Nissan Leaf musings

In June of 2013, we leased a 2013 Nissan Leaf SV. It has since been our daily driver, making a 40 mile daily round-trip commute. It’s also the first car to leave the driveway on weekends. We like the car. A lot. It is fun to drive, spacious with 4 passengers, and fits 6 full shopping bags in the trunk. Our intent is to use all 12,000 miles per year allowed. After a few months driving, the fuel results are in.

  • electric bill: increased $30/mo.
  • gasoline: decreased by $100/mo.

Switching to electric resulted in an expense reduction of $70/mo. Our lease payment is $220/mo. If we reduce the lease payment by the fuel savings, our net payment is $150/mo. That’s a low payment for a $32,000 car.

Considering that 90% of our electricity here is renewable (hydro + wind), and electric cars are 90% efficient, and that ICE (internal combustion engines) are less than 30% efficient, the environmental impact of switching to electric is a big bonus.

The range is occasionally a limit. Lucas and I drove it to Meany Lodge. We’d have made the 75 mile trip except for the climb over Snoqualmie Pass. We had to stop at the pass and ‘juice up’ for a 1/2 hour, adding 10 miles of range. Then the Leaf nimbly climbed the forest service roads up to the lodge. We returned home with 25 miles to spare. Thousands of feet of elevation makes a meaningful difference in range.

It would be challenging if our only car was electric. We can’t pile 4 of us and luggage into the Leaf and drive to the Redwood Forests. Despite the Leaf’s great handling, the passes are just far enough away, uphill, in cold weather, that we’ll be taking the Fusion hybrid (37 mpg) on ski trips. For the 3% of our household driving that we don’t take the Leaf, range is the limiting factor.