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Nissan Leaf Electric Car Relegates Gas Cars To The Garage, Nissan Says

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2012 Nissan Leaf, Electric Avenue, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

2012 Nissan Leaf, Electric Avenue, 2010 Detroit Auto Show

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It might have an official EPA-approved range of just 73 miles, but the Nissan Leaf,  Nissan’s first production electric car, is quickly becoming the primary car in multi-car households where a Leaf is owned. 

According to Nissan North America, many early adopters purchased the Leaf intending it to be the second family car for short trips, but in reality most owners are now using the Leaf as their primary family vehicle.

Using data obtained from the Leaf’s onboard Carwings telematics system, Nissan has been able to analyze the daily driving of many of its customers. Added to anecdotal evidence from customer feedback, Nissan has concluded that most Leaf owners only drive  35 miles a day, preferring to use the electric hatchback rather than their gasoline car. 

Why?

Firstly, just like everything else that's new, the newest car in a household traditionally gets the most attention. As a consequence, it is often the car that gets driven the most. 

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

Enlarge Photo

Secondly, the 'always full' nature of electric cars, combined with low running costs after purchase most likely help encourage Leaf owners to choose it over their other car whenever possible. 

Nissan executives have a different take on why the Leaf is proving so popular among its owners. 

“They drive it primarily because it is fun to drive,” Brendan Jones, director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy at Nissan North America told MSNBC

Range anxiety, the fear that a plug-in car will run out of charge before reaching its destination, is often cited in the mainstream media as a reason why many consumers have not made the switch to plug-in cars. It is also the reason why many electric cars were purchased with the expectation that they would perform second-car duties.

According to Jones, the reality of living with an electric car every day has meant that most Leaf owners no-longer experience range anxiety. “Range anxiety is dead,” he said. “That newness needs to be overcome with information.”

Jones also detailed that most owners make three trips between charges, meaning that they aren’t preoccupied with finding somewhere to charge their car at every destination. 

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

In addition to surprising Nissan and themselves with how much they use their Leaf electric car, Jones said Nissan was surprised that most Leaf owners are choosing to buy their cars outright rather than lease them. 

With over 40 percent of all Leaf sales being paid for with cash or outside financing, Jones believes it is an indication that many electric car owners aren’t entirely convinced Nissan won’t execute a u-turn on its electric car program as General Motors did a decade ago with the EV-1.

Do you own a Leaf? What’s your daily drive, and do you use your Leaf as your primary car? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 

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Comments (15)
  1. First, I want to say, "I told you that people will choose electric over gas." Second: Nikki, this sentence in your article cannot be true: "Firstly, just like everything else that's new, the newest car in a household traditionally gets the most attention." What about people who have the Leaf and Volt and still choose to drive the Leaf over the Volt...like maybe, John?

    Electric cars put a smile on your face when you can pass up all the gas stations.
     
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  2. Our Leaf has close to 8,000 miles since delivery in late April. Our gas car sits in the garage day after day, getting used no more than once per month, normally.

    There is no reason why an EV can't be a primary family car for most people.
     
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  3. My LEAF has about 4K miles on it since reciving it in Aug. We drive about 50 miles per day on it and our Honda Pilot sits in the garage for the very few occasional long trips. Sometime we just take it out to drive around so it doesn't start having engine issues. My motorcycle has also been sitting for a while because I love driving the LEAF so much. As far as type of purchase I bought it out right for the same reason this article stated I didn't want it taken away like the EV-1 if the company felt like it.
     
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  4. I believe the American public will buy electric cars once the range issue on batteries are improved to maybe 150 miles per charge. We have alot of guys at work that drive at least 50 miles (one way) to work at our plant whom would love to own one. I would be pushing about 35 miles , so we'll have to wait and see how my leaf does ,after I get mine next week. We have no available chargers in our northern Illinois region yet
     
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  5. ask your boss to install some cheap "240V outside plugs"! and you charge while working! ;-)
     
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  6. I absolutely LOVE my Nissan LEAF 100% electric car. Over 3,100 happy miles, and I haven't once been stranded with no charge left in the battery. You buy and drive the thing knowing it's limitations--which are very few. I'm 64 years old, and this is the most comfortable, responsive, eco-friendly and just plain fun-to-drive car I have ever owned. Every friend or neighbor who has driven my LEAF is blown away with the pick-up, absence of noise, and the great handling. I put about 34 miles on the car each weekday. It is my primary vehicle. "My other car has gas"--and it hasn't been out of the garage in three weeks.
     
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  7. The ideal second car that turns the first car in a garage queen in many cases. The outcome that was both predictable and great because it proves that EV's really do work in real life.

    Also predictable is that range anxiety is just something GM made up to sell Volts, but thanks to this same GM it appears that crush anxiety is real if that's really a reason to buy rather than lease as Mr. Jones suggests. Apparently this crush anxiety outweighs the battery anxiety (how long will it last; what will the replacement cost be)than that could be a reason to prefer lease.
     
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  8. 11K miles on the LEAF. It quickly became the primary car in the garage. I believe we have put about 2K miles on the 2011 4 door luxury sedan since buying the LEAF...the LEAF is just more fun to drive.
     
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  9. We own a leaf and we have a second meter so we can take advantage of the off peak rates. We feel that 110 is plenty and have no need for 220 voltage. This second meter cuts our off peak rate from 13 cents a kiliwatt to 4 1/2 cents.
     
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  10. Our first EV quickly became our primary car; in fact we got tired of fighting over it, so we got a second EV.

    I have spoken with many, many families with EVs...and I can't think of a single case where the gas car is still the primary car. If you have an EV, you don't drive the gas car unless you have to.
     
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  11. Great info! I purchased in late August and now have 5,400 miles on my LEAF. It is the primary car and we only use the old car when we have to and I don't enjoy driving the old car at all. Fun to drive is the primary reason it became the primary car, after that it benefits us to drive it. The car is saving us money! I leased because I could take full advantage of the tax credit and the contract clearly states that I have the option to purchase at the end of the lease.
    I have access to a DC quick charger and often drive over 150 miles per day and drive locally on the weekend. We need those Nissan DC quick chargers!
     
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  12. We have had our Leaf since June and we love it more everyday. My wife was skeptical at first, but now she wants to sell her Volkswagen Bug and go electric too. While we rarely need to use public charging stations, we really look forward to the installation of the public DC quick chargers for inter-city and state trips.
    Somehow, we don't miss buying gas, oil changes, or the filth and noise of the gasser.
     
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  13. We've had our leaf since June and we've been driving 1000+ miles per month. The Leaf is the fastest car we own, 0-60 in 9 seconds. We've only got the low battery warning once and that was a 70 mile trip with 65 miles on the freeway. Rang is usually 70-85 miles with the main factor being speed. Eco mode usually adds 15 miles of range on a full charge.
     
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  14. Do you own a Leaf? What’s your daily drive, and do you use your Leaf as your primary car?

    It's my primary car after 7 months with the LEAF. I recently sold my gas burner "extra" car because I never drove it. For a recent camping trip, I rented a pickup for $50/day.

    I drive 50 to 130 miles a day, my longest day being 225 miles (round trip, San Diego to Long Beach). The trips over the 70-80 mile real world weather range of the car are more than a bit cumbersome without a charging infrastructure, but I don't mind the adventure too much.

    Looking forward to the EV future!!!
     
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  15. By the way Nissan has a loaner program , when you own a LEAF they let you borrow a gas car for a certain number of days for FREE. Just for those very few long trips you may have to take.

    Ask your dealer for details in your area. I don't want to try and give details in case it is different in some areas.

    PS I have never needed to use it. We now have 2 100% electric vehicles but car pool in one most of the time.
     
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