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10 Things to Know About the Nissan Leaf [My FAQ]

Nissan Leaf Battery View

The great thing about owning something new and cool is that people talk to me about it. A lot. They’re curious about how I’m enjoying it, they want to know things they can’t seem to find elsewhere. Is there a lack information out there? I think that’s true to a certain extent. Let’s face it, Dears want to sell cars. That’s where I can step in and answer some of these common questions (and hopefully help you understand if the car is right for you). I’ve abridged this list of questions and answers from a recent email conversation with a prospective buyer.

#1.  Are you happy with your Leaf? At which dealership did you buy it?
I am happy with it. The car itself is rather unremarkable, but I’ve had zero mechanical problems in about 12,500km (7,146 miles). I bought it at Midway Nissan in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. They kind of tried to talk me out of it (for the amount of driving I do), but I persevered.  I’m way out on the edge use-case of this car. As you’ve probably experienced, real information is kind of hard to get – especially from the dealers.

#2. Is range an issue?
This is very open ended, and probably the toughest question EV drivers have to answer. I say, don’t let anyone sugar coat it, range is an issue. But, it’s an issue (and anxiety) you can easily live with. Two things to grasp before having an EV: (1) You don’t have to FULLY charge every time.. so you can go a place, charge a bit, go to another place, charge. It works rather well. and (2) You won’t get caught somewhere without a charge. In 12,500 km, I have yet to have that happen. The car is great at letting you know where you stand on battery, and you’ll change plan out trips differently.

Also, winter. Winter will be your biggest problem with the Leaf. The range drops quite a bit, and winter tires will kill your range even more. You’ll want to go through winter at least once with a backup gas car accessible to be sure you can face it.

The worst, coldest, most inefficient day of driving I could still get 110km (69 miles) from the full battery. When I’m on my game and the weather is good, I’m closer to 180km (112 miles) range. Naturally, you never let this car get close to zero, so the full drivable range should subtract at least 20km (12.5 miles). I have driven days of 400 total kilometres (248 miles) going customer to customer. It’s easily possible to live in a city suburb and drive this car. For longer trips I’ve borrowed a car or just rented a gas car. It works.

#3. What kind of home charging station do you have? How was the installer?
My charger is the 30 Amp Indoor Schneider Electric EV Charging Station, and it’s installed in my garage. I bought it, then called the installers. It’s worked well as long as I’ve had it. The installers were ok, and they did the job and had the work inspected. No real problems there.

#4.  Did you get the Ontario Government grant to offset the cost (of the charger)?
Yes, the Ontario Government paid for 50% of the combined charger AND installation. The install was $1,600 total, and the Govt. took a little while, but direct deposited the $800. There are forms to send in with the inspection, and a part where the Government goes back to the dealer (for some reason) that has caused delays with others. But it’s real, and the Government does pay as long as the program is still running. Check your local government for details on incentives in your area.

#5. Would you get the Leaf again?
Well, as anyone on this EV Car path might say “My other car’s a Tesla“, and that’s what I’d really like to be driving. But yes, given the chance to do it again, I would still buy a Nissan Leaf. It’s been solid, and damn, driving through gas stations looking at those poor saps is awesome.

#6. Do people take advantage of your home charging station [listed on Plugshare]?
No. Never once did anyone ask to use it. As well, I have never had the courage to call or go to a person’s house and ask to use their charger. It somehow feels like an awkward thing to do, but just the same, I would be happy to let someone use my charger if they needed a charge. I think the customs around this need to change, though I suspect in other locations, this may be more commonplace.

#7. Are the general charging stations city wide [in Toronto] fast ones or you have to wait hours to fill up?
The power and speed of chargers is all over the place in quality. If you don’t have the Leaf with the fancy ChadeMO charging option, you’ll never charge faster than 4 hours/full battery. In between, there is a mid-level charging (when you share dual-cabled chargers) that will charge at a pace of 6 to 10 hours/full battery, and the standard 110v outlet can be up to 14 hours / full battery. In my experience, even if I park for an hour, having the Leaf plugged into a standard outlet will count. So, whenever I go anywhere, I’m always looking for a way to charge. I recently made a list of my favorite places to charge in Toronto.

#8. How long will the battery last?
The battery does degrade over time. Nissan warranties the battery for a certain amount of charge capacity loss (I believe it’s 8 years / 160,000 kilometers ). I haven’t yet seen any loss of capacity on my Leaf thus far.

#9. What can you tell me about model differences?
My Leaf is the 2015 “S” model. If you consider this low-end model this is what the car is missing:
– It can’t utilize the Nissan car-mobile-connection feature called CarWings. Even the dealer told me it did support it until I got home and figured out it didn’t.
– No ChadeMO charging port. It didn’t bother me because that’s a rare standard in my area right now.
– Bluetooth support is ONLY for calls. You cannot play music over this Bluetooth implementation (with the lack of A2DP support).

#10. Any other stuff I should know?
– The Nissan Leaf does not include a spare tire
– The cable to charge from a wall outlet (110v) is included in all models
– The backup camera is included in the low-end “S” model – so presumably all models

As with all new things, the potential for misinformation is high. Hopefully this list of questions and answers gives you more insight into the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. If you have any thoughts, corrections or information I should add to this, please let me know. If you’re a recent Leaf owner, I’d love know know how that’s going.