After a year of waiting, wondering, foot tapping and having old-world patience, I finally picked up my new Nissan Leaf from the dealer this week. The car is simply amazing, with a computerized dash and console that’s right out of Star Trek (the Next Generation). I have a 220 volt charger installed in my garage now, and so far the charging cycles have been flawless. I can program timers on the charger or let the computer figure out the best time to charge. In the future I’ll be charging on “off-peak” hours at a greatly reduced billing rate which will make the cost of my commute almost nothing (especially since I can also charge the car at work!).
The car drives like a sports car, I mean it really goes! The electric motor delivers pure torque, so zero to sixty in 4 seconds or so feels really great. It also has a low center of gravity with 800lbs of batteries sitting right down on the floorboard. Nissan designed the car with a wide wheel base and standard 18″ aluminum alloy wheels, so it basically corners like a Porsche. It’s a really, really fun car to drive.
Plus there’s the usual luxury car stuff like bluetooth, XM satellite radio, GPS navigation, USB port, SD chip port for playlists, and on and on. Great fun for the tech gadget types like me. There’s even a smart phone app for my Android phone that lets me start and stop charging, turn on the climate control before I get to my car, and check on the battery status any time.
The car is basically perfect for 90% of my driving, which is commuting 25 miles each way to work and back, and it has zero emissions to boot. So no more smogging up the city from my tailpipe. In fact, our utility company already generates 20% of it’s energy from renewable sources like wind, and we pay $5 extra a month to bump that up to 30% for our house. My next project is to add PV solar electric to my house with a “grid-tie” system which will cover 100% of our electricity usage, and then we’ll be really clean and green. It’s not the ultimate solution yet (which is basically using solar power to create hydrogen for a fuel cell system – meaning no batteries and clean power completely off the grid), but we’re heading in the right direction.
More on the Nissan Leaf in the future.