Bought our Leaf

Over two years ago I came to the realization that although I’d known climate change was upon us I wasn’t doing much about it.  Sure, we had installed heat pumps and increased the insulation in our home to reduce power usage but what else to do?  At that time I discovered electrically powered vehicles (EV’s).  What a great and cool way to reduce our carbon footprint!  Over a year of research ensued during which I learned about the rapidly developing EV technology, the industry players, the growing global support and the EV’s which were available for purchased in Canada.

Over a year ago, on August 29, 2014.  Lee and I bought our 2014 Nissan Leaf.   In the months that followed we have learned a lot about owning and driving an electric car.  As Canadians and, especially,  Atlantic Canadians I suspect our experience is still fairly novel if not unique.  I decided to blog about it with the hope that some will find this helpful when considering the purchased of an electric car.

The Car

The Nissan Leaf is totally electric – no gas tank, no exhaust pipe, etc.  It is a mid-size hatchback which comfortably seats five.  The Leaf comes in three versions S, SV, and SL.  We bought the top end SL so we got some luxuries (17″ alloy wheels, navigation system, heated seats, back up camera, leather seats, etc) plus a cool 360 degree camera system.  Well, okay, you may feel some of these are “standard” but they were luxuries to us since our 2010 Camry V6 has none of them except the alloy wheels.

The Cost

$41,000 including 13% HST.  That’s with a $3,500 discount.  The model “S” would have been much cheaper at about $33,000-36,000 including HST but none of the 2014 model “S” were available that late in the model year.  All 2014 Leaf models had the same engine, drive train, and battery pack.

New Brunswick has no electric car incentives.  If we had been living in Ontario we would have gotten a $8,500 cheque from the government reducing our out-of-pocket cost to $32,500! ($41,000 – $8,500 = $32,500)  If we had been living in California we would qualified for a $2,500 rebate cheque plus a $7,500 tax credit.  Sigh!

Charging and Range

The two topics which I get asked most about are  (1) how long to charge and (2) how far on one charge.

For the first question I used to just say 2-3 hours.  Then I realized that people were picturing going to some equivalent of a gas station for 2-3 hours.  Oops!  Although we do plug into public chargers when it’s convenient, most of our charging is down at home in the garage while we’re sleeping.  So we actually spend less time “refuelling” our electric car than most people spend at gas stations.  There are public chargers in downtown Fredericton which are all free to use.  So when downtown we plug in and charge for free while we’re doing our shopping or whatever.

My answer for range is “optimally 140 km”.  Optimally mean flat dry road, 65 km/hr, slow starts/stops and 20 C.  Results vary depending on speeds, driving style, and temperature.  For example, during a cold (-20 C) winter day that range drops by about 30%.   For most of our driving the Leaf’s range works just fine.  We rarely drive more than 50 km in a day.  For trips which are longer than the range of a single charge we use the Camry.  That said, we have used public (free) chargers to make two longer trips, one to Charlottetown and one to Halifax,  Both trips were quite leisurely with multiple 2+ hours charging stops.

Next Post – Are we saving money yet?

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