New owner & member here. I've been reading/lurking for a few weeks. Got the car about a month ago. So far meeting all expectations. Nice little ride. Many thanks for the incredible range of information and awesome level of discourse here. Much appreciated! You guys rock!
A few words about us:
- We're empty-nesters, both still working, living on the Front Range now 25 years, originally from the mid-west. Early careers in Germany.
- I work on the people-side of IT, and am fairly handy and technical by most folk's standards. My wife is not, but she's the more adventurous one.
- After driving practical-to-a-fault cars for many decades, in recent years we've switched over to all "fun" cars now. GTI and Z4 are sticks.
- We "hire" cars for a specific portion of our transportation needs. The Leaf will be a "second" car, intended for urban corridor use only.
- The Leaf is mostly an inexpensive way to get into an EV to learn about them firsthand. Very excited to be here!!!
Rationale for Leaf Plus vs. Leaf vs. used vs other competition:
- In contrast to some here, given the rebates and incentives available right now in Colorado and our expectations for this car, buying the larger battery and stronger motor made sense to us because of the increased performance and lack of range anxiety issues. That is, we're not optimizing for the last dollar spent/absolute best value for the dollar. We want a nicely equipped EV (leather interior, decent sound system, up-to-date tech package, etc) to use around town. If we want to go to the mountains, we'll either take the roadster (summer) or the Q5 (winter). Longer road trips remain the Q's domain. The Q is also our camper tug - we own a small Lance travel trailer (highly recommended for a couple, no kids). Basically, with the Q we bought the fastest, most fun, most responsive, least ponderous tow vehicle that could safely tow our chosen camper through the Rockies. That should tell you something about our mindset, LOL.
- We've been watching EV developments for some years, have test driven Tesla's a few times (S and 3); very nice, but they're too expensive for our purposes with this car (certainly worth the money in our view, but not a good fit for our needs, that is). Will be interested to see how this Leaf fairs over time, and what VW among others will bring to market in the next few years.
- I'm aware of the water-cooled battery concerns, and have read extensively here regarding various pros and cons. A lively debate, it seems. But my wife doesn't like the Bolt, and other options aren't really available in Colorado, practically speaking. After rebates and discounts, the Leaf is also thousands less right now than any other competitor with similar range. It's within a few hundred dollars of a similarly equipped Corolla, in fact, which is a roughly fair comparison in my view on the ICE side.
- As to timing, we had an older Tiguan R-line we had bought used that was about to step down in value (approaching 6 years and 50k miles), so we traded it for the Leaf. I've been waiting for 200+ range in an affordable EV, mostly due to resale/acceptance concerns looking downstream in a few years, and to eliminate winter range issues. We'll see if the bigger pack does a little better degradation-wise, but unless it's much worse under our usage and climate than expected, it should still be plenty functional for urban corridor use even in a worse case scenario when we're ready to move on to the next thing.
- We expect to save around $700/year in fuel expense after all factors are considered that I'm aware of. Since we ride public transit to work, we don't actually drive that far in a typical year. Nice perk just the same. Not a gating factor for us.
- Given our intended uses, FCDC isn't that important, frankly. In fact, I doubt we will ever charge away from home, the RTD train station or work. I imagine that concerns around CHadeMo's future are prolly well-founded in the U.S., but are moot for the moment. YMMV
- On our driving cycle, we're getting GOM range ~240 miles very consistently in warm summer months, with AC on. Avg ~4.1 mi/kWh. I've been driving the car the way I would any car, to find out how well it does. Temps in the 80's and 90's. Battery temp per the car's UI never leaves dead center even a little bit.
- I prefer the "B" mode - makes the car respond very much like a stick-shift in a middle gear, in that you get noticeable but not excessive engine braking as soon as you let off the accelerator. e-Pedal is a bit too sensitive for my tastes. "D" too light.
- In the winter, I'll prolly use Eco mode to reduce wheel spin. We do run true snows on dedicated wheels on all of our winter cars (not the roadster). The difference is night and day. I've twice driven around an accident unfolding immediately in front of me because I could, while those around me, most with AWD SUVs wearing all-seasons drove into it. Formative experiences in both cases. Expect to move the all-seasons to 17x7 aftermarket wheel and use the stock 17x 6.5's for the snows.
- Seeing around 1/3 of total energy as reported by the car from regen. That works. I'm aware that Nissan's UI is perhaps not that accurate, but accurate enough at this point for my purposes. Still early days here.
- Not a high performance car, but quite nice, actually. Plenty spunky. Rides nice - a good balance of firm but compliant. Doesn't wallow excessively in corners unless pushed hard. We don't actually care about being first, but responsiveness is important to us - the standard motor would feel a bit under-powered to us some of the time, given the cars we otherwise drive. Even our Q is 0-60 in sub 6 seconds.
- Some torque steer if you gun it in a corner, but otherwise well-behaved for what it is. FWD always pushes in a corner, but you have to stay on top of it to hold a smooth line. Steering is WAY too light. Hoping that stickier tires might mitigate that. The GTI has no such issues (other than pushing in a corner of course). Different animal though.
- The responsiveness is so high it takes some getting used to. A couple of times I've gone to make a move in traffic and stabbed at the accelerator as I'm accustomed in our other cars, only to find that I needed to immediately back off. You better have room to go if you "goose" it!
- We had a 240v/50amp service installed in our garage with the standard 14-50 socket by our neighbor, who's a master electrician. Currently, we charge roughly every other week. Expect more like weekly in the winter. Easy peasy. Actual all-in rate with fees and such is $0.13/kWh per our Xcel bill. We do pay for 100% wind energy. Solar is not an option at our location - too many trees.
Overall, given what we know so far, would I recommend our Leaf to someone with similar needs and expectations? Yep, sure would. But don't kid yourself - this isn't a general purpose car in our view.
Do your homework and choose wisely. We don't expect our roadster to do well off-road. That's not what it's for. Similarly, many would think we're slightly crazy for towing a 20' 3500# travel trailer at highway speeds with anything less than a F-150. Some would claim it's downright dangerous. But we did the math and researched carefully before buying our Q5. It's dead stable and quiet even in significant cross-winds. Our trailer is well within the Q's spec on every measure. Power is a non-issue (430 ft. lbs and an 8-speed) and it has brakes built for the autobahn - 4-pot Brembos up front, vented all around, and the same size rotors as a Silverado (not that it can tow like a Silverado, obviously). And yes, I own a hydraulic scale so that I can set my tongue weight to 400# without guessing.
The point is that conventional wisdom is sometimes not exactly right, but generally not completely unfounded either. Details matter, especially when venturing into new technical territory. As always, YMMV.
Long introduction. I hope it helps someone else contemplating a Leaf or some other EV.
Edit: fixed typo.