficiency upgrades.

In many ways, nothing has changed. The Leaf is a car like any other. But in other ways, everything has changed. I mentioned using the public charging station at Publix, well let me tell you: I have now changed where I do all of my grocery shopping. I used to shop at Whole Foods because their organic produce can’t be beat (can someone explain why the organic produce sections at traditional grocery stores are so crappy? The produce is never fresh and the selection always sucks). But if I can recharge my car for free while I’m doing my shopping, hell yeah I’ll shop there. And then I moved my checking account to the bank in the Publix shopping center so I can do my banking while I’m there. And there’s a terrific little wine store there too, even a nail salon if I’m so inclined. So now I can kill and hour or so with shopping, banking, and other stuff while recharging my car!

So get a clue, Nashville retailers. An EV charger brings customers — not just for you, but for everyone around you. And Whole Foods, you really screwed up by installing a charging station at your Franklin store but not the Nashville one. What were you thinking?

And here’s another thing. The other night we went out to dinner and took the Leaf. Amazingly, there was another Leaf in the parking lot — I’m not the only one driving an electric car in Nashville! So just a little tip, Nashville retailers.

I’m excited to see more public charging stations crop up. There’s now one at the Loveless Cafe. The Loveless is pretty far from me, so it would be fun to take the Leaf out there and recharge while enjoying some yummy chicken and biscuits. But what if I get out there and someone is using the charger? Or worse … a non-EV is parked in that spot? (Judging by this picture that has been a problem in the past). That would be horrible. We’ll have to see what happens.

I bought an annual $10 Green Parking Permit from the Davidson County Clerk last week. This allows me to park downtown in city lots and on the street without paying. With hockey season coming up, we’ll be downtown a lot more and $10 is about how much you have to pay per night. I think we’ll get a lot of use out of it. Just a tip: you don’t have to drive an electric car to be eligible for the Green Parking Permit deal (but you do have to live in Davidson County). You can see if your vehicle qualifies here.

So far, so good. I’m loving the Leaf life. For anyone who doesn’t have to commute 80 gazillion miles a day, it’s a great car.


Filed under electric car, environment, Nashville

17 responses to “Living The Leaf Life

  1. When I got my present car, a 2001 Ford Escort, I said to myself, “This could possibly be the last internal combustion engine I ever own.” That was back in 2003, when Rumsfeld was still in denial about the insurgency and I was reading about peak oil for the first time. I can’t believe that cars like yours are on the road now, I still have that Escort, and it’s still got a few good years left in it. I had no idea just how right I was.

    • And Rumsfeld can’t believe that he never found those WMDs in Iraq! He was sure they were in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad — and you know, east, west, south and north somewhat.


      I think you’re smarter than Rumsfeld.

  2. I’m still drivin’ my smokin’ hot ’99 Ranger. Well, it’s sorta red and it burns a little oil.

    You would think Whole Foods of all merchants would be all over the EV thing, then again, some people think Whole Foods is just another soulless conglomerate who uses adverganda to gull their customers into thinking arugula is worth $9/the pound. Hey, not to go off thread, SB, but your post gives me an idear. I’m sure you have a county extension program down there (maybe run by Vanderbilt–if it’s a landgrant university) . The NY county extension is administered by Cornell and they perform a lot of research and run a bunch of information and assistance programs for the local farmers as well as the rural poor.

    Last year they had their first, “Harves Dinner” where local farmers and other food producers donated produce and meats to a local restaurant/function room and three local chefs and scads of volunteers transformed the foodstuffs into delicious apps and entrees. I was involved as a second level, intermediary tree fruit evisceration specialist (I cored 300 fucking apples, apples the size of golf balls, filled them with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar and a couple of Amareno cherries, roasted them at 350 for about forty minutes and they were like chocolate covered cherries without the chocolate).

    Everything was good, the donations for tickets and silent auctions raised some cash and a lot of folks got an opportunity to do something for others–while eating some VERY good food. Might be something to push in your neck of the woods, unless of course you’ve been doing same for, like, sixty years.

    • Whole Foods in Franklin (Nashville suburbs) has an EV charger, but for some reason the one in Nashville does not. I don’t know why that is. And for that matter, CostCo has not installed them either. They need to get with the program BIG time.

      We do have an extension office, part of the state Ag dept. here. And we have a ton of CSAs, co-ops and farmer’s markets and stuff. I am part of a co-op but it’s even MORE expensive than Whole Foods! They’re doing a harvest dinner type thing with Fretboard Journal called The Fretboard Feast. It’s a fundraiser for the local music school.

      We have a lot of that kind of thing in Nashville. I thought of doing a CSA next year but the problem is, Mr. Beale doesn’t eat vegetables. There’s like 2 vegetables he’ll eat. So that means I’ll be stuck with a bunch of veggies the other half refuses to eat. I kinda need the convenience of a traditional supermarket.

  3. “I thought of doing a CSA next year but the problem is, Mr. Beale doesn’t eat vegetables. There’s like 2 vegetables he’ll eat. So that means I’ll be stuck with a bunch of veggies the other half refuses to eat.”

    My new roommate, “Buddy the wonderwhatthehellkindadogheis,anyway” also had issues with a certain amount of loathing around traditional foods, preferring chinese spareribs and orange popsicles to more traditional canine fare. I am happy to say that he has adjusted his dietary preferences to a more suitable diet, a few chopped up green beans, some mashed roasted sweet potato, freshly grated/chopped carrots and some lean chicken or beef with a dash of beef broth. He is thriving on it and I think that even if he COULD open the doors and drive down to Wendy’s he would prefer the food he gets from me. Otoh, Mr. B would prolly NOT shit on your pillow as a sign of his disagreement with some rule or other that he feels is draconian.:0)

    • Otoh, Mr. B would prolly NOT shit on your pillow as a sign of his disagreement with some rule or other that he feels is draconian.:0)

      Oh, I wouldn’t put it past him …


      You’ll have to post a picture of your new pup!

  4. dolphin

    I’m hoping by the time my ’09 Corrolla needs replacing (I will drive it til the wheels fall off), there will be a good variety of electric cars to choose from and the infrastructure in place to support them. I only commute to work twice a week (work from home 3 days a week, in the office for 2) but when I do it’s about 48 miles each way so the range on the current electric cars is a deal breaker to me. And since I don’t live in a big city, charging stations are pretty much non-existent. Now if there were a charging station in the parking garage at work…

  5. Southern Beale:

    I put a photo of “Bud” on my blog a few weeks back. I never have any liuck when I try uploading photos onto other folks’ blogs. Go look at him there, and then you can read my fun post about sciatica!

    Bud is currently taking his 3:00-4:30 nap which follows his 1:30–3:00 nap and precedes his 4:30–6:00 nap, He needs to get his rest so that he can get up the stairs to sleep at the foot of my bed, woofing, farting, panting and snuffling in his dreams.

    • You’re going to have to give me a link cuz when I click on your name I just get your Gravatar.


        It’s a rude edifice and a ruder editor, but we do our humble best.

        Bud just finished inhaling his nice dineer of steamed carrots, chicken, greenbeans with a soupcon of cheese and a dash of organic beef broth. He’s looking at me with this, “I kin haz moor?” sorta question on his face. No, Bud, a walk you kin haz, but no more dinner.

  6. The blame is the blame; the comments on high gas prices, oil company’s huge profits and government issues are unfortunately bringing us no further towards the solution. I am sick of high gas prices and had to find my own personal solution for lower gas prices and discovered new a gas card program. Suspicious as I was, I joined and now have eliminated my entire out pocket expenses for gas. It is easy and now with the money we have saved; our family can go on road trips, to movies and more fun stuff. Turn blame into action towards the solution or do nothing it is up to you.

  7. I arrived at a four-way stop sign at about the same time as a neighbor with a Leaf last week. Dewd was clearly high-miling it. This fellow did not wish to come to a complete stop under any circumstances and looked at me about eight times while he nervously entered the intersection. Maybe he has further to go to get a public charge and has to rely on his 117V AC. San Diego Gas & Electric will be building a community energy innovation center with chargers some time over the next two years. The larger goal being to administer state-mandated energy efficiency programs. I have not visited the California Center for Sustainable Energy just three miles away. We sleep with doors and windows open from May through October anyway. No AC required on the canyons and palisades. I have not seen any charging stations at retail outlets or anywhere at all for that matter. He pretty much coasted down the hill to San Clemente Canyon, never really hitting 45 mph. I could just barely see him in my rear-view. Still, it must be nice…

  8. Jim Horak:

    Thanks, but I’ve already got my pony.

  9. I saw someone with a Leaf heading towards me in the parking lot where Borders was on West End and got all excited about saying hi only to remember you were still traveling.

    • What’s funny is I saw one last night while I was walking the dog … and then today driving around the Vanderbilt area I actually got behind one at a traffic stop! We’re everywhere! We’re taking over! Grab the wimmins an chirrens, folks! The Leaf is HERE!