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

Owners Tell Us All About the 100% Electric Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

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!

Schedule Your Test-drive Today!

*image courtesy of safercar.gov

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!

THE 100% ELECTRIC NISSAN LEAF
The perfect fit for commuters and families!

The Zero-Emission Nissan LEAF

Pure electric cars are definitely the shape of the future in the automobile industry, and Nissan doesn’t disappoint with the LEAF.  We believe it can change everything for commuters and families, while helping the planet as well!  Electric vehicles (EVs) have motors that gain energy from controllers, then power is regulated based on the driver’s use of the accelerator.  There is absolutely no need for gasoline, oil, or even a tailpipe!

Perfect for the commuter

The Nissan LEAF is uniquely designed to operate like a standard car, but without the expense and inconvenience of having to fill with gasoline or have oil changes performed.  Commuters typically spend between $5,000 and $10,000 per year on gasoline for their commutes.  This cost is on top of the purchase price originally paid for their vehicle.  Add in 3-4 oil changes per year and you’re paying thousands for the fuel, maintenance and upkeep necessary for a commuter car.  With the LEAF, that additional expense goes away!   In this economy and recovery, we feel that it’s extremely important to provide options to consumers that cut expenses – and the LEAF is a terrific alternative!

Nissan LEAF - Pure Electric Car

The LEAF’s rechargeable battery uses common household electricity.

The LEAF’S rechargeable battery uses common household electricity.  With a purchase price starting at about $27,500, after government incentives, the LEAF is quite affordable.  Add to this fact that once you have made the initial investment in this car, there is no gas expense!

Click here to take Nissan’s brief questionnaire to determine whether the Nissan LEAF would be a good fit for you!

But what about the increased electricity expense to charge my new LEAF?  That’s a great question, and one that has a very affordable answer.  Electricity is much cheaper than gasoline, and many LEAF owners report a great deal of surprise and satisfaction at the efficiency of this car.   Nissan estimates that the LEAF gets the equivalent of about 106 mpg city, 92 mpg highway.  We think that this is amazing efficiency for such a high-quality vehicle and it keeps much more money in your wallet!  Nissan concludes, “We know that you’ll love the outstanding features of this EV, which produces no tailpipe emissions, needs no oil changes and is less expensive to operate!”

Perfect for your active family

In addition to being a more cost-efficient, environmentally friendly option for active families with multiple daily trips close to home, the LEAF also was awarded a “Top Safety Pick” rating by the prestigious Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  According to Nissan’s brochure for the LEAF:

“The Nissan LEAF® has all the conveniences of a new car: five doors, room for five, and a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat that gives you 24 cubic feet of cargo volume when folded flat.”

Nissan LEAF Cargo Space

The Nissan LEAF’s 60/40-split fold-down rear seat gives you 24 cubic feet of cargo volume!

For your family, this means leg room in the back seat, even with five people in the car!  Plus the cargo space provided enables you to take your family and the gear to sports/club practices, run errands, go food shopping, and other nearby trips without having to make those inconvenient and expensive stops for gas.

The Nissan LEAF’s interior technology includes:

  • a high-tech dash with digital displays provides crisp, clean readouts of everything you need to know.
  • a cutting-edge telematics system, called CARWINGS®[*], keeps you connected to your car even when you aren’t in it, and connects you to charging stations when you are.
  • the stylish, modern, and comfortable light grey seats are heated and partially made from recycled bottles!
  • RearView Monitor[*] helps give you a clear picture of what’s behind you, on the display monitor that’s right in front of you.
  • And when you just want to unwind and enjoy the ride, standard iPod and USB connectivity[*] ensures you’ll always have access to all your favorite songs.

The exterior of this car is much different than most current EVs.  It is considered a mid-size hatchback – highly unusual and way ahead of the competition in EVs.  Many EVs are extremely small and lightweight, so they tend not to have the pickup, nice ride and handling of the LEAF.  Also, the battery is positioned so that it gives the car a low center of gravity, which makes it feel “planted” when turning.  And that’s because Nissan offers technologies in the LEAF that other new cars don’t – ALL WITHOUT A DROP OF GAS!  Which brings us to why the Nissan LEAF is…

Perfect for your wallet

LEAF owners have a myriad of great things to say about this car:

  • “low operating cost”
  • “plenty of pick up”
  • “nice ride and handling”
  • “feels like a luxury car, not an economy car”
  • “a smooth, quiet ride”
  • “outstanding cabin technology”
  • “love driving past gas stations knowing that I don’t have to go there!”
  • “I save about $120 per month in fuel”
  • “the car can schedule charging for itself at the low night electricity rates”
  • “environmentally responsible”
  • “I feel much safer in this car than I would in most of the other EVs because it’s bigger”

Perfect for the planet

No tailpipe, no emissions, and no gasoline burn means that the Nissan LEAF is a car that is much better for our planet than a standard gasoline-operated car.  Nissan has equipped the LEAF with many features to ensure that there is efficient battery run-down.  The car even gives the driver up-to-the-minute energy usage and gives tips and suggestions on how to maximize that data.  As Nissan details in its brochure, other energy-saving features:

  • The Regenerative Braking System that makes it stop is capturing energy while you coast or brake, and recycling it back into the power supply.  Accelerating or braking, the power meter clearly displays whether you are using power, or gaining it. To give it a road-hugging drive, the lithium-ion battery pack is situated under the floor of the passenger compartment for an even distribution of weight and low center of gravity.
  • The Nissan LEAF® is designed for maximum efficiency, and that doesn’t just mean the electric motor. Its LED headlights use only about 50% of the energy of traditional headlights. The flat underbody meshes with a front spoiler and rear diffuser, to create the smoothest airflow and lowest drag possible. An optional solar rear spoiler harnesses energy from the sun, helping to power the air conditioning and the entertainment system.

Charging your new LEAF is easily done at your 240-volt home-charging dock.  On the go, there are 6300+ public charging stations across the US and 1300 miles of charging stations along the West Coast of the US.  The average range between charges on the LEAF is 100 miles.  Of course, road, traffic and weather conditions will affect this range.  As we said before, the LEAF has the technology to tell you how to make your range better on a real-time basis!

Schedule your test-drive today!

We think you will agree that the Nissan LEAF would be a great investment!  We would be delighted to show you what a perfect fit the LEAF would be for you!  Simply click below to schedule a test drive of the Nissan LEAF.

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!