Auto Focus

The EV Experience: Nissan Leaf Drivers Speak Out (Part 1)

All-electric vehicles are finally in the real world. After 5,000 miles of driving, five Nissan Leaf users share their experiences on the ordering and buying process, charging challenges, figuring costs per mile, the driving experience and the specter of range anxiety. This is part one of a two-part blog, with photos.

The Leaf charges at our company’s loading dock. A full charge costs about $2.75 using an average national electricity cost of $.11/kWh. However, most Leaf drivers program the car with a cell-phone app to charge at night and pay off-peak electricity rates.
The Leaf charges at our company’s loading dock. A full charge costs about $2.75 using an average national electricity cost of $.11/kWh. However, most Leaf drivers program the car with a cell-phone app to charge at night and pay off-peak electricity rates.

Electric vehicles are finally moving from theory and the testing phase to everyday reality.

In this first comprehensive look at the real-world electric vehicle experience, we asked five Nissan Leaf users — the electric car most widely available now — to share their stories on the ordering and buying process, charging challenges, figuring costs per mile and the driving experience. And, while range limitations are real, these drivers answer the question, is “range anxiety” an ongoing factor or a relic of the pre-EV era?

George Whiteside, an acupuncturist and massage therapist in Seattle, expects to put 15,000 miles a year on his Leaf. He admits he “was not an EV enthusiast” and “was leery of the technology.”

Tom Tweed of La Jolla, Calif., is retired and says his wife primarily uses the Leaf. Tweed and his wife had considered converting their Mazda Miata’s internal combustion engine to an electric motor but decided not to “mess around with an expensive conversion” and to “buy a car from a major manufacturer with a warranty” instead.

Air traffic controller Jim Hamilton of Oceanside, Calif., admits he’d never call himself an early adopter. He also drives a hybrid SUV.

Kirk Gebb works for the facilities dept. for the school district in Eugene, Ore. He’s one of the first of about 20 Leaf drivers in his area. Gebb also owns a Prius.
 
At the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), facilities management fleet manager Jim Ruby and assistant director Dave Weil are helping the university to implement its “Tailpipe Endgame” program. The program is part of the university’s sustainability initiative that includes implementing a variety of alt-fuel and alt-power vehicles on campus, including hybrids, all-electrics and compressed natural gas (CNG). The university recently took acquisition of five Nissan Leafs with a goal of acquiring 50 in total along with other EV models.

Frustrating Delays in Ordering Process
For many, the ordering process was fraught with delays and hiccups due in part to a new reservation process. This procedure was further aggravated by the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March. As well, some buyers got caught in a computer programming mix-up from order to delivery, which resulted in some cars being delivered out of order from the reservation.

CONTINUED:  The EV Experience: Nissan Leaf Drivers Speak Out (Part 1)
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Comments

  1. Gotmyleaf [ September 25, 2011 @ 07:32AM ]

    Great start to real feedback on the Nissan LEAF! I put over 1,000 a month on mine as well and have been pleasantly surprised at how all of the negavtive hype about EV range and access is wrong. The car meets my needs and I have not purchased gas since I took the car home. There is a DC quick charger accessible to me near two of my customers' offices and that makes a huge difference for my range. Having access to level 2 stations at any Nissan dealer has also has been a huge plus.

  2. Fraggleglam [ September 29, 2011 @ 11:59AM ]

    Where are you living where there are DC fast chargers? I am in LA and of all the cities in the US, from what I understand there isn't one DC Fast Charger in the city.

  3. Stewball [ October 21, 2011 @ 09:53AM ]

    Fraggleglam--There is a DC fast charger installed in your city right now at Mitsubishi Motors North America, 6400 Katella Ave Cypress, CA. Ecotality has gained UL listing for their L3 DC Blink charging station, and many more will be installed in the near future. The infrastructure is being rolled out far slower than many early adopters had hoped, but it is coming, slowly but surely.

  4. Bill weaver [ October 24, 2012 @ 02:55PM ]

    Not fast enough, EVGO wants too much to use their chargers. Blink so far seems best.

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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News. He covers all aspects of the fleet world.

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