Things your Leaf salesman might forget to tell you

I am a BEV advocate. Once you have owned an BEV, you will not go back to ICEV. There is a lot of best-case-scenario discussions of BEVs out there. Here I present what I have read or learned from experience to give you a more realistic idea of the costs and (in)conveniences of living with an BEV. Though some of this may sound negative, it is presented in the spirit of full disclosure.

  • The Leaf loses up to 50% of its value in the first year. Consider leasing if you plan to keep the car for 3 years or less.
  • Range will decline with battery age. How much depends on your charging habits (see below). Certain behaviors can invalidate your warranty. You will sign a form to acknowledge you understand the situations that can invalidate the warranty.
  • The stated 107 mile range of the 30kWh battery is achieved only under ideal conditions. Many factors (speed, use of climate control, multiple passengers, etc.) reduce the practical anxiety free range to about 80 miles.
  • You cannot use the Tesla level 3 chargers to charge a Leaf
  • The level 3 Leaf (Chademo) chargers are more abundant than the Tesla chargers, but most are located on the west coast. In New England most Chademo chargers are located at Nissan dealers or Whole Foods markets, not conveniently positioned in highway rest stops. Consequently, long range driving is not practical in a Leaf.
  • Most BEV owners charge overnight at home and drive their BEV within a 40 mile radius of home.
  • Level 1 charging (120V) requires 20 hours to fill the battery, ~5 miles of range per hour of charging.
  • If you drive daily, depending on how far, you may not have enough time to get a full charge from overnight level 1 charging
  • Level 2 charging (240V, 3.3kW) requires 8 hours to fill the battery, ~12 miles of range per hour of charging.
  • Installing a level 2, 240V charger costs ~\$1000 to \$2000 (parts and labor)
  • Using off-peak electric rates, it costs ~\$2 to fill the battery from empty. This translates to about two cents per mile of driving.
  • The Leaf does not come with a spare tire
  • The spoiler mounted photovoltaic cell is more of a marketing gimmick than a useful feature. It charges the 12V battery.
  • Dealers earn more on service than sales. Your dealership would prefer that you buy a gasoline rather than an electric vehicle.
  • The EZ-charge card (“no charge to charge”) is not universally accepted
  • To utilize the NissanConnectEV app, you must surrender all your Leaf related personal data, including GPS coordinates of your travels, to Nissan.
  • The NissanConnectEV app does not communicate directly with the car. It communicates with the Nissa Data Center using your data plan or Wifi.
  • The Leaf has a telematics unit that allows it to communicate with the Nissan Data Center using the AT&T 3G network.
  • If you are in a location with no AT&T service, all telematics functionality (app connectivity, charging station updates, etc.) is lost.
  • To qualify for the $2500 Massachusetts state rebate you must agree to purchase, register, and drive the Leaf in Massachusetts for three years. You must sign a form agreeing to provide registration information on demand.
  • If you run out of charge on the road you will need to call a tow truck. Most locations don’t have mobile charging units.
  • Beginning with the 2014 model year you no longer have the option to limit charging to 80%
  • The protruding headlights redirect air around the mirrors, reducing drag and wind noise.
  • You can accept a jump start but you should not provide a jump start to another car.
  • It is OK to drive through puddles.
  • The Leaf is unlikely to increase testosterone levels.
  • Because you are not paying gas taxes, some states will charge you a yearly fee for owning a BEV.
  • BEV incentives do not reduce green-house gas emissions and are regressive.
  • Cycle between 20% and 80% charge
  • Do not let the car sit for extended periods of time with 100% or less than 10% charge
  • Do not supercharge (level 3) more than once a day.
  • Do not depend on level 1 charging for routine charging i.e. get a 240V charging station

Behaviors that will invalidate the warranty

  • Do not leave the car at less than -13F for more than 7 days
  • Do not leave the car at more than 120F for more than 24 hours.
  • Do not repeatedly cycle the battery between 95% and 100% charge (top off charging)
  • Other common sense requirements - read the warranty

Note that if you are using the NissanConnectEV app all your personal Leaf related data, including charging behavior, is being sent to Nissan.