Monday, June 2, 2014

Leafy Goodness

I bought a Nissan Leaf a couple of weeks ago, and I like it a lot. Here are some reasons why, in no particular order:
  1. Although probably not a core design criterion, by its nature an electric car has instant torque and good acceleration. I wouldn't pit the Leaf in a 0-60 (under 10 seconds) or 0-100 (never) contest, but 0-40 in this car is fun.
  2. The car wouldn't start if you're plugged in, presumably to prevent you from ripping the charger cable off. An almost insignificant and probably common feature, but it's nice.
  3. The iPhone integration actually supports Chinese characters. The font isn't something I'll write home about, but it's much better than asterisks that the Scion would display.
  4. You can hear a low whine as the motor ramps up or down, but it's otherwise very quiet. Nissan apparently engineered the headlights to protrude, in order to reduce the wind noise that would otherwise have been generated by the side mirrors.
  5. There's a US$7,500 federal tax credit and a US$2,500 California incentive, which combine to lower the cost to just over US$20,000 after taxes and fees. That's comparable to the Prius c that I had previously been considering.
  6. No oddball gear settings to figure out. There's drive, economy drive, reverse, park, and neutral.
  7. And if the DMV should ever give me my registration, I'll be able to apply for the magic stickers that let me use the HOV lane.
The main drawback, as you might imagine, remains range. Nissan claims 84 miles on a full charge, but obviously nobody is going to try that. The actual range depends on how aggressively you drive, but I can do the 29-mile drive in morning traffic to work using about 35% of the charge, which means I should be able to get just under 83 miles.

Also, for some inexplicable reason, the base models don't come standard with a rear cargo cover. Since vehicle break-ins can be a problem here, particularly during the holiday season, I bought it separately on Amazon for US$150. And of course, actually trying to buy the car was still filled with the usual nonsense, from pre-paid maintenance to extended warranties. No means no, dude.

All in all, I'm liking it.