Back at the end of March, I took delivery of our very own 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car. So far, we’ve told you about long-distance drives, explained five things we’ve learned after 5,000 miles, and what we’d learned after 5 months with the car

But as fall quickly heads towards winter and the holiday season is upon us, we’re getting an even better feel for the car we’ve driven almost every day for eight months. 

Battery still healthy, gives good range

While Nissan sells all Leafs with an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery pack, it has also said publicly that it expects most Leaf battery packs to only be capable of storing 70 to 80 percent of its original capacity after ten years. 

But after 11,000 miles we’ve yet to notice any perceptible drop in pack capacity. Even with more than 25 rapid charges in the last eight months and the majority of our home charging carried out to 100 percent rather than 80, our battery pack appears healthy. 

We’ve noticed no perceptible drop in range either, with our Leaf offering between 50 and 90 miles of range per charge depending on driving style, weather, and road conditions. 

Remote pre-heating needs work

2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone App

2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone App

Our car, a 2011 model without winter package, doesn’t have the luxury of a garage to stay in at night. Instead, it is parked and charged on a driveway, exposed to all weather. 

During colder Fall nights, we’ve started to make use of the Nissan Leaf remote pre-heating feature to warm the car up for the daily early-morning trip to the gym. 

Set to turn on 30 minutes before our departure, the climate control system uses power from our charging station rather than the battery pack to heat the car, but like many other Leaf owners we’ve noticed that the feature has a major bug. 

On damper mornings, or days after there’s been heavy rain, we’ve woken up to find all the windows in our Leaf were steamed up with condensation.  It appears that the Nissan Leaf’s pre-heating program heats the air inside the car, but recirculates it rather than pump warm, dry air in via its climate control system.  The result is a warm, but moist interior. 

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

2012 Nissan Leaf in the Apple iPhone 4S commercial

The solution? We’ve found that unplugging the car and then running the air conditioning for a minute or so prior to departure -- but after using pre-heating -- helps dehumidify the air enough to clear the fogged windshield while maintaining a cosy interior temperature. 

Hopefully Nissan will rectify this problem either with a service recall, or a redesigned system on future cars as the current pre-heating system doesn’t always do what it is meant to. 

2012 Nissan Leaf

2012 Nissan Leaf

Carwings isn’t aware of broken, missing charging stations

While Nissan’s Carwings system for the Nissan Leaf, may be a useful way of keeping track of your car’s state of charge from your smartphone, it isn’t so great at tracking charging stations. 

On more than one occasion, we’ve arrived at a location recommended by Carwings as being suitable for charing our Leaf to find out that it is either broken, missing, or not publicly available. 

It isn’t exactly Nissan’s fault. At the moment there isn’t a centralized charging station database that can track if charging stations are broken. And while many charging stations listed in Carwings have appropriate contact details for the organization or location providing charging, we don’t like having to ring ahead every time we want to charge somewhere new. 

Reliable, predicable

Uk, 2011 Nissan Leaf

Uk, 2011 Nissan Leaf

Over the past 11,000 miles, we’ve got used to the 2011 Nissan Leaf’s good and bad points. While our car has never broken down, we’ve had to make use of two tow trucks after arriving at charging stations to find that the charging stations weren’t working. 

So far, we’ve been able to learn how to drive the car to get the best range, and how to ignore its schizophrenic range prediction system in favor of its state-of-charge battery gauge. 

We’ll be watching carefully as winter sets in to see just how well our non winter-package Leaf performs over the coming months, and we’ll be sure to share with you. 


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