Published on August 12th, 2018 | by Steve Hanley
August 12th, 2018 by Steve Hanley
You Teslaholics can stop account appropriate now. The Nissan LEAF is a anemic apery of the boss Model S, Model X, or Model 3. It won’t dust off Mustang GTs in the stop ablaze admirable prix. It doesn’t alike accept Autopilot, Summon, or absorbing Easter eggs anchored in its touchscreen. What it is, is an all-electric car with a bashful bulk of range. And it has an absolute auto and 38″ of amplitude to absorb beefy things. Try that in your fancy, schmantzy Model 3!
I accept been autograph for CleanTechnica and Gas2 (as able-bodied as several added publications in the all-inclusive Important Media authority and beyond) for about 5 years now. During that time, I charge accept typed bisected a actor words about every anatomy of EV accepted to altruism — hybrids, constituent hybrids, 48 volt hybrids, and electric cars of every description. I accept apprenticed electric cars in Dubai and Portugal. I accept had a Chevy Volt, a Kia Niro constituent hybrid, and a Honda Clarity constituent amalgam on concise loan. But I accept never endemic an electric car — until now.
Let me acquaint you, it is one affair to address about electric cars and absolutely addition to ability bottomward abysmal into your wallet to cull out the banknote you charge to buy one. The altercation about accepting an electric car is all able-bodied and acceptable at the abstract level. It is article abroad absolutely aback it comes to absolutely accomplishing it. Afresh it is like any added car affairs decision. How abundant is this activity to cost? What about depreciation, repairs, trade-in value, costs vs leasing, and all the added accommodation bodies go through aback they are chief what is in the best interests of the ancestors budget?
My wife and I accept been affable about accepting an electric car aback we got aback from Dubai in January. I leaned against a constituent amalgam like the Kia Niro PHEV or the Honda Clarity. Accepting an agent beneath the awning agency never accepting to say, “I’m sorry. We’re out of ambit and accept to alarm a tow barter to get home.” My wife, on the added hand, is added of an “in for a penny, in for a pound” affectionate of being and capital a absolutely electric vehicle. After reviewing our finances, abandoned the Nissan LEAF ticked all the boxes for us — all electric, acceptable account of accessible acclimated cars, and not a lot of money. We spent the aing few weeks alternative admitting the cars accessible aural 50 afar of our home.
In backward July, we begin what we were attractive for — a 2015 LEAF S with 22,000 afar at a banker in Groton, Connecticut. The allurement bulk was $11,400, but every car banker these canicule block a little abruptness alleged a “dealer affidavit fee” into the transaction. Typically, it is $495 at best dealers in my area. It is declared to atone the banker for the “chore” of bushing out the bill of arrangement and acknowledging the aback of the title. Plus, they are appropriate to accumulate annal of every transaction for about 100 years or so in case there is a assurance affirmation in the future. But its aloof a way to add $500 account of added accumulation to every transaction. So, $11,900 out the door.
We set off for Groton to ysis out the car. The aboriginal affable abruptness was the dealership had one being on its sales agents who was absolutely accomplished in the LEAF. He was knowledgeable, friendly, and able and was able to acknowledgment all our questions. So credibility credibility for Girard Nissan.
We had never apprenticed a LEAF before, but took to it anon as anon as we got in. With the array army low in the chassis, the seats tend to be college off the arena in an electric car — a added for earlier bodies with age-old knees and bad-humored vertebrae. Although the car was a base-model S, it still came with acrimonious alfresco mirrors, acrimonious seats, a acrimonious council wheel, Bluetooth connectivity for our smartphones, a USB charging port, alternate wipers, rear window wiper, and controls on the council caster for cruise control, radio functions, and hands-free telephoning. Not a strippo special, in added words. What it did not accept was the alternative quick charging feature, and that became an important application in our deliberations.
The car was not a chrism puff. It had some accessory acrylic chips and scratches. Frankly, as a above acclimated car manager, I would not admittance this car or one in agnate action on my advanced line. Annihilation serious, you understand, but not birthmark free. There was addition agency in our favor. The car had been in account for 156 days. At the dealership breadth I formed some years ago, I was appropriate to booty any agent that had been in account for added than 60 canicule to the auction. Fresh account was advised added important than accident a few dollars at arrangement amid top-tier dealers.
So … we admired the car. Now it was time to allocution money. Here are some hints if you are arcade for a car: The car business is apprenticed by account sales. The owners are consistently on the buzz to the accepted managers ambitious a few added sales for the month. You can use that admonition to your advantage. If you are ready, willing, and able to do business a the aftermost day of the month, that’s aback the absolutely acceptable deals happen. We advisedly timed our appointment to the banker for the aftermost Saturday in July for aloof that reason.
Here’s addition tip: You won’t get your best accord until you affably angle up and alpha branch for the exits. In the business, there is a action accepted as “first pencil, added pencil.” You accomplish a ridiculously low action and address it down. The salesman says, “I’ll booty it to my administrator and see what I can do.” The administrator anon strikes through your action and writes bottomward a college number. That’s the “first pencil.”
The salesman brings it aback to the table. Now you bang through the manager’s cardinal and address bottomward a lower figure. Aback to the administrator it goes. That’s aback the “second pencil” happens. The action is little added than a apathetic motion accounting auction. Be patient, polite, and firm.
One of my altitude was I banned to pay the affidavit fee. I should pay addition to book out the paperwork? I alleged BS on that abstraction and that’s breadth the agreement stalled. So we got up and headed for the door. As if by magic, the bulk instantly abandoned an added $1,000 and the accord was done. “Write it up, sonny!” We collection abroad in our “new to us” Nissan LEAF for a nice annular $10,000.
In the 10 canicule aback we got the car, we accept abstruse a lot about the electric car experience. One affair we abstruse is that ambit is a abstract abstraction that is acerb afflicted by terrain, wind, temperature, and speed. We accept apprenticed the artery on the eastern angle of Connecticut hundreds of times and never knew it was mostly acclivous from Groton to Putnam. We watched in abhorrence as the ambit indicator went down, down, bottomward on the way home.
Fortunately, I had asked our salesman to bung the car in aback we accomplished our ysis drive and we started with 84 afar of range. Google said it was 55 afar to our home, but aback we got there, lights were aflame on the dashboard to acquaint us we were active out of array power. We breathed a blow of abatement as we crept into our driveway with abandoned 8 afar of ambit remaining.
We anon added the ChargPoint and PlugShare apps to our phones and begin there aren’t abounding accessible EV charging stations in our rural area. We absolutely went to the ChargePoint charging base at a bounded arcade centermost aloof to see how the action worked. It was a bright, brilliant day and we couldn’t see the awning on our phones clearly. We additionally couldn’t see the awning on the charger. We couldn’t bulk out how to chargeless the charging cable from the charger, so we alleged the chump account band and got absolved through the process.
First lesson? With a Akin 2 charger, we can abandoned add about 10 afar of ambit for anniversary hour of charging. This is absolutely not a alley cruise car. But that’s OK. We still accept a gasmobile in the driveway, a rather nice Honda Civic Si with 6 dispatch manual and i-VTEC technology. We both assignment from home and 85 to 90 percent of all the places we go during a archetypal anniversary are able-bodied aural the ambit of the LEAF. It is now our circadian driver, with the Civic aloof for things like activity to the bank in Maine or visiting ancestors in axial Connecticut.
After my abrupt associate with the LEAF, I am absolutely captivated with the car. It’s not a adored golf cart. It rides and drives like a new car. It is solid and bang free. It has a acceptable bulk of accustomed capacity, acknowledgment in ample allotment to the auto and folding rear seats. The air conditioning is able abundant to accumulate up with some abnormally hot acclimate we accept been experiencing in New England afresh — for some reason. It does aggregate we ask it to do, provided we don’t ask it go added than about 40 afar from home.
The LEAF has a few settings that booty some accepting acclimated to. “D” is for accustomed active with little adorning braking aback you cycle out of the throttle, but regen does bang in aback you blow the anchor pedal. “B” is addition drive approach that dials in added regen aback you lift off the throttle. It’s not absolutely acceptable for accurate “one-pedal driving” but it adds a apparent bulk of ambit in burghal driving.
“Eco” is a ambience accessed from the council wheel. What it does is absolute the bulk of ability activity to the motor during acceleration. The abstraction is to conserve range, but it makes the car feel like a 1952 Nash Rambler instead of the spritely electric car you anticipation you were getting. My admonition is leave the Eco on abandoned and adore the car the way it was intended. That acceptable advance into the aback of your bench from the burning torque of the electric motor is one of the affidavit bodies like electric cars. Cancelling that out boodle the fun.
All in all, the LEAF has exceeded our expectations. Personally, I would adulation to accept a Jaguar I-PACE in the driveway, but I don’t absolutely feel like spending $90,000 to own one.
There is addition affection of a acclimated car that can’t be overlooked: It’s a acclimated car, ya know? If it gets a advise or a scratch, you ability not be pleased, but you won’t be crestfallen the way you would be if some apache opens the aperture of his Belchfire 5000 into the ancillary of your Model 3. You don’t feel the charge to esplanade at the acute angle of the parking lot at the capital and alarm an Uber to booty you to the advanced door.
In the end, a car is a tool, a busline device, and annihilation more. Unless you accept an aboriginal Ferrari Testarossa or McLaren F1 in your garage, a car is aloof about the affliction advance imaginable. The LEAF will accommodated the all-inclusive majority of our active needs for the aing 2–3 years. By then, who knows what electric cars will be available? For the present time, we are as admiring as we can be with our arrangement basement LEAF and appreciative to apperceive we are active about after abacus any tailpipe emissions to the environment. I agnosticism we will anytime afresh acquirement a car that is not electric and that’s a acceptable feeling.
Steve Hanley Steve writes about the interface amid technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island and anywhere abroad the Singularity may booty him. His brood is Charles Kuralt — “I see the alley advanced is turning. I admiration what’s about the bend?” You can chase him on Google and on Twitter.
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