Posts Tagged ‘Nissan Leaf’

The Nissan Leaf Test Drive

Posted 05 Mar 2012 — by admin
Category Uncategorized

Writing could wait. A purposeful trip to spend some quality time with my son’s family, and enjoy warm weather was underway. A treat awaited me. When I arrived at my son’s home in CA, a Nissan LEAF sat in the driveway. Being a lifelong Detroiter, knowing the up-to-date specs on cars was a must. My storehouse of car knowledge would have a new addition. Grandpa’s encyclopedic mind had room. A test drive in the new car would be a given. That way I could tell everyone back home a personal critique about the electric car. What’s giving up one day at the beach compared to driving about town in a state of the art auto in the environmental capital state?

My son encouraged me, at dinner, to drive with him the next day while he went about his business errands. I noticed earlier, the oversized electrical cord attached to the car. I’m not an engineer, but this car would be sucking in some serious wattage overnight, 6-8 hours being the normal charge time. Growing up in the Motor City meant you loved cars, and knew what belonged where. I walked around the car and surveyed the outside panel and trim. I peeked inside the car, and saw the trunk space. I imagined two sacks of groceries would be the limit. As to the spare tire, I didn’t see a compartment or a device to inflate the tire if it went flat. Maybe the tires were solid made from substitute rubber material.

We drove the next morning to school and dropped off the grandchildren. I paid particular attention to the dashboard, the mileage remaining being the key number. If it went to zero, the other transportation arrangement went into effect. Walking long distances on the freeway or strange neighborhoods was not my idea of good exercise or a fun vacation. Filled, the range was about 120 miles. That was deceiving. Turning on the air conditioner or heater lowered the drivable miles by 20 miles. I noticed using the turn signal lost 5 miles, as it blinked. Whatever you did started the ball to run downhill. Listening to the radio was a gas guzzler. If you ran out of electricity, no petrol based gas tank with engine bailed you out of possible trouble.

That console number was all that mattered to me.  My son reassured me that electric stations were being built all about town. My question to my son was, ‘Am I to believe you wait around for 6-8 hours at a station to refill the empty electricity storage tank?’ He replied, ‘stations provided fast charges, about an hour, to get you closer to your main supply.’ I mentioned I thought the system hilarious and convoluted.

Another sticky matter centered on watching the fuel remaining number. Laws are being passed by states to prevent drivers from using cell phones to text or even call, considered distracting and thus dangerous. What the hell do you think you’d do if you were down to your last drop of electricity, concentrate on traffic? Oh, and get your mind back to the main mileage meter. Am I to believe two persons weighing 250 pounds apiece have no impact on remaining mileage? Or what about a 50 pound suitcase in the trunk?

Back home, some friends I consider to be car experts said the payback to break even compared to gas automobiles was measured in years, like five years or longer. Harsh winters are not kind to cars, especially golf carts trying to look like automobiles. I can imagine an electric car driving in a snow storm. The car is lightweight and traction would be difficult. An accident in wintery conditions would be a total wreck for the car, with severe injuries possible. For $40,000, I’d prefer to purchase a standard model and love it. The variables for owning an electric car are many and not disclosed. In cold weathered MI, golf carts are not recommended. To me the car was not safe.

“I suggest you complain to your congressional rep.” I might just tell Washington I test drove an electric car and prefer safe cars.