Category Archives: Electric Car

Nissan LEAF Electric Car Report: Silent Power at One-Tenth the Price of Gas

You absolutely MUST actually drive this car to appreciate its remarkable silent power. It’s something that I cannot explain because there is nothing to compare it to. It is something that is completely new. Silent Power; Silent Acceleration; we have never experienced this before.

Reviewed: 2012 Nissan LEAF

4dr Hatch 107-horsepower Electric 1-speed automatic FWD

Why the 2012 Nissan LEAF?

QuietnessIt is not quiet … it is absolutely SILENT!! Sometimes I actually turn the radio off so that I can listen to … nothing. Actually, you may hear a very slight whirr of the motor, but the radio has to be off and the windows up and no conversation to hear it … and you need good hearing. It’s a real blast to be “roaring” down the road at 111 KPH and only hear the sound of the wind and tires. You don’t feel like you’re going that fast.
Powertrain performance

It’s instantaneous; it’s powerful; it’s silent; and it’s vibration-free. All that you know when you push down on the accelerator, is the silent power push you back in your seat as the car takes off.
Fuel economy

You will NEVER fill up with stinky gas at a gas station again … you’ll only stop at a gas station to use the washroom and get a coffee. However, on the subject of “fuel”, it is very efficient with the clean electrons. And the feedback is excellent. You always have access to how well you’re driving technique is. Plus, you get more information when you look it up on Nissan’s LEAF website of your personal driving efficiency and how you did relative to other LEAF drivers in your country or around the world. When comparing purchase prices or lease payments, you must take into consideration that your electric bill will be ONE-TENTH the price of your gas guzzler’s gas bill. That means that your $300 per month gas credit card expense will become a mere $30 on your electric bill.
Warranty, scheduled maintenance cost

Furthermore, your maintenance costs will virtually evaporate.

  • No Brake jobs every 30,000 to 50,000 Km;
  • No exhaust system repairs;
  • No expensive catalytic converter to replace
  • No Engine job;
  • No spark plug replacement;

Basically, maintenance is limited to tires and wiper blades. Brakes should last the life of the car because mostly, you’ll be using the motor as a generator to stop the car. The batteries are designed for the life of the car or, generally, 10 to 15 years.
Audio & nav systems

The Audio system is above reproach, especially since the engine is non-existent and the motor is silent. The Nav system not only finds your destination, but it finds all of the Charging stations along the way and near your current location or near your destination. The Audio and Nav system also keeps you informed of your driving efficiency, range remaining and maps out your range.

Why Not the 2012 Nissan LEAF?

Color choicesIn the 2011 & 2012 models, the interior colour can be a choice of light beige or light beige or light beige. And it’s way too light a colour to be practical for more than a month or two. Be sure to ScotchGuard it. This has been remedied in the 2013 & later models with a much darker interior choice.
Dealer practices

If you get your LEAF from Maple Nissan, do NOT let them sell you the “Green Package” because it’s not much more than $400 for Nitrogen in your four tires. That’s $100 per tire and is a clear rip-off. Do NOT get “taken”.

Other Features of the 2012 Nissan LEAF

Past personal experienceAfter driving an All-electric Car like the LEAF, I cannot imagine myself going back to a gas guzzler. I would probably stop driving if I were forced to give up my Electric LEAF. It is so empowering to be able to charge up my own car in my own private garage or driveway. And have the great feeling of knowing that every single morning I have a full tank of electrons. Two other important notes:

If you have two cars in the family, do NOT think of this Electric LEAF as your second car. This will immediately become your primary number one car and your other car will become your second car, only to be used if this LEAF is already out on the road. This is an important differentiation to make.
“Range” is only an issue to those that do NOT drive an EV and the dumb car journalists. As an EV driver, you will always know what your range is because the LEAF shows you on the dashboard. And, because you plug in every night, you have a full tank every single morning.

Conclusion

All you have to do is plug it in every night that takes 15 seconds (just like your cell phone), unplug it in the morning for another 15 seconds and rest assured that you have a full tank of electrons every single morning.As I have already said, you absolutely MUST actually drive this car to appreciate its remarkable silent power. It’s something that I cannot explain because there is nothing to compare it to. It is something that is completely new. Silent Power; Silent Acceleration; we have never experienced this before.

Silent Driving in a LEAF

It’s very difficult for me to understand how the masses continue to drive these dinosaur gas guzzling cars that stink, are noisy, pollute their children’s air and are so terribly expensive to keep in gas and to maintain. In fact, there really are no redeeming factors for a gas guzzling car except that that is what we have been driving for the past 100 years.

However, today we have alternatives:

  • We have Hybrids.
  • We have Plug-in Hybrids.
  • We have Range Extended Electric Cars.
  • And we have Full Electric Cars.

As a general rule, the Hybrids will save you about 50% of your gas bill.  So, if you’re spending some $500 a month on gas in a dinosaur gas guzzler, a typical Hybrid will only cost you some $250 a month and your brakes should last you about the life of the car rather than only some 50,000 Km.

But, if you really want to save that $500 a month gas bill, drive an Electric Car like the Nissan LEAF or the Mitsubishi iMiEV or go the whole 9-yards and drive the best car on the planet, the Tesla Model “S”.  Generally, these cars will cost you about one-tenth the cost of your gas guzzler, or $50 a month with my example. In addition to the saving of some $450 a month, you will

  • NEVER change the oil;
  • NEVER replace spark plugs;
  • NEVER replace the expensive catalytic converter;
  • NEVER replace the exhaust system;
  • NEVER stand outside in the cold pumping smelly gas;

In fact, generally, your maintenance of an Electric Car is limited to tires, windshield wipers and windshield washer. Oh, and plugging your car in very night when you get home. This latter task takes you some 11 seconds. Then you’ll unplug it in the morning for another 11 seconds. And, you’ll relish in the thought that you are driving with clean, renewable over-night Niagara Falls electrons (in Ontario, Canada). However, even if you’re using Carbon generated electrons, they are actually cleaner than your old gas guzzler. And, before long, we will replace these dirty carbon electric generating stations with cleaner alternatives.

Then you will silently drive away in complete silence with so much torque that your neighbors will find it difficult to comprehend how you could so quickly disappear without a sound (other than a bit of tire-on-asphalt sound).

It is difficult for me to emphasize enough how silent and powerful the new Electric Cars of today are. You really have to experience a torque enthused drive yourself to comprehend the silent power. It is something that has no equivalent. It’s something truly new and has to be experienced to be believed. Once you try one, you will not be able to walk away without taking it home with you.

Love that Electric feeling. (The Tesla drivers call it the “Tesla smile”).

First Month with e-LEAF … And counting

Well, it’s been a month now with my silent sweetheart, my 2012, burgundy Nissan e-LEAF.  It has been the most rewarding, enjoyable driving-month that I can remember.  And, ten years ago, I started driving my 2003 Toyota Prius and thought the world of that car.  It was quiet and consumed half the gas of my previous Honda Civic.

Now, this amazing LEAF is absolutely silent and consumes about one-tenth the cost of what my Honda Civic would cost today for fuel.  And, the best part is that I never have to stop at a stinky gas station and stand outside in the cold and wind and wet to gas up a car for $50.  I simply come home and take 10 seconds (not 10 minutes) to plug in my car and 10 seconds to unplug it in the morning.  That’s a total of 20 seconds in the privacy of my own driveway or garage.

So, rather than spending some $200 a month on stinky gas, I spent $16.20 in August on clean, over-night Niagara Falls electricity.

Most of my driving has been around town, including Thornhill and the Toronto GTA.  But, it also included a drive to Milton and my friend’s cottage in Gravenhurst.  This latter drive is exactly the declared morning range of the LEAF, or 160 Km.  So, as “insurance”, we stopped for coffee in Barrie and charged for about an hour at Georgian College at their Solar Charger.  We had a nice coffee in their cafeteria, talked to the installer of the Solar Charger and then went on our way to our destination … all without any hick-up.  While at the cottage, I had no trouble plugging in to the 110V outlet and coming home two days later and stopping again in Barrie for a dinner for us and some electrons for my “watt-LEAF”.

The problems with watt-LEAF?  It’s so powerful and fun to drive that I tend to be a more aggressive driver now.  I’m also concerned that I drive more.  Now, I tend to drive to Toronto when previously I would have taken the subway.  On the other hand, I enjoy driving in the High Occupancy Lanes and driving fast enough to keep up with the other drivers in those lanes.  Am i proud of these latter new driving techniques?  No, not really.  I’m just expressing the potential down-side of driving faster electrically.

Actually, one real down-side of the LEAF is that it lacks the “small” storage compartments in the passenger area.  You can pack lots of stuff in the “trunk” but not up front where you want to keep lots of little things in the glovebox, etc.  Mind you, I’m comparing to the excessive storage capacity of the Prius (that has two glove boxes along with several smaller drawers between the driver and the passenger).

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy driving my wonderfully silent and powerful watt-LEAF.

100-Mile Club

It took me only 3 weeks to brave the 100-Mile Club, but I did it over this weekend in 3 days of not plugging in my Electric LEAF overnight.  This morning, I headed out with 19 miles of range left and 83 miles into my 100-mile objective. So, my objective appeared to be within sight.  I did a couple of errands and then with 8 miles of range left and 8 miles from home, and having reached my objective of 102 miles,  I headed home. I arrived home with 4 miles of range left, so I started driving around our neighborhood until suddenly the 4 miles went to Zero and the display showed <- – ->.  I was about 1 mile from home.

The car did NOT disintegrate. The LEAF did NOT stop.  It did what I was quite confident that it would do. It kept going quite nicely.

I turned around and headed home again. I gave the accelerator a couple of bursts just to see how much torque I could muster.  It seemed like a bit less than normal but still totally adequate for driving in traffic. I still went around another block until I finally drove into our driveway with a total of 114 miles, zero range and between 1 and 2 miles of driving on “empty”.

I’ll have to go and get a coulomb of electrons in a can so that I’ll feel better about driving until I can’t drive any further and really see what “buffer” we have after hitting zero range. Hey, I’m an electrical engineer … I’m curious … R & D is my middle name!

So, now what happens? Fireworks? A gold key to the 100-Mile Clubhouse?

~ Erik
www.TorontoHybrid.ca

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.