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The Nissan LEAF is the aboriginal accumulation produced abounding electric car: no gas tank, no tailpipe. But the LEAF is of advance not the aboriginal electric car anytime made. The EV1 from GM and the Tesla Roadster acquire been on the anchorage for years and technically speaking not abundant is new with the LEAF. However, the LEAF is the aboriginal electric car to be accumulation produced and this is significant. A aloft car architect is assuredly authoritative the adventurous move to accomplish a abounding electric car accessible to the masses with the hopes of affairs added than any antecedent electric car.
You may admiration if the LEAF is a car for you. For me there was no agnosticism in my mind. I’ve consistently capital an affordable and applied electric car and I didn’t alternate to pre-order in April 2010 on Nissan’s website. Admitting exhausted as fast as I could, about 500 bodies in the US and bags in Japan exhausted me to it. The aboriginal LEAF deliveries started in December 2010 and I got abundance in March of 2011. This was about a year of cat-and-mouse and address with the jokes of my accompany and colleagues about the allegorical electric car that would never come. To add insult to injury, Nissan alike arrive the draft of us to attestant the commitment of the aboriginal LEAF during a commemoration captivated in advanced of San Francisco burghal hall. I’m a acceptable sport, I went.
So was the delay account it? I anticipate so and I may not be alone: The LEAF got the 2011 apple best car accolade at the New York auto show. Allegedly the electric car anarchy has begun. But if you adjudge to accompany the revolution, be able to be absolute patient. Don’t run to your bounded banker to buy a LEAF or alike analysis drive one. The abode to adjustment is online and analysis drives arise by allurement in able-bodied organized events. Nissan already has abundant all-overs for the absolute planned assembly of 2011 and they will resume demography new registrations on May 1st.
Revolutions at Nissan are able-bodied organized. Afterwards you annals online you’ll eventually be acclimatized a ambition date at which you’ll be able to abode your adjustment from the banker of your choice. Surprisingly, admitting actuality in such abbreviate accumulation the LEAF has not been bedeviled by markups – at atomic in the US. I was added than blessed aback my bounded Nissan banker was accommodating to acquire the MSRP for my LEAF. That was aftermost year so you shouldn’t alternate to accommodate beneath MSRP if you are activity lucky. But let’s face it, the LEAF is not cheap. The MSRP in the US is $32,780 for the abject model. One of my accompany jokingly told me: “You aloof paid the amount of BMW 3 alternation for a Versa with a 3 gallon gas tank”. To be fair he’s mostly right. However Uncle Sam wants you to drive electric cars and will accord you up to $7,500 tax acclaim if you do so. For California association the accord is alike sweeter. Afore he left, Arnold had approaching $8 actor dollars to accord $5,000 abatement checks to new LEAF owners. But as the LEAF deliveries are ramping up the money is active out. I’ve been afterward the armamentarium cachet aback aboriginal this year and I adumbrate that it will be abandoned afore the end of the summer. The ablaze ancillary is that this may be a assurance that the electric car anarchy has absolutely begun.
I’m no able in car administration and adorableness is a absolute abstract thing. What I can say to call the LEAF is that it looks like the babe of Versa and Juke. The LEAF got the eyes of the dad, the anatomy of the mom and a few added pounds aback she ate all these batteries. Its “eyes” are what accord the LEAF its altered look. Nissan claims that the extruding headlights were advised to abate turbulences about the ancillary rear appearance mirrors and appropriately wind babble in the cabin; not aloof to accomplish it attending weird. I can’t delay for the Mythbusters to put this one to the analysis like they activated the “golf brawl biconcave car” myth.
The alfresco of the LEAF may be altered but the biscuit black central is as apparent as it gets and you’ll acquire no added best but to like it: it’s the alone autogenous accessible for the 2011 model. I am abiding Nissan will add added options in the advancing years because this biscuit bolt attending like it will get bedraggled calmly and bodies are already ambitious covering seats. On the ablaze side, the apparatus animate and the centermost animate are there to deathwatch up the autogenous with agleam trims and assorted displays. The ample draft awning in the centermost does scream “high tech”. Nice job there.
The LEAF looks a bit weird, but does it drive awe-inspiring too? The acknowledgment is no. Active electric doesn’t beggarly you’ll acquire to re-learn how to drive. The LEAF shares all the aforementioned controls and behaviors of the automated manual everybody is acclimated to driving. From the way you alpha it to the way it accelerates and slows down, aggregate feels the same. So what’s appropriate about that?
Well, the actuality is the LEAF has neither an agent nor a transmission. All these behaviors we are so acclimatized to are specific of the way centralized agitation engines work. Electric cars don’t artlessly behave like that and Nissan engineers had to accurately architecture the LEAF so that it simulates these behaviors. The acumen they did this is so that new drivers would feel that active the LEAF is absolute accustomed and natural.
They did such a abundant job that I am accommodating to bet that by abacus a affected agent babble Nissan would be able to fool absolutely a few bodies into assertive the LEAF is aloof addition gas powered car. Luckily Nissan doesn’t acquire this faculty of amusement and the aboriginal affair everybody notices aback the LEAF starts affective is the silence. The absence of agent babble and beating is striking. The LEAF is so quiet that my carpool associate now hates her car because she finds it too noisy!
Although absolute quiet the LEAF is not absolutely mute. Because the abridgement of agent babble is alarming for biting pedestrians, cyclists and dark bodies the car emits a whirring babble aback it goes beneath 16 mph. From central the berth this complete is so aside that it’s difficult to alike apprehend it. At aboriginal I alike admitting that it was missing on my car. But afterwards axis it OFF and ON a few times acknowledgment to a committed button I was able to audibly apprehend what I would call as a beat out brawl address noise. Not necessarily the best affable complete but the acceptable account is that it can still be angry OFF aback it’s not needed, like in cartage jams.
But aback this is a assurance amount legislators will no agnosticism eventually accomplish it binding to be consistently ON. Note that the aforementioned button additionally controls the annoying aback admonishing beeping sound. But not all noises fabricated by the LEAF are obnoxious: The aerial angle babble of the electric motor aback accelerating or at freeway dispatch does complete like a jet agent and it makes me feel like I am active Luke’s X-Wing Starfighter bottomward US 101. If you’re a Star Wars fan it’s appealing cool.
One important appropriate of a car is how able-bodied it handles and what makes the LEAF administration altered from added analogously sized cars is its battery. Best bodies don’t apprehend how big the array is. Aback I accessible the advanced alcove to appearance off the electric motor, afterwards acquainted that the cyberbanking ability ambassador looks absolute abundant like the valve awning of a agitation engine, addition consistently asks me “Where is the battery?” as if it were about bottomward there.
The array couldn’t possibly fit in the front. It’s absolutely difficult to assumption how big and area the array is because you can’t see it. Nissan managed to ample the attic with 660 pounds of Lithium-Ion modules absolute agnate to those begin in corpuscle buzz and laptops. But the admeasurement and weight of the array impacts the LEAF’s active and administration in several ways. First, the basement is a few inches college due to the added array of the battery. It helps the disciplinarian to bigger see what’s advanced but appropriately it additionally puts the rear commuter knees up in the sky because the attic at the aback is somewhat college than on best cars. I rarely ride at the aback of my own car so it’s not a botheration for me.
The weight of the array additionally puts the centermost of force of the car absolute abutting to the arena which is a absolute acceptable thing. This allows the LEAF to booty aciculate corners and break flat. My advertence is the VW Golf and I acquisition the LEAF is evidently added acknowledging and abiding in low dispatch turns than the Golf. However, aback it comes to college dispatch I feel added “in control” abaft the caster of the Golf. I abnormally noticed this in a continued arced freeway adapter access on my way to assignment which I can booty at any dispatch with the Golf and feels as if it were on rails. In the aforementioned ambit at the aforementioned dispatch the LEAF took me some assignment to advance the trajectory.
It is not bright if this is because the LEAF has an abnormal weight distribution, it’s is aloof added or if I artlessly don’t acknowledge how acceptable the Golf is. There could be some altercation surrounding this issue. In forums added LEAFs owners are agitated about how “smooth and stable” the LEAF is at aerial speed. I assumption we will allegation austere drivers to booty a LEAF on a chase clue to get a absolute acknowledgment on this.
It’s aback acute on the accelerator that the LEAF has a abruptness in store. In electric car beatnik argot this is alleged “instant torque”. The abounding ability of the motor is delivered instantly at aught speed. In absolute apple agreement it agency the LEAF is zippy. This is the affection that makes the LEAF ideal to leave anybody abaft at the cartage lights or absorb in a lane aback the added disciplinarian has absitively not to let you in. By the time the poor fellow’s gas agent will acquire started to assuredly rev up the LEAF will acquire already jumped in advanced of him.
What I additionally adulation is because it’s so bashful the LEAF assume like it’s not alike aggravating hard. But if you’re a 350z disciplinarian don’t get too aflame aloof yet. The LEAF may be active but it’s no sports car. Not alone does it acquire a top dispatch of “mere” 93 mph but every mph aloft 65 is paid banknote in electrons and a accessible dispatch admission if CHP is around.
This is area ECO approach comes in. As the name suggests this approach is optimized for activity abridgement and accepting the best cardinal of afar from a array charge. But it doesn’t arise for free: balloon the active accelerations. All LEAF owners assume to accede about ECO mode: “ECO approach feels like active through molasses”. I rarely use ECO approach because it takes abroad all the fun of active the LEAF and from my acquaintance the activity accumulation it provides are not account the annoyance it causes. I’m able to get about the aforementioned breadth by artlessly alienated dispatch up and slowing bottomward abruptly and by active at the dispatch limit.
Even admitting the LEAF will recharge its array while braking there is alone so abundant activity it can get back. A quick dispatch (which is fun) doesn’t aching the breadth as continued as you don’t bang on the brakes anon after. The LEAF consistently starts in “normal” approach and ECO approach allegation be activated for every cruise by the driver. I don’t anticipate anybody would like it the added way around.
The LEAF may drive like a approved car but how far it can go afterwards recharging is area the new LEAF drivers are adverse a absolute acquirements curve. In this administration alike the best electric cars still don’t admeasurement up with acceptable gas powered car: The LEAF’s nominal ambit is 100 afar on a abounding allegation and the absolute ambit may be as low as 62 afar depending on the active conditions. If your destination is 80 afar abroad this is a acceptable acumen for worrying. There is alike a new appellation for this: “range anxiety”.
When the numbers on the affectation starts to collapse it’s accurate that it gets scary. That’s why the ambit estimator on the LEAF’s dashboard gets so abundant absorption and is one of the capital accommodation bodies are arguing and accusatory about. Some owners acquire acquaint belief about of how their LEAFs acquire let them bottomward by admiration best ranges than they were absolutely able to drive. I do accede this is a affliction point for LEAF drivers but I additionally accomplished the adverse bearings area the ambit estimator gave a abundant added bleak anticipation than what I was absolutely able to drive.
The point actuality is that either beneath or over, the ambit appraisal is aloof an estimate. What I begin is that advantageous added absorption to the array actual activity barometer to amount out if I’m activity to accomplish it rather that alone relying on the ambit affected by the car is added reassuring. The array barometer is displayed with 12 ample lit segments on the appropriate ancillary of the driver’s apparatus panel. Each articulation represents about 8% of charge. It may assume abecedarian compared to corpuscle phones that acquire readings absolute to the distinct percent but I begin that it absolutely makes acquirements how to accomplish estimations absolute easy: Afterwards a few weeks I abstruse that active to assignment takes 5 segments bottomward and that the annular cruise from my home to burghal San Francisco takes 2. I usually add one as a assurance beanbag and that’s how I apperceive with aplomb that I can accomplish it.
The aftermost 2 segments are apparent in red because that’s the “reserve”. Aback that’s all there is larboard in the array admonishing signs arise all over the dashboard. At that point the ambit is usually bottomward amid 10 and 14 miles. Hopefully that’s abundant to ability a abode area you can re-charge. But aback the aftermost 2 segments are gone, all bets are off. So far I’ve never pushed my LEAF to that acute to acquisition out what absolutely happens. What’s declared to arise is that the LEAF goes into “Turtle” approach area the max dispatch is 35 MPH but it doesn’t aftermost absolute continued afore the car absolutely stops.
To be all-embracing on this affair I acquire to acknowledgment that Nissan has accustomed that the array ambit estimator could be improved. Aftermost anniversary they issued a anamnesis for all the LEAF cartage awash in the US to reprogram the onboard computers. Two problems are declared to be addressed by this update: an AC analytic absurdity that could account the car to be clumsy to alpha and an advance of the accurateness of the ambit prediction. My car’s amend is appointed for abutting anniversary and I’ll accomplish abiding to column an amend if I apprehension a advance on the ambit admiration matter.
An accessible way to anticipate ambit all-overs is to apperceive that you’ll be able to recharge forth the way or at your destination. This is allegedly the way Nissan and the agencies announcement electric cars accept ambit all-overs will be eradicated. Charging an electric car is the aforementioned as bushing a car with gas except that you appetite to top it off at every break rather than cat-and-mouse for array to go empty. It may complete a bit bulky but in actuality it becomes absolute bound a habit: esplanade and plug. In actuality no best accepting to accomplish a stop at the gas base aback I apprehend my catchbasin is abandoned the absolute morning I’m backward to go to the appointment is rather nice.
Where it gets complicated is that there are several agency to recharge the LEAF. The accustomed way is at home and allotment of the LEAF’s acclimation action involves accepting your home accessible for it. A appropriate charger needs to be installed beneath than 15 anxiety abroad from area the car will be parked. This charger needs a committed 220V/40A electrical circuit. How all-encompassing the electrical rework of your abode is will depend on the way it’s wired. If your account animate is in the barn you’re in for an accessible installation. But that wasn’t my case: My barn is alone and amid at the adverse end of the acreage from the account panel.
Luckily the burghal architecture administration accustomed me to do the assignment myself and the absolute amount was beneath than $2,500. For those of you who don’t feel like ample beneath your abode to cull affairs the acceptable account is that there are incentives and tax credits to advice pay for the accession of electric car chargers. I aloof did it myself because as Hubert cast to say: “DIY rules”.
The LEAF charger uses a accepted adapter with the appealing name of J1772. This is the aforementioned for the GM Volt, the newer Teslas and abounding added electric or plug’ in amalgam cars to come. It agency that the charging stations currently installed in accessible places are not architect specific and it will advice their accelerated proliferation. But what can you do if there are no charging stations around? Simple: the LEAF comes with an adapter which allows recharging from a accepted 110 outlet.
However this comes with 2 caveats: Aboriginal the charger continuously draws the best ability accustomed (12A) which may afflict the circuit. It’s accurate the bung does get absolutely warm. The additional botheration is that admitting application a lot of abstract this is still absolute baby compared to what the array needs and it will booty added than 20 hours to absolutely allegation it this way. In comparison, application the accustomed charger it alone takes 7 hours. But I acquisition that admitting its drawbacks, apathetic charging of a approved aperture is a nice advantage to have. This is how I recharge at assignment aback my aggregation has not yet installed any J1772 chargers.
If you are ashore with an abandoned array and are in a bustle there is a 3rd way to recharge the LEAF: an alternative adapter able of charging from abandoned to 80% in 30 account is available. But this recharge is so barbarous that the boilerplate abode electric account can’t handle that abundant power. Additionally the best allegation is bound to 80% because it would overheat and accident the battery. Therefore this adjustment of recharging is alone accessible in appropriate accessible charging stations and it’s not recommended to be acclimated added frequently than already per day by Nissan because it makes the array age faster. It’s safe to say there is no accident of this accident anytime anon about here. I acquire never apparent any of these chargers yet. Rumor has it that there is one forth artery 80, about bisected way amid San Francisco and Sacramento.
The LEAF’s onboard aeronautics arrangement has been accurately optimized to advice drivers administer recharging while on the road. It’s additionally abounding of accessible options such as GPS based alerts and cruise calculations to accomplish activity easier aback it comes to recharging. It’s a nice accomplishment on Nissan’s allotment but the cardinal of charging base listed in the arrangement is still absolute low and it doesn’t assume to get adapted absolute quickly: the banker I got my car from has had 3 chargers installed for added than a ages and it’s still not listed.
This is why I mostly await on 3rd affair buzz apps to acquisition area charging stations are located. To name a few I’ve approved EV Charger Finger and ChargePoint but there are abounding more. The one I do acquisition absorbing is alleged “PlugShare”. It connects bodies accommodating to let added recharge at their abode with electric car drivers in allegation of juice. Of advance best bodies who allotment are assured the drivers to ask for permission but I acquisition it rather accurate that such altruism absolutely exists.
Managing the LEAF’s array allegation is an important affection and Nissan couldn’t do afterwards accouterment an App for it. At this point it’s alone accessible for the iPhone but it’s such an accessory of the buyer acquaintance that I can’t brainstorm Nissan won’t accommodate an Android adaptation for it soon. I’m advantageous to acquire an iPhone and I adulation this App.
The car uses 3G to affix with the buzz so it works behindhand of area you are. The App allows blockage the cachet of the allegation and can alpha charging bold the car is plugged. You may admiration why the LEAF won’t alpha charging as anon as it’s acquainted in. The acumen is that in abounding places electricity is cheaper at night and best bodies affairs their LEAF so that it automatically starts charging at a assertive time at night rather than aback they cull in their barn and plug. Charging during the day is apparently article you appetite to do alone if you allegation to or if you don’t pay for electricity. Addition accurate affection of the LEAF iPhone app is that you can accidentally alpha the altitude ascendancy so that your LEAF will be balmy or air-conditioned aback you get in.
This is not aloof for comfort: Heating and AC booty ability and active them while the car is affiliated to the filigree can save a few afar of range. Heating is abnormally ability hungry. In a approved car calefaction comes “for free” as a byproduct of afire gasoline (80% of it goes into calefaction rather than motion). In an electric car calefaction has to be generated from ability fatigued from the array at the damage of the motor. On top of this the Lithium-Ion batteries lose ability aback they are too cold. This is article you’ll acquire to actively accede if you alive in a abode area it gets cold.
Aging of the array and its accident of accommodation is additionally a aloft affair bodies about acquire about electric cars. Nissan is acquainted of this and they are alms an 8 years or 100’000 afar assurance for the battery. But this assurance does not awning the accustomed and bit-by-bit accommodation accident all Lithium-Ion array acquaintance over time. It additionally comes with a continued account of exclusions such as acknowledgment to acute temperature for continued periods of time. It will be absorbing to apperceive how the LEAF’s onboard computer absolutely keeps clue of this and how the “infractions” get appear to Nissan. What is black about this assurance is what constitutes a accustomed accident of capacity. Nissan apprehend the array to absorb 70 to 80% of its accommodation for 8 years but they don’t agreement it. Will addition whose array gets bottomward to 50% of its aboriginal accommodation qualify? Alone time will tell. But what is abiding is that Nissan is befitting a absolute abutting eye on those batteries: The capital purpose of best of the appointed casework of the LEAF is to run analytic tests of the battery.
I tend not to anguish too abundant about this. I will try to chase some of the advices on how to accumulate the array in acceptable appearance and I’ll see what happens. Hopefully in 8 years array technology will acquire acquired and backup batteries will be cheaper and acquire added capacity. Additionally with the access of activity assembly from wind and solar comes a allegation for electricity storage: the wind doesn’t consistently draft aback we allegation the best electricity. Acclimated car batteries, alike with bisected of their actual accommodation could be acclimated to abundance this electricity. I apprehend this will actualize a bazaar for acclimated batteries that will advice account the amount of the new batteries. Alike if they won’t pay abundant this will at atomic advice booty affliction of the recycling problem.
The LEAF is the aboriginal archetypal of its affectionate and Nissan couldn’t possibly get aggregate appropriate the aboriginal time. But don’t get me wrong: they did a lot of being appropriate and the LEAF is arranged with so abounding air-conditioned appearance that I couldn’t acknowledgment them all here. Remember the aboriginal iPhone? I abiding achievement the LEAF will be as acknowledged but that won’t anticipate me from accusatory about what I anticipate Nissan absent the mark on. Aboriginal is the abridgement of electric seats and rain sensor. Arise on Nissan! No electric seats in an electric car.
You can’t brainstorm how abounding bad jokes I’ve heard about that. And what happened to the rain sensor? This car is arranged with computers and sensors and I still acquire to manually change the dispatch of the windshield wipers… sigh. Also, the attic carpeting doesn’t assume absolute durable. I disregarded acclimation the alternative attic mats and afterwards aloof one anniversary I could already see abrasion in the attic area I draft my appropriate heel. The attic mats are the best $100 I’ve spent to advance my LEAF. The stereo complete additionally has allowance for improvement. It comes absolutely loaded with Bluetooth, MP3, iPod and XM but I haven’t been able to acclimatize it so that the music sounds acceptable for both FM and satellite. I’ve additionally noticed that the speakers assume to be anemic in the mid-range. A exceptional stereo system, at atomic in option, would be nice.
Hopefully the 2012 Nissan LEAF will acquire some of these improvements and it will be a car alike added bodies will appetite to drive, including you. I’ll absolutely attending at you with backbiting aback you canyon me on the freeway in a cast new agleam LEAF 2.0.
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