2011 Nissan Leaf At Two Years: 32,000 Miles, No Signs Of Age Page 2

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2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Carwings and charging

It would be nice to report that Nissan has improved its Carwings telematics service over the past two years. But it hasn't, and the service remains the weakest link of owning a Leaf. 

To start, Carwings’ charging-station information remains patchy and inaccurate (though this may vary by country; it is certainly the case in the U.K.).

In November, while on the way to a business meeting, inaccurate Carwings data directed me to a charging station that simply did not exist. Without the range to make it to the next charging station, I was forced to look for a standard outlet to charge at.

Ultimately, the car ended the day on the back of a tow truck after I failed to find an alternative place to charge.

Carwings’ inaccuracies don’t stop there. According to the odometer in our Leaf, it has traveled a little more than 32,000 miles since new. Carwings reports that it has only traveled 25,000 miles.

Moreover, its range predictions haven’t improved despite a software upgrade. On one occasion, less than 10 minutes after we'd quick-charged the battery to 98 percent, Carwings proudly warned us that, laden with two adults, two children, two dogs and luggage, our car wouldn’t reach its destination.

Thirty minutes later, we arrived safely at our destination, with at least 15 miles to spare. (Carwings failed to apologize.)

The iPhone Carwings app has also been a trial. For three months, it refused to connect to the Carwings servers, making remote monitoring and presetting the climate control only possible through a third-party app, LeafLink

It took Nissan U.K. two months to rectify the issue. 

Performance and handling

Almost two years after leaving the dealer, our 2011 Nissan leaf still performs as it did when new--accelerating well under most conditions, with only a hint of sluggishness when battery charge or temperature is low.

We replaced the factory-standard Ecopia E150 tires with aftermarket Michelin Energy Saver tires, and our now Leaf performs and handles far better than it did when new. The body roll is reduced, handling feels more precise, and grip seems improved.

And with longer tread life, we’ve already managed almost as many miles on the Michelins as we did on the original Ecopias--with half the tread on the newer tires still remaining.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Our verdict: No regrets

After nearly two years and more than 32,000 miles, our 2011 Nissan Leaf still performs as we had hoped it would when we bought it.

Our dealer experience has been good, with our local dealer still offering exemplary servicing for a very reasonable price. 

Including servicing, insurance, electricity, and loan payments, our 2011 Nissan Leaf has cost us somewhere in the region of $18,000 so far. 

It has also saved us more than $10,000 in gasoline costs compared to our previous car, a 1992 Volvo 240 Wagon. 

As for regrets? There are none.

In fact, driving the Leaf has become such a part of our family life that we’ve now invested in a second electric car: a 2013 Renault Twizy microcar.

Which means our gas-guzzling 2008 Toyota Prius is now relegated to the lowly position of long-distance third car. 


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Comments (12)
  1. Nikki:

    It is fun to read your review as my Leaf was delivered on February 5, 2011 and has just under 35,000 miles today.

    It seems we have had almost the same experience (except I am in San Francisco and Marin County, CA). I still love the Leaf and hope to enjoy it as long as it is practical to do so.

    I have an SV model without a quick-charge port. I also got a 4-star rating on the battery report for the charging while at a high state of charge. I believe this is due to the twice-daily charging and not the quick-charging as you theorized. It would be nice if Nissan could tell us exactly why we got the 4-stars, but I am not holding my breath for a better explanation.

    I hope things are going well at your new job!

  2. This is good to hear. I'm one of the Phoenix owners who had troubles, but I still believe in EV's and now have two, though the Leaf is now gone. Even though I hated the problems, I never disliked the Leaf itself. Wonderful car, fun to drive. Happy motoring:)

  3. Excellent review Nikki, long owner based reviews are the best. Keep up the good work I really enjoy watching Transport Evolved.

  4. Thanks for the report Nikki, it's good to read you again on GCR. I especially like the feedback on the new Michelins as I plan to replace the factory issued tires on my '11 Prius and '12 Plug-In Prius with those exact tires in the near future!

  5. Craig, I also replaced my tires with Michelin tires, the MXV4 model at 30,000 miles. They have improved the handling immensely. They are a bit noisier than the Bridgestone tires, but they handle so much better it is worth it.

  6. I enjoyed reading your review. One nit-picky comment: You cannot reduce body roll by changing the tires. Body roll is a part of the chassis dynamics and unless you also replace rollbars, shocks or springs, body roll remains a constant.

  7. I live in hotter Southern California and have lost a battery bar due to the 110F+ summers that are becoming the norm, translating to about 10 miles lost range at 25,000 miles. Hopefully this summer doesn't reduce it further. The Nissan iphone app is pretty lousy, but if you force it to quit it'll log in quickly the next time (double-click button, hold icon on bottom until a "-" appears, then kill it). Lastly, I've found PlugShare to be a far better app for station location (in my area at least) because it's updated by users for users. Thanks for the update.

  8. Heat is a battery life killer, we are trying to talk Nissan into at least having active air flow with a fan like a computer muffin fan. It would make a world of difference.
    If not maybe someone will start an aftermarket option of LEAF battery cooling !

  9. Well, heat just "accelerates" aging...

  10. just passed 25 months and have about...28,731 miles (went out and checked to be sure) and because I have a GID meter, I can say I have lost 3-5% of my capacity based on the meter which does have the inconvenience of reporting a relatively inexact science of battery charge capacity.

    But everything else has been spot on. I have the same slow windows and ragged carpets. I have also replaced my tires but not as a planned event which has been the only headache for me.

    now, i drive slower to maximize range but actually started doing that with the Prius but am able to get about 88 miles in Summer, 75 in Winter so the "loss" I have experienced has not affected me yet!

  11. Is that 75 miles range in the winter with or without the use of electric cabin heat?

  12. Good news -- but I have to ask: Do you every plan on selling the LEAF? If yes, at what point -- and do you realistically think you'll get reasonable resale given that I'm guessing few people (including me) would be willing to pay anything other than a cut rate price for a used EV with 5, 6, 7 years taken out of the battery life? No one seems to be talking about this issue, but it's a real one, especially in the U.S. with all of the 3-year leases. Who's going to shell out good money for a LEAF with outdated battery technology and tens of thousands of miles taken out of its battery life? And, if they do, will they be able to sell that LEAF a few years later themselves? I say, 'No, not unless the battery pack has been replaced.'

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