As followers will recall I am leasing a 2012 Nissan Leaf. Early on I mentioned some easy improvements; light under the charge port, external access to the charge port and better range measurement. Of course more range and a better heater also joined the list. Well the 2013 Leaf seems to address most of these issues. There’s now a light in the charge port and you can open it from outside the car. In addition the new heating system uses heat pump technology and is reported to heat the cabin much more effectively, in the same way a heat pump system would heat your home far more efficiently. This article from Edmunds is entitled, “Why Current Leaf Owners Should Hate the 2013 Leaf.” http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2013/01/why-current-leaf-owners-should-hate-the-2013-model.html
Basically the rapid rate of improvement makes earlier models and versions pale by comparison. This is the major reason why I leased rather than purchased my Leaf. I have no doubt the 2015 model, which Nissan says will be able to park itself (semi-autonomous?), will be light years ahead of the 2012 I’m driving now. I can’t wait.
While the signs of winter were perhaps less apparent as I was getting use to my Leaf, there is no doubt now that temperatures are above 25 degrees that my range has increased and my charge time decreased. I’ve noticed this even when I’m running the heater. I hadn’t quite been able to distinguish between ambient air temperature and heat use on range until now but I’m clearly finding ambient air temperature does play a key role in range and charge time. So, the hardest part of the year is over for me and my Leaf. Welcome spring.
I stopped at the Waterbury charging station on my way back from Montpelier on my way to Green Drinks in Stowe. As I pulled in to charge a young girl, maybe 5 years old and her mother were on the dock and the daughter said, “why is she getting gas.” The mother said, “I didn’t know they had gas here.” As they got closer she saw that it wasn’t a gas pump and said, “I don’t know what she’s doing sweetie.” I explained to them that my car didn’t use any gasoline but ran on electricity which I was getting from the charging stations here. By then a gentleman approached and inquired about how the vehicle worked, how long it took to charge, etc. the usual questions.
I went in to get something while I accessed the web for work and mentioned that I was charging up. They got quite excited and asked if they could take a picture and post it on their website. Thank you Green Mountain Coffee Roasters!
Or, no room for spontaneity. Twice this past week I’ve been faced with range issues. The first was when I didn’t look at my schedule and see that I had a mid-day dentist appointment and had only filled the battery to 80%. That meant that I drove from Jericho to Burlington to Essex back to Burlington. I might have been able to make it home but opted to head to Healthy Living to give it an hour on a Level 2. Thankfully the spot was open and the wifi is great there so I got an extra hour and half of work done over dinner there. This was not a major inconvenience but of course if we had workplace charging it wouldn’t have been an issue at all. Hopefully this summer we’ll get some chargers installed.
The second time was more problematic. I had run my Saturday errands; Jericho-Williston-Richmond and home only to have our younger daughter ask to go into Burlington, an unplanned trip. There was no range issue with the trip to Burlington and back (charging at City Market for the hour we were in town). The problem was when I had planned to return to Burlington to see a show and I saw that I only had 13 miles of range (it’s a 17 mile one way trip). If I had a Level 2 charger at home that would have taken care of that issue. The bigger problem was that our older daughter is home on spring break and had already taken off with the Jetta. Saying that she’s “home” on spring break is a bit misleading – her stuff is here and she makes an occasional appearance. I thought my husband would have been home since his day started quite early but he wasn’t. So what to do. I might have been able to make it since the descent from Jericho to Richmond adds a couple of miles of range. But this would also require that the City Market charging spot be available or less desirably so, the Church and Main Level 1 spot be open.
In the end he came home a little earlier than planned and we met at the Richmond Park and Ride and exchanged cars, with a few choice words from him about the benefits of an ICE. Of course when I got in his car the low fuel light was on. I powered on and made the show and as I ran down Main St to the Flynn I passed the Church and Main Street charger only to see an ICE parked in the spot. I made the show, just and as a sign of thanks filled up the tank ($60!!!) before returning home.
My mother made the comment during the show, “that car of yours really isn’t very convenient.” It is for about 98% of my trips and if I had workplace charging, a Level 2 at home and/or the 2013 model, which has ~20% more range, or a Tesla it would meet closer to 99.8%. I still think 2015 is the year for the EV breakthrough. In the meantime I’ll continue pioneering and remembering the mantra, Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.