A few months ago, we wrote a piece about the LEAF – the 100% electric vehicle from Nissan – and we were recently fortunate enough to be able to talk to two LEAF owners about their experience moving away from gasoline dependence and into a greener lifestyle!
Dave is a 55-year-old astrophysicist from Ellicott City, MD, with a strong interest in planet-friendly technology. Over the past year-and-a-half, he and his wife have taken great strides to switch their lifestyle over to renewable energies, including a geothermal heating and air conditioning system, installing solar panels on the roof of their home and, of course, purchasing a Nissan LEAF.
Tischer Nissan (TN): What are the main reasons you decided to buy a Nissan LEAF?
Dave: The LEAF is eco-friendly, quiet and comfortable, technically simple and easy to maintain. I love the fact that I don’t have to wait in gas lines. I’m often asked about the car’s acceleration and ability to drive at highway speeds. No problem! In fact, the acceleration is impressive. The car handles well and easily keeps up with other cars on the highway.
TN: How long have you owned your Nissan LEAF?
Dave: I purchased my LEAF back in February of 2012.
TN: Were you interested in environmental issues, energy efficiency and other green living initiatives before buying the LEAF?
Dave: Yes. I’ve been interested in energy-efficient technology for a long time, and I’m concerned about global climate change. We installed a geothermal heating and air conditioning system in October 2011, when our conventional HVAC system was approaching the end of its life expectancy. I’ve wanted to own an electric car for many years, but it only just became affordable with current tax incentives and the price-point of the LEAF.
TN: Have you had to make any behavioral changes to your driving habits, commute or travel routine as a result of owning your LEAF?
Dave: Driving an all-electric car forces one to plan ahead before hopping in the car. My daily commute to work is routine and did not have to be altered. However, when I tack on an errand or drive to an unfamiliar place, I find it necessary to calculate the mileage before I drive. We’re a two-car family, and my wife’s car – a hybrid – is used for long trips. I’ve chosen not to rely on public charging stations, but over time I may find them convenient. I charge the car each night in my garage, and the battery capacity is sufficient for a typical workday.
TN: Does owning a LEAF lock you into a set of choices regarding where you live, work, shop, travel, etc.?
Dave: I wouldn’t have purchased the car if it would have forced me to compromise on my typical daily driving, and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone if it would force a lifestyle change. The LEAF works for me, but it’s clearly not suitable for everyone. I’m looking forward to better and cheaper batteries, a proliferation of public charging stations, and quick charging that doesn’t degrade battery lifetime. On rare occasions, I’ve found it necessary to forego a trip to the mall or an extra errand, but advance planning has kept these inconveniences to a minimum.
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?
Dave: In an average week, I usually put about 200 miles on the car. Most of the mileage is for commuting, but I also use the car to run planned errands and take my son and his friends to extracurricular events.
TN: Do you, or does someone in your household have a second conventionally-powered vehicle?
Dave: Yes, we also own a fuel-efficient, hybrid gas-electric Toyota Camry. We use the second car for long trips, my wife’s commute, and relatively-long local drives. Unfortunately, we just can’t get by with only a LEAF in our family.
TN: In the future, would you consider buying another electric/hybrid vehicle?
Dave: Yes, the LEAF has met or surpassed all of my expectations. I’d definitely buy another electric vehicle someday, but I’m hoping that day will be a long way off [laughs].
TN: Have you had any issues with your LEAF as far as normal operation and maintenance are concerned? If so, please explain.
Dave: The only maintenance required so far (12,000 miles) has been a tire rotation. I’ll soon take the car in for a 15,000 checkup. I have only one significant concern, and that is poor visibility to the left from the driver’s seat at an intersection.
TN: What would you say to other people contemplating buying a Nissan LEAF or other electric/hybrid vehicle?
Dave: I would highly recommend an electric vehicle to anyone whose lifestyle would not be significantly compromised if they were to buy one. It works well in a two-car family if at least one of the commuters can make the round trip on a single charge with about 20 miles to spare at the end of the day. Be aware that the Li-ion (lithium ion) batteries are happiest when they’re charged to 80% of their capacity, not 100%. At 80% charge, the capacity can be as low as 65 miles in cold weather.
TN: Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with your Nissan LEAF with our readers, Dave.
Come back next week for our second interview on the impact the Nissan LEAF is having on owners looking to be, and save, a little more green!
If you’re interested in test driving the 100% electric Nissan LEAF for yourself, be sure to click the link below to schedule a test drive, 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 safercar.gov