10 July 2019How it all began
The story begins in 2015 in Munich, where I've got a quick ride on BMW i3 around BMW Welt. I was pleased by smooth ride and overall quietness. That time there was no electric car that don't look like toaster or pregnant frog, also no electric cars were offering reasonable driving range. The ride was forgotten for a while.
Then my son got a task in school to compare gasoline, electric and fuel cell vehicles. While he was doing the research, I found that owning of electric car is not as expensive as it may look. With high gasoline price in Ontario, cheap electricity and government rebates, the total cost of ownership for gasoline and electric cars were almost the same. That gave me an idea to give it a try.
Right on time
That time the only electric car, that doesn't look ugly, was Hyundai Ioniq. Tesla was way out of my budget, so I was never considered it. Went to a Hyundai dealership, had a look on Ioniq on display. Didn't have a chance for a test drive, as it was a non-drivable demo. I liked it, but I was not brave enough to sign the deal. Also Bluelink is not available in Canada, and I was really want to start heater from the office and drive home in a toasty warm car.
Then 2017 come with announcement from Nissan. They finally face-lift the froggy Leaf and give it an outfit of a regular car. The acceleration looks good on paper, the range is more that I would need. So I went to Nissan dealer to have a look. They didn't have a Leaf for test drive, as the vehicle is in high demand, so single dealer in Ontario has them for test drive. I had a chance to seat in a Leaf, that was ready to be delivered to a customer. It looked Ok inside and out, so I decided to try. Dealer offered me an option to pay $2,000 deposit. When car arrives, take it for a test drive. If I like it, then I pay the remaining amount. If not, they return my deposit, and the next customer in line will buy it in a matter of minutes.
So I swipe the card and the waiting started. While waiting for delivery I read the user manual twice. Normally people don't even look at it, but what else can I do? The wait was long, Nissan doesn't have production capacity to deliver all the orders. While waiting a major change happen - government cancelled electric vehicles rebate. Vehicle has to be delivered by September 10, 2018 to be eligible for $14,000 rebate. It's a big chunk of money and nobody wants to loose them.
Thanks to Nissan, they rerouted their Leafs to Ontario to deliver as much as possible orders before September 10. Lucky me, I've got a phone call at the end of August from dealer, saying that I can come and see my Leaf. I was trading in on e of my BMW X3, the newer and most problematic 2013 35i. I drove it from the office to the dealer like I stole it - Sport+ mode, pedal to metal. This is important, as it give a good comparison of driving dynamics between well-known performance brand and just a regular EV.
Came to the dealer, got a key for Leaf and took it on a test drive. I didn't even had to leave the dealer parking lot, I felt everything from the first press to the pedal. It drives! In BMW you press the pedal and it jumps forward. In Leaf it jumps forward WHILE you move the pedal. There is no delay, no hesitation, it just REACTS! I really didn't feel that I lost driving dynamics switching from X3 to Leaf.
The decision was clear - wh ere to sign? Paperwork took a while, and finally I got the white beast with green number plate. Tried e-pedal and love it so much from the first minute, so I never switched it off.
I'm with Leaf for 10 month already. What can I say about it?
- The ride is quiet, you can hear the motor a little, but it's not loud at all. Most of noise comes from wind and tires. Suspension is not too soft, not too harsh, just like most of budget cars. Interior is pleasant, except armrest, that virtually doesn't exist. This is my largest complaint about the car.
- I was driving AWD for the last 15 years, so driving front wheel drive in winter requires some skills. It steers and brakes the same as AWD, but acceleration is much worse, even with dedicated snow tires. You really have to plan or departure from STOP sign. Even in summer I miss AWD from time to time. The problem is the torque of electric motor. It's high, Leaf has 320 Nm. If you have a heavy foot, the front tires will spin on every STOP sign.
- With such a torque the car is really fast from 0 to 60 km/h. You can beat anybody at traffic light if you want. Exceptions are Teslas, BMW M3 and some Ferrary and Lambos. This is what I didn't thought about, and what makes the comparison between EV and gasoline vehicles completely different - you shouldn't compare Leaf with Civic. You should compare it with BMW 328i. The accelerate the same and they cost the same. But you'll see the difference at a pump.
- Leaf drives 5-6 km on 1 kWh of electricity. With Ontario prices for electricity, it gives us $1 per 100 km for cost of "fuel". Yes, I'm driving 2,000 km a month and pay $20 a month for the ride!
- Nissan declare driving range of 240 km on a single charge. I can make 250 km in summer, but In winter it reduces in half. It's still more than I need, but every potential EV owner has to expect significant drop in range in a cold weather. The winter in our area is -10 with eventual drops to -25.
- It's hard to say now how reliable is the Leaf. In 10 month I've got one issue - door lock button on passenger door stopped working. It was replaced under warranty, but it took 2 visits to service, one for diagnostic and ordering the part, and another for actual repair. Hope it will not happen to often.
- Nissan Connect, the system that allows to start heater/AC remotely, is very useful option. In the last winter I forgot what is "cold car". Just before leaving home or office I press the button in the application, and the car interior is warm when I get to the car. The service is not free, it's $25 a month after promotion, but it worth it.
- Heater in winter and AC in summer work well, no complaints about it. There is a way to turn ON both of them to dry the air, it helps a lot on a rainy day to remove fog from windows.
Overall I'm happy that I finally make the decision to buy an EV. After experiencing the Leaf, I would buy buy an EV even without help from government. It's a different feeling from drive. In gasoline car you get an engine roar, in EV you get acceleration instead.