Update On High-Mileage 2011 Nissan Leaf Electric Car

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

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

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Last year, we brought you the story of one Nissan Leaf owner really putting his car to the test, as his 130-mile daily commute had racked up 36,000 miles in just 11 months of ownership.

The car, owned and driven by Steve Marsh of Washington state, was one of the highest-mileage Leafs we'd heard of at the time--and it seems Marsh is still using his Leaf as much as ever.

Plugin Cars reports the Leaf is now up to 78,000 miles, with no ill effects.

Given his large daily distance, Marsh was quick to get his workplace to install a charging station when he bought the Leaf in 2011.

Now, he also uses a Blink DC rapid-charge station on his way to and from work--meaning he can drive a little quicker and also use the car's heater in winter, rather than just wrapping up in extra layers!

Contrary to expectations, all that rapid charging--and indeed, all those miles--seem to have had little effect on the Leaf's battery capacity. Not a single bar has been lost from the Leaf's display, though Over the weekend, Marsh's car lost its first capacity bar, with more accurate measurement showing around a 17 percent degradation in capacity--well within expected tolerances.

And despite the high miles, he's only run out of charge on one occasion.

The rest of the car is standing up well too, apart from the Leaf's light-colored interior which is starting to get a little dirty... with some assistance from Marsh's dog.

He also managed to fix a broken window switch himself after buying the part online. Even the car's tires have lasted--Marsh is about to start hunting for new ones soon.

Only Ecotality's recent plans for a $5 fee to charge at Blink DC fast-charge stations concerns Marsh--the $10 per day it would add to his commute calls into question the economics of running an electric car.

Since he bought a Leaf deliberately to save money in the first place, anything that raises his running costs by any significant degree becomes a big issue.

Should such a fee be introduced, Marsh does have other options: adding an extra half hour of Level 2 charging each day, buying an aftermarket state-of-charge meter for accurate readings, and looking into the cost of replacement should his battery no longer be suitable for that long daily commute.

But charging concerns aside, there's little to suggest the Leaf won't keep on rolling--and Marsh will keep on burying the stereotype of city-only electric cars.


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Comments (44)
  1. Just another (significant) data point proving that battery temperature mainly contributes to its degradation.

  2. 17% degradation in 2 years is still significant if you are counting on every bit of that range for commute.

  3. I've said before and I'll say it again. Electric car adoption and use by the wider public is ALL about rapid chargers.

    That $5 fee for rapid charge use sounds horrific btw. For Steve it would likely work out at $1 per KWh, or in the best case scenario $0.20 per mile. This is miles (pun intended) more than petrol would cost! On the up side though, a Tesla with free super-charging might start to make sense for him. :)

  4. Hmmm...if your car gets 20 MPG and you pay $4 per gallon, that's 20 cents per mile. As to your last point, I DID manage to convince my wife that spending $70,000 on a Tesla "made sense", but there was a whole lot of hand waving involved.

  5. Why in the world would you compare to a 20mpg car? Be realistic and compare to a fuel efficient gasoline car like a Cruze, Civic, etc. Our Cruze Eco is averaging over 40mpg for example (about 40.3 over approx 40k miles). Even if we paid $4 for gas that is half the cost of what it takes to use the charger (plus the inconvenience of doing so). Since the .20/mile calculation for using the charger basically assumed you were going from zero to full charge the real cost would be much higher.

    This is just another example that the electric vehicles are only cost-effective when subsidies are in place (ie federal/state refunds for buying the cars, charging stations made freely available to gain acceptance before they stick it to you, etc)

  6. @Michael: I'm not sure it makes sense to compare electriccars to the most efficient cohort of gasoline cars.

    The average vehicle sold in the U.S. last month was EPA-rated at about 25 mpg, so that's the benchmark we often use in comparing costs of gasoline vs electric cars.

    Mr. Satkoski may choose to build his comparisons differently, of course (he used 20 mpg), as may you (at 40 mpg). But I tend to like to use averages supported by actual market data.

    My 2 cents.

  7. Well, that depends. For people who have solar panels and 40 miles commute, the Leaf is sufficient and it is pretty cheap even without the Federal discount.

    @$28K, the Leaf is only slightly more than a Cruze ECO at $22K. @$4/gallon, 40MPG would give you $0.10/miles. Leaf can do 3.5 miles per KWh. Let us say it is 3 miles per KWh including all the losses and @ $0.12/KWh, it is only $0.04 per miles. If you drive 40 miles per day, that is $2.40 per day in saving. @300 days per year, that is $720 saving/yr. You would also need at least 2-3 oil change for the Cruze. That is $800/yr in saving. 8yr break even. In 8 years, Cruze ECO would need at least another $200 in engine service. If you drive more, then you break even faster.

  8. Also, during the entire time, the Leaf is quieter than the Cruze and it can be even cheaper to operate if your solar installation is large and/or gas price goes up.

  9. @Michael - I chose a 20 MPG car and $4 gas because I was responding to James Cook's comment: "This is miles (pun intended) more than petrol would cost". You can choose any realistic mileage and gas cost you want, and his statement is still incorrect. As for the rest of your comment, I pay PG&E less than 1.3 cents per mile to drive my EV (off peak rates) and there are no subsidies involved. Keep reading John Voelcker's informative articles and try to pay attention.

  10. There are more comments in this thread
  11. Antony rewriting Nikki's article? Really a lot of apparent duplication of effort in Journalism.

  12. @John: Not rewriting, updating. There's a difference, y'know. In this case, the difference is 42,000 more miles ...

  13. You should really check your facts before insulting the commenters.

    Antony is rewriting Nikki's piece on PluginCar.com from a couple of days ago. You didn't know that did you?

  14. @John: Nikki also wrote the original article, which was my first assumption. I think your original comment could be interpreted either way, since it didn't specify WHICH of Nikki's articles you felt Antony was rewriting. Glad you clarified the reference in the follow-on.

    As for insulting you, that wasn't my intention. I'm far from that subtle. So apologies for any insult you perceived.

  15. All my fault really.

    I didn't intend to diminish the work of Antony or pick a fight with the GCR editor.

    I was really just thinking out-loud. Nikki wrote an original piece for Plugin Cars (which required effort). Antony then reads that piece and rewrites a nearly identical piece (which also requires effort).

    Strikes me as a complete duplication of effort particularly given that Nikki writes for GCR as well.

    And yes, I understand journalists add "context" to their own pieces and that adds value (sometimes). But these two pieces seem very similar to me.

    I can't help be wonder if more VALUE could be created per unit time if there was less duplication in journalism.

    Surely just my ignorance of Journalism showing.

  16. Gee Wiz John did you get out on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Lol

  17. Was trying to riff off Voelcker's response (2nd comment) here, posted 2 hours prior.


    Completely failed to connect. My bad.

  18. The Blink charging network seems to have an "all or nothing" attitude. Currently the fast chargers are free which is clearly unsustainable. The $5 fee is equally absurd. If you charge from a low level to their "90% Full" which leaves you with about a 75% charge, you might get 12 kW hours of energy. that amounts to about $.46 per kilowatt hour. Here in Oregon the "green" energy cost is $.13 per kWh. While it is not prudent to simply give away energy, the pricing of chargers by the hour is simply absurd for most users. Failure of companies to come up with a reasonable way to charge for energy and convenience has resulted in my seriously considering to abandon the Leaf at the end of the lease, regardless of how nice the car is to own.

  19. In the real world the energy cost of these chargers is just a portion of what a company must recoup. They have to pay for the property, liability insurance, vandalism/property insurance, taxes, local/state fees, the charger itself, etc. $5 does not seem that high at all to me because there is a limited number of people that can use the charger at each time. If they could serve 5k people a day at a charger then ya a minimal premium on electric cost would easily cover their overhead. That is not possible though so the "real" costs of these chargers contains a whole lot of overhead (which eventually must be accounted for in their pricing structure).

  20. I really wish that Blink was making available two options: pay per session, or pay per minute. In many states and counties, it's illegal to resell power without a specific license. But if I only need another 10mi range, I don't want to pay $5. That's nearly $2.50/kwH!

  21. @ Don Moore: Right on I would say that at .15/KWh and 12 Kwh would be a profitable charge. The California Survey shows that the majority of the respondents said they would pay $2-3 per charging time. Sounds reasonable to me. I, for one, would not pay more than $1.50 per charging time.

  22. A bit disappointing that the LEAF can't comfortably make the 65 mile one-way trip.

  23. I don't think that they advertise much more than that under ideal conditions and winters are not ideal conditions. Driving slower does help but there is a limit there too. Don't want to be a road hazard.

  24. With his 17% degradation in capacity, a 80 miles range becomes 66.4 mile range. A 75 miles range becomes 62 miles.

    That is a problem when you can go "normal" hwy speed for at least 1 hour. That is already without heat.

  25. Leaf makes no sence yet unless they make at least 150 miles range with ac or heating on, the israel 1000 miles aluminium air battery would let the gasoline stinky business die for good but for now hydrogen stations with wind generators making hydrogen out of city water would make much more sens since fueling car with hydrogen takes even less time then fueling with gasoline

  26. Creating an entire new infrastructure like that makes no sense and costs way more. The EV costs more upfront and is cheaper over time. The Leaf needs a module battery, where the modular packs add up to the necessary voltage and are about 25 miles-50 miles each. Then you can choose your milage or expand later. Lets say they use 40 mile modules (each made up of many Li cells), then the base will have 2 of them, hitting 80 miles like now, but you could throw in another and have 120. A 4th for 160. Make room for 4-6 of them, and you can let the consumer choose how many miles they want.

  27. There are more comments in this thread
  28. Doesn't this demonstrate another problem with the Leaf?

    The fact is that you can't cruise at 70+mph for more than 1 hr in a Leaf with 55 deg weather with any kind of heat on without stopping for a charge.

    That is why I keep saying that Tesla S is the only capable BEV on the market. In fact, I am willing to bet NONE of the BEV can cruise at 80+mph on the hwy for an hour except for Tesla S.

  29. Another thing this "writer" failed to mention is that the original article mentioned that the Leaf owner limit his "heat" usage in the winter so he can "make it to work"...

    IMHO, that is NOT an acceptable condition to most American buyers.

  30. with heated seat base and seat back, plus heated steering wheel, it's not bad, with a hat. I drove one for about 20 minutes in 15 degrees F. I'm a wimp, and i figured i could do it, but if he's turning off the heat to the seats, then, no way.

  31. Heated seats and steering wheels are nice. It helps. But it is NOT a subsitute for cabin heat. There are times, where my bottom and my back are warm and toasty but my knee and my chest are cold with only heated seat.

  32. The windows also fog up on the inside on "cold" days. There are times when cabin heat is required or at least an occasional blast of the defrost.

  33. That is true. Defrost and defogging use even more power since it uses both the heat and A/C.

  34. Do not believe it that you can go 130 miles daily my neighbor goes 60 mile and ends up the end Nissan Leaf's tow truck often.That's the outer limits of a leaf in cold weather .65 Mile out and 65 miles back is just fabricated.

  35. He charges at work. Now, with DC quicker charger, he stops at the DC charger to fill up so he can make the 65mile 1 way commute.

  36. I suppose that I have a different perspective living in North Texas. Our last winter was relatively mild so I haven't had days below 40 F and most days were 50-60F. I suppose that I would have to change my habits were I to live up North.

  37. Hummm he could be recharging before he goes "back" Can understand your point, my Leaf will not go 65 miles on a single charge.

  38. That stinks - but it depends on SO much, right? Hopefully not your Leaf itself (some battery issue) but certainly your driving style, the environmentals, any desire for comfort (cabin heat), and the commute itself (elevation differential, etc).

    When my 2012 Leaf was just over a month old, I did a 'warm' February drive (by Wash DC's standards, 53 degree mean temp) that ended up amassing almost 79 miles (roughly 75% highway driving, limited to 55 mph road limits) - all on a 80% charge. On arrival, was under Very Low warning but still above dreaded Turtle mode. Pretty sure I did not use anything more than seat and steering wheel heater in the beginning. I often do a 78 mile trip (from spring to late fall) on 100% charges, too.

    Just depends.

  39. Antony, why are you linking to a story where you got the amount that the Blink DCFCs will charge a user wrong? At least point out that the numbers in that article aren't correct! That is some lazy journalism, something I have come to expect from you.

  40. Man, this thread got some bad juju. Maybe we should all just get a good night's sleep and try again tomorrow.

  41. It all started with Blink wanting to charge $5 per session now... They took our money and now they want more money :-)

  42. "But charging concerns aside" isn't that the issue for the last 100+yrs.?

  43. Keep on Rockin Steve, lets see how long it'll last with daily Level 3 fast charging.

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