By now you most likely have read or seen an article that compares the various models of electric vehicles. These articles are very informative and provide a great starting point for the electric car shopper that is trying to sort out the various new parameters that the electric car experience provides. If you want a strictly fact checking/comparing article, I think that this article seems to cover the bases:http://daily.sightline.org/2012/05/30/electric-cars-a-shoppers-cheat-sheet/
I wanted to write about the more subjective things that all those other articles do not mention. Things that my nine months of driving my Nissan Leaf have inspired me to become a passionate electric car driver.
I traded my Audi A6 4.2 in for the Nissan Leaf. I now have cloth seats, a much smaller cabin, and complete silence (remember the engine makes no noise!). The transition from one car to the other was not quick and painless. As much as I wanted to go gasless, I really was not ready for what that actually meant.
I bought my Leaf in mid September. September in Seattle is interesting weather. It is cold in the morning but can be 75 deg F by 4 pm. Though it was explained to me that my 100 mile range battery was approximate, because the first two weeks I had the car were sunny and warm, I never expected the range to fall below 80 miles. When October hit and fall weather ensued; rain, 50 degrees, shorter days, etc., my battery range fell to 65 miles. The heating system seemed very weak compared to my Audi. Heating takes a lot of energy. I became extremely annoyed thinking that my battery was defective.
Pre-heating and/or cooling is available on the Leaf while the car is plugged in to avoid draining the battery. That experience has made me acutely aware of the following parameters that affect my battery range:
The car attracts people and questions. While driving, you are immediately a member of the “zero emission” drivers that honk and wave. It only took a few misunderstandings for me to pick up on this. Otherwise parked, you can expect passersby to inquire about random facts regarding the car. It is important to note that you will be pestered almost like having a new puppy.
Everybody wants to understand how I charge my car. I was fortunate and was able to be part of some American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding that Seattle City Light (SCL) received. SCL installed a 240v/3phase (8 hours) Blink charging station at my home at no cost. The Leaf can charge using 120v (20 hours) or 480v (1 hour) as well. I work 7 miles from my office. My SCL bill has increased approximately $10/month.
Trying to make the math work will drive you crazy. The operating expense of driving my Audi was approximately $1.40/day assuming gas at $4.00/gallon. The operating expense of my Leaf is approximately $.21/day. To pay off the cost of the “electric” price tag is approximately half of what I paid for the car minus the Federal Rebate: $35,000 – $7,500 = $27,000. $27,000/$1.19 = 22,689 days or 62 years.
I often drive to meetings outside my office during the day. I am often sitting in traffic. These are my favorite moments. I get to remember that my car is not contributing to the “bad air”. I actually have a moment (in quiet) that I smile about my situation and feel good about my contribution to the planet.