Nissan Leaf review: Should I get one?

  • 14 August 2018
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All good things must come to an end.

After a week of testing the Nissan Leaf 2 (2018 edition) it was time to hand back the keys, and return to driving my fossil fuel-powered old school machine.
So what have I learned from a week of driving an electric vehicle for the first time.

These are my top five tips for anyone considering an EV:

One. Driving an EV requires planning if your journey is more than 100 miles

My usual method of driving is to rack up the miles until the dashboard lights up with a low-fuel warning. And even then I know there’s another 40 miles or so before I run the risk of coming to a halt with an empty tank. The same approach was okay for the Leaf in my day-to-day but for longer journeys planning is a must. There are lots of apps and websites which will help. Oh, and it pays not to be in a hurry, too.

Two. Driving an EV makes you think about driving
You can see a lot of data about your driving when you’re inside an EV. It seems that every acceleration or braking can affect its range. When every mile is (potentially) precious, it focuses the mind on your speed and general driving style. More than that, it helps you to make decisions on whether to switch on air conditioning, and even whether to charge up your phone.

Three. EVs can look like ‘normal’ cars
When I mentioned to friends hosting a meal at the weekend that I’d be turning up at their home in an EV, they expected me to arrive in some kind of bubble-shaped dodgem. That or a futuristic conceptual car which looked more like a sports shoe. While the first version of the Leaf looked a little ‘pokey’ for my tastes, the 2018 looks like a proper car.

Four. There’s quite a lot to learn about driving and charging an EV
Apart from being an automatic, the e-Pedal takes some getting used to. But the real head-scratcher is the charging. There are many different types depending on the model of EV you get. And each model also has several different charging variations, all of which will determine how long charing will take. The different networks which run different charging public charging points adds to the confusion. Do your homework.

Five. If you own an EV, you’d better be using renewable energy
When we went along to Fully Charged Live in June, we were inundated with EV drivers looking for a renewable energy home supplier. It makes complete sense that anyone who chooses not to pollute through their wheels would feel the same about powering their home.

So, will I get one? Yes, without question.
Going back to my dirty old petrol car was like spending a week in a health spa and then having breakfast in a greasy cafe.

While it’s true that the convenience of a petrol station everywhere is more practical, having tried and tested the clean EV, it just feels like a step backwards and basically wrong to be burning fossil fuels in my car.

But does it make sense from a financial point of view?
We’ve done some calculations to compare the cost of running an EV to a petrol car.
Driving about 12,000 miles a year, it would cost me about about £468 to charge the Leaf at home for a year, with clean electricity from Pure Planet.


How does Pure Planet stack up against energy suppliers with specific EV tariffs? Read our blog post here.

Finally, is it a comfortable drive? This is something @Bev asked. It’s no Tesla, but all in all, the Leaf was good, certainly a step up from my old banger. The ride is as good as any other modern car.

Better, I think, because it’s quieter and also because the extra attention on mileage and usage, made me a more careful driver, which in turn is better for passengers.

You may also like: Nissan Leaf review -
testing the range




6 replies

Userlevel 7
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What a fab read 🆙. So interesting! Amazed by the figures, and loved the comparison to a greasy cafe 🆙. Professionally written; loved that, Marc!

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Oh, and forgot to say, saw my first EV sighting this morn walking to work. White Renault Zoe. Very nice too 🆙
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Good stuff. of course there are opportunities to further reduce "fuel" costs, such as free public chargers at supermarkets or if you are going to a city centre car park anyway.

Further to your 2nd point, it really brought home to me how efficient EVs are...basically they are about 90% efficient compared to 30% efficient petrol/diesel cars that lose so much through heat. This is why going over 70mph makes such a difference - physics dictates that it takes 4x as much energy to go double the speed, but in a fossil fuel car it is already wasting 70% anyway so you do not notice it as much!
Userlevel 7
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A good read.
If you are in the market for a new car then i think electric is the way to go.obviously others factors have to be considered,does the range work for you and your typical needs. COST is a major factor no matter how rich or poor you are 30 grand on a new motor is not within everyones budget.myself im not a fan of leasing but others would disagree. Is the leaf the best car for the money,i did like it but its a big investment and i would certainly try others before deciding.
Failing all of that the wife will decide which one to get the cheque book out for.
Good points there @Jon1 about cost
I'm going to be leasing the Leaf rather than buying outright. While I won't share all the details about the filthy lucre here (!) I can say that the monthly cost of the lease is just a little more than what I currently spend just on petrol.
So when I also add road tax, MOT, servicing etc, it works out as a good deal for me.
The only doubt left in my mind is if I need to do a long journey in a hurry, say for an emergency. But I'll deal with that if/when I come to it...


@Brunel I do love the data. The Leaf's display was pretty good, I mean in the way that it shows how much energy is being used, how much energy the e-Pedal was regenerating, and how much the range could be increased if I switched off climate control.
But I imagine the data shown in your Tesla is much better?!
Hi @Brunel,

If one takes into account the generation of the electricity at the power station, plus the heat losses at the power station, then the efficiency of the electric car is nowhere near 90%. Also, the power loss at high speed has a lot to do with wind resistance and friction, rather than with kinetic energy - for example once you reach 70 mph, if you then stay driving at a constant 70 mph, you are no longer "using up kinetic energy!", what you are doing is battling against a constant 70 mph head-on wind all the time.


One advantage of using electric vehicles is that it removes the poorly-controlled releases of pollutants at street-level currently going on in the heart of our communities. The pollutants are instead released at the power station. There is also the potential for removing noise-pollution from our streets.

Steve
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@SteveB

You are right, but I also did not take into account the inefficiencies of fossil fuels before they get to the car (extracting, refining, transporting) let alone the carbon and pollutant externalities of fossil fuel cars...that would be one hell of a debate.

Wind resistance is key which is where the energy is mainly required to go from 70mph to 80mph - this is why drag coefficient is worked on so much. The Hyundai Ioniq is a slippery EV and also has less frontage than a Tesla Model S. If we get into details then one can argue that fossil fuel cars are at their most efficient at higher revs/speed. There are some interesting graphs out there, but an EV has the immediate torque so never has to wind-up to efficiency.

Some of the keener hyper-milers use an app called Teslawinds that look at direction and speed of wind because, as you say, if you are doing 50 but driving into a 20mph headwind you are actually doing 70mph. I can increase my energy use in the cold, driving rain on a motorway by 30% compared to high summer with a tail-wind. Petrol is hugely energy-dense, so it is more of a shame when so much of it is wasted through heat etc.

Can you imagine 5 years time when you can walk around London and the taxi, buses and other cars are EVS - silence and no exhaust emissions! The reduction in NHS costs will be interesting for illnesses caused by exhaust emissions...will have to wait a generation to notice though.

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