Sunday, April 1, 2012

23. Another LEAF Savings - More Than 6 Hours a Year

As I've shown earlier in this blog, during the 10 months I've owned my LEAF, it has saved me a LOT of money on gas.  It generates zero emissions, thus helping to save the environment.  I've saved on routine auto maintenance as well because the LEAF has required zero maintenance (no oil changes, etc.)

In many parts of the country the LEAF can drive in HOV lanes and park free in spaces reserved for electric cars, a huge potential time saving.

It just occurred to me that there's another way the LEAF saves me time.  

When I pull into my garage at the end of the day, I automatically plug in the LEAF without even thinking about it.  If I forget for more than 15 minutes after arriving home, the car sends me a reminder text message.  (I never drive it enough in a day to require recharging away from home.)

It takes about 10 seconds to connect the charger and another 10 seconds to unplug it as I'm leaving the next morning.  I do this once a day during the week and sometimes twice a day on weekends (not because I need to, but just because I like to stay topped off).  That adds up to an average of about 140 seconds a week or 2 hours a year I spend plugging and unplugging my car.

Now compare that to the time I would have wasted standing mindlessly beside my gas car at the filling station, say 10 minutes once a week or 8.6 hours every year.

With my LEAF I've therefore reclaimed more than 6 valuable hours of my life every year.  Granted that's not such a big deal, but I can sure think of better ways to spend those 6 hours than standing mindlessly at the gas pump in the heat or cold or rain.

Every time I leave my garage I'm "topped off" with clean electrons that will carry me in comfort for 75-100 miles, far more than I drive around town in a day.  How often do you leave your garage in the morning with a full tank of gas?  

I love my LEAF!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

22. Why Support People Who Hate You?

The up-front purchase price of the LEAF may be slightly more than other smaller cars, but it's all gravy from there:
  • The LEAF is really fun to drive, and it's really quiet and smooth 
  • Electricity costs only about 3¢/mile at Austin rates
  • After charging overnight, I leave the house every morning with a "full tank" of electrons (enough for up to 100 miles)
  • Routine service costs are minimal to nothing (no oil changes, filters, etc.)
  • Electric cars get to drive in the HOV lanes
  • Many cities allow electric cars to park free at downtown meters
  • And my LEAF produces zero pollution
Yes, I mean zero pollution, even to generate the electricity that runs it. 

I participate in Austin's Green Energy Program; so every kilowatt of energy I use to run my home and my LEAF comes from West Texas windmills, not oil or coal.  Although I pay a slightly higher rate for this clean electricity, it feels good to know that powering my home and my LEAF does not add one gram of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

ADDED BONUS: When I drive my LEAF I am not sending one dime to the OPEC countries who hate America.

If there's a downside to the LEAF, I have yet to discover it.


Monday, February 13, 2012

21. Is the LEAF almost as good as a gasoline car?

My LEAF is not almost as good as a gas-burner - it's better!

The LEAF is clearly superior in most ways to any gas car I've ever owned:
   • It's remarkably comfortable and fun to drive
   • It's quicker than most gasoline sedans when the traffic light turns green
   • It's rock solid on the road and corners as flat as a sports car
    • Inside it's by far the quietest car I've ever driven, even at freeway speeds
   • It's got the best AC around (and can even be pre-cooled by starting the AC remotely from my iPhone)
   • It has lots of leg room for back seat passengers, even with the driver's seat all the way back
   • It requires almost no service because the electric motor has no fluids to check/change
   • My LEAF has never been to a gas station; yet it always leaves my garage in the morning topped off with 70-100 miles worth of electricity (which costs me 3¢/mile)

The only way the LEAF cannot compete with my Lexus is in long-distance travel; but it was never meant to be a long-distance highway cruiser.

The LEAF was designed to be a superb, efficient, non-polluting city car; and I think Nissan got it just right.

I love my LEAF!

Friday, February 3, 2012

20. Servicing the LEAF...

...Or perhaps I should title this entry, "NOT servicing the LEAF" because I've had the car since May 2011, and I still haven't been back to the dealership for anything.

When I took delivery, I was told that the first service isn't until 7,500 miles - just to rotate the tires.  Although I drive my LEAF every day, I never use it for long highway trips; so I've only managed to put 4,800 miles on the car in eight months, an average of about 20 miles per day for all commutes, shopping, and social events.

I've always taken very good care of my cars; and I was feeling a bit "guilty" that I hadn't ever been to the Nissan dealer's service department; so I called the Service Manager and asked him, "Shouldn't I be bringing my LEAF in for something?"

He chuckled and said, "What for?  There's nothing to check!  We don't need to see you until 7,500 miles to rotate your tires."  He emphasized that there are no fluids to check or change.  Unlike a gasoline engine's thousands of precision moving parts, the electric motor in the LEAF has only one moving part, the armature; so there's nothing to wear out or require servicing - no oil changes, no new oil filters, no replacing carburetor air filters, etc. 

There's no service due on my Lexus either.  The service department at the Lexus dealership is superb, the best I've ever experienced with any car.  They've always given me First Class treatment, but I confess I don't miss them at all.  I don't miss phoning for service appointments, taking time out of my day to drop off my Lexus and pick up a (free) loaner Lexus, then driving back to the dealership later to pick up my own car.  I've only put 800 miles total on my Lexus since I got my LEAF; so no service is due; but one of these days I really must think of a reason to take the car in the dealership for something.  Maybe the next time it rains I'll take the Lexus out of the garage and get it dirty - that will give me an excuse to visit the dealer for a free wash (which they're happy to do as often as you wish).  Lexus service is the BEST... but I never get to use it any more.  :-)

This May I will take my LEAF in for its first service... tire rotation!

I love my LEAF!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

19. Ah-HAH! Finally I can report a LEAF caveat…

Ever since I started this blog in May 2011 I've had nothing but superlatives to report about my LEAF: it's quick, quiet, fun, solid, smooth, roomy, has outstanding AC, etc.  

But this week I finally discovered a minor caveat about the car.  

For the past few days we've had our first "cold snap" of the winter - yesterday the temperature never got above 38° (northerners will chuckle, but that's COLD by Austin standards).  

Batteries cannot deliver as much power when they're cold anyway; but then add to that the fact that the car's (electric) heater absolutely SUCKS power; and you end up with a dramatic decrease in range compared to the warmer months.  Just turning on the heater drops the range on the battery display by 10-15 miles!  Of course one could wear a parka and do without the heater to gain more mileage, but who wants to do that?  (The newer model LEAF's have heated seats and steering wheel which should help.)

Fortunately I never drive more than 20-30 miles on a typical day; so even in winter I've always got a large reserve of battery power to run the heater full blast without worrying. 

And it's nice that the electric heat is instantaneous - no waiting until you're almost at your destination before the gasoline engine warms up.

But when one compares this winter range loss of 10+ miles to the summer drop of only 3-6 miles with the AC blasting full force on a 105° day, it becomes clear that the LEAF may not be the best choice for folks who live where winters are long and brutal (poor devils).

I've been driving my LEAF for six months without burning a single drop of gas while my beautiful Lexus continues to sit alone and lonesome in the garage. I guess I'll drive the Lexus to the airport this week just to charge its battery.


Monday, October 10, 2011

18. I HAD to Drive My Lexus Last Week...

Last week I had to drive from Austin to Houston; so I took my Lexus.  This was only the third time the Lexus had been out of the garage since I got my LEAF three months ago (just a couple of prior airport trips).

I should preface this by saying I have really enjoyed my Lexus IS350 for the past several years.  It's probably the finest gasoline automobile I've ever owned - quick, quiet, smooth, and elegant.  Lexus service has always been exemplary.  

That said, here are just a few reasons I prefer driving my LEAF for all my in-town travel:

1. When I pressed the button to start my Lexus that morning, I could actually feel vibrations as the engine turned over, then idled.  How "primitive"!

2. I could hear muted sounds from the engine compartment, not the LEAF's utter silence.

3. When I pressed the accelerator I could feel the Lexus' internal combustion engine rev up and shift repeatedly (albeit very subtly) - a really noticeable difference when one has become accustomed to the LEAF's silky smooth and silent acceleration at all speeds.

4. Before the drive I stopped off to fill up the Lexus, and it was annoying to have to buy 12 gallons of gas for about $44 (the first gas I'd bought in three months).  When the pump stopped I couldn't help calculating that at 3¢/mile for electricity, I could have driven my LEAF for almost 1,500 miles (!) with this $44.

What's not to like about this car?  I haven't found anything yet.

17. My LEAF Makes the Christian Science Monitor

The reporter loved my LEAF:

"Something new and a bit odd is happening here in Texas, where history and the economy are so tightly interwoven with oil: Some drivers are ditching their gasoline vehicles and turning over a new leaf – literally.'