We received a comment on a post a couple weeks ago from someone (David Stead) who was about to go buy a Nissan Leaf. One of the other commenters requested that he update us from time to time on what it’s like to own and drive the Leaf. David, luckily, agreed to do that and left a wonderful comment the other day that I thought deserved a wider audience. Here’s the full update:
I’ve had the car since last Friday.
It is more fun than a van full of cheerleaders.
So far, the limited range hasn’t changed my weekend driving. My S.O. drives it to work, 20 miles or so each way, with no problems.
It is quick and quiet. And it’s quiet. I mean, it makes no noise. Did I say that enough?
Pedestrians are a problem. They walk right out in front of the car, even though they should see it. Auditory cues are apparently the dominant safety factor in parking lot situations. Leaf drivers all know this after about one day driving it around. You have to be CAREFUL with pedestrians.
Another issue Leaf drivers realize quickly is the amount of energy used in moving a vehicle down the road. The real-time energy usage gauges are an eye opener.
Abrupt, aggressive acceleration is a watt-killer. This is a lesson that can be crossed over into gas car driving. Ease away from the light, and save a ton of money on gas.
Also, in an electric car, there is no source of heat as a by-product of combustion as in a gasoline or diesel engine, so you have to consume battery power to heat the cabin. We were spoiled by our gas cars. Riding around in a tee-shirt in January is a luxury, it turns out. You have to be stingy in the electric car, and we are already habituated to donning our coats before getting into the Leaf.
No problemo though, as we consider ourselves adventurers with this car.
The Leaf is by far the most fun vehicle I have driven, with the possible exception of my old GSXR1000. It accelerates smartly, and the always-on torque makes the transition from 35mph to 60mph effortless. The normal sensations associated with acceleration, the noise and vibration, the gear-shifts, and the feeling that the car is “diggin-in” are not present. There is instead only a constant gentle push on your back as the car swims through the air as effortlessly as a barracuda through a swimming pool.
My only regret so far is that I wish they had not made all the concessions they made to make it look and feel like a “normal” car.
EV’s are a new paradigm, and I resent being strapped with vestigial things like a shifter and even foot controls. There simply is no reason to operate the car with your feet. An XBOX controller would be a nice operator interface, for example. But the old and the mentally-challenged would be confuddled by a totally new vehicle, and I understand the market imperative of not getting too far out ahead of your potential consumers.
Image: Nissan Leaf courtesy of shutterstock