Two Years with the Nissan Leaf

By | March 19, 2016

Coming up on my two-year anniversary with my Leaf and thought it would be interesting to look over how driving electric has gone.

Overall pretty good although it hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing.

Driving electric has been a wonderfully calming experience, for instance I have learned the delights of single pedal driving – or using the regenerative braking to slow the car down. A combination of that and the serenity of silently wafting down the highway makes the morning commute so much more bearable.

Interestingly most of the issues I have had over the past two years have been with Nissan and the local dealerships in this area, as well as from the limited range of my Leaf.

Nissan have really done little to push the Leaf with its dealerships and I still get emails about offers on oil changes and transmission service. Leaf doesn’t even show up on the Nissan web page unless you go dig for it.
Because most dealers make more money out of service than they do from car sales, they consistently oversell the service options presented to you. The regular service on a Leaf is so obviously padded with extra none-tasks it is laughable. The B service consists of 5 tasks including fluid checks and tire rotations, yet somehow it manages to cost >$200.

My last dealership visit was for a flat 12V battery, which stops any EV in the same way as a gas car.
My leaf spent four days at the dealership for them to tell me they couldn’t find anything wrong.

The icing on the cake was finding that the telematics system was completely insecure.
The telematics system is a useful tool that lets you remotely start the AC so your car is warm/cool when you get in. It also lets you schedule charge times and access all the driving records and is really quite useful.
However, Nissan elected to implement it with no security at all, meaning only your VIN is needed by a potential attacker to turn on your AC or download your driving records.
Their solution was to disable the system.
Even better, the telematics uses a 2G cell service that goes offline in 2016. It has always been planned to go offline in 2016. But instead of switching to 3G three years ago, Nissan decided to keep going with 2G. So the telematics will stop working anyway this year.

Their solution to this is to offer to cover “some” of the costs of an upgrade. Gee, thanks Nissan.

Having travelled a bit less than the expected 30,000 miles (24.5K so far) I can honestly say I haven’t really felt any range anxiety. However that has been tempered by a growing frustration with the limited range of the car. 80 miles is almost enough, but the problem has been in making sure that you are close to a charging solution as you get lower and lower.

My solution has just been to plug-in as soon as I get home, so I always leave the house with a full charge. The charging infrastructure isn’t yet reliable enough and require a leap of faith to take long distance journeys. Especially as most of the charge options are often blocked by inconsiderate gas-powered car driver or are stupidly expensive (as in more expensive than gas).

Bottom line for me is while I have loved my Leaf and it has been a great introduction to EVs, I will not replace it with the new model. Nissan has allowed the Leaf to stagnate. It is being rapidly overtaken my better EV’s with better range, better features and better pricing.

The upcoming Chevy Bolt is about the same cost, but over double the driving range. BMW are about to increase the range on the i3. Of course the elephant in the room is the about to be unveiled Tesla Model 3, which starts at about the same as a Leaf SL.
Sadly Nissan is about the be crushed by all the manufacturers who are just catching them up.