Farid with his 2019 Leaf. Photo courtesy Farid Sharhidinejad

Nissan Leaf for Energy Security & Independence

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Farid Shahidinejad responded to my Facebook request for stories about the Nissan Leaf. When Farid’s friend, an engineer who worked in the petrol industry, told him that Australia only has 24 days’ supply of petrol in reserve, he did his research and bought an electric car. His initial purchase was a 2015 Nissan Leaf for security. He didn’t want his family to be caught up in an energy crisis.

“If there were to be a war or an embargo, petrol would be scarce.” Fuel prices were already rising (and still are — going up 25% over the Easter weekend, and back down when the working week resumes — it’s a cartel).

Not only would an electric car charged with solar guarantee transport, but it could also be used to barter for goods and services should the market break down. “I’m not a big-time prepper, but the thought crosses your mind when you have young children. I needed to get something that would not only be a reliable form of transportation during difficult times but I could also power my home appliances with it in the event of a global catastrophe. Also, being the only person with a working vehicle would allow for bartering.” These were Farid’s thoughts in 2018. Since then, we have had the global COVID epidemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sometimes it seems like one crisis after another.

In 2018, Farid found a friendly importer who would sell him a used Nissan Leaf from Japan (they are also right-hand drive). He purchased the 2015 Leaf for AU$19,000 with 15,000 km (9320 miles) on the clock. He had spent a lot of time researching the car, as he wanted to make the right decision. His main concern was around battery degradation.

He wanted a pearl white one, with steering wheel controls and with a low number of kilometers on it. The importer managed to get him one with very little battery degradation. He was very confident to make the purchase after meeting the importer and having his dozens of questions answered. This boosted Farid’s sense of security. So much so that they have kept in touch and Farid has referred several people who have gone on to purchase their own cars.

Although the importer has given Farid a $500 spotter’s fee for each purchase, Farid prefers to pass this on as a discount to the new owners. “I don’t refer for the money, but because I love the car.”

Owning the Leaf has been a great experience for Farid and his family. “I love everything about it but I had to carefully plan trips to make sure I had enough battery. I found that with the 24 kWh version, I just had enough to get to places if I planned things correctly. After 3 years of ownership, the battery had degraded maybe another 10–20% and it was time to sell.” How many km had he done in this time? “I found myself having to charge more frequently than usual at rapid chargers and they were often broken. Charging became a hassle.”

Did he hypermile? “Yes, absolutely, I’d flip between N, D and B constantly when I went on longer trips.” He felt stiff at the end of the day from the tightening in his body from the stress. “That was one major reason I sold the little one.” Many CHAdeMO chargers are older and some Leaf drivers are concerned about their availability. It should be noted that most new public fast chargers are equipped with CCS2 and CHAdeMO, so Leaf owners need not worry.

Some of Farid’s issues with battery degradation and charging brought to mind the frequent FUD that we hear about how poor EV batteries are. Like all FUD, there is some basis in truth, as early EVs did not have the quality of battery that newer ones do — as Farid has experienced.

In 2021, Farid decided to buy a 2019 Leaf for $28,000, also white, with 19,000 km (11,806 miles) on the clock from the same importer. “Towards the end of the COVID pandemic, I put my old Leaf up for sale. The base model 2019 Nissan Leaf I purchased was great. I really like the epedal which makes it easy to drive in traffic. The car has a camera that warns me about near accidents and it helps me park. The range is more than perfect. It can get me to and back from the furthest place I usually go to, which is from Tamborine Mountain to Boonah and back.” (150 km/93 miles) Farid works from home designing websites for businesses.

Nissan Leaf for security.
Farid with his 2019 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy of Farid Sharhidinejad.

It took Farid about 4 months to sell the 2015 Leaf. “I saved maybe $12000 over the time I had the car and sold it for $3300 less than I paid initially. So the car earned me $8700.” What was the battery state of charge? The main issue was the lack of range. They would also see the newer car and ask about that. The car finally sold to a purchaser in Melbourne who made the 1600 km trip to pick the car up. “I have no idea how he made it back in two days because the car would need to be charged multiple times and it would likely overheat, but he somehow made it!”

Farid plans to keep his 2019 Nissan Leaf for security until it dies or until his 11-year-old daughter gets her licence. “I love the Nissan Leaf but I’m also watching all the new EVs that are entering the market at much lower prices, which is fantastic. I’ll stick to Nissan for now, but the MG EV is a bit tempting to look into. It seems to be the top selling EV in England, which is quite a feat.”

Farid chose not to have his dashboard or radio converted to English. With the old 24 kWh Leaf, he was able to find plenty of videos on YouTube: “They would walk you right through the process. With my current Leaf, I haven’t had much luck finding videos for it. I use the Google translation app. I just aim my phone at the dash and it translates everything in real time. What I do then is memorise the sequence of the most frequently accessed features I want, as holding the phone against the dash is not that easy. The glare of the screen makes it difficult for the camera to pick up the text, so you have to aim and hold it in the right angle. Often times the menu names as they come translated are deceiving, as they’re a literal translation from Japanese, so sometimes the result is nonsensical or comical.”

Nissan Leaf for security
Using Google Translate to work the dash. Photo courtesy of Farid Shahidinejad.
Nissan Leaf for security
Sat Nav in Japansese. Photo courtesy of Farid Shahidinejad.

Farid has a 5 kW solar system that he installed 4 years ago. This gives him energy security for his car. “I work from home, so I charge between midnight and 4am when I choose to charge it using the grid, as I have a special rate with Powershop where I pay only about 9 cents per kWh. In sunny weather, I don’t plug in at night but plug in after I drop the kids at school, so it goes between 10am and 2pm with solar. You can set the car to only allow charge between certain hours.”

Nissan Leaf for security
Zen trickle charger. Photo courtesy of Farid Shahidinejad.

This is the charger he used to use with the 2015 Leaf. He liked it because you could get the trickle down to 8A for slower charging when it’s cloudy outside. The drawback was the max was 12A while the OEM charger is 15A. He wishes he could’ve kept it, as it’s been quite a cloudy year.

With solar power on the roof and an electric car, Farid and his family can feel energy secure. They have a reliable form of transport free of the constraints of the bowser and the tyranny of the oil cartels.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 748 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth