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.
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 2010Enlarge 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 LeafEnlarge 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.