There is this phenomenon that occurs when you own an electric vehicle. You suddenly begin to communicate via pictures of your dashboard. Because it easily conveys how you are feeling. When I first got my Nissan Leaf this past summer my photos were all virtual high 5's. "Hey look at how much range I got today! Regenerative break power FTW!"
106.6 km used with 45 km left!
Then I started to send comparative photos showing how something as simple as no traffic on the highway (so you have to drive at full speed) can impact your range. I had virtually the same km's left on the Guess-o-Meter as the previous picture yet the distance driven is way less.
Or I would send pictures proudly showing off the number of trees I was growing.
Lately though my pictures have shown panic, terror, fear and frozen toes. Exhibit A - Making it home with "only" 17 km left in range on the guess-o-meter. For the last 8 km the lady in my navigation system has been telling me to turn off my heat and to find a charging station. I appreciate the heads up lady but OMG just let me freak out in peace!
Exhibit B - I am not even home yet. In fact I am just reaching B's school, which is in a different city. My feet are frozen because I have the heat off to conserve range. Home feels 1 million km's away (it is not - it is less than 15 km's away but driving an EV in the winter makes you lose all sense of reality and distance).
Driving a fully electric vehicle for the first time is a leap of faith. I don't want to sugar coat it. There is a lot of variances that can make or break the experience for you. Climate, traffic, speed, hills, infrastructure all play a part in whether a fully electric vehicle will work for you.
Do you live in a climate that gets below freezing in the winter?
The Nissan Leaf will work for you if you drive less than 80 km (50 miles) in a day or if you have access to a charging station throughout the day to increase your daily range to 160 km (100 miles).
Do you live in a climate that does NOT get below freezing in the winter?
The Nissan Leaf will work for you if you drive less than 130 km (81 miles) in day or if you have access to a charging station throughout the day to increase your daily range to 260 km (162 miles).
If you drive on a highway your entire commute you need to reduce the amount of range you will get out of your car. The faster you drive, the less range you will get. I find that 80 km/hr (50 miles/hr) is the line in the sand. If I drive faster than 80 km/hr I use more range than I am driving. If I can keep it under 80 km/hr then I am able to use range 1:1 or even regenerate range.
If I did not have access to charging at work I would not be able to get to and from work each day in the winter. I didn't know this when I bought my car as no one knew what the impact on the range would be based on the new improvements that were made to the 2013 Nissan Leaf. I get better range than previous models but the colder temperatures (especially below -5C/23F) really impact the battery temperature and its ability to convert that into range. I had no problems making the round trip when it was -3C but as soon as it got below -5C I ran into problems.
Having access to infrastructure reduces the stress that can come with loss of range. The Nissan Leaf navigation system will show you were charging stations are in the area in which you are driving. The US, British Columbia and Quebec are leaders in EV infrastructure. If you live in any of these areas you are going to have access to a large number of charging stations. This makes the decision to buy a fully electric vehicle so much easier because you know you can plug in while you have a cup of coffee and gain a bit of range.
My 10 Favourite Things About the Nissan Leaf
- I don't have to pump gas. I don't even know what gas costs anymore!
- I can turn the climate control in the car on from my desk using my phone or computer.
- I know exactly how my car is performing and how efficient I am driving so I can make adjustments on the fly.
- There is a community of people who drive Leaf's. We are a lot like bikers really with our secret wave and all.
- The car is roomy. I actually even feel like I have more space than I did with my Mazda 6.
- I can access data on my car and my driving online and it ranks me against other Leaf owners in my region and globally. Not that I am competitive AT ALL.
- The accessories battery is charged by a solar panel on the roof.
- I grow trees. (The trees are a representation of CO2 emission savings).
- I can drive further on electric than plug in hybrids....more than twice the distance actually.
- I didn't have to give up the perks of a car to get an electric car. My Nissan Leaf has heated seats (front and back), heated steering wheel, navigation system, Bose stereo just to name a few.
The 1 Disadvantage of a Nissan Leaf
- Cold winter climates and the impact it has on the battery and range.
Related Posts - Check them Out
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I'm Scared to Buy a 100% Electric Vehicle