Turning Over a New LEAF

About 100 years ago (give or take 5 decades), my Electrical Engineer Father told me how inefficient these fossil fuel, dinosaur cars are and that an electric car would be 400% more efficient and so much easier to maintain. So, he had me design an electric car made with two 400-volt electric motors gleaned from an old streetcar and mounted directly on the rear wheels. We’d remove the engine, radiator, gas tank, exhaust system, differential and replace these sub-systems with about 3 tons of Lead-Acid batteries (I’m relating a story from some 100 years ago when we didn’t have Li-Ion batteries, remember?)

Well, the design was perfect but we were Engineers (and an Engineer-wan-a-bee), so the design stayed exactly that — a design.

But, now, 100 years later, and I’ve been driving several Prius’ over the past 10 years. And, now I’ve added a Hymotion L5 Battery Kit to two of these Prius’. This means that we were only stopping at a gas station about once a month. Last year, my wife went from April to October on the same tank of gas! She simply plugged her Prius PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) in every night and unplugged it every morning.

So, I got a brain wave. Since my wife only drives about 30 Km a day and never ventures onto the 400-style highways and never drives in the real cold (January to March), I developed a plan to convert one of these Prius to an All-Electric “e-Prius” (See www.EVAlbum.com/3497). I’d install 11 kWh of Lithium-Ion batteries and remove the engine, gas tank and exhaust system. This would give her a 66 Km range, a bit less if she used some heat. This would be perfect for her typical 30 Km day.

Well, we experimented installing an “Engine Kill Switch” which would prevent the engine from starting and we’d drive using only the 50 kW Electric Motor and the 5 kWh Hymotion Kit for about 30 Km. On the whole, it worked quite well, but, of course, we lacked additional heat and still had the engine installed in case it was needed (or we wanted some heat).

But, then something big happened.

Tesla produced their magnificent, totally electric Roadster … and then their glorious Model “S”, probably the best car on the planet. Then Nissan introduced their all electric LEAF and Mitsubishi started marketing their i-MiEV. Then along came Ford’s Electric Focus and soon we’ll see the All Electric SmartForTwo and BMW’s new i3. So, I chickened out from spending some $10,000 on additional Li-Ion batteries and BMS (Battery Management System) for my e-Prius modification and opted for a proven design from Nissan, a new 2012 Burgundy LEAF, model SL with Navigation, a small Photo Cell and even a fast 400 Volt DC Charger. The big incentive was the $8500 rebate from the Ontario government plus another $8500 discount from Nissan and a special negotiated $1200 “Employee” discount because I’m the organizer of the Toronto Hybrid and Electric Car Club (www.TorontoHybrid.ca) and I’d encourage more of our members to drive better Electrically. So, that’s almost $20,000 off of the List Price. How do you walk away from that kind of incentive?

And, besides, the salesman offered me free oil changes for the life of the car, free exhaust system and even free gas for the life of this all-electric car!!  And, more seriously, I could even plug into their special Level 2 Plug-In whenever I wanted to.

However, my wife wasn’t going to be the main driver of this gorgeous electric car … I was!

So, as a birthday present from me to me, I took delivery of this shiny new 2012 Nissan LEAF.  I drove home in absolute silence … no engine noise; no engine vibration. Just silent power (and instantaneous torque like I’ve never experienced before) from an absolutely silent electric motor. I even turned off the radio, just so that I could hear … nothing.

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