2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: How Leaf Drivers Exact Revenge

September 06, 2011

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It's not news that in this age of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums, people are telling each other off online instead of in person. But when one 2011 Nissan Leaf owner chose to vent on a Nissan Leaf forum after another electric car owner wronged him at a charging station in Los Angeles International Airport, well it's just a good read.

Basically the Leaf owner left his car at the station to be charged for a few hours but when he returned he saw that another electric car owner unplugged his car and plugged his/her own. So rude! He then complained to a Leaf forum where its members hunted down the other driver and are now keeping watch on that other car which, after two weeks, STILL hasn't moved.

In any case, I can't believe the gall of that person and wonder if this is a common occurrence at charging stations with people unplugging each other. Can't say I'm surprised as environmentally-conscious folks have been accused of treating the environment better than they treat people.

Electric car owners, has anything like this ever happened to you?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Recommended by Me

August 11, 2011

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Many of us that work here get hit up all the time about vehicle recommendations.

My buddy Bob, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is successful in the software business, rang me up a few weeks ago.

"I'm thinking of getting a Tesla Roadster," he tells me. "How much is that?" I ask. He said he could get a used one for $60 or $70K.

Edmunds.com has the MSRP of a new 2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 Sport pegged at $128,500, to start. Wow.

I ask: why don't you get a Nissan GT-R or a Porsche or something instead?
"That won't get me in the car pool lane," he says. Oh, so that's what this is about.

He said we wants to get in that car pool lane, but also wants something that's going to be fun and that he can track occasionally.

OK, how about getting a Nissan Leaf AND a Nissan GT-R or a Mustang Boss 302, I ask him. You can get both the Leaf, which is an excellent EV commuter car, and another fun weekend/track car for the price of that Tesla.

Well, that got his attention.

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: The Spoiler Solar Panel

August 09, 2011

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Our long-term 2011 Nissan Leaf has a photovoltaic solar panel embedded in the rear spoiler that's part of the higher-level SL trim package.

Although it doesn't charge the vehicle's lithium ion batteries used for propulsion, the solar panel does help to charge the 12V accessory battery.

Hey, it's something! And it's a good start towards further solar energy progress.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 3,500 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Video Walkaround

August 09, 2011

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Here is a video walkaround of our Nissan Leaf and it starting up. The Leaf will be leaving the fleet soon as it was only a six-month loan. I'll miss it.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Brother of Another Color

August 05, 2011

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Spotted this Nissan Leaf on Robertson Boulevard the other day. Prior to this one, I think I've only ever seen one other Leaf on the road -- they're not a common sight here in Los Angeles.

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Our Favorite Caption

August 05, 2011

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Thanks to aleclance for this week's favorite caption. Here are the others that make us honk.

The Surreal Leaf. (rotaryboff)
Let's make like a tree and ... get the heck out of here. (ms3omglol)
Sad clown: out of charge. (rotaryboff)
Nissan Leaf: Alternative Fool Vehicle (ergsum)
Cirque du SoLeaf (kain77)
Nissan Leaf: Good for around clown driving. (ergsum)
Objects in mirror are creepier than they appear (ergsum)
Our footprint is small even if yours aren't (aleclance)
The Nissan Leaf: A clowning achievement! (bmwm1)
A clown takes his dog for a little Shift_ (teampenske3)
And all of a sudden, the anti-shtick brakes engaged. (ergsum)
So a dog, a clown, and a Leaf walk into this bar . . . (pete5o5)
The other two dozen are still inside the car. (bradyholt)
Bumper sticker reads: "My other vehicle is a Unicycle" (ergsum)
Leaf hits clown: arrested for a battery (noburgers)
Will the clown fit? (technetium99)
Fridays comic re-Leaf. (technetium99)
106 mpg/city, 92 mpg/around clown (mikeschmidt)

What was your favorite?

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: You Write the Caption

August 05, 2011

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I know you can barely see the Nissan Leaf in this picture, just a bit of mirror. But how do you pass up a clown photo?

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: A Leaf of My Own

August 04, 2011

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This is not a picture of our Long Term 2011 Nissan Leaf. This is my own Leaf, or at least my own for the next three years of the lease. I reserved my Leaf last year thinking I might turn it down when it arrived. Since then, I've gone back on forth on my pending decision. Driving our long termer convinced me it was a comfortable and capable car, despite Dan Edmunds' recent range adventure. But it is another thing altogether to plunk down $2,000 and begin monthly payments of $440. How practical of a commuter car would it really be? Could I really expect to log 12,000 miles a year behind the wheel?

Gaining access to the car pool lanes was strong motivation. But I've always been curious about electric cars and once even considered converting a gas car to electric (YouTube is filled with such home-grown projects). So I finally decided to take the plunge and sign on the dotted line. Paul Scott, an EV proponent turned EV salesman, handled the delivery process today at Santa Monica Nissan and went over every inch of the car and every menu of the computer interface. He recommended driving it in Eco mode most of the time and switching to the normal drive only when a BMW pulls up next to you at a stop light.

I still feel that this doesn't signal a complete conversion to electric power. It is a three-year experiment that might leave me hankering for the smell of gas. But at least for now, I'm pretty psyched about my new car and looking forward to getting to know it better.

Stay tuned.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 12 miles (on my personal Leaf)

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2011 Nissan Leaf: B-Class F-Cell Sighting

July 28, 2011

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I saw this from the cockpit of our 2011 Nissan Leaf yesterday. I had to wait for traffic to reach a stop before catching this picture. It's the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell. Initially, these hydrogen-electrics were available through a California-only lease program. This one appears to be a development unit.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 3,042 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Score one for the Leaf

July 28, 2011

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Nissan Leaf - 1
Toyota Prius - 0

For several years the yellow clean air stickers allowed California drivers access to the HOV-carpool lane regardless of headcount. Under this program the first 85,000 applicants with qualifying hybrid vehicles received the yellow hall pass. The Prius ruled the roadways until the stickers expired at the beginning of this month. When the plague of hypermiling Prius drivers merged into the general population, the HOV lane was free.

Single-occupant vehicles now need these white clean air stickers for the carpool lane privilege. Qualifying vehicles include hydrogen, natural gas and fuel-cell electric powered vehicles. The program lasts into 2015. We patiently waited for our stickers to arrive for the Leaf. Now that they're here we plan to utilize the coveted, vacated carpool lane as much as possible.

I've added over 250 HOV-lane miles on our Leaf in the past 3 days already. Doing so shaved roughly 30 minutes a day from my commute. I can get used to this.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 3,042 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Just a Clown Walking His Dog

July 27, 2011

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There I was, parked in our 2011 Nissan Leaf when this duo walked past. It was all I could do to find my camera in time. Awesome. Thanks clownguy, you made my day.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 3,000 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: How About a Green Thumbs Up?

July 26, 2011

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Nissan Leaf's Facebook is asking its fans to come up with a greeting that Leaf drivers (or EV drivers in general) can do when encountering one another on the road. You know, how Evo drivers, Vette drivers and the like say "Hi" to each other.

The peace sign seems to be a popular suggestion with the fans, right up there with the standard honking and waving, but I bet you guys would come up with funner/funny options. I like the idea of equipping Leafs with a green rubber thumb for just such occasions.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Cheaper to Park Than the Volt

July 22, 2011

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Warning: Headline only applies to parking in Santa Monica.

Actually, it could apply in other municipalities, but I'm not familiar with the parking laws anywhere else. In Santa Monica, electric cars get free parking at any city meter. Actually, any car with a "Clean Vehicle Sticker" is afforded the same free pass but they're not handing those out anymore.

Who knows how long this little perk will last. At some point, a city official is going to add up the money being lost on free electric car parking and want that back in his/her budget. It's going to take awhile before that number is anything more than a few hundred bucks, though, so until then the Leaf has one more thing going for it.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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An Analysis of the 2012 Nissan Leaf Price Hike

July 21, 2011

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Nissan has stated that the price increase of the 2012 Nissan Leaf is due to additional standard equipment such as a cold-weather package and an on-board rapid charging system.

But the equipment price increases may be more than meets the eyes.

Read this analysis by Senior Editor John O'Dell of Edmunds' AutoObserver.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: No Feel For Speed

July 21, 2011

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Electric cars are different. No news there, right? You get a satisfying whoosh when you put your foot on the accelerator. Instant takeoff. But I find when I am moving along, I have no sense of how fast I am going.

Sometimes, I glance down at the speedometer and am surprised at the number I see. Because there are no gears to advance through, I don't get a feel for the increase in mph. The crescendo is smooth.

Have any of you driven an electric car?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 2,993 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Price Hike for 2012

July 19, 2011

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Going the opposite way of the Chevy Volt, Nissan has announced that for the 2012 model year, the Nissan Leaf will come with more options and a higher price.

The Base SV now starts at $36,050, $2,420 over 2011 while the top-trim SL (which we have) will now start at $38,100, $3,530 over 2011.

The price cut for the Volt was due to decontenting and the price hike for the Leaf is due to content addition. Specifically, quick charging, battery warmer, heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats are now standard. DC Fast Charge is now standard on the SL-- something 90 percent of Leaf buyers were already buying.

More expensive, yes, but still $4,000 less than a Volt.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Flip? Flop!

July 13, 2011

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When it comes to environmental-reporting cred, it's hard to beat my friend Marla Cone. She's the editor of Environmental Health News and a two-time winner of the Scripps Howard Meeman Award for environmental reporting. She was senior environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times and at one time covered the California Air Resources Board, which in 1990 adopted the world's toughest automobile-emissions standards. In 1992, she wrote a fascinating article for the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at GM's development of the Impact, the predecessor to the doomed EV1.

Marla and I are auto-twins: We each have a 2001 Acura TL, same options, same color. We both love the car, and love not having car payments.

When I had our Leaf for the first time last night, I asked Marla if she'd take a drive with me and share her impressions of the car. I figured if anyone was going to flip for the Leaf, it would be Marla.

She liked its looks, its interior space, its amenities and its quiet. She said nubbin of a shifter was "a little weird" (I think so, too). We tallied up her daily driving miles and decided the car's range would work for her. We ran the numbers and decided that at $28,000 (after federal tax credit), the price could be right.

But to my surprise, she wasn't flipping.

For some very good reasons, the Leaf is a flop for her -- for now. Marla explained why she wouldn't seriously consider an electric car at this point, even knowing the environmental benefits:

"First is probably my reluctance to try technology that hasn't been around long," she said in an e-mail today. "I wasn't exactly speedy in buying a cell phone, laptop, iPod, iPhone. I still don't have an iPad. I'm the type to make sure it works and let companies work out the bugs and hear people's opinions on something before I make the leap with an important item like a car.

"Second is comfort factor with the brand I have used now for 10 years. Cars are something I don't understand well, so the comfort factor is important for me, maybe even trumping environmental factors."

Researcher that she is, Marla used the EPA's comparo tool and ran the numbers for the 2011 Acura TL versus the 2001 that we each own. The 2001 Acura TL puts out 11.74 pounds of smog-forming emissions per year. The 2011 Acura TL puts out 4.13 pounds -- an argument for an Acura-to-Acura swap if ever I saw one. She threw in the 2011 Toyota Prius to have a hybrid comparison in the mix. It emits .99 pounds.

The Leaf has zero pounds of emissions, of course. But Marla already has decided that early EV adoption is not for her. She's a couple years away from a new-car purchase, and maybe she'll have more evidence to apply to her decision by then. But I can see what she's weighing right now, and it makes a lot of sense to me. There are considerations for the environment, but there are also the considerations of a real-world driver who isn't convinced that the technology that's on the road right now meets her needs.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @2,896 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Drinking It Up at The Office

July 07, 2011

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I spotted this new Nissan Leaf in the Santa Monica parking garage of our office getting nourishment from the wall. That outlet is 110V so it would take 21 hours to charge the car to full from empty. I hope the owner either lives close by or the battery was only partially depleted.

In any event, although he must have arrived early to snag a space near an outlet, this guy was able to make the Leaf work as his daily commuter.

So in your face EV naysayers!

And although I usually like most cars in black, the Leaf ain't one of them.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~2,900 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf: It Sure is Weird

July 07, 2011

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The Nissan Leaf, it sure is weird. Join me now for a visual tour of its weirdness.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Spidey Sense

June 30, 2011

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Look right in the center of the above picture and you'll see what greeted me when I opened the door to the Leaf last night.

Spidey was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: First Production EV to Climb Pikes Peak

June 27, 2011

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This weekend was the 89th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and, for the first time, a series-production electric vehicle made the climb. And behind the wheel was none other than our very own Scott Doggett. Unfortunately our long termer couldn't make the trip to Colorado Springs, but Nissan had one at the ready.

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: In its Habitat

June 22, 2011

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I spotted this Nissan Leaf in its urban habitat yesterday: the I-10 freeway in Los Angeles.

And it was the same ugly Merlot color as our long-term tester. (I prefer the light blue or white -- which of course makes up every other car in our test fleet.)

It didn't have any special tags (e.g., government or carmaker), so perhaps it was owned by an ordinary citizen just trying to reduce his carbon footprint.

'Good on ya' pal/madam.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~2,600 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: AAA to Offer Mobile Charging

June 22, 2011

Leaf AAA.jpg Edmunds Auto Observer is reporting that the American Automobile Association (AAA) will be offering mobile charging for EVs that run out of juice.

Details are limited at the moment, but Auto Observer speculates that the charging will most likely use the faster Level 3 chargers. Level 2 chargers, which require eight hours for a full charge, would not be a practical solution.

Not all EVs and not all Leafs have a plug to accommodate a Level 3 charger. The "Quick Charge Port" (left plug in the photo above) is a $700 option only available on the Leaf's higher SL trim level. A 30-minute charge from the 500-volt quick charger can bring the battery to within 80 percent of a full battery.

The AAA program is scheduled to launch later this summer in a few select cities. We're hoping Los Angeles is one of them, just in case we have another incident like this. A 30-minute charge would have given us plenty of battery power to get back to the office and avoided the hassle of having the car towed.

Would you be more willing to purchase an electric car if more of these AAA trucks were out there? Would it help alleviate your range anxiety?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 2,602 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: New Charging Options

June 21, 2011


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The cost of the 2011 Nissan Leaf is complicated by many factors that subtract and add to the purchase price. One cost, the home charging station, is frequently quoted as being $2,000 for the purchase and installation. I'm getting ready to receive my own personal Leaf so I got an electrician to come look at my wiring system.

The electrician was a hip, young dude who's owned the Toyota RAV4 EV for years. After looking over my electrical panel he said, "You know, there's another option which could save you a ton of dough." Save money? Okay, I'm listening.

"You don't really need a home charging station," he said. "You just need a 240 volt connection and then you can modify the cord that comes with it to charge at the higher voltage." And how much is that? He said he would replace my old, corroded circuit breaker system and install an external 240 volt outlet for $900 parts, permit and labor. (Installing just the 240 outlet would be much cheaper.) My only other expense is $239 to modify the cord included with my car so I can charge from the outlet at 240 volts.

Last night, I took the Edmunds.com Leaf home and plugged it in on the 110 volt connector inside my new box (our cord isn't modified to use the 240 plug). In the morning, the Leaf was completely recharged and showed a 104-mile range. This dropped quickly, of course, but when I got to the office, after covering 32 miles, I still had an indicated range of 62 miles.

The electrician said he frequently goes to visit his parents in his RAV4 EV and their house is outside his comfortable round-trip range. To solve this problem, he installed a 240 volt charging outlet at their house. His car is charging as he visits with his folks. A nice solution that essentially boosts the range of his EV.

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 2,589 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Security Breach With Carwings?

June 14, 2011

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A few weeks back, we got into a quick discussion about the Carwings warning screen on our Nissan Leaf. The warning says that, should you press OK, your Leaf will wirelessly transmit recorded vehicle data for various purposes "including CARWINGS services, product evaluation, research and development."

But would you expect it to send things like your speed, GPS location, destination etc are passed directly to each RSS feed you're subscribed to? (For those who aren't aware, you can subscribe to RSS feeds via Carwings and your Leaf will read them.)

It seems unlikely that your RSS feeds want anything to do with this information, but still, not sure I want it being sent out everywhere. So again, I'll ask: Does this bother you?

(Allcartech via Slashdot )

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Gasoline Powered Everything

June 06, 2011

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What if everything used in your day-to-day living was powered by gasoline?

In an attempt to have us re-think the internal combustion-engined vehicle, Nissan USA generated such a world in this creative video ad.

The ad even includes a dig at the sometimes gasoline-powered Chevy Volt.

Check out the video on the jump.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ ~6,500 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Easier Being Green

June 03, 2011

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What you see above is the badge on our Leaf. No, the color balance is not out of whack on my camera, the badge is actually tinted blue. Blue? Why blue? I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the blue treatment. To me, it looks like somebody left the protective film on it -- the film that keeps shiny bits from getting scratched up in transit.

As a former designer, this is a minor annoyance. I get the whole "blue skies" association, but for me, green is where it's at. If it were up to me, I would've proposed something as subtle as green lettering.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Sales Growing

June 01, 2011

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Sales of the Nissan Leaf have nearly doubled for the month of May at 1,142. Last month they sold 573 units. By comparison the Chevrolet Volt sold 481 units in May.

See the Nissan teaser ad for the Leaf which shows an alternate reality of all gas-powered appliances. The ad takes a shot at the Chevy Volt and even shows it filling up at a gas pump. The ad doesn't, however, show the two cars driving side by side to see which car can go farthest.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Pod

June 01, 2011

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Pod.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Outside Opinions

May 25, 2011

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My brother-in-law Steve has been considering purchasing a Leaf. He's serious enough that he put his name down on the wait list a while back and it seems like it's finally his turn. But the Nissan dealers won't allow him to test drive one. When the sign-out clipboard arrived at my desk, I made sure to grab the Leaf and head over to his house.

I asked him to email me some thoughts on the car and also what is going into his decision. He sent me the very insightful response that follows:

Thoughts on going electric:

Though I know switching one ICE for an EV won't solve the problems of climate change, national security, and pollution, electrification of mobility is inevitable and the sooner that happens, the better off we'll be environmentally, financially, and national security-wise. So much has to change before switching makes sense to a lot of people. For some, it's longer driving range or more vehicle types to choose from, and for others it doesn't make sense to trade one fossil fuel - gasoline - for another one to generate the electricity - coal. All these things have to change and are changing. A dozen or more EVs of all types are in development, the next generation of battery and control technologies are already being perfected in labs all over the world, and existing renewable energy sources are being added to the grid at a record pace.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Proton Sauce

May 20, 2011

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"Oh. My!" exclaimed my wife as I hit the accelerator in our Leaf from a stop light. She was expecting to get a lot more gray hair before arriving at Target. It's not chirping tires or laying patch with it's meats, but this little alt-fuel machine can actually accelerate at a pretty respectable rate. Add to that the fact it rushes forward nearly silent just brings a grin to my face. It's just silly.

We recently tested it at a 10.2 0-60. Not a barn burner, but still pretty good for all electric. To keep things relative, in our testing the Honda Insight got a 10.9 while a Toyota Prius got a 10.1 0-60. Both boosted by gas engines.

The more I drive, the more I like our Leaf.

Scott Jacobs, Sr Mgr, Photography

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2011 Nissan Leaf 'Runs Out of Juice' During Top Gear Filming

May 16, 2011

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Top Gear fans in Lincoln, England, got a chance to live the dream and walk among their idols when the Top Gear UK team stopped into town to film an episode. TV hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May enlisted the help of the townspeople when the 2011 Nissan Leaf they were filming ran out of juice and needed to be pushed near an outlet where it could be charged.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: The Sound of Silence

May 13, 2011

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I need to get my head checked. I'm beginning to really like electric vehicles. I'm not saying that I'll give up internal combustion any time soon (you can have my V8 when you pry it from my cold, dead hand), but I can see (and hear) the future -- and I like it.

Last night, as I drove down a tree-lined street in my neighborhood, I rolled down the window and heard nothing, and everything. Obviously there was no exhaust rumble, but I was treated to the sounds of the birds chirping and conversations of people on the street. I could still hear the artificial whine that the Nissan broadcasts to warn blind people of its approach, but there's a cancel button for that.

Personally, I like the noise it generates. It's what I thought a 21st-century car would sound like when I was a kid. Coincidentally, I also think it's what Dart Vader's dustbuster would sound like.

I turned off the sound and, wow, a zen-like driving experience. The last time I encountered this was in a Tesla Roadster. Taking a corner, I could hear what each tire was doing. It was as though I gained some sort of extra sensory power. Now all I want is a true electric sports car so I can push this newfound super power further. I also have been mesmerized by the trailer for Charge, a documentary about running electric racebikes at the Isle of Man.

I will always love the roar of a race engine, but the whine of electricity is the future. We'll always have the roar, I suppose, at historic motorsports gatherings. A week ago I would have considered this blasphemy, but I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a top-tier all-electric race series.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: The Bitter End -- Real-World Edition

May 09, 2011


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So this is what the Monday after a weekend with the Leaf looked like.

Sigh. Full story after the jump.

Friday evening. The car board comes around, so that the editors can each select a car for the weekend. I sign up for the Leaf -- I don't have a lot of driving planned, and figure the quiet weekend will be a good match for the Leaf's limited range.

Anyway, the weekend winds up being more social than I'd anticipated, with the Leaf heaving and stopping through West L.A. and even inching its way into Hollywood's perpetually congested streets. By the time Monday morning yawns and stretches, I've put 53 miles on the Leaf's odometer -- almost all of that from city driving. As I'm pulling out of the carport on the way to work, the Leaf's distance-to-empty (DTE) gauge is showing 13 miles.

Thirteen miles. No cause for concern, I reason. After all, I live only seven miles away from the Edmunds nerve center. Should be able to get there with a few miles to spare.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Average Use Patterns

May 05, 2011

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Are you the owner of one of the 1,044 Leaf hatchbacks that have found a home in the US since the car's launch in December 2010? If so, maybe you're wondering what your fellow Leaf owners are like, and how they interact with the car. Nissan has a few answers.

Via Carwings, the spyware telematics system that's standard on all Leaf models, Nissan has compiled aggregate data regarding the use patterns of the first Leaf owners. Here's the dirt:

-The average trip length of these early adopters is 7 miles
-Most charge on a Level 2, 220-volt charger at their homes
-The average charging time is 2 hours and 11 minutes

Reports Nissan: "Leaf owners are a combination of conscientious environmentalists and tech-savvy individuals. They are highly educated, have excellent credit, and are in the nation's top 15 percent for household income."

Any Leaf owners out there? Do these stats jibe with your own experience?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Also a Top Safety Pick

April 26, 2011

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On the same day, the Volt crash tests results came out, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released its findings for the 2011 Nissan Leaf. These ratings were also stellar, as the Leaf is rated "Good" for frontal-offset and side-impact crash safety, along with roof strength and head restraint effectiveness.

Lest you think this is in relation to other subcompact or compact cars, note that the IIHS considers Nissan's EV midsize based on interior volume, so these ratings are directly comparable to the Volt, Accord, Sonata and other family cars.

More details on the Leaf's crash test performance can be found here, and there are more photos and video after the jump.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Oh, Very Funny

April 15, 2011

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Oh, you're all so very funny, aren't you? I let you pick my ride to Las Vegas and you go ahead and choose the Nissan Leaf. Hardy har. Magrath gets a 412-horsepower Mustang, and I get the electric car. Jerks. I'll see you in three weeks.

James Riswick, Aggravated Editor @ Who the Hell Cares Miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf: How To Get To Fontana

April 11, 2011

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Our 2011 Nissan Leaf is headed to our test track at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Technically, it can make the drive from Santa Monica to Fontucky on a full charge, but the distance is such that it would arrive with precious little juice left for testing.

Since our standard procedure is to test all cars with a full gas tank and/or a full battery, the journey has become a two-vehicle, two-step process. Step One consists of the Leaf spending the night at my house getting juiced up. Step Two involves our 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and a U-haul trailer, both of which stand ready and waiting nearby to drag the Leaf and its fully charged battery out to the track tomorrow morning.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing at 1,741 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Campgrounds Cure Range Anxiety

April 06, 2011

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One of the things that can make electric cars a no-go for many is the fact that since the nationwide charging network still has some growin' to do, you could find yourself struggling to find a charging station on longer journeys. Well, there's one solution for that problem that you may not have thought of: campgrounds.

Turns out that most campgrounds and RV parks are equipped with 240-volt hookups that allow you to fully charge electric cars like the Leaf in just four hours. There are a few campgrounds in Maryland that are already marketing this service, to accommodate EV drivers visiting Washington DC from cities in the north. The cost for a four-hour charge seems to run between $8.50 and 10 bucks.

You'll need to bring your own adapter in many cases, but as more and more campground owners start marketing this amenity, it's expected that increased demand will result in the building of designated EV pedestals.

So what do you do while you're gettin' all charged up? Says Russ Yates, owner of a Maryland campground: "Most people who come to our park to recharge their vehicles come up to our store and buy snacks. Or they get on their laptops and send email. But most of them simply take a nap in their vehicle or they walk around our park and sit by the river."

Any EV owners out there? Ever charged your car at a campground or RV park?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Not Made for Emergencies

April 06, 2011

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I signed out the Leaf about an hour before I was notified that I had to return home to tend to a very sick pet. My heart sank. Besides the fear of losing a beloved furry companion, I was filled with dread because the Leaf probably isn't the best car in an emergency. What ifs. All sorts of what ifs popped into my head as I stood in front of my desk. What if I need to travel further than I had planned? I was paralyzed, sweating profusely. After a few choice expletives under my breath, I grabbed my stuff and bolted for the door.

I got to the Leaf, just as Riswick was getting into the Volt. I was a mess, I didn't really know what I was doing with the Leaf. I unplugged it, and hopped in. Riz scampered to the front of the Leaf and shut the charge port door that I forgot about. We flashed a quick thumbs up to each other and I was out of there like an F1 pit stop; a very, very slow pit stop.

Traffic. At 3:30 in the afternoon. This is not what I needed. I kept my cool, but this gave me far too much time to ponder the worst case scenarios. More what ifs. The freeway was crawling at a walking pace, so I switched to Eco mode just in case I needed more range later. The Leaf's crypt-like silence may be calming for some, but at that instant, it just made me feel alone and isolated. Get me home. Please, just get me home.

My mind lingered long enough on range anxiety to realize that this should not be someone's only mode of transportation -- solely for times like this. A while back, my father had a heart attack and I rushed to the hospital in my Lotus. I think I set a new urban speed record in the process. I'm not saying that a sports car is the best vehicle when a crisis breaks, but something reliable with a decent amount of range is.

In seismically active Southern California, the Leaf would be one of the worst choices when the big one hits. Power would likely be out for weeks, so charging is out. That means getting around just got more complicated. In the event the shaking gets bad, I have some power inverters so I can use a car as a makeshift generator and I usually have more than a half tank of fuel in the cars/bikes. This obviously would have limitations if the leaf were the only car in the driveway.

Back to the present emergency. I got home and loaded the cat in the carrier. The Leaf's crypt-like silence seemed like a good thing on the way to the vet, as the little guy didn't need anything to stress him out any further. No word on what ails him yet, fingers crossed. Perhaps I should sign out the Volt until I know for sure.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Counting Up The Cost

April 05, 2011

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One of the things that can be most frustrating about electric cars like the Leaf is the lack of transparency when it comes to the cost of power consumption.

It's easy to tell exactly how much it costs to fuel your Accord each week -- and to make reasonably accurate predictions regarding the weeks ahead -- but for electric vehicles, the picture becomes more nebulous.

Complicating things further is the tiered rate system that we have here in California. Under this system, your electricity rate is dependent on the amount you consume; the more you consume, the higher your rate.

During our recent trip to Southern California Edison's Energy Education Center for the"Smart Energy Experience" exhibit, I got the chance to learn about SCE's plans to make power consumption more transparent.

The utility is rolling out Smart Grid technologies that enable you to monitor your power usage as it happens. For example, if you plug in your Leaf for charging, you'll be able to see via a display like the one shown above exactly what kind of impact it's having on your electricity bill.

Seems like these kinds of technologies can serve to make cars like the Leaf a more practical proposition for the average consumer. What's your take?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Smart Planning for Smart Energy

April 04, 2011

Leaf Charging.jpg A few of the Edmunds editors and I recently visited the "Smart Energy Experience" exhibit at Southern California Edison's CTAC Energy Education Center, in Irwindale, Calif. Since the Smart Energy Experience is a showcase for the utility company's latest advancement in electricity metering and management, we thought it would be appropriate to drive there in our long term Nissan Leaf.

The facility is about 37 miles away from our offices. Round trip, that's 74 miles -- too close for comfort, given that the Leaf's EPA range is 73 miles. With some planning however, we were able to take this EV past its round-trip limitations. Edison's staff said we could use their level 2 chargers and since we planned to stay there for a few hours, we could "top off" before heading home.

The trip to the facility drained about 60 percent of the Leaf's charge. There were three people in the car, the A/C running at 73 degrees and we were traveling at an average speed of 65-70 mph. It was a particularly hot day (about 90 degrees) and we went up a few hills, which further contributed to the battery decrease. The remaining range read about 45 miles when we got to our destination.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Suspension Walkaround

March 29, 2011

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Cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius and Honda Insight are all about their unique fancy-pants drivetrains, but they're supposed to be affordable, too. Experience tells us this combination produces few surprises in the suspension department.

Still, the Leaf was the landslide winner in our recent suspension walkaround poll. You asked for it, you got it. Here's the all-new 2011 Nissan Leaf in a compromising position in my driveway.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: More Engine Than Engine

March 24, 2011

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Check out the nice-looking aluminum valve cover on our 2011 Nissan Leaf. That's what we like to see. Much better than all that plastic.

Hold on a sec...this sucker's electrical...

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