Sorry been a while. Let’s talk Leaf.

I picked up my Nissan Leaf yesterday. It has been a moderately painful and confusing process. Nissan first gave me an early April delivery date, and their web site said they’d contact me if they needed to modify the delivery date by 2 weeks or more. They never contacted me, but delayed my delivery date by 1 week 4 times, thanks for that. The level 2 charger hasn’t been installed, but I’m not in a super rush because I think I can wall charge for a while.

Overall it drives well. It drives surprisingly light, despite being 3300 lbs. The ECO mode has kind of slow pickup, but the default drive mode seems pretty close to a normal car. It does seem to decelerate more than a regular gas car when you let up off the gas pedal, but it’s not too bad. The limited range makes you very conscious about battery and range, so I find myself checking range left very frequently. Maybe that will go away with time.

I think it’s not the prettiest car, but the interior is pretty nice and roomier than you might expect. The trunk is tiny though.

The range is a bit disappointing. I was expecting somewhere over 120 miles, but eyeballing the trip computer, I think I’ll be lucky to get 100 miles. I may have to charge at work until I get the level 2 charger installed at home. The Level 2 charger will charge in 8 hours, while the wall charging I’m doing now supposedly takes about 18 hours.

The electronics are the most sophisticated I’ve ever seen in a car(not a surprise because I haven’t bought a car in 5 years, and I don’t keep up on car electronics). Among the nice features: play audio over bluetooth, built in usb-iphone connectivity, backup camera, lots of energy related display modes and configuration options, an iphone app which can set your cars charging schedule and tell you how much battery it has left. The battery telematics features are important because energy pricing can vary so widely, you might want to charge at night or not charge to 100% to preserve battery life.

Cost wise, all the incentives make it worth it. I think I’m going to be able to get a state 5k tax credit, a federal $7.5k tax deduction, a $1k deduction on the charger installation, and the carpool lane sticker. That means a real price about $8k off. I’m expecting mileage to cost me less  than $.05/mile compared to about $.12 for the Prius and $.18 for our Acura TL. The maintenance will be cheaper too due to the simpler design compared to a gas car, but I can’t accurately price it. The bigger savings will be the switch I’m making on my electric bill from regular pricing to Time Of Use pricing, which could easily save me $50/mo by itself. I’m not sure who is eligible for it, but I think everyone should investigate for themselves whether they can get TOU pricing and how much it would save.

Overall I’m pleased, but it’s still very early.

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