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back to article Nissan Leaf battery powered electric car

Spending a couple of hours at the wheel of a new car at a press event is all well and good, but to really get under a vehicle's skin you need to live with the thing on a day-to-day basis. This is especially true of one with an alternative drive train. So it was with some interest that I watched a shiny new white Nissan Leaf roll …

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That sounds great to get free use of 80A chargers at the Nissan dealer, but what were the costs when on your personal mains supply? I can not see them supporting free charges eternally so when the initial promo is over is there an estimated cost to charge up?

It is hard to compare the running cost of the car when this info is lacking. Even charge times off mains can be guesstimated to give us a running cost when charged at home. This can give a more accurate comparison to what we see with a petrol car.

My personal suspicion is that with rising electrical costs these will only boost your power bill, and not by small amounts either.

If you can give us, even rough figures it would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Happy

Even if they charge a premium for the use of the 80A charger over the real cost of the electricity, I reckon it won't be more than a quid or two. Don't have time to do the maths though

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Don't be too sure about cheap driving

I track all my energy usage on the cost per kilowatt-hour, using a rate of 9.7 kWh/litre to convert litres of petrol into energy measured in kWh. This number comes from "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air" http://www.withouthotair.com/

Averaged over the last 12 months, I've paid 14.80 p/kWh for electricity and 13.74 p/kWh for petrol.

In other words, the cheapness or otherwise of running an electric car depends entirely on the relative efficiency of energy use by a petrol car vs. an electric one.

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"I reckon it won't be more than a quid or two."

It's got a 24KWhr battery so if it was flat it would be ~~ £3 for a full charge unless it's done off-peak

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Anonymous Coward

Whaaa? - No Actually BE VERY SURE.

Nice work. Start with a negative statement "DON'T be sure" then toss in numbers facts and figures and finish with a 'it all depends on something else'.. well done you.

Yes your right the key factor is efficiency of ICE verses charging and motor efficiency.. but why have you not dug out these figures?

Of course you could have just use the US EPA MPGe figures, where they have done all the work through 'real world' performance testing correctly already. the Leaf is 99MPGe (US Gallon) http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=30979 or converted: 118.9 mpg (UK) (miles per imperial gallon)

Using the (US) GGE rating = 33.4Kw/h (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent)

and your own figure for electric price, with the 99mpge we get:

14.80p * 33.4kw/h = £4.943 for 99 miles

Giving 4.99p per mile for the leaf.

To match this on petrol you need to achieve (using your petrol figures 13.74p/kwh*0.7kwh/l = £1.332 per litre):

133.2p/4.99p = 26.69 Miles per litre (121.34 mpg (UK) (miles per imperial gallon))

So if your petrol car scores better than 121.34 mpg then you are driving cheaper than the leaf.

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Stop

Your Calculation Does Not Make Sense

The energy efficiency of an electric car is much better than the efficiency of an internal combustion engine. Your rate appears to be OK for the theoretical energy you can get out of petrol/Diesel. In reality you are betweeen 30 and 50% efficiency for an internal combustion engine, while battery+electric motor should be at 80% or more.

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Anonymous Coward

typo:

using your petrol figures 13.74p/kwh*0.7kwh/l = £1.332 per litre

should have been:

using your petrol figures 13.74p/kwh*9.7kwh/l = £1.332 per litre

(calculation not affected)

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Anonymous Coward

The main cost

I'd imagine would be installing an 80A 3-phase socket in your home. You'd have to replace most of the wiring leading to your home, as well as installing the socket. And then protecting all that valuable, valuable copper from thieves.

The electric company would at the very least have to run a cable from the nearest 3-phase substation to you. In my case, that'd mean digging up my entire road, as well as a section of very busy dual carriageway. Can't put it over the road due to rather large bits of metalwork that get hauled through here.

They could always cover PART of the cost by pulling through enough cable for the rest of the road, but that assumes they'd actually buy electric cars and pay for the extra works.

Either way, I can't see that one coming in under ten (maybe tens) grand. And 10 grand would get me... ooh, 33,000 miles worth of petrol in my big, fun V8 (assuming 20mpg and £1.33 per litre petrol). That can do long distances, has a surprisingly big boot and has a worldwide power distribution network for it.

Electric cars ARE actually a good idea. It's just that the rest of the world isn't designed for them at the moment. When it is, I'll buy one.

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Interesting figures

Interesting figures. It all seems to break down as follows:

1 kWh of household gas = 1 unit of price

1 kWh of household electricity = 3 units of price (gas electricity generators are 33% efficient)

1 kWh of petrol = 3 units of price (1 unit of raw material cost, 2 units of tax)

So an electric car seems to match with a petrol-driven car on price only because petrol is heavily taxed and household electricity is not. Any difference is marginal so a better petrol engine might beat a worse electric engine, or vice versa, as you say.

Now let's look at CO2 production (roughly):

1 kWh of household gas = 1 unit

1 kWh of household electricity = 3 units (33% efficiency on burning gas)

1 kWh of petrol = 1 unit

So if you want to use a lot of energy (e.g. by driving) then an electric car is 3x worse for the environment than a petrol car.

Now let's look at taxation (with heavy rounding):

1 kWh of household gas = 0.1

1 kWh of household electricity = 0.3

1 kWh of petrol = 2

So electric cars manage to increase CO2 output by three times while slashing fuel tax revenues by 6 times. Brilliant outcome!

(Yes, I'm aware that I am assuming that electricity is generated by burning gas. This may not be 100% true for all electricity, but it is 100% true for the *extra* electricity needed for powering extra things like electric cars, as there is no spare renewable capacity.)

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Anonymous Coward

Units?

Kw/h?

Wow, I didn't know that rate of energy use accelerates linearly with time! Maybe you meant kWh (kilo Watt hours), or were you in fact referring to whole Kuwaits per hour?

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Nor does yours

Cute efficiency if you ignore all the other factors.

Sure, the petrol to drivetrain energy efficiency is only 30% or so, but if you start from the root hydrocarbons, leccy isn't much better.

Starting from crude, the process of refinement and distribution and pumping it into your car is (??guess??) 80% efficient. Now multiply by the efficiency in the car (30%) and you actually only get around 24% of useful work done.

For the leccy the whole loop is something like this. Burning hydrocarbons to make leccy is somewhere around 30-40% efficient, distribution is around 95% efficient. So by the time the leccy gets to your plug-in point it is already down to 35%. Charging a battery is only around 80% efficient. Then discharging through the motor control is about 85-90% efficient and the motor itself is around 90%. Multiply that all out and the leccy is only 65% or so efficient from the energy flowing into the car to what gets to the road.

Taking the full crude to road efficiency, the leccy is only about 23% efficient. That's within the margin of error so we'll just say they are the same.

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Not a level playing field

According to

http://www.whatprice.co.uk/petrol-prices/cost-litre-breakdown.html

The reason petrol costs so much is because a considerable amount is made up of fuel duty. This goes towards paying for road development/maintenance etc.

If leccies were paying their way then they would have to pay the equivalent amount to pay for their share of the load.

Ultimately though, leccies are limited to only ever play a small % of a nation's fleet. To achieve just 10% likely needs a huge upgrade in electrical supply (generation, powerlines,...)

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WTF?

Ha ha

"The reason petrol costs so much is because a considerable amount is made up of fuel duty. This goes towards paying for road development/maintenance etc."

I'll say it again ha ha!

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Petrol engines tend to be about 25%-30% efficient, whereas electric motors are about 90% efficient. So on your figures, an electric car will be cheaper, probably even when you consider the extra weight of batteries an electric car has to carry around.

However, the only reason electric is cheaper is because the tax rate is much lower. If petrol was taxed at the same rate as electricity, it would be 55p/litre or 5.67p/kWh. Taking efficiency into account, it would still be slightly cheaper to go electric, but definitely not worth the hassle of finding a charging point every 50 miles or so.

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Drivel

@AC "The electric company would at the very least have to run a cable from the nearest 3-phase substation to you."

Unless you really live out in the sticks, 3-phase passes your house; each house in a street taking alternate phase taps.

Are there any non 3-phase substations? I think not, unless you count pig-poles.

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yes quite, because non-drivers subsidise car drivers

by over a grand a year per person.

And yes, I have a car. Doesn't make me blind to the numbers tho'

http://www.kimharding.net/blog/?p=470

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Nice article and, about $30/month

Nice balanced article - thanks!

$30 / month electricity

How much electricity do they use? I run a couple of EVs and they cost around $30/month. We do about 15,000 miles a year in each. I drive fast, my wife slow but her car is less efficient than mine so we end up about equal. I have an electricity monitor on the garage that registers about $60/month. No fancy calculations, we pay about $0.13 per KWh, just two years in and still driving them.

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Really?

Please check your numbers. It is just PLAIN IMPOSSIBLE to pay that for petrol.. unless you hace a 90-100% efficient engine, and if you do, please consider a patent for it...

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IT Angle

Hmm...

Does your 'battery+electric' figure count in inefficiencies in electricity generation at the power station?

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@Charles Manning

"This goes towards paying for road development/maintenance etc."

Yes... of course it does

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Anonymous Coward

re: Units

Sorry post was delivered by Royal Fail. All packaging comes with an extra slash.

besides Kuwaits per hour is obviously a gasoline unit.

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Yes, but...

Will it blend?

I know a couple of people who have these - my biggest complaint though is you can't hear the thing when its coming. It really is that quiet. Other than that and its range, however, its actually not that bad of a "short commute" car. If you want to do something longer it isnt going to work. (And by short commute, I mean say San Francisco to Oakland. Even in the bay area it isnt good for much further than that and back.

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San Fransisco to Oakland?

What's that in imperial?

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Anonymous Coward

Sound?

The noise of e-cars is often trotted out as an objection, but cyclists make no noise and in towns they often go much faster than cars and you'll still be dead if they hit you at speed.

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Stop

Sound Issues

I see where AC-11:07 is coming from. Silent cars are NOT unsafe. What IS unsafe are the f*cking idiots who forget the most basic of road safety rules; Stop, LOOK, Listen. If you get Step 2 correct then you're doing well. Alternatively, feel free to use the multitude of pedestrian crossings that are springing up all over the place.

Thousands of deaf, hearing impeded and headphone-wearing folk cross the road every day without incident.

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re Sound Issues

There are plenty of brain dead out there trying to kill off their body too. The number of people that step off the kerb, then turn to look is amazing. Its their surprised look as they hop backwards at the last minute. And my exhaust needs fixing to its not even a quiet car.

Add to that the ones who don't even look relying on you stopping when they step out. They might be worse off when they eventually get hit but if you so much as tap them with the car, you are the one at fault.

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True, but...

A cyclist hitting you will be equally dead so is highly motivated to take evasive action.

The Pious driver know that regenerative braking will top up his battery. Not as much of a motivation.

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Looking at recent UK case history, it seems that cyclists don't necessarily die when they mow down and kill pedestrians - and they can expect to get off with a fine. Motorists, on the other hand, are lucky to escape prison.

About road noise: many high end luxury cars make no more noise than a Prius at low speeds (i.e in either case, the noise is almost entirely from the tyres).

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"Motorists, on the other hand, are lucky to escape prison."

Its a shame we can't get front facing cameras on cars and pass a bill which states anyone stepping out infront of a car without looking is classed as suicide and not the fault of the driver.

Needs a few caveats to prevent people speeding up etc

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Holmes

Are you sure? In any situation where pedestrians mix with cars, the sped of cars is limited to around 20 to 30mph. At that speed the biggest noise coming from an unmodified car, with an internal combustion engine, is annoying tyre noise!

Unless electric cars are fitted with very different tyres, why wouldn't you hear them?

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Facepalm

Price of a second car

For a town car only?!!

£25k that rubbish value for money for a car that won't even get out of town.

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FAIL

Fat Cat Cars

Worse is that every one you see is an example of the government 'giving' £5,000 to people who, I suspect, not a few are objecting to paying 50% tax on their bloated incomes and disrepectful of 'benefits' to the poor and disabled..

Much better to spend it on railway and coach infrastructure to make those 70+ mile journies more attractive.

Electric cars might make sense environmentally in France. But here, they are a rich man's joke.

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FAIL

Eh?

My daily commute in and out of London is 52 miles - much of that is in bloody traffic jams will kill MPG in my petrol car but which affects EV efficiency hardly at all. If I put a Leaf on charge every evening as I parked it in my drive, I can't see any problem with using it as a replacement commuter vehicle.

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WTF?

But ...

30 grand will buy you a lot of season tickets ...

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Pint

Vote with your Vote

If you don't like how the money that you pay through taxes is spent, vote with your vote.

Democracy, right? You vote for people that you think are trying for the same goals you have. If they then don't, vote them out the next round.

It's easy to complain and complain. At least do something about it.

(within the law, of course)

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FAIL

@ TheRealRoland

But what do you do when the only two parties who have any chance of getting into power both have the same goals, which are diametrically opposed to yours as well as those of most of the country?

Democracy, yeah, right.

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No one is holding you to a two-party system

That's all i have to say about it.

Not saying that being able to vote for 5 or 15 political parties is better.

At least the direction the country is moving in is not lurching roughly every 4 years from 180degr to the left, and the next year 180degr to the right.

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FAIL

only added an hour and a visit to Halifax each way to the trip?

The article reads as though you are talking about the journey from Manchester to Leeds at this point, surely not as that is only a 45 minute journey anyway!

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hahahah

"Expensive leap of faith"

More like an expensive heap of shit. At a 60mile range in winter I could cycle to leeds (from manchester) and back faster than using domestic chargers.

I can see the point of hybrid cars - i.e. a small diesel engine for out of town use, whilst using battery for stop start town driving - but pure electric is just foolish with our infrastructure and the raw battery technology available.

Have you enquired as to a full battery service interval and the cost of such an endeavour?

Just buy a small VW or focus with so called "green" engines instead (then choke your DPF up on town driving of course...)

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VERY.....

UGLY, why can't they make a pretty car?

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Meh

Yes, its all nice, but ... a tad expensive, isn´t it?

I mean, you can get A LOT of fuel for the 15k this one costs more than...whatever. I might be wrong, but I feel 25k is quite a bit of money just to have your city flea.

Especially since electricty is made in big, ugly NIMBY powerstations.

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Go

Hills

Manchester to Leeds via Halifax? At last, an e-car test drive that involves some proper scenery, rather than assuming everyone with a small "city" car only ever drives it round the block on the flat.

How did it do up Windy Hill (climb to 1220 feet above sea level)?

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Technology Pioneers

To me this is further evidence of the circular nature of technology.

The late 1800's saw the beginning of the boom in the internal combustion engine vehicle we now take for granted. From the outset they were complicated to drive and maintain, slow, unreliable, of limited range - try finding a petrol station in 1888 and they were also the preserve of the rich. Yet as A to B transport inferior in pretty much every way to the horses they were destined to replace.

Progress has been made making these early examples of modern electric cars usable and unlike the first cars or horseless carriages as they were quaintly termed they are not complicated to the user, not slow and according to most reports the reliability is good. They are still of limited range and it could be said still the preserve of the rich.

Similarities are clear between the early engine/car technology and the current phase (pun intended) of electric vehicles. It is early days for the technology in an automotive application and may not in the end prove be the answer to the future of transport power but I think congratulations are in order to Renault/Nissan and others for being modern day pioneers, making electric cars suitable for every day use and for putting what is possible into the mainstream albeit with acknowledged limits but those limits being so much less restrictive than those of 150 years ago.

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Technology Dead End

Most the motoring manufacturers have already admitted that battery and hybrid cars are only a stop gap until hydrogen powered can be made safe and fuel supply safe and common.

Net result is these cars are expensive pseudo green (you need a power station to make the fuel, but that's moot as the batteries are highly unsound from an eco point of view - can't be disposed of properly, contain many poisonous elements, can't be reused once dead, expensive and dirty to make to make, some of the rare elements in them are got from strip mining ...) folly for those trying to make a fashion statement about being green.

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Both batteries and hydrogen, especially the latter, have extreme energy density issues to solve before they can become mainstream. Current progress in nanotech might improve batteries to the point where they can compete better with petrol & diesel but I'm less sure about hydrogen. If the world could get over its collective paranoia about nuclear power, then perhaps well down the road we would have both a flexible & performant electric vehicle infrastructure, and a means of synthesising hydrocarbon fuels. Especially Jet-A1 as nowhere do I see electric or hydrogen-fuelled A380s!

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Facepalm

Arg.

Hydrogen again? I thought that had been put to bed already.

Where is all this hydrogen going to come from? From electrolysis, using electricity.

Like the other poster said, you can't compress hydrogen, unless it's at CRAZY pressures.

Hydrogen does burn more cleanly, but it still has exhaust gasses.

Do you have any idea what kind of nightmare it is going to be when little 16-year old Suzy crashes her shiny Hydrogen car and the giant invisible fireball kills everything in a 2 block radius?

Battery density is getting better every year, they ARE recyclable and why not use the electricity to move you directly from a battery, rather than to make hydrogen first and then burn it (the efficiency of hydrogen goes out the window when you factor in it's creation, and the fact that you are now still using an ICE).

Hydrogen was the carrot they tied to a stick to try to make you forget about electric cars. Hybrids were what they tried to give us after they tried to scare us off with crappy ranges. Now they have somehow made EV into a non-green choice?

EVs from 1990 where good enough for %80 of today's drivers, and if the electricity comes from renewables (solar, wind, wave), they are super green.

The reason they (car manufactures) don't want you to have an EV; lack of required maintenance. A hybrid is three times as complicated as either an ICE or an EV, and will need lots of parts and lots of special tools to fix. EVs compared to an ICE have hardly any consumable products in them for you to need to replace (sans battery obviously). No plugs, hoses, lifters, rods, pistons, rotors, high voltage coils, seals, and a whole bunch of other things I can't think of right now. Some EVs don't even need a transmission.

Battery tech is what is costing so much, and that won't last for ever.

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2nd Town Car?

For £30,000?

I'd like to be able to aford a PRIMARY car that cost that much!

And in a few years when the batteries are at 50% then what?

What will be the resale value be in 5 years?

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Good point...

In 5 years, I can only assume the batteries will be a little bit beyond their prime... If you're getting 70 miles now, what will you be getting in 5 years when the things have given up their capacity?

Bloody expensive white elephant: consider me unconverted.

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Holmes

Home charging question

How long to fully charge this from a home socket when the battery is almost drained? Many people will want to drive this to work and back (maybe elsewhere too) and just charge it overnight (for about 12 hours I reckon). Will it fully charge in 12 hours?

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Anonymous Coward

Yes

230V x 10A = 2.3kW

12h * 2.3kW = 27.6kWh

So yes, even with charging inefficiencies, if you needed to charge from near-dead turtle to 100% in 12 hours you could.

If you need faster charging at home you can have an overpriced 16A charger set up. (The charger scam has a bigger impact here in the USA with the girly 120V x 15A sockets).

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