I hope that the EV charging community stays polite as stations grow from moderately active to busy. It is nice to highlight the day meeting another person on the electric path to cleaner air and safer cars. A short chat about the genuine shared interest in electric vehicles makes that transition feel more active.
I recently met a seasoned Tesla Model S owner at a charging station. We fell into a conversation over the mechanics of the charging port. Talking with Charles, I found out that he test drove one of the original Tesla Model S models, before the car was on sale. Yes, he was really an early electric car fan.
The Tesla sparked his interest to such a degree, in fact, that he decided to get one during that test drive — one of the earliest Tesla test drives. And he did. As one of the earliest Tesla owners, he is an experienced EV driver and accustomed to the Model S.
I wondered what he would think of the drive of the Nissan LEAF. Everyone I’ve let test drive my LEAF drives a gas car or a hybrid. They are always awed with the Nissan LEAF, the smooth, quiet, agile control of the LEAF. Of course, the LEAF leaves gas cars behind in large part simply because it’s electric. So, I asked Charles to take a spin in the Nissan LEAF so that I could get his reactions compared to his Model S.
Unsurprisingly, I did not find that awe, and that quiet drop in the conversation as the ambiance of the EV takes hold. There wasn’t the normal atmosphere shift as the fresh driver grasped the instant torque, the fluidity, the power, and the silence of an all-electric car.
Charles, on the other hand, was used to these things. Still, he liked the Nissan LEAF, but didn’t pop expletives like a gas driver or hybrid driver driving it for the first time.
He said, yes, so pleasantly quiet like the Tesla, and that the LEAF feels grounded, quite strong, and more substantial than he thought it might feel. His reactions were subdued compared to other folks, but it seemed the humble Nissan LEAF had him thinking. He said for an EV in that price range he felt it was a great buy. He inquired more about the pricing. Perhaps he knew people with a budget more suited to the Nissan LEAF than a Model S, Model X, or even the new Model 3. Perhaps he was trying to compare to what he expected of the Model 3.
The Nissan LEAF torque, though impressive for me and the hybrid drivers who have driven my EV, was not up to the instant powerful finesse of the Tesla Model S that Charles drives.
The main thing that Charles noted a few times in the comparison was how much he missed the touchscreen of his Model S. As much as I feel I am in the future with my Nissan LEAF, it seems Charles saw the busy-ness of the dash old-school. He talked on about his appreciation for the Tesla all-in-one computerized touchscreen in the Model S. He missed that Tesla futurism combined with Tesla minimalism. Who can blame him?
Charles loved that all could be controlled from that one screen. With no separate instrument cluster, the driver easily has many options at his fingertips. He sees his blind spot when changing lanes. Autopilot settings are all displayed on that one screen. And it’s just easy.
Zach Shahan points out, “In a world of too much information, too many distractions, and too many notifications, people seem to appreciate minimalism more than in other parts of history. ‘Yes, please, simplify my life!’ Who isn’t calling out for such help?”
Simplicity is kind on the consciousness. Safety is easier via the touchscreen as well, Charles noted. He shared some of the safety features he uses on the touchscreen of his Tesla Model S. He can switch the screen to the backup camera to check out if there is a vehicle in his blind spot before changing lanes. He noticed quickly that the LEAF lacks such a feature.
Of course, the Tesla Model S is safer than the rather safe 2015 Nissan LEAF that we were in. Nissan has added autonomous features and the 2018 Nissan LEAF will be safer than the 2015 is, but the Model S is still the safest car ever tested by the NHTSA, according to its scoring system.
As we talked, we wondered if a fatal accident that morning in Sarasota might have been avoided with autonomous features. Given the specifics of the accident, it does seem possible life could have been saved.
Zach continues, “Spending a couple of months with a Model S, I absolutely love the more minimalist design of the car. I love the clean and open spaces and surfaces. I’ve enjoyed the premium interiors of Mercedes and BMW models, but I’d rather not go back to them now — honestly.”
After his Nissan LEAF drive, Charles asked me to send him some specs of the 2018 Nissan LEAF. He responded with appreciation, remarking on the excellent, “comprehensive post” I sent him.
It may be he is passing along the information and his approval of the Nissan LEAF to people in the market for an affordable EV. Useful information and sound news travels. And we try to help that part of the actual news here in the land of clean technology, CleanTechnica.com.
Survey results from our new EV report. Responses came from over 2,000 EV drivers across 26 European countries, 49 of 50 US states, and 9 Canadian provinces. Responses were segmented according to region — North America vs Europe — and type of electric car — plug-in hybrid vs Tesla vs non-Tesla fully electric car.