Electric Cars Are Coming, Believe It Or Not, Nissan Leaf Driver Says

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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After 13,000 miles behind the wheel of an all-electric Nissan Leaf, I have a few observations to pass along to those of you still tethered to your least favorite gas station.

Here's the main one: Driving electric is the future, and the future is now.

There has been lots of ink spilled these past months on the perils of electric cars. Congress and the media have blasted the Chevy Volt and the supposed fire dangers its battery poses.

Critics have gleefully pronounced the Volt a dud: Too much government subsidy for little return, nothing more than a rich man's driving diversion.

I have driven the Volt, and I can honestly say I believe it to be a fine piece of machinery. For anyone driving less than 50 miles a day, the Volt is a huge gas saver.

Drive more than 50 miles in a Volt, and the gas engine powers the electric motor. Range anxiety? Doesn't exist.

The electric-car critics are quick to point out the trivial first year sales of the Volt and Leaf. But compare those sales to the first year that the Prius--the first mass-market hybrid--went on sale, and electric cars have suddenly done better.

Recently, an electric-car study funded by two major oil companies found the public's appetite for electric quite wanting. Why wouldn't the public be apprehensive about the future of electric? 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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The answer: Endless stories about lack of value, overpricing, range anxiety (the fear of running out of juice), and the fear of so-far non-existent fires.

It's surprising that any sane person would ever take the plunge and drive electric.

Since most people who bash electric cars have never driven a Nissan Leaf, or a Chevy Volt, or a Tesla Roadster or a Fisker Karma, they don't really know what they're talking about.

They haven't experienced the joy of a nearly silent drive, or the pleasure of plugging in on arriving home and having a "full tank" come morning.

They haven't experienced the enormous savings in gasoline costs.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

In time, the electric car will do for driving what the iPhone has done for communication -- make it cool. 

If you're a single-car household and you drive more than 100 miles a day, then electric might not be right for you, right now.  But if you're part of a two-car family, one of each is perfect.

You may not believe it, but it won't be long before the two of you are fighting for the keys to the electric car each morning.

You'll see.

Author Bill Schwartz has written several articles about owning a Nissan Leaf for this site, most recently a review of charging location apps, "How Far Left On My Leaf?" and an account of being turned away for recharging by a Nissan dealer in California.


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Comments (14)
  1. Good write-up! I hit 10,000 miles on my Nissan LEAF last week. Access to a DC fast charger makes it easy for me to drive beyond 100 miles in a day and I think that people that park their cars during work could easily charge at work and exceed 100 miles per day as well.

  2. Excellent article, I think it really touches on what the world of electric cars is really like right now. I've driven the Leaf, Tesla Roadster, Volt, and the Karma and what I liked most about them all was the smooth ride, I have an eight-speed automatic in my current car and I hate it, it has to do so much shifting in slow traffic it drives me nuts. I can't wait to get my Model S.

  3. Bill Schwartz...well said. As a LEAF owner who has also driven 13,000 electric miles everything you wrote resonated perfectly. And my wife and I do compete to see who gets to drive the electric vs who has to drive the brand new, more expensive gas guzzler. The EV experience far superior. Its only a matter of time now.

  4. I have always wondered why we use electricity for everything except getting our butts form one location to another, and now that it is happening; I am very excited. Until the price comes down to under 25,000, I don't want to purchase one because I have more important things to spend my extra money on...like the new house I just bought at appraisal price. I do shop around for the best offer and quality of everything I buy. No use throwing your money away on over priced objects.

  5. James, I understand the reticence to buy a LEAF or Volt because of the price, but the actual cost to the owner over time is much less than an equivalent gas burner. And that's with gasoline at $3.50. We'll be seeing north of $4 gasoline this summer, and eventually, it'll top $5.

    Full disclosure, I sell the LEAF here in LA and can assure you all of my customers are ecstatic over their purchases. I get testimonials like this one, although not as well written, all the time. No one is sorry they got the car and all have been spreading the word to their friends and family how good the plug-ins are.

    When you deduct the $10K in incentives, the price is very reasonable.

  6. Thanks Paul; I have no doubts that the electric car (most of them anyways) is fantastic and outside the Model S the Leaf is the second best electric in America. I am also kinda holding out for the VW eBeetle. I'm a sixties kid and I've always liked the VW Beetle. When the Leaf changes its bug eyes, I may consider it.

  7. Paul, You are so right. I am in Southern California and I have never regretted my Leaf decision. Best car I have driven. (Been driving since 1966)

  8. Hear hear...the EV industry really needs these owner testimonials to counter the avalanche of anti plug-in FUD that was unleashed at the unsuspecting public of late.

  9. While I'm big on electrics myself, let's not discount the possibilities of hydrogen fuel cells. Batteries have a long way to go before they're light enough and cheap enough to compete against ICEs at mid-range price points, so hopefully by then hydrogen tech will have advanced enough to also be competitive.

  10. I knew in 2005 electric cars were the future. if I could only get my recharge while u drive tech. out there.

  11. I have a car , it is paid off , not sure jumping into car loan for 6 years would be a good idea , gas is still cheaper then having a car payment

  12. Cheaper for you, maybe, but not so cheap to those impacted by the pollution from your driving, or the soldiers who died to keep the price of oil low, or the people who lost jobs in the Gulf when the well blew out, or the economic refugees who have lost jobs due to the shipping of hundreds of billions of our dollars out of the country to buy foreign oil. But, yeah, it's probably a bit cheaper for you. Great attitude!

  13. The Leaf makes a great everyday car. We live in the Sacramento area and have found that we can get to most of the places we want and back on a single charge. We love driving the Leaf so much that this has become the primary car and not needing to go to the gas station is a nice perk. The Avalon mostly sits idle except for trips to the Bay Area so we only fill up about once a month.

  14. I love my Leaf. Smooth, quick acceleration and a smooth, quiet ride. Charge at home with solar panels.

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