Just drove a Leaf on their national tour

Discussion in 'Nissan/Infiniti Hybrids and EVs' started by lencap, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. lencap

    lencap Junior Member

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    Just drove a Leaf during their Zero Emissions tour. Not much of a test ride - 2 miles on the road, in a controlled route with the speed limit never above 45 MPH. Before hitting the road we drove in a parking lot between cones for a few minutes to get the feel of the car. Both my wife and I drove the same car - two laps on the test circuit back to back.

    We bought a 2007 Prius Touring edition new, and our brief comparison ride isn't enough to make any real observations with any conviction.

    Despite that my wife's comments are:

    "The Prius is fun to drive, the Leaf isn't. It does nothing for me. I'd take the Prius every time before the Leaf."

    "The Eco mode is terrible. I feel like the accelerator pedal is pushing back at me. It feels like mush."

    I looked up the eco mode and she may be right. Apparently Nissan does have some type of resistance built into the pedal when you select Eco mode.

    My turn was next. The car is noisy in a strange way. It's obviously quiet with no ICE, but the tires appear noisier than the Prius and on anything other than a glass smooth road the noise is obvious. It also seems to echo inside the car - more intrusive (to me) than the 2007 Prius and far more than in the newest version.

    In the Leaf's defense there are lots of standard features - a GPS nav system that links to Nissan to update new charging stations, etc. is a nice touch. Interestingly the GPS is very smart - it not only tracks your route to determine range, but it also incorporates altitude changes in the calculations. It knows the difference between battery demand on flat roads (think Florida) or hilly runs (think a mountain ride) - very impressive.

    Incidentally, several people have commented on running out of juice. Nissan had an engineer present - he stated that the range calculation is constantly monitored but takes 19 MILES to accurately determine the projected range. Keep that in mind when you are near depletion of the battery range. If you've been driving only a short time, you may be surprised when the computer recalculates after 19 miles of driving.

    I asked about reports of lower range than advertised when the weather is cold or very hot (I've had similar issues with the Prius). The engineer said very little, but did acknowledge that "it's possible" that range will not be met in "extreme" conditions.

    I asked about the charging unit - apparently the Volt has a higher capacity battery pack and takes half the time to charge vs. a Leaf. Nissan "strongly recommends" their designated supplier. The $2K projected cost is based upon California experiences - the actual charge for the wall unit is under $800, the $1,200 added cost is the "estimate" for the electrician's work. You may find your costs are lower/higher depending on where you live and what has to be done.

    One interesting note - battery replacement. Nissan engineer stated that the battery pack is different from others. Lots of "cells" packed with individual "wafers" of batteries wired together. He claimed that the battery won't go "totally dead", but some cells may become depleted. When/if that happens Nissan can identify the bad sections and replace them individually, negating the need for an entirely new battery. If that's the way it really works, it should be a big plus for long term owners.

    All in all - I'm not sure. The pure electric appeals to me - the noise level of the car was a surprise - especially given glowing magazine reviews of how quiet the car is. The value seems very reasonable - the only pure electric vehicle - complete with GPS, iPhone hookup, Bluetooth and lots more. Maintenance costs should be almost nothing - no tuneups, oil changes, etc. Nissan asks to "check" the car every 12K miles. Only recommended actions are tire rotation and wiper blade replacement.

    Sorry I don't have more concrete information - two miles isn't enough time to make an informed decision, but overall I'm staying on the wait list. Incidentally, Nissan all but guaranteed that if I was in the original group of 20,000 initial people to sign up with a deposit, I WILL get a car before the end of 2011. It may be in Q3, but definitely before the end of the year.

    I'll post again when I get contacted by the electric company to assess my charger needs/costs, and when I get confirmation that I can order the car with a defined delivery date.
     
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    nice write up, thanks! i think the noise would bother me too. deal breaker? i'll have to drive one myself to find out.
     
  3. GeekEV

    GeekEV Member

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    If they had the car in Eco mode, that would do much to explain your impression. It really numbs the car to help you increase range. In normal drive mode, though, it's very zippy and a lot of fun to drive. Very nimble. I've had mine for almost three weeks now and absolutely love it.

    I wonder if the noise your heard is the VSP noise-maker? The car IS very quiet, even with the noise-maker. The noise-make sounds like a blower fan crossed with an electrical whine/whistle, pretty much like you'd think an electric car should sound. But if you turn it off, it's even quieter.

    As for the Volt having a higher capacity battery pack, that's just bunk. It has a 10Kwh (usable, actual 16Kwh) capacity which is capable of roughly 35 miles of electric driving. The LEAF has a 24Kwh usable pack (actual capacity is not stated, but estimated at 27Kwh) which is good for 75 - 100 miles. Of course the Volt charges faster.
     
  4. lencap

    lencap Junior Member

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    GeekEV - the VSP was turned off. The noise appeared to be mainly road noise - lots of tire noise. There is no spare tire with the car, I'm wondering if the tires are run-flat tires, and if so, is that part of the reason for the noise.
     
  5. Flaninacupboard

    Flaninacupboard Senior Member

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    Well i drove one for two hours yesterday, and found it to be CONSIDERABLY quieter than the gen3 prius. I always drive the P in eco mode, so the leaf in eco felt "normal" and the leaf in standard felt fast. it was also very comfortable going up hills at 60mph which the prius would be well into the red PWR area to keep at 60 and getting noisy.

    It was smooth, it was manouverable, it was lovely. i want one, but can't afford one :(
     
  6. GeekEV

    GeekEV Member

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    No, the tires are not run-flat. Nissan basically just gives you a can of fix-a-flat and an air compressor. I'm not sure what noise you heard, because I don't think I hear it. I get much more noise in my Prius. It's also possible that because the LEAF is so much quieter, you're just more aware of the tire noise than you normally would be. In any case, just turn up the stereo and you'll never notice. I'll bet you'll wind up loving the car once you get it. But if you're really not sure, maybe it's just not right for you...
     
  7. DaveinOlyWA

    DaveinOlyWA 3rd Time was Solariffic!!

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    correct so the inability to make a fair evaluation is understandable

    heard that and the quote was IDENTICAL word for word. we now fight over who gets to drive
    she is right and it took me more than a day to get over it. on of the most inconvenient periods of my life!!

     
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