11 Months, 36,000 Miles In A Nissan Leaf Electric Car? No Problem

Follow Nikki

Steve Marsh's 2011 Nissan Leaf: 11 Months, 36,000 Miles

Steve Marsh's 2011 Nissan Leaf: 11 Months, 36,000 Miles

Enlarge Photo

In the minds of many consumers, electric cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf are over-priced, second-cars that are only capable of short trips around town. 

We’ve proven that sentiment wrong ourselves, covering just over 15,000 miles in a year in our 2011 Nissan Leaf. 

Earlier this week however, we found out about a 2011 Nissan Leaf owner who has covered 36,000 miles in a little over 11 months, proving once and for all that electric cars can tackle much more than the occasional shopping trip. 

Enter Steve Marsh, a financial controller at Taylor Shellfish in Washington state.

Faced with a 130-mile daily commute, Marsh decided to invest in the all-electric hatchback in an attempt to cut his weekly gas bill. 


“I really bought it with the idea that there was a chance I could save money buying this car,” he tells us. “My Honda Accord had over 300,000 miles on it and I started thinking about another car. I have driven more than 200,000 miles on every car we have owned so I looked at the Leaf expecting it to do the same.”

The savings weren't quite what he predicted, but still impressive.

“I thought maybe my net cost of ownership would be nearly zero after taking into account the much lower operating costs - like getting gasoline for $0.80/gallon. I now know that this expectation was unreasonable, but after all the tax credits and no sales tax in the state of Washington, I feel it is like purchasing a $23,000 new car. So far, at 36,000 miles, I’m now under $20,000 in equivalent costs.”

$99 deposit, test-driven later

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

Enlarge Photo

Interestingly, although Marsh made the purchase decision based on financial reasoning, he still paid a $99 online reservation fee before even test-driving the car.  Some time later, he was offered the chance of a test-drive when Nissan’s 2011 Leaf tour arrived in Seattle. 

“It was cold, no snow but it was really cold,” he recounts. “My wife looked at it and said “It’s a regular car!” She was expecting something small like the Smart Car. We drove it around the block, and that was the end of our tour.”

As for the purchase experience? 

Marsh praises his online purchase experience, which was free of the usual price-haggling that most car buyers are used to. Instead, he describes the experience as extremely positive.

130 mile commute

Unlike the majority of Americans, Marsh’s daily commute is well beyond the 73-mile EPA-approved range of the Nissan Leaf. 

For him however, his long commute isn’t an issue. 

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

Enlarge Photo

“We bought the house when the kids were born,” he explains. “We’ve lived here for 22 years, and now our kids are about to graduate from college. This house is paid for and this is the shortest commute I’ve had in my working life. It gives me a chance to wind down on the way home from work.”

Charging a must

However, driving 130 miles in a day is no mean feat in the Leaf, especially freeway driving.  

The only solution was for Marsh to get a charging station installed at his workplace. 

“I approached Ecotality and they didn’t want to place one where I work,” Marsh recounts. “I approached one of the owners of my firm explaining there would be good PR for a shellfish company to be one of the first to install a public charging station. They agreed.”

Initially, Marsh’s colleagues were bemused by his new car choice.

“They offered to give me a couple AA batteries if it would help and so on,” he laughs. “But recently one said it might turn out to be a good decision given the current gas prices and how trouble-free the Leaf has been for me.”

Posted in:
Follow Us

Comments (17)
  1. Wow, just, wow. It takes a lot of faith to commute that far in an EV. Well done sir.

  2. Does not take faith, just common sense and some arithmetic. But I agree with your sentiment.

  3. Well he has a 65 mile (one way) drive in a vehicle with a 73 mile EPA range. Considering the reduction in range in cold temperature, possible battery degradation over time, needing to charge at work, it is more risk than I would have been willing to take on.

  4. Haven't driven further in a year and probably won't, but my 2012 Mitsubishi iMiEV has racked up 4200 miles in 3 1/2 months so far, and it's a fun ride!

  5. Hey, congrats on getting the Mitsubishi. I had one for a weekend and loved it. I thinks it's a great value with that price and the range, speed, etc.

  6. I also travel quite a few miles each and every year and I average about 25 to 30 thousand miles per year since I have a cabin 57 miles away from home and work just over 40 miles away as well as family 65+ miles away. Bravo Steve for breaking the biggest myth about why an EV will not work for my driving style. I don't have a charger to plug in to at work so I would like to see a solid 100 mile range and I would jump on it especially if gasoline prices skyrocket like they may over the next 5 to 10 years since China and India are growing automobile markets and gasoline demand is expected to increase significantly.

  7. We're not doing bad ay over 14,500 miles since June 22nd, 2012. Our poor old Ford Taurus sits idle most of the time now having 12 months between oil changes. Here's a story idea for EVers: maintenance strategies for that old ICE car you hardly ever drive but keep around for the long trips. Or, financial models on when to sell the old ICE car and use the money on the occasional long distant car rental.

  8. I did 23,000 miles in eleven months in the Mini E, less than Tom M who did well over 30,000. This guy beat us both.

    You go Steve!

    (I only had 120 volt charging at work, and the Mini E was not as reliable as the current production cars. But it did have a bit better range.)

  9. This is a great story, Nikki! Since I sell the LEAF, I can use this as proof of the car's ability.

    You may be interested to know that the Toyota RAV EVs longest odometer just turned over 235,000 miles, the last 85,000 on the second battery. The owner, Avi Shai of California, recently got a BMW EV, so his wife will take over duties of adding miles to the RAV.

  10. Well I've only gone 13,000 in 10 months, but it's been great. I did meet a fellow Leaf owner who commutes 65 miles to LA every day without issues, I'll have to see if I can reach him to find out how many miles he's logged.
    Hopefully Marsh is preheating the car while it's plugged in so he at least can start out with a warm ride.

  11. I'm a little confused about the lack of savings though. 45,000 miles in a car getting 30 mpg, using gas that's at least $4.10/gal would cost $6,150. Add in roughly 10 oil changes at $300 and you're now at approx $6500 just for the basics. Estimating his electric bill has gone up $150/month, that would be $1800/year instead. And there's no lingering worry about upcoming costs for catalytic converters, mufflers, timing belts, water pumps, oxygen sensors, air filters, fuel injection work, valves, etc.

  12. oh, and no clutch either; my wife loves to burn those up ;-)

  13. Nice Job Steve! Keep up the EV miles! Love to see this awesome mileage done in an EV! Fantastic!

  14. I did 33,001 miles in a year with my MINI-E, but Steve's got me beat. I've had my BMW ActiveE now for less than 4 months and have 10,000 miles on it already but I'm on track for about 33k this year, just like I did with the MINI-E.

    What's amazing to me is he's doing this with the pathetic 3.3kW charging that the LEAF has. I was able to charge my MINI-E @ 11kW and now I'm charging the ActiveE @ up to 7.7kW so recharging is so much easier than doing it at 3.3kW. I had a deposit on a LEAF but cancelled it when the 3.3kW charging rate was announced, I just can't live with that.

  15. I think you mean " Ain't nobody got time for that" - Sweat Brown

  16. What are the maintenance costs on the car? From a regular service to if there are any repairs? What is the typical wear & tear cost?
    Also how does Insurance work out for the Leaf ?

  17. Bergen, Norway here. 45000 km at 1 year and 7 months. Soc shows 98.8% at full charge. There is no reduction in mileage.

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.