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Part 1 – Nissan Leaf Diary – Replacing the Grocery Getter with a Nissan Leaf

March 16, 2014

This will be the beginning of a series of bLOG posts related to my Nissan Leaf.

Ever since I purchased an Acura NSX I have always owned a second vehicle which has been affectionately known as the GG “Grocery Getter”. My 1992 Acura NSX is a two-seat supercar that simply isn’t practical for daily commuting.  Unfortunately, my last GG, a pristine 1998 Lexus LS400 with 29K miles, was deemed a complete loss by my insurance company after an accident in February.  As a result I found myself back in the market for a new GG.

On a recent consulting engagement one of my customers offered to take me to lunch.  I was surprised when he pulled up in a Nissan Leaf.  The first thing I noticed was how roomy the car was, it was much larger than I had anticipated. Interior passenger volume is 92.4 cubic feet, compared to the 102 cubic feet of the 1998 Lexus LS400, not bad for an Electric Vehicle.  I commented the comfort and quality of the seats and he mentioned that 60% of the interior plastics in the car were manufactured from recycled plastic water bottles.  Thirsty for more knowledge I asked the most popular question, “What about range”?  He told me that range varies based on terrain, weather conditions, and driving habits but in his experience the EPA estimates of 84 miles are accurate.  During our drive he spent time discussing what he considers the advantages and disadvantages of ownership.  After we finished lunch he tossed me the keys and said, “Why don’t you drive it back?” I happily accepted his offer.  I assumed that an EV would be slow, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Leaf’s acceleration.  It can accelerate from 0-60 in about 9 seconds, which isn’t as quick as the Acura NSX’s 5.5 second 0-60 time, but is noticeably faster than the 2013 Toyota Prius 0-60 time of 10.6 seconds.  As we wrapped up the drive I asked about maintenance, I am used to the bulletproof reliability of the LS400 and was curious about the requirements to properly maintain the Leaf.  Maintenance was my Jerry Maguire moment, instead of “You had me at Hello”, I said “You had me at maintenance”.  According to the owners manual Schedule 2 (less severe) maintenance is required at 7,500 miles or 6 months and includes a multipoint inspection and tire rotation; at 15,000 miles or 12 months you will have to replace the in-cabin microfilter, and at 30,000 miles or 24 months replace the brake fluid.  When you start to look at the overall operating costs of 3.5 cents per mile (based on 11 cents per kWh) for the Leaf vs 16.5 cents per mile (based on $3.80 per gallon gas) for the Lexus LS400 its hard to ignore the benefits of EVs today.

Although Ford, Honda, and GM also have EV offerings, at the time of this writing the vehicles were not available in the Austin area.  We did not consider the Model S from Tesla as it was cost prohibitive for a second car.

The Nissan Leaf received a 20% price cut for the model 2013 year, the entry-level Model S MSRP is now $28,800.  In addition to the lower price, a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit is available which further reduces the price to a more attractive figure of $21,300.  We plan on taking advantage of Nissan’s current advertised lease deal of $1,999 down and $199 per month for 3-years and 36,000 miles (before tax, title, and licensing).

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