2015 Nissan Leaf in front of Prudential and Hancock Towers, Boston [photo: John Briggs]
For longer trips, I will need to get a different vehicle. I'm mulling over the possibilities of a longer-range plug-in hybrid.
I've also weighed whether a 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV could meet our long-distance needs—given its 80-kilowatt maximum fast charging rate, and the present dearth of DC fast-charging sites around Boston that use the CCS standard.
No decisions yet.
2015 Nissan Leaf energy efficiency after one year [photo: John Briggs]
Meanwhile, the Leaf's energy efficiency has ranged from a high of 4.2 miles per kwh in temperate June to a low of 2.9 mi/kwh in a cold December.
That leaves the summer efficiency 27 percent higher than the Leaf's EPA rating of 3.3 mi/kwh (using 30 kwh to cover 100 miles), no doubt helped by the low speeds of my city commute.
Pulling my credit-card records for the past few years revealed that I had been spending about $68 a month on gasoline to commute in my 2004 Toyota Corolla.
On the flip side, looking at my electric bills for the last 24 months shows I’m spending $47/month more on electricity than in previous years.
So there are some definite savings in the cost of operation, even with the high price of electricity (20 cents per kwh) here in Boston.
2015 Nissan Leaf operating costs after one year [photo: John Briggs]
The Leaf itself was a bargain at a price of just $16,000 after generous federal and state subsidies combined.
Mechanically, the electric car has been flawless over the first year. I rotated the tires after the first 5,000 miles, and took it into the dealer for two recalls related to the telematics unit (a 3G upgrade) and the airbag sensor.
It also needed a quick trip to the body shop after a Prius cut a corner too tightly and scraped the paint off the corner of the bumper cover of my parked Leaf.
But there have been zero issues with the car itself during my year of driving.
But ... the limits! The limits! (some reader is no doubt screaming at their computer)
Yes, yes, there are limits.
Due to the lack of fast-charging sites, I still can’t use the Leaf to get to my sister’s place in New Hampshire—although the situation has improved with a new fast charger in the southern part of her state.
Section of 2018 Nissan Leaf spy shot [image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien, as used on Motor Authority]
If you have a long commute without access to workplace charging, an 84-mile electric car isn’t going to be the vehicle for you. (Consider a Bolt EV, Tesla Model 3, or second-generation Nissan Leaf as each car becomes available in your area.)
Here in Boston, with relatively short commutes at lower speeds, range is simply never an issue for me.
I never worry about the miles remaining even with multiple trips in a single day. Charging at home, and charging at work on one occasion is all that I've ever needed.
If I need to cover longer distances (basically, I haven’t), swapping cars with my wife—to take her aging Prius—solves the problem quickly and easily for a day.
So if being the first person on your block to drive an electric car makes you a revolutionary, I’d like to spread the word that sacrifice isn't required to enlist.
I'd suggest that my experience shows you may actually discover you were sacrificing more by driving the old gasoline car.