Stephen Puryear and his wife recently purchased a 2018 Nissan Leaf. They live in the Bay Area and owned an older Leaf prior to getting the new one. (They also have a Toyota Prius.) Mr. Puryear generously agreed to answer some questions for CleanTechnica about his new Leaf experiences so far.
1. Why did you choose the new Nissan Leaf, instead of a different EV like the BMW i3 or a Tesla? Did you look at alternatives and test drive them?
We wanted to upgrade from our old Leaf that was losing range on the battery. I am disinclined to get involved with Tesla for a number of reasons, including the price, availability and after market service.
2. Do you also have a Toyota Prius, and if so, what was the transition like to a full EV?
We also have a Prius. That transition was largely on my wife’s shoulders because she used it exclusively for a commute to Oakland. She was able to charge during the day in her parking spot and she also wanted access to the diamond lane.
3. How long have you had the Leaf now, and what are some of your initial impressions?
It has 589 miles on it, which is all me because the diamond lane stickers didn’t arrive until last night. So, my wife will take it over and start commuting in it every day. I am very happy with this car overall. I really like the “e-pedal” which starts regeneratively braking the car the moment that I take my foot off the accelerator. I got used to it right away, and I’m told that using it will increase the range. On the downside, the owner’s manual doesn’t match the model that we purchased, so it took me quite a while to get the “cruise control” light off. Also it’s got a version of “steering assist” which tried to steer me off the road once.
4. The official range of the 2018 Leaf is about 150 miles per charge. Have you found that to be accurate?
It has continued to hang right at 160, although it’s been warm enough this summer to keep it a little higher than it will be this coming winter.
5. The car presents feedback to the driver on various data points like miles and battery percentage remaining, battery temperature, battery capacity, energy economy, and on-demand energy. What do you pay attention to typically, and is having all of this information useful? Is there anything missing from the feedback the car provides?
Not so far. It has a battery percentage number and symbol that I glance at occasionally. It has so much more range than the previous Leaf that I am not very concerned, largely because I don’t get stuck in commute traffic.
6. Have you driven to the point where the battery charge was low and does the system warn you?
No, and I’m wondering if it’s optimal to let it discharge a lot before recharging it, or charge frequently. So far, I haven’t gotten down to 50% yet. See above for battery capacity icon.
7. Do you mostly charge at home, or have you tried some public chargers as well?
We can charge at home and my wife’s parking spot has a plug ready and waiting, although I think that she can stop paying a parking premium at work and just charge at home. We also charge the Prius here.
8. Did the vehicle come with a home charger, and how long does it take to charge at home?
It’s just a trickle charger, 1 phase, 110 vac. Never used it yet. I expect that it takes a while to charge that way.
9. Are you mostly using the Leaf for work commuting and around town driving?
10. Have you taken any longer trips to see how the car would handle them?
No. My wife has to drive to Sacramento about twice a week for work and I’m sure that she could make it each way with a charge in between with no worries.
11. Would you consider a drive out to Tahoe and back from the Bay Area, just to see what it would be like to charge on the road during a longer trip?
Not yet. I’ve read claims that one of the Indian Tata models will go 1,000 km. on a charge. Maybe then.
12. Have you joined a local Leaf owners group or an online forum to communicate with others?
13. What are the tax incentives your EV is eligible for?
As of 2018, up to $2,500 California State, up to $7,500 Federal, and $500 PG&E. But they change quickly, so watch out.
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