Last week I spent the weekend test driving the 2013 Nissan Leaf. I got hooked! It is strange. After driving this amazingly quiet and extremely smooth little car, a few things happened:
#1 All gas fueled cars suddenly appear filthy to me. It is - I am guessing- how people started to see the old coal locomotives after electric ones started to become common. When I drive my old beloved Suburu now I just think 'eeew, gross'.
#2 I started really getting into the game of 'how far can I go on a charge?'. The Leaf monitors your driving style for energy efficiency and lets you know when you are doing well by growing a little tree icon on the dash board display. Cute. I really wanted to grow that little tree. I drove like my foot was on the MOST fragile egg!
#3 I started really paying attention to how many trips I was making to town and back. With a kid and a puppy and poor cooking skills, man I drive back and forth a lot!
Anyway, they convinced me. I am getting my new Leaf tomorrow. It will be this color blue and I am going to put an electric car charging station outside of my office in the center of town (landlord, willing).
I am really excited about this new adventure. The Leaf gets about 100 miles to a charge. A charge takes about 4.5 hours and costs approximately $3.00. I figure I will charge it up about 2 or 3 times a week, lets say 10 times a month. SO that is about $30.00 a month in fuel.
The way the car uses electricity is interesting too. I was expecting a sort of simple correlation between how many miles you can go and how much your battery is charged. Not so. Basically there is a little 'gas guage' on the dash board display and when the car is fully charged it might say '100 miles'. (Meaning you have 100 miles to go before you run out of charge. ) Then as you drive the number on the gas gauge keeps going up and down. Basically if you are powering hard or going up a hill you might buzz through 5 miles on the gauge, but you have only gone 2 or 3 miles on the odometer. (I immediately thought 'what the heck! not cool!'). But then as you drive on and go down hill coasting , or stop at stop signs, you start to get some of those miles back. (There is another fun little display on the dash that shows you when you are using energy and when you are producing energy. Also addictive to watch and challenge yourself with!)
I tested the gas gauge thing over the weekend. After going 45 miles in actual distance, I had used 46 miles on my gas gauge. After going 85 miles of actual distance I had used 83 miles on my gas gauge. Pretty accurate, but it is like the curve of a graph, don't focus on the high and low points, focus on the curve.
What about charging? good question. You CAN charge the car from a normal 110 outlet. Or you can get a car charging station and charge in a third of the time. Basically it takes about 4.5 hours to charge with the 240 volt car charging station. With the 110 outlet it takes a good 12 hours to fully charge. (I tried it at home over night. I plugged it in before dinner and was shocked to see it still charging at 6am when I went out to walk the puppy.) I immediately decided that I am getting 2 car charging stations, one for the house and one for the office. But then I found out how much they cost ! These charger stations can run between $750 and $1400 easily. Yikes. (As usual, Bob was right. Yes Bob I wrote that down.)
I have decided I am going to get one at the office and make it part of the entire Fine Green Homes experience. Any fellow hybrid or electric car user friends out there, come on by and fuel up!