2011 Nissan Leaf: One-Year Drive Report

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2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

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On March 28, 2011, I took delivery of a European-specification 2011 Nissan Leaf. 

Yesterday, a few days short of our 1-year anniversary with the car, its odometer passed the 15,000 mile mark.

But what have we learned about Nissan’s first electric car after living with it daily for a year? 


As with most new cars today, our 2011 Nissan leaf has been extremely reliable over the past 15,000 miles. 

In fact, to date, we’ve not run out of charge or broken down.

2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

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What we have experienced however, are some minor faults which we’ve had to refer to the dealer. 

  • During early June, the cover on the USB port for the audio system snapped, requiring a replacement part. 
  • Shortly after delivery, we noticed one front caliper had begun to rust as it was incorrectly sprayed at the factory. This was replaced under warranty at the 13,000-mile mark. 
  • During winter months, all four windows were slow to operate. At its peak, the drivers’ side window refused to rise properly. This was remedied by a team of engineers from Nissan Japan, and shown to be a defect in manufacturing. 

All work was carried out under warranty.

Range, Predicted Range

Although our Leaf is used daily for a 40-mile round commute, we’ve regularly seen 70 miles from a full charge, even with a heavily-laden car. 

With careful driving, we’ve managed 80 several times and even traveled 120 miles with a few hours of top-up charging.  With heating on full, a sub-zero outside temperature and heavy, aggressive freeway driving, we’ve gotten less than 50 miles out of a full charge. 

During the past year, we’ve learned to not rely on the Nissan Leaf’s on-board range calculator.  Notoriously inaccurate, it must have told us at least 80 times in the past year that we wouldn’t reach our destination, when in every case we did. 

Carwings, Charging

In the past year, our main gripes have been with Nissan’s online and smartphone telematics service, Carwings. 

Designed to let you interact with your car remotely to check state of charge, plan routes and precondition the car as necessary, we’ve found Carwings to be severely bug-ridden, with continued connectivity issues throughout the majority of the year. 

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

2011 Nissan Leaf SL

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In some cases too, we’ve found the Carwings database of charging stations to be patchy at best, and inaccurate at other times.

In fact, during the past year, we’ve been directed to charging stations in the U.K. by Carwings that were either non-existent, or reserved for private use by the company who owned them. 

A lack of awareness about current charging station infrastructure from Carwings, combined with poor field support form third-party charging station suppliers, has meant that at times, charging has caused a major problem. 

For reference, although it isn’t the fault of Nissan, we’ve arrived at eight charging stations during the year which were non-operational. In three of those cases, we had to call for a tow due to remaining range of less than 10 miles.

Most importantly, however, the Nissan Leaf charging cable has never let us down, charging the car every night from our 240-volt standard U.K. domestic outlet. 

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