Turning Over a New Leaf

I decided to get myself an electric car- the Nissan Leaf. I’m happy to support the electric car technology and reduce my carbon footprint.

I bought the leaf because its 100 mile range, all electric engine, and roomy backseat serve my needs best.  I ordered one “fully loaded”, just as my Prius and ford fusion hybrids had been in the past.

When the car arrived, it had acrylic seats, mediocre stereo, no sunroof, manual seat adjustments- it was basically as “loaded” as the Toyota Matrix I bought for about $13K 9 years ago. I asked the Nissan sales rep- “this is fully loaded?”. His reply- “Nissan didn’t think that the demographic for this car would want leather.” I smugly commented that non-vegans might also be interested in electric cars.

The majority of the people buying electric and hybrid cars are the early adopters- the same folks who buy organic food, have been using Apple Computer products for a decade or so, have an urban garden, etc.  The Big Shots at Nissan might need to better identify with who they’re selling to.

Nissan has made a car that they are charging about $40k for ($30k after government incentive rebate) that is about as interesting as, well, a Nissan!  Toyota got it right years ago with the Prius when they made the car’s technology futuristic to match its futuristic hybrid technology, featuring such advances as keyless entry, an “on” button, rear view camera, to-the-minute mpg status, engine and energy use graphics, etc. And Ford did a good job with its hybrid Fusion- with it’s high-tech computer system, graphics, lighting, practical controls/features, etc.

I don’t need luxury, but I also don’t like to get ripped off.  I really like the Leaf for obvious reasons, but I feel that given how “standard” this car is, the executives at Nissan decided to price the car at $30K and then pocket the $10K govt. incentive on top of that.  In other words, I think this car should be priced at $30K and then available to consumers at $20K after govt. incentive.

That being said, I recommend this car.  The battery power works great.  It’s really easy to charge (if your daily commute is 50 miles or less, you don’t even need to install a charger at your house, as it comes with a plug-in to any wall socket).  And, regardless of the price, the financing for this car is VERY favorable.  My monthly payment for this car is the lowest of any car I’ve bought in years.

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7 Responses to Turning Over a New Leaf

  1. Ellen says:

    Thanks for the Info – I have been thinking about going electric and wondered what the scoop was.

  2. Bill Samuel says:

    The Leaf is an interesting car. I was very disappointed in your attack on non-leather seats. If you were the one being skinned for the leather, perhaps you would feel differently.

    • Scott says:

      “Attack on non-leather seats”? By all means, order acrylic seats to your heart’s content- my 2 main problems with the Leaf is that the car is over-priced given the lack of bells and whistles (which includes lack of leather seats)- and that Nissan isn’t marketing or designing this car to appeal to as many people as possible, which in turn hurts the electric car movement, which risks the Earth’s climate/environment (think of the potential suffering to animals and entire species if entire habitats are destroyed due to rising sea levels, draughts, excess rainfall/flooding, intense storms, etc.).

  3. Did you consider the Volt?

    • Scott says:

      I did consider the Volt. I almost bought it, but it isn’t roomy enough in the back to fit my 3 kids. The battery pack (I was told) splits the seats in the back, making for 2 bucket seats basically. Also, I did the math and my daily commute w/errands comes to less than 50 miles per day, perfect for the Leaf- having never even needing to use a higher voltage charger (even though I have one at work that I use).

      Also, another drawback of the Volt is that as the higher voltage fast chargers come out (evGO system that’s rolling out soon), the Volt is not compatible with them. This higher powered charger will be able to charge the Leaf fully to 100 mile capacity in about 20 minutes (vs. 20 hours for regular 120 volt home outlet and 8 hours for 240 volt source which is at MOM’s or you can purchase for your home).

      I liked that I could go up to 100 miles on all electric. The Volt only goes to about 40 miles on all electric. The Prius Plug-In only does about a dozen miles on all electric.

  4. Doug Percival says:

    Thanks for the very interesting review, Scott! I actually prefer a bare-bones, stripped-down, minimalist car (I currently drive a 21-year-old Ford Festiva with manual transmission, no AC and no radio — but it does get 35 MPG in town and over 50 MPG on the highway with 21-year-old technology!). So the Leaf sounds appealing to me — though it would certainly be more appealing if it cost $10,000 less as you suggest!

    There is always a high cost to be an early adopter. The original IBM PC with a monochrome text-only monitor, an 8 Mhz processor, 650 Kilobytes of memory, a 350 Kilobyte floppy drive, no hard drive and no networking capability cost over $7,000 in today’s dollars — now you can buy a computer that’s orders of magnitude more powerful, with vast storage capacity, multimedia and wireless networking that fits in the palm of your hand for less than one-tenth that amount.

    The same thing can happen with electric cars. The Leaf and the Volt are already selling more cars than the Prius did in its first year — and the Prius is now the third-best selling car in the world.

  5. Rachel says:

    I stumbled across this board today… a couple years late. I hope that environmentalists are motivated to buy environmentally friendly cars without leather. The concept is the same, making sacrifice and doing our part so that others (environment, animals/humans) don’t suffer. Synthetic products can be made to be high end. Maybe these car companies could make high end seats that are appealing, for example, because they have detailed trim work instead of skin. I wonder 2 years later if they are now using leather…

    Also, I was at MOM’s the other day and they had a meatless recipe out for customers to try. I love this concept because people who are too uncomfortable/unfamiliar to take the step towards meatless can get their feet wet and possibly say wow I could do this, it tastes good. The more we can get people thinking about animal well-being the better because most of us grew up in a generation where we were taught to ignore it.

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