Honey, I Think I Just Signed Up to Buy a Nissan Leaf

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Automotive journalists aren't known for putting their money where their mouth is. Lots of us talk about loving the planet, owning the environmental mantle, and yet somehow we all drive MINI Coopers and Mazda MX-5 Miata roadsters.

Not me.

I think I just signed up to buy a 2011 Nissan Leaf.

The idea's been bubbling up for a while. A long time ago, when a Taurus died on us unexpectedly, we ended up with a 2004 Toyota Prius in our household. We're not conscientious objectors to performance cars--I mean, I've owned Mustangs and Mercedes-Benzes--but the Prius happened in our lives just at the right time, and the idea of being a little more fuel-efficient has its appeal.

Seven years later (almost) and a ton of bad Toyota recalls aside, we've been happy with the Prius for its miserly attitude. I have no fear of unintended acceleration of any kind, since I personally believe other than legitimate floor-mat issues, it's a bunch of bull. No one's ever proven an Audi 5000 had mechanical issues, and no one will ever prove a Prius has electronic issues.Still, over time, we've grown less happy with our Prius' chintzy interior materials, its light and insubstantial feel, and the huge repair bills from two very-low-speed parking-lot scrapes. How's $3500 for a bumper cap and a wheel hub sound? We're ready, maybe, for something different.

So last week, when I found out the base price for the 2011 Leaf, I got the idea to sell what is technically my partner's car, and to get a zero-emission Leaf. It's a big step into environmental responsibility for us, and a bigger commitment to finding a buyer for our used Prius, for sure. Above all, it's having to get friendly with curious onlookers who are True Believers, while I'm just a battery-powered dilettante. As AllCarsElectric's chief John Voelcker will tell you, I'm probably the last psychographic Nissan thought they'd hit for a future-thinking, left-leaning electric car, just after Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

Financially it seems to make sense, though. With a base price of $32,780, the Leaf is no bargain. However, lavish tax credits will rain down upon us from the Federal Government ($7500) and of all places, the state of Georgia ($5000), making the Leaf a mere $20,000 and some change. The Prius could be worth $12,000. Total cost: about $8000, not including the nonexistent fuel bills and cheap electricity we'll use in exchange. Now that healthcare's the law of the land, we're going to need all of those saved pennies.

Starting today, I'll walk you through our saga of transitioning from our gasoline-fueled era, to the hybrid-car interregnum, to the world of living strictly on the plug. We'll still have gas-powered press cars to drive long distances, but otherwise we'll go through the whole process of acquiring a Leaf--and letting you know what it takes to live on the grid, competing for food with our iPhones and iPads and the all-important TiVo.

Wish us luck.

I haven't told my partner just yet.

Wish me luck.

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Comments (15)
  1. Cool thanks for sharing…and I am looking forward to the saga. We will be doing the same thing except I will be selling our 07 Yukon. It is paid off so if I play my cards right we can sell it for $22k so will need minimal funding for the Leaf. Then will start saving on that $70 a wk that I spend on gas. We have an Escape that we will keep for long trips. $5k from Georgia you are lucky Zero from AZ!

  2. I'm looking forward to your reviews. I, too, would love to buy a Leaf. Our trade-in would be a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the primary driver would be keeping her Yukon XL in the garage and using the Leaf to commute instead. That should save about $62/week in gas, and another $200/month in maintenance - we hope. We get most of our electricity from 32 solar panels, but since they don't provide 100% of our needs, it still means we are paying $0.12 per KWh to power the Leaf. Maybe we should add more panels...

  3. Most excellent! I can't wait to hear about it.

  4. A quick tip guys.....
    You will drive readers away with that animated BS in the right column... How can you READ with something constantly moving within your peripheral vision... THINK about it for JUST 1 second before you add gimmicky features!!!

  5. good luck. Hopefully you'll be able to grab one of the first ones. I hear Nissan is doing a first-come first-serve through their sign-up online. And they've had over 80,000 people sign up already.

  6. Why don't you put your politically moronic views where they belong, in the toilet. If you knew as much about health care policy as you know about cars, you'd realize you'd be DEAD broke in a few years without care reform.

  7. I can tell the republicans are getting Dead worried :)
    This dream can actually come true!Electricity is the future!Bye bye GM,AMOCCO,Arabian oil,american oil interests,wars for oil.....welcome FUTURE!

  8. i guess i have to put my money on companies that produces hightech PORTABLE GENERATORS.... gonna be a huge business probably next year when 100K of Leaf are sold...

  9. Build more range for us, boys. All-electrics and the energy needed to power them are indeed the future for us automotive types.

  10. OPEC..Who??
    Yes, the day will come.

  11. Wow, Jack--I'm not allowed to write an opinion, under threat of death? Sounds like the politics have come full circle.

  12. Hey James E, since you live in Arizona you might check out The EV Project.
    It's a research project for EV Infrastructure half funded by the US Govt. If you are in one of there pilot cities you can get one of the Leaf Lev 2 chargers purchased and installed for free. In exchange, they will be collecting info about your EV habits.

  13. Paul, Thanks and yes I registered on the EV Project web site. Less than a week to go and I will be checking my e-mail reguarly on the 20th! Hopefully I will get one.

  14. Marty - I'm actually planning to go on 4/20 as well but... it looks like it won't initially be available in Georgia. Can we still go or do we have to drive to Tennessee that day? I'm going to race you on I-285 but with the max speed of 90 MPH we'll have to stay in the slow lane :-)

  15. Great story. Can't wait to hear the ongoing updates. And feel free to throw in opinions - I like the 1st Amendment. Thanks.

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