Nissan “No Cost to Maintain” Car?

2015_nissan_leaf

Well, not exactly but the folks at Nissan are working very hard to reduce the running costs of their LEAF electric vehicle. For one thing, the exterior is coated with what Nissan describes as a “self-cleaning paint”. This paint, named Ultra-Ever Dry®, is superhydrophobic and oleophobic – which basically means that it repels water and oils. Nissan explains that the coating “creates a protective layer of air between the paint and environment, effectively stopping standing water and road spray from creating dirty marks on the LEAF’s surface”. As a result, the LEAF rarely needs a scrubbing. Buyers in North American can have this technology when choosing a LEAF with white paint. So, now it doesn’t matter that you can’t get that “free car wash with every fill-up”.

Speaking of “fill-ups”, while the LEAF is not a gas-guzzler, it does need filling-up with electricity. However, as a purchase incentive, Nissan is expanding its “No Charge to Charge” program. In selected locations, LEAF buyers will be able to charge their vehicles for free at public charging stations. At the moment, there are 10 of these market areas operating in the U.S. These include San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Oregon., Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Washington, D.C.

Charging a LEAF at one of the over 2,600 charging stations available includes the use of the new EZ-ChargeSM card. Nissan explains that this pioneering charge card “offers Nissan LEAF owners access to five leading EV charging networks with a single card. New owners will receive an EZ-Charge card that will provide access to chargers with ChargePoint, Blink, CarCharging, AeroVironment and NRG eVgo”.

Not located in one of the current operational markets? Just be patient. Within the next year, Nissan is planning to expand this program to at least 15 more locations across the nation.

Nissan: Improving the Global Future

nissan global future

Nissan is a very future-forward company. A significant part of their corporate vision is the betterment of both the people and the planet. Lately, they’ve been busy with both.

People

Nissan understands that today’s young people are the employee base of the future. Investing in youth educational programs is one of the best ways of improving everyone’s lives in the years to come. So, Nissan in collaboration with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has contributed $180,000 to LULAC’s National Educational Service Centers (LNESC). This set of programs enables Latino students to “choose paths which lead to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)”. A part of Nissan’s financial contribution is put towards scholarships for young people with ability but not the means to study.

Nissan believes that giving back to the community keeps their company strong. For example, by supporting the top-notch students of today, Nissan will be making sure there is an available pool of scientists, engineers, and designers to help Nissan continue to manufacture innovative vehicles using cutting-edge technology.

Planet

Creating zero-emissions vehicles is a great achievement. Yet, what about the CO2 emissions generated during the manufacturing process involved in producing those vehicles? According to LEAF Chief Vehicle Engineer Hidetoshi Kadota, Nissan feels that “if too much CO2 is emitted during the vehicle’s production, we cannot call it a sustainable car”. As a result, Nissan has developed a program which uses recycled materials in the manufacture of LEAFs. At the moment, this amounts to about 25% of the steel, copper, aluminum, plastics, etc. which make up a LEAF. Nissan reassures that there is no need to worry about quality control. Chief Vehicle Engineer Kadota explains that Nissan “ensures the parts made from recycled materials are of the same quality as parts made from new materials”.

For Nissan, this is just the beginning. The company vision includes a consortium of companies, Nissan Motor Corporation included, which supports a recycling system. Nissan feels that working on a larger scale will enable such a system to be cost-effective and succeed, contributing to a “recycling society”.

What do you think about Nissan’s global efforts? Share your thoughts with us below or on Facebook and Twitter!

*header image courtesy of Nissan News

Nissan: At Home and Abroad

Nissan

One thing that’s admirable about Nissan is that it sees itself as a global company with global responsibilities. Take its latest humanitarian effort in the Philippines. Nissan has pledged 20 million yen (roughly 200,000 U.S. Dollars) in support of recovery efforts taking place in areas hit by the recent Typhoon Haiyan. Nissan’s support comes in the form of both cash and vehicles.  As a “citizen of the world”, Nissan empathizes with the victims and feels an obligation to join in helping them create a brighter future.  

At home, Nissan is on the lookout for interesting start-ups which can add to their marketing reach. To understand what they’re up to, we can look at their first acquisition, “Stadium Stock Exchange (SSE)”.  SSE has organized a mobile app and a website so sports fans can play fantasy football at the college-level. Nissan feels that the “no fear” factor, as well as the fresh ideas and technologies of the start-ups, will help keep the Nissan design team inspired. In addition, it will give them some new items to incorporate into upcoming vehicle designs. However, back to the football… at the moment, Nissan says that interested players “can find links to Nissan’s Heisman House website planted on both the side and top of several spots on SSE’s site”. 

e-NV200Another futuristic Nissan enterprise is the “e-NV200”, Nissan’s second all-electric vehicle. Estimated to arrive to the Japanese market some time in 2014, the e-NV200 will “take a leaf” out of the LEAF’s book and offer the same roomy interior, usefulness, and practicality. In contrast, the e-NV200 will be a zero-emission vehicle. The e-NV200 will extend the business potential of the LEAF by supplying power in the luggage area (useful for outdoor activities or as emergency power) and an advanced telematics system. Visitors to the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show were able to see the e-NV200 as a reference exhibit in the Nissan booth. 

2014 Nissan RogueStepping back from the future into the now, we arrive at Nissan’s new small cross-over, the all-new 2014 Rogue. The Rogue’s new technologies give an easier and more fun driving experience. Nissan says that the systems, such as Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking, and Active Ride Control, are “typically what you see on performance-oriented vehicles”. Nissan engineer Matthew Hart describes the effect as a greater ability to “follow the intended path, subtle assistance to help brake more confidently, and more confidence when maneuvering the car”.  

What do you think of all the exciting and innovative things that Nissan has going on? Leave your comments below to start the conversation!

Hybrid vs. Electric Vehicles – How do the Costs Compare?

hybrid vehicle

Today, nearly every auto manufacturer offers some version of a hybrid vehicle that combines an electric engine with a traditional gasoline-powered engine. There’s little question that the future of the automobile industry includes some measure of electrification. But pricing is one of the bigger questions floating around on that topic.

Hybrid vehicles allow consumers to use much less gasoline than standard combustion (gasoline-powered) engines and emit a lesser amount of CO2 into the environment, while still relying on the combustion of fossil fuels for their motivation.*

Although the options for greener cars have increased over the years – providing not only standard economy cars, but larger SUVs as well – carting around two powertrains (no matter how well integrated they are) will never be the most efficient solution. While these vehicles have lower emissions and require less frequent trips to the gas station, they still have maintenance and gasoline costs. Although you won’t spend as much as the average person, you will still be paying something.

The demand for hybrids has brought the average cost for each vehicle down, which allows more individuals the opportunity to purchase one and essentially save money in the long run due to reduced trips to the pump. Hybrid vehicles typically run in the $30,000-$45,000 range, depending on the make and model you desire.

Some pundits believe that the hybrid vehicle is just a stepping-stone toward an electric car that doesn’t depend on combustion. That being said, electric vehicles are not really a futuristic concept. Some of the first automobile prototypes only used electricity to run their engines. The only problem was that they didn’t run very fast, nor did they run for very long without a need for recharging. That’s why the traditional engine using petroleum replaced all electronic forms of transportation.

With the rising cost of fuel and the depletion of natural fossil fuels, this concept has been revisited frequently in the last decade.  Unfortunately, manufacturers have found that to produce anything that would be remotely suitable for transit, would cost the consumer a small fortune once completed and ready for market. When the first marketable electric car hit the market, it was priced at nearly $110,000. The upside to paying this kind of cash is that there wouldn’t be any fuel costs at all for the life of the vehicle.

Today, there are more reasonable fully-electric vehicles on the market – like the Nissan LEAF. Starting from $21,300 after federal tax savings, this baby gets 129 city and 102 hwy MPGe**  It is completely gasoline and oil free and will travel, based on conditions, up to 100 miles before recharging!

Another moderately-priced offering is the Model S from Tesla Motor Company at just under $50,000. It is a sleek, quiet vehicle that never needs refueling and will travel up to 300 miles without having to recharge, which really only takes 45 minutes total to complete. The Tesla model S is the first in its kind to be an electric car and go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds, as well as being able to hold up to seven passengers.

Both the hybrid and the electric car are economical forms of transportation once the initial cost has been paid for, but when electric cars like the LEAF and the Tesla become the norm, the cost benefits will be unchallenged.

*A supplementary electrical system takes some of the energy that would be wasted or otherwise lost under braking, stores it in a battery, and then uses it to help power the vehicle at some later point.

**Based on EPA formula of 33.7 kW/hour equal to one gallon of gasoline energy, EPA rated the LEAF equivalent to 129 MPG measured as gasoline fuel efficiency in city driving, and 102 MPG in highway driving. Actual mileage may vary with driving conditions – use for comparison only.

image courtesy of Auto Kiosk Groen Mobiel

A Chat with a Nissan LEAF Owner – Chris Sasiela

Nissan Leaf

Last week, we posted an interview with Dave, an owner of the 100% Electric Nissan LEAF, and got some insight into what it’s like to own this vehicle. Again, we were recently fortunate enough to be able to talk to another LEAF owner about her experience from a different perspective on the same set of questions.

Chris is a 45-year-old woman from Laurel, Maryland, who has had an interest in green technologies for some time and she recently took the time to tell us all about her experience.

Tischer Nissan (TN): What are the main reasons you decided to buy a Nissan LEAF?

Chris: I wanted to be gas free. I absolutely LOVE the fact that I have no idea how much a gallon of gas costs [laughs].

TN: How long have you owned your Nissan LEAF?

Chris: I purchased my LEAF back in November of 2011. I’ve noticed a huge savings annually with driving the electric car, and the cost to charge it at home was only $10 for the first 8 months!

TN: Were you interested in environmental issues, energy efficiency, and other green living initiatives before buying the LEAF?

Chris:  Yes. I’ve been interested in energy-efficient and green living for a while now. I think that all nations should be moving toward more environmentally-friendly ways to manage their energy needs and support developing technologies that work toward that end.

TN: Have you had to make any behavioral changes to your driving habits, commute, or travel routine as a result of owning your LEAF?

Chris: Yes. The fact that I now have to keep mileage and charge level in the back of my mind before I plan a trip took some getting used to. Although I’ve never had the battery die on me, I have gotten the “out of charge” warning a few times. Thankfully, I was close to home to recharge! Also, one the cool things about the LEAF that I didn’t know before buying mine was that it could take a charge from a normal household electric outlet. It takes a little longer to charge that way, but you don’t have to have any special equipment installed to own one!

TN: Does owning a LEAF lock you into a set of choices regarding where you live, work, shop, travel, etc.?

Chris: Yes. The range limitation is a real thing and does affect my choices about when and where I will engage in activities. Also, one thing that is a challenge for me is having other people drive the car (such as a valet). People tend freak out and don’t know how to turn it off or on. So oftentimes, they just leave it on.

TN: How many miles do you put on your LEAF in an average week? Are those miles consumed mostly by a commute or several small trips around town?

Chris: It varies depending on the week, but I’m putting about 850 miles a month on the car. Most of that is commuting, but also some errands on the way to and from work, as I tend to bundle my errands into my commute.  I did this before owning my LEAF, too.

TN: Do you, or does someone in your household have a second conventionally- powered vehicle?

Chris: Yes, my partner does have a gas-powered vehicle that we drive when we need to go a longer distance. As I said before, the miles-per-charge is definitely something we have to keep in mind in planning any kind of long driving duration.

TN: In the future, would you consider buying another electric/hybrid vehicle?

Chris: Yes, definitely! I look forward to more infrastructure development on the East Coast like Tesla has done along the West Coast. This has been my only real disappointment with the LEAF thus far – most grocery stores and shopping malls have not yet installed charging stations, and when a valet does leave the vehicle running, it puts a serious damper on traveling.

TN: Have you had any issues with your LEAF as far as normal operation and maintenance are concerned? If so, please explain.

Chris: No, not really. There is supposed to be a tire pressure assist mechanism where the car beeps at you when the pressure is correct and I have tried several times to figure this out – it has never worked for me. Also, I get the Nissan LEAF owner’s newsletter and in there it was reported that the battery on the LEAF was dying much faster than expected. Because of this, Nissan is offering a replacement battery for owners who battery dies within a certain mileage limit. This is really quite nice of Nissan!

TN: What would you say to other people contemplating buying a Nissan LEAF or other electric/hybrid vehicle?

Chris: I would just tell them to keep in mind that you may need another car in your family for longer trips, and be prepared to be approached by random strangers asking about your spiffy car, and trust no valets – they have no idea how to turn an all-electric car on or off!

TN: Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with your Nissan LEAF with our readers, Chris.

So, there you have it – the Nissan LEAF is making energy efficient, green lifestyles affordable for everyone. If you’re interested in test driving the 100% Electric Nissan LEAF, be sure to click the link below to schedule a test, and be sure to let us know what your thoughts/opinions on the LEAF are in the comments below. We always appreciate your feedback!

*image courtesy of The Digitel Myrtle Beach on Flickr.com

Essential Smartphone Apps for Nissan Owners

apps for Nissan

Last week, we shared some our list of Essential Smartphone Apps for Acura Owners and this week we’re featuring two apps geared specifically toward Nissan Owners. These apps, both released by Nissan, are great resources for Nissan owners to keep informed on the latest from the manufacturer, as well as manage your Nissan Leaf right from your phone!

  • Nissan Global: Stay up-to-date on all the latest news directly from Nissan, including worldwide, regional and local. This app is designed to provide Nissan owners with updates on the latest technology, upcoming products and even company history. One of the best features in the app is the “Explore” option, which allows users to search by keyword or topic to find information on specific areas of your vehicle. Users can also share news and videos on Facebook and Twitter directly from the app. Nissan Global is available for free on both Android and iDevice platforms.
  • Nissan Leaf: The Nissan Leaf app is designed to help owners manage and control their electric vehicle directly from their Android or iDevice. The app allows users to: check the status of a battery charge, start/stop charging, view estimated driving range on current charges or check how long until a full charge is reached, and control the cabin climate with just a click! Whether you own a Nissan Leaf or are simply interested in electric vehicles, this is a very cool app. The Nissan Leaf app is available for free on both Android and iDevice platforms.

Additionally, there are some third-party apps available for free on iTunes that offer similar features, as well as some additional features.

  • Leaf Energy is essentially an energy calculator for owners to be able to estimate energy needed based on a route, battery temperature, speed, air temperature, elevation and climate control usage.
  • Leaf Link does virtually the same thing as the Nissan Leaf app, but also allows users to send addresses from your Contacts directly to the Leaf’s navigation system, find charging stations on a map, and sync recently visited places with your iDevices.

Although we mentioned these next few apps in one of our prior posts, they are great apps that complement the Nissan-specific ones listed above.

  • AAA Roadside: For car owners that carry AAA, the Roadside Assistance provided by the organization can mean the difference between being stranded somewhere and getting the help you need to get your car back on the road! The good news is that this app makes the process quick and easy:  Just set up a profile within the app and then, in the event of a breakdown, simply select the type of problem and the app contacts a local roadside service technician for quick response. In addition, the app will also confirm your request for assistance, provide information on local AAA-Approved repair shops, connect you to AAA branch offices, view your AAA card, and allow you to speak directly with an AAA representative. The AAA Roadside app is available for iDevices and is free to download from iTunes.
  • Car Locator: Never worry about forgetting where you’ve parked in a crowded parking lot again! With this app, simply drop a pin in the location where you’ve parked your car and let the app worry about getting you back there. In addition, the app features a parking timer, the ability to save notes and photos, and the option to send your current location to another person via phone or email. Car Locator is available for Android devices for $3.99 on Android Marketplace.

We hope that you have found this list of Nissan apps helpful, and we suggest that you give them a try.  Are there any apps out there that you have found useful as a car owner? (Nissan or otherwise?) If so, leave us a comment below sharing the details.

*image courtesy of cellphonebeat.com

Hybrid Cars vs. Electric cars
Which one is right for me?

The Nissan LEAF & The Acura ILX

With the focus on renewable resources these days, the decision to buy a hybrid car or an electric car should be an informed one!  There are big differences between these types of vehicles – much more than between hybrids and non-hybrid cars.

Structure/Mechanics

First, let’s take a look at structural and mechanical differences.  Hybrid cars run on a combination of a gas or diesel engine and one or more electric drive motors.  These electric drive motors can power large or small engines and typically get more miles per gallon of gasoline or diesel (mpg) than non-hybrids.  The battery charges when braking or stopped while the ignition is still on; this is called regenerative charging.  Some manufacturers have guaranteed the batteries up to 100,000 miles.  They also have lower tailpipe emissions, producing approximately 90% less pollutants than non-hybrids.

On the other hand, electric cars are powered by an electric motor, with power stored in one or more batteries.  They need to be plugged into a power source, preferably a high voltage line for a quicker charge (2-3 hours).  They need no oil or gasoline, usually have no tailpipe and produce no emissions.

Range

The driving range of your vehicle is definitely one of the most important to consider before purchasing.  If you are a commuter who drives less than 40 miles each way, an electric car may be a great solution to your gas usage/cost/planet conservation issues.  The range for most electric cars is 80-100 miles before needing a complete charge, and the charge takes approximately 6-8 hours to accomplish.  For families on-the-go within a small range of miles, electric cars are definitely the shape of the future.  As electric cars gain in popularity, networks of charging stations will be seen and used all over the country.  Currently, the west coast of the US leads in charging station availability.

Conversely, hybrid cars are repowered the same as any non-hybrid – at the gas station.  There is no set range of miles the hybrid car can go and no charging stations involved.

Charging

As above, most hybrid cars perform regenerative charging while they are running, so no charge is necessary.  On the other hand, electric cars need to be charged quite often.  Again, this depends on your usage – if you run the battery down completely every day, then you will be charging your vehicle overnight at your home and paying the lower electric rates.  It typically takes 6-8 hours to do a full charge of your electric car battery.  Out and about, electric cars may need a quick charge here and there and there are more and more networks of charging stations popping up all over the US.  However, electric car owners benefit from not needing gasoline or oil in their cars, so instead of watching your gas meter on the dashboard, you’ll be very conscious of how much battery power you have left!

Maintenance

Hybrid cars need to be maintained in virtually the same manner as non-hybrids.  The electric car, of course, has no oil and less moving parts – so there is less maintenance.  The batteries in both types of vehicle must be replaced.  The electric car batteries usually last 5-7 years depending on the owner’s charging habits.

Pricing

Both types of vehicles have higher starting prices than their non-hybrid/non-electric counterparts.  There has been much said about whether the higher prices paid by buyers are really worth it.  Most articles are favorable as to achieving the buyer’s goals.  Most buyers of hybrid or electric cars usually have some pre-conceived goals in mind when they are ready to buy:  they want to spend less money on gas, they are environmentally conscious – so they want lower or no emissions, and they want to benefit from any federal and/or state incentives given for purchasing such cars.

Ultimately, the benefits achieved from your hybrid or electric car are tied to your usage, particularly for the electric car.  For example, what distance you drive, what speed you go, the amount of air conditioning or heat used, or even radio usage directly affects drain on the battery.  Trade-in or sale value on your hybrid or electric car depends on the length of time you plan to keep it.  As Hybrid-car.org states, “it is not abnormal for a hybrid car to run like new when it has 250,000 miles on it.”  The electric car, due to its small percentage of moving parts, can last beyond that and still run like new.

As with all new technology, prices on both types of vehicle are expected to come down as the technology becomes more widespread and available.  Also, tax credits are making both vehicles, but especially the electric car, more affordable.

Some last thoughts

  • Driving a hybrid car is the same experience as driving a non-hybrid car
  • Electric car considerations – commuters and family hops around town are best uses for an electric car
  • The electric car is a surprisingly quiet ride!

At Tischer, we carry both the brand new Acura ILX, which is Acura’s first Hybrid car, as well as Nissan’s electric car, the LEAF.

Click here to take Nissan’s brief questionnaire to determine whether an electric car would be a good fit for you!

If you’ve determined that the LEAF is a good fit for you, check out our blog on the 2013 Nissan LEAF for more specifics about that amazing car!  Since seeing is really believing, come on over and take a test drive in one of our new hybrids or electric cars and see for yourself.

We would be delighted to show you what a perfect fit either one of these types of vehicles would be for you!  Simply click below to schedule a test drive!

Schedule Your Test-drive Today!

In the meantime, please share your questions, thoughts, and comments with us below.  We would be glad to discuss these with you as soon as possible!