I had the opportunity to test drive a Nissan Leaf EV over the recent 3-day weekend. As an energy-head, I’ve been interested in the possibility of an EV ever since they became comparable with traditional motors. However, there were a lot of things I wasn’t sure about.
Comfort-wise this car is fine. I was advised, however, that I might not want use the ACU as it does drain the battery a little faster.
Appearance is, er, typical for Nissan. Not my cup of tea but neither are most modern designs, apart from top class marques. This should not be a deciding factor.
Range is, of course, the big issue with EVs. The LEAF has a nominal range of 99 miles. Your actual achievement, of course, depends on your driving style and, presumably, the age of your battery. On our 66 mile journey I was initially careful to keep acceleration down. Towards the end of the journey I was less careful and as a result reached home with only 6 miles worth of remaining battery capacity. Recharging took 7 hours. This presents the user with a challenge to get their planning right. My dear lady wife thinks journeys of any length constitute a reckless gamble and I have to concede that.
Economy of EVs is good apart from capital costs and depreciation etc. I clocked the energy used on the supplied charger at 3.4 pence per mile (based on my normal home electricity rate). This is pretty good compared to the petrol I use in my current 2 litre car at around 18p/ mile. This would save me some £840/ year, more if I charged during the day when I have solar to spare.
Emissions are correspondingly better than a fossil-fueled car, especially if charged during the day using solar. Embedded carbon in the car itself is hard to assess. I don’t know if such data is obtainable at all. I have asked AMEE about this – they’re pretty expert in carbon calculations – but they have not done cars and do not currently plan to do so.
The crucial point about deciding weather to buy a car like this is the overall economy including depreciation and servicing costs. This is a hard calculation and I will eventually do it and report back here. I would be surprised if a conventional car can be beaten on overall economy but who knows? One thought is that leasing may be a good option, especially if this manages the risk of having to replace the battery. The other thought, as for any car, is to buy nearly-new, avoiding the worst of the depreciation curve.
To be continued …