Despite initial purchase prices higher than those for gasoline cars of equivalent performance (before incentives, anyway), electric cars undisputably cost less to run.

Not only does the grid electricity to drive a mile cost just half to one-fifth the cost of the gasoline to go the same distance, but electric cars have far fewer maintenance items.

What's missing?

A 2011 Nissan Leaf requires no:

  • oil changes
  • spark plugs
  • air filter
  • transmission fluid
  • muffler
  • radiator hoses or flushes

It has no check-engine light, and its brake pads are likely to last much longer than those in conventional cars, because they're used only in heavy braking or to bring the car to a full stop.

The rest of the time, its wheels are slowed by resistance from turning the motor-generator to regenerate electricity that's fed back into the Leaf's lithium-ion battery pack.

In fact, brake pads aside, the tires and the wiper blades are likely to be the Leaf's only major replacement parts.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Dinging dealer profits?

But car dealers today make very little profit selling new cars. Instead, their profits come from selling used cars, and servicing cars they sell. So what happens when the Leaf removes many of the reasons owners bring their cars into dealers for nice profitable servicing?

Nissan told trade journal Automotive News that because electric car technology is so new, Leaf buyers will be far more likely to take their car to dealers for any work, rather than a third-party shop. Especially, we expect, during the car's 8-year warranty period.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Battery pack removal

Dealers will also be capable of removing the car's battery pack from the undercarriage, to diagnose and service the 48 individual modules inside it, each of them made up of a cluster of individual lithium-ion cells.

Leaf service facilities are required to have a forklift to move the 600-pound battery pack around the shop.

What would YOU do?

So tell us this: If you were to buy a Leaf, would you have it serviced exclusively at your Nissan dealer? Or would you take it to a third-party service facility? Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

For more 2010 Nissan Leaf information, see our Ultimate Reference Guide to Leaf stories from across the High Gear Media network.

[Automotive News (subscription required)]