I leased a Nissan Leaf in October and apart from when the salesperson dubbed me Lord of Electricity an made me wear a special hat, it all went quite smoothly.
Several months and a thousand miles later and I’m ready to report on my experience. I’ve driven my Leaf in bad weather, around town, and on the big highway. It’s had its chance to impress me.
I never want to buy another combustion engine vehicle.
That’s not to say the Leaf is perfect. It’s not. The range is too short and the Lightning Cannon never worked properly even once. Despite those shortcomings, I love the vehicle. Here are a few observations I’ve made:
The Leaf’s Nonexistent Systems
What are the annoying parts that break on our cars? Mufflers? Radiators? Brakes? You know what? The Leaf doesn’t have them, so they can’t break. There aren’t even any oil changes!
Ok, we might have brakes. It’s a little unclear. Still, there’s a lot missing on this car. All that extra waste heat and exhaust that combustion engines need to deal with? We don’t really have that here. Not at the same scale, anyway. It’s kinda nice.
It’s winter in Minnesota. What the hell is waste heat?
Well, the heater is a big deal in the Leaf. It never really seems to heat the air up. I imagine that’s because I’m not getting the benefit of all that wasted energy, but I don’t really know.
Also, in a gasoline vehicle you never really think about your heater using energy. In an EV, absolutely everything you do impacts miles. Turn the heater on and you’re likely to shave miles off the distance between charges. Noticeable miles.
The little computer gizmos don’t really sell a car for me, but the Leaf has some fun stuff. The key never has to leave my pocket, for instance. Also, there are integrated GPS and maps, blah, blah, blah. My other car has a heated seat, which is cool, but the Leaf has that plus a heated steering wheel.
With our steering wheels heated in the cold winter, we will drive like kings, my friends. Like kings.
There is also this remote climate control, which I’ve used a few times. The app for my phone is absolute garbage, but if you are patient enough to click through a few long pauses, you can turn your heater on from anywhere. Anywhere! It almost makes Minnesota bearable. (not really)
Hot Hell, It’s Fast
I thought I was leasing a low-end Tesla wannabe. It is. Don’t get me wrong. It really is. But wow, the Leaf really moves. Not only does it accelerate fast enough to cause neck pains, but it also corners well. I guess that’s something to do with low center of gravity. Maybe. I don’t care. It is genuinely fun to drive.
The electric motor is far more responsive than those gas ones I’m used to. When I go back to my other car I notice the delay between pressing the accelerator and going forward. It’s annoying.
Guy walks up. “Hey, man. You wanna see liberal? Check this out.” He shows me his Wellstone tattoo.
“Wow,” I say.
The guy takes a bite of kale and shows his knuckles sport tattoos S-O-L-A-R and F-A-R-M, with letters squeezed in because he doesn’t have enough fingers for “solar” but hadn’t thought it through before starting the tattoo.
“Impressive,” I say.
He looks down at me, his recycled hemp shirt smelling like all-natural eco-friendly laundry detergent.
I pull out my phone, push a few buttons. My Leaf crashes through a window.
“Time to go, sir?” says the Leaf.
“Yeah, Leaf,” I say. “This place is a little too conservative for my tastes.”
The guy’s jaw hangs open as I drive silently away.
Liberal cred is not actually what I like about the car. In fact, it’s kind of annoying to me that EVs are considered to be liberal cred. The electric motor is, in my mind, better than the combustion engine in every way. It’s more efficient, more powerful, quieter, less likely to kill you when you’re parked somewhere making out, and less likely to bathe you in gasoline and set you on fire. From an engineer’s standpoint there is absolutely no doubt what the better technology is.
There should be no liberal/conservative bias here, and it’s a big problem that there is.
Gas Stations and Car Washes
Ok, this is a serious problem, too. With my other vehicle, I use the car wash at the gas station. I haven’t been to a gas station in several months now and my Leaf is absolutely filthy. The backup camera is getting hard to see through.
I seriously have no idea what to do about this. I’m not sure I’m allowed near a gas station. What do I do?
So yeah. I like my Leaf. I’d buy another one in an instant. By the time I’m in the market for a car again, there will probably be more EV options than there are now. I will have one of them.
I will never relinquish my title as a Lord of Electricity.