Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Nissan Leaf Review - Part 4: One Month On

I've now had the leaf for a month, and driven 500 miles in it. I really like it, yes there have been a few minor issues, but solving those has been quite interesting, and it's now just an automatic part of the daily ritual to plug in and charge.
I've only had to charge up at home a couple of times to make a longer journey, so that's the only time I've had to pay. All in, the 500 miles has cost me about £2. (plus £250 for the charging cable, and the inital cost of the car).

As you're driving the dashboard shows via a series of dots how much power is coming out of or going back into the batteries. Given such a clear indication of the way your driving affects how much energy you use makes it easier to make minor adjustments to the way you drive to save energy, and extend the range. Things such as thinking about when you accelerate and when you actually need to, and braking sooner to slow down more gradually, making more use of the regenerative breaking.

The main annoyance for me at the moment is a minor one, with all the instrumentation in the car and the carwings website and app, nowhere does it give the one figure that would be most useful, the actual percentage charge available. The estimates are always going to be off as they can only be based on assumptions the the type of road you're currently driving will remain the same for the next 80 miles. It won't, I know it won't, I know exactly what the roads will be like, so given the vital missing information, I would be able to get a more accurate estimate. As it is, the best I can get is either the 12 bar gague or the misleading 'percent' on the carwings website which jumps is steps rather than giving the actual figure. Hopefully they'll be able to do something about it in future.

In summary:

  • There were a few initial problems getting insurance and the correct charging cable, but those are soon forgotten about
  • It's a very nice car, roomy, well built, fast, responsive, quiet, comfortable and easy to drive
  • The range is comfortable around 60 miles driving normally (less that quoted, but perfectly workable)
  • There are probably an additional 10 or 20 miles available past where I take it to, so 80 miles tops
  • You can get a better range if you drive slower and more carefully
  • It should be fine for anyone who drives up to about 40 miles a day, and has the option to charge at home or at work
  • Once you're using it, although they are getting better, it's still wise to ignore the dashboard, app and website estimates, and just count the bars on the battery gauge
  • The battery is 24kWh, so in the UK, that's about £3 to charge from empty, so at 60-80 miles, that works out around 4p per mile if you charge at home, although many charging posts are currently free. My old diesel would do 10p per mile at best.

Here's to the next 35 months of my 3 year contract!