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 …

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  1. Pisnaz

    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.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      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

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

          3. Charles Manning

            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,...)

            1. Andy ORourke
              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!

              1. frank 3

                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

            2. Gordon Stewart
              FAIL

              @Charles Manning

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

              Yes... of course it does

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Charles Manning

            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.

          2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
            IT Angle

            Hmm...

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

        3. Eddie Edwards
          Thumb Up

          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.)

        4. jonathanb Silver badge

          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.

        5. Aitor 1

          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...

      2. Chemist

        "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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Archivist

        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.

    3. MichaelThwaite

      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.

  2. PaulW

    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.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      San Fransisco to Oakland?

      What's that in imperial?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. LuMan
        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.

        1. Wize

          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.

      2. Charles Manning

        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.

        1. JohnG Silver badge

          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).

          1. Wize

            "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

    3. Jan 0
      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?

  3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    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.

    1. Stuart 22
      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.

      1. TheRealRoland
        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)

        1. Steven Roper
          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.

          1. TheRealRoland

            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.

    2. Frank Bough
      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.

      1. Stuart 22
        WTF?

        But ...

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

  4. Neil Milner-Harris
    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!

  5. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    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...)

  6. LarsG

    VERY.....

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

  7. seven of five
    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.

  8. mlb
    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)?

  9. bluefin333

    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.

    1. Dapprman

      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.

      1. John Sager

        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!

      2. MacGyver
        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.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    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?

    1. Nick L

      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.

  11. jolly
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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).

      1. Steve Todd
        Stop

        Except here in the UK

        We get multiple 30 amp circuits in a domestic system (cookers for example get their own 30 amp point). That's 30 x 240v = 7.2 kW, or a full charge in 4 hours. And that's without the need for anything more exotic than a vist from your friendly local electrician. The main consumer unit can handle anything up to 100 amps, so you could halve that time with a little extra work.

      2. Charles Manning

        Imagine the whole street doing that

        This is a factor that severely limits the uptake of leccies.

        It is all fine if one or two people use them, but what happens if 20% of the population start using them? Imagine everyone getting home at 7pm, plugging in and hoping for a full charge by 7am.

        I suspect there will be a lot of telecommuters!

        1. Steve Todd
          Stop

          What happens when the whole street

          Turns on their ovens to cook Christmas dinner? The system can cope with that load just fine. Nighttime is when lots of cheap electricity is available (ever heard of Economy 7?), put the car charger on a smart switch that turns on when there's spare capacity and most of the county could commute on electric power. As an added bonus you can use EV batteries as a reservoir to cope with peak demand (their owners can specify an amount that can be sold back to the grid at peak rates, thus cutting the cost of ownership further.

  12. Ben Liddicott
    Pint

    A visit to Halifax? You say that as if you didn't mind...

    "a range of more than 90 miles. Fire up the climate control on a chilly day and the estimated range will straight away drop by 20 miles"

    So a car with a 70 mile range. But you have to stop every 50 miles for half an hour to top up.

    If the house runs out of leccy I can run my laptop, phone and just about everything else off an inverter plugged into the running car. What can the Leaf do for me then?

    1. Frank Bough
      WTF?

      Erm...

      Your "house runs out of leccy"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Your "house runs out of leccy"?

        The Chief Executive of the National Grid has already stated that by 2020 the days of permanently available electricity, for domestic use, may be over.

        Your "house runs out of leccy" is a distinct possibility.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Demand curve

          And obviously any forced outages would happen at night when other demand is low and when most charging of PEVs would occur.

          (That was sarcasm, by the way.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Shortly followed by whoever is in Government being kicked out

          Trouble is, both of the major parties are still full-steam ahead into the darkness.

          Seriously, if New Labour and the 'green' Conservatives aren't stopped, rolling blackouts will be common.

      2. Ben Liddicott
        Pint

        My house might run out of leccy

        * If a tree falls on the power lines.

        * If a builder goes through the cable

        * Lines, substations or other infrastructure destroyed by fire

        * Ice on the power lines brings them down

        There are all sorts of ways for this to happen. Google "causes of power cuts" (no quotes) for some examples

  13. Thomas Gray

    'Leccy bill?

    I'll be interested in knowing the effect on your electricity bill, and how it compares to your fuel bill for a regular car. Also, when will the free charging at the Leaf dealers come to an end?

  14. chiller

    'Not as daft an idea as it sounds because dotted across the British Isles are 32 Leaf dealers the majority of which have an 80A fast charger that will get your battery to 80 per cent of capacity in 30 minutes.'

    Disagree, that is daft - hanging round in a car dealers for 30 minutes is an incredibly difficult challenge, 5 minutes is just about bearable.

  15. Alex Walsh
    Thumb Down

    So you're paying £20k+ (ignore the subsidy) for the batteries on a teeny city car? Madness. I hear Renault are selling the car and leasing the batteries, that makes more sense but is still mostly bonkers.

  16. Eponymous Cowherd
    Unhappy

    A second town car.....

    for £25 grand?

    A very limited market, I'd say.

    The "thing" with a "second car" is that, as is suggested, it is used, primarily, for short journeys.

    All I want from a car that fulfils that role is something dirt cheap and basic. I'm not looking for comfort, gadgets or performance because I'm only going to be in it for less than an hour (usually much less).

    Our second car is a Matiz. Its gutless, unrefined, unsophisticated, with a nasty, plasticity interior. But it fulfils its role as "second car" perfectly. It cost a shade over £5K. Add to that the running costs for the next 10 years (fuel, tax, insurance, servicing, repairs) and it is still not going to add up to the purchase price of the Leaf.

    Electric cars. For green nuts with wads to spare.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simply not worth spending so much money on a car that's part of a rapidly developing market.

    The depreciation will be astronomical as future models will have so much more range and nobody will want the older models.

    They need to future proof such cars by having an upgrade programme where future developments can be fitted for a reasonable price.

  18. Fihart

    Not American Looking

    I'll concede that the interior looks like a Miami hairdressing salon.

    Exterior looks typically Japanese -- i.e. blobby/friendly.

    Without any style, in other words.

    With the exception of a few luxury models (Aston, Ferrari) most cars look awful these days -- even Jaguar has gone the bland Lexus route.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beige

    To be honest the Beige looks far nicer to my eye than the grey grey grey that all other cars seem to come in at present. The plastics seem to get ever cheaper too.

    The latest ford focus interior plastics looks like they came off the same production line as a power ranger kids toy.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fail

    It doesn't make sense when it is greener and cheaper to buy and run a small second hand car for about two grand :s

  21. JDX Gold badge

    re: 2nd car for £30k

    Indeed - this is not about saving the environment, but an expensive PR toy for those whose carbon footprint is probably 5X the average due to their giant house :)

    Got to laugh at the solar panel, I would be interested if they made the entire roof (or even more) a solar panel though.

    Quick question - do electric cars all use F1-style KERS, to recahrge the battery on braking?

    1. Frank Bough
      Facepalm

      Yes

      Of course they do, that's the whole point.

      1. handle

        It shouldn't be the whole point

        ...as the amount you get from regenerative braking is pitifully small.

      2. handle

        The solar panel might be useful...

        ...to power a fan to keep the interior cool while parked in the sun. This could save a significant amount of range for those users who demand "climate control". But for anything else, it's a joke.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Accesories

          It's used on the Prius to power a ventilator fan to stop the car turning into an oven.

          It charges the 12V battery in the LEAF. Still a money grabber rather than particularly useful but at least it avoids some of the time-based draw from the main battery.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No

      F1 KERS is flywheel. The LEAF uses its battery.. There's an "eco" option for more aggressive regenerative braking. But regen is just a way of reducing losses: best efficiency comes from gliding and avoiding the use of your brakes.

      1. Steve Todd
        Stop

        @AC 14:27

        No, most F1 KERS systems are electrical. The teams were given the choice of either and most opted for battery power.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    second car

    a second could be considered recycling, a diesel could be run on bio diesel and be carbon neutral as opposed to coal powered/ gas powered leccy and all could be recycled at a salvage yard.

    or you could just skip the second car entirely and have the first car as above.

    1. Steve Todd
      Stop

      One TINY little problem with that ...

      Most people like to eat, and if you put aside enough farm land to produce all that bio-diesel there are a LOT of people who won't get that option.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    80%

    80% for a 26 grand car with no range and a battery pack that will need replacing? Please!

    These are like the first laptop computers produced. Expensive, bulky batteries with limited life and pretty much useless compared to the conventional desktop. How many years of development will they need before we have a Macbook Pro or Sony Vaio instead of an Amstrad PPC512?

    In the meantime someone is going to come up with a better solution where you can refuel your car in 2 minutes and get 600 miles range on a tank. At the moment we probably have no idea of what that might be in the way that when I was using that Amstrad in 1989 I couldn't have predicted the iPhone.

  24. Jedit
    Boffin

    Rome was not built in a day

    Right now this is as good as they can do, but I work in energy management and know what's in the pipeline. Given the chance, five years from now you'll be seeing electric cars with 200-mile range and a four hour full charge time. Just stop expecting the prototype to be the finished product.

    That said, the fog lights always being on when in drive mode is a major design flaw for the Leaf. Quite apart from it draining the battery, I really don't see how a car can be awarded 80% when it's technically illegal to drive it in the UK.

    1. JPWhite
      Thumb Up

      Fog lights off in the US

      It sounds like Nissan changed the setup of the LEAF for the UK. In the US the fog lights do not come on unless you press the switch. There is a small but noticeable power drain on the energy meter when they are on. The Auto headlights in the US turn the headlights on only on heavy overcast days or at night. Does the UK version have auto headlights/tailights?

      Sounds like Nissan need to reprogram the LEAF for the UK market given the fog light law.

    2. Gordon Fecyk
      Go

      Most Canadian provinces need lights on

      "That said, the fog lights always being on when in drive mode is a major design flaw for the Leaf."

      "Every motor vehicle manufactured on or after December 1, 1989, other than a motorcycle or moped, shall carry daytime running lights that comply with the standards prescribed for such lights by the regulations made under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada)"

      http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/statutes/ccsm/h060e.php

      This might be a challenge for electric auto makers trying to save battery power, but it saves lives. Living in this province's largest city, the drivers can be idiots and you have no audible warning before being plowed into, electric or otherwise. Headlights == oncoming car.

    3. miknik
      FAIL

      Technically legal in fact

      All new cars in the UK are required to have daytime running lights which you cannot turn off with the engine running as of this February. Look at any 11 or 61 plate vehicle and you will see them.

  25. rhydian

    What's the range like if its not flat?

    Did you see a big drop in range going over the pennines or other non-flat bits of the world? I'm interested how much of an effect gradients have on the range of electric cars, as they all seem to be just about usable for my 25 mile each way commute, but I do live in mid wales, a part of the world where flat bits aren't that common.

    1. JPWhite
      Happy

      Hill range loss isn't significant overall

      Tennessee has it's share of hilly bits, considerably higher in elevation than the pennines for sure.

      Going up hill does suck down the charge more quickly than running on a flat road for sure, but remember that down hills you are charging the battery back up. I find 25% of total energy is derived from the regenerative braking and coasting. What goes up must come down, so the overall impact of hills isn't that great after all.

      A friend of mine who also has a LEAF leaves home with 80% charge and arrives 12 miles away still with an 80% charge due to the regenerative charging going down a long hill. Of course going back up the hill claws back any gains made.

      1. TheRealRoland
        Joke

        I had to drive to work downhill both ways!

    2. Chemist

      "What's the range like if its not flat?"

      I can't answer that except with a diesel example

      My 2.0L Touran averages about 55mpg but climbing the 27km from Visp in the Rhone valley to Saas-Fee ( diff in altitude ~1200m )it does ~28mpg. Coming back down it's more like 120mpg. Now, of course, you can't just average the mpg but I calculate that it's about 45mpg overall.

      With regenerative braking an electric car might well get quite a lot closer to it's flat value

  26. Jon H

    What if the charger is already in use?

    So Nissan dealers have a charger for Leaf users... so what happens if you pull up and you find there's already another Leaf on charge? That's a half hour extra wait (assuming the driver returns promptly).

    I know other places like council offices have installed chargers (probably not as high as 80A though) but again, there's only 1 or 2 of these in each town, so what if someone has got there before you and charging for a few hours while they go shopping.

    I was at Cherwell Valley services yesterday and spotted a single charging point, except there was a non-electric ambulance (not on a call) parked in the bay blocking its use!

  27. Frank Bough
    WTF?

    I've had enough of this. EVERY review I read of a limited range EV centres on the same boneheaded idea "let' see if we can use this range limited car to travel long distances". No-one, literally NO-ONE will buy a 100mile range car if they need to travel more than 100 miles. I don't know if you're treating your audience as if they were stupid or are simply too stupid yourselves to understand the fundamentals of EVs. In addition to this, you didn't even have the home charger installed - even though THAT"S THE WHOLE EFFING POINT OF AN EV. I give up, I really do.

  28. JPWhite
    Thumb Up

    The LEAF can be your primary vehicle.

    My LEAF is my primary vehicle. I do about 14,000 miles per year with it, the petrol car does about 6,000.

    The LEAF isn't suitable as your ONLY car, but it is very capable as your primary vehicle. Folks often confuse needing a second car with the LEAF being the second car. As a primary vehicle doing decent mileage every year the numbers do actually add up. Given the cost of Petrol and Diesel in the UK and charging on economy 7 I'd say it would soon pay for itself very nicely thank you.

    Grab the spreadsheet at my blog and customize to the UK incentives, prices and leccy costs. I'd be interested hearing back if the payback is sooner or later than in the US.

    Blog http://wp.me/p1sK3k-i

    1. Andy Fletcher

      I think it's great you got one

      I really do. I do, however, have an issue with my income tax funding your vehicle. Just like I don't appreciate my income tax funding private companies to build wind farces (sorry *farms*). If this stuff is really economically viable, it shouldn't need subsidies. As you've pointed out, it ought to pay for itself after all.

  29. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Let's see,

    80 amps (I assume 230 V RMS) charge for half an hour gives you 70 miles?

    So that's 9.2 kWh per charge and about 7 and a half miles per kWh? Er, not sure about it, but it doesn't seem to be excessively pricey. Which helps them to do it for free.

    1. Chemist

      But the battery is 24kWh...

      So either the range is conservative or the something is wrong

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      450V?

      I believe full Level 3 is 450V. That puts it closer to 3.5mi/kWh.

    3. handle

      Three phase

      I expect it will be a three phase 80A supply, giving you three times the power: 55kW. That's the practical and efficient way to handle such powers. You can therefore get 27kWh in half an hour, but I expect the batteries won't be able to charge this quickly - I see the old 80% figure appearing in the review, which is typical of LiIon cells which can't be charged at full rate for the full charging cycle.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Typical Mental Blockade

    What we can see with electric cars at the moment is very typical for the mental blockade in front of *real* progress.

    Nearly all electric car concepts are caught in the mindset that "the battery must replace the gas tank". I do not think this concept will be useful, as quickly loading the batteries and the enormous battery cost are two major, unresolved problems.

    What if the creators of these cars could "think out of the box" ? Overhead power lines (such as used by trains) would reduce the required battery to something much smaller and cheaper, as it would only be required for the last 2 kilometers from the last overhead line to a home. No recharging time required, as the car would be powered/charged (nearly) all the time when driving on public roads.

    But the industry and the public are still caught in the mindset of the petrol car and from the comments to my idea of overhead power lines I can see that this mindset is difficult to dissolve...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Overhead power lines (such as used by trains"

      Trains don't overtake !

      1. Steven Roper

        No, Looking At The Clouds has a valid point

        Think outside the box, man.

        There are a number of ways you can implement overhead catenary on main roads for cars. Remember that since s/he mentioned that cars would still have a battery, the car wouldn't have to have its pantograph in contact with the catenary all the time. It wouldn't be too much to develop a system that automatically lowers and raises the pantograph when you change lanes or overtake, for instance.

        I like the idea, it fits with my own vision of having induction coils built into all major freeways, to charge electric cars as they drive over them. It's exactly this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that has created most of the inventions we take for granted today.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          External power means

          And then the souped up cars begin.

          a - "I've just fitted an EE506 to my car!!!!"

          b - "Wow 250hp!"

          c - "Looser"

          a - "Why?"

          c - "I've fitted a 546!"

          b - "Thats 400hp"

          d - "Err I just borrowed one off Channel Tunnel Shuttle loco"

      2. Chemist

        Re : Overhead power

        Given that vehicles heights vary up to and beyond 4m a car would have to have enormous mechanism to reach the wires which would probably have to be 5m+ above the road.

        As mentioned above overtaking would be impossible with multi-lane roads thus reduced to multiple single tracks moving at the speed of the slowest vehicle.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Stop

          Overhead Power

          The "pantograph" as envisioned by my concept would more likely look like a big antenna. It's attitude would be controlled by electrical actuators and a camera which would determine the position of the overhead cable.

          Of course, it would also be necessary to have a metallic (copper ?) rail in the road surface and the electrode to connect to that rail would also be steered by an optical system. This is 2011 and there exist computer/software systems which can even do all the driving, so steering a pantograph should be a moderately difficult task.

          And yes, changing lanes would be no issue whatsoever, as my concept includes a battery for about five miles of driving w/o overhead power.

          Regarding the substantial costs of all that I suggest to compare that with the total cost of oil use, which is not only the direct cost at the petrol station but also the cost of making war in Arabia, whenever some dictator tries to corner the market; the cost to protect oil tankers from pirates etc.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And how is ...

            This tall mechanism ( maybe 3.5m high) supposed to cope with flexing in the wind ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Go

              Pantograph & Wind

              It would certainly be possible to make this 3 to 4 meter long whip quite inflexible, depending on the material used, the diameter etc.

              Secondly, the steering camera/software would continously correct the whip attitude based on the position of the overhead wire and the current position of the whip tip (more likely a loop-like structure).

              Thirdly it would not matter to lose contact to the overhead wire occasionally, as the buffer battery would kick in during such events.

              I agree that a certain stiffness of the whip would be required to handle gusty winds, though.

  31. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Reversing

    The best bit has to be the reversing doohicky with all the bendy lines that tell you where the car will be going is absolutely amazing.

    The build quality is lovely and I like the interior, even if all that white is going to be troublesome for anyone with dogs, children or even new jeans. For a lot of people this will be the perfect car just as soon as the price comes down towards VW prices. And that will happen, this is new technology and production capacity is limited.

    I like the future - I'll like it even more just as soon as it's Maserati shaped.

  32. tmTM

    How much?

    Town car - Peugeot 107, Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo - £6,000 (approx) Small nippy town car, pleasant to drive, easy to park, economical and no issues with DPF or DMF messing up like a diesel would.

    Small eco car - Fiesta, Polo, Ibiza etc - (£11,000-13,000ish) Diesel engine models give ace mpg, fairly spacious for a small car. good for short to medium distance journalese.

    Nissan Leaf, 30,000 - small range, astronomical depreciation, totally unknown reliability or longentivity.

    Who'd be so stupid to buy one of these things when the price and downsides are so high?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stupidity

      I was able to travel over 20,000 miles per year for less than 2,000 pounds and during my travels I was able to read or use my laptop. Who'd be so stupid as to own a car when the price and downsides are so high?

      The answer to your question is: "People who have the disposable income to afford one and value the upsides over the downsides."

      1. tmTM

        Really?

        The equivalent train journey to my work is 2x the price in fuel (nearly 3x with the bus journey from station to work).

        I'd love to travel to work on the train tbh, just can't justify the extra cost.

  33. Nick L
    Alert

    Benchmarks, please?

    "at low and medium speeds the Leaf is one of the most comfortable cars you can buy."

    Go on, I'll nibble on that. What are you comparing it to? Superminis for between a third and half its price? Very well spec'd family cars? Second hand luxobarges? For £25k (or 30k if you exclude the rebate) then you've got a good pick of cars to select from. Is this really one of the most comfortable?

    Fair play if it is, but it'd be useful to know what background the reviewer has to be able to give quite such a hugely marketable quote. If you're going on years of car reviewing experience, please say so.

  34. Daniel Bower
    FAIL

    How do you charge the damn thing

    When you live in a terraced house on a dual carriageway that you can't park on at night unless you have a red warning light on at night (yes, my wife did get a ticket or two for this failing)?

    Further, the house is set back from the road by about 12ft and up about 6ft. So, I have to trail a cable out of the front of my hous eand over a busy pavement which no doubt someone will claim to trip over and sue me.

    Added to this, across the road from my house is an estate of a less desirable postcode where I can see 'unplugging that geezers car so it ain't charged up in the morning' becoming a local sport.

    Doesn't the government see that this is the sort of practical issue that rules leccy cars out as a real viable alternative for thousnads of people far more than the cost and the limited range?..

    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Re: local sport

      If "unplugging that geezers car so it ain't charged up in the morning" becomes a local sport then you might want to introduce the players thereof to the equally entertaining sport known as, "electrocuting the chavvy little bastards who mess with your e-car's power connector." I'm sure 80 amps of 3-phase will give them a very good workout besides charging your car! ;)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The railway companies

    Have used small engines to power generators thereby producing electricity to power the wheels for years, and overhead cables in towns. Why not have a diesel electric car that charges it's batteries / powers it's electric motors itself by the engine too?

    Oh yes, that'd make the prius show what crap it really is.

    hybrid diesel electric cars would have the range for out of town and ability to not need 5 hours at a dealers or in a que with others charging theirs

    I'll wait for the flameing from the department of the obvious

    1. Nick L

      agreed

      I think this idea of microgeneration is the way to go: optimise the snot out of an engine for a particular load, and use it to charge the batteries or provide a boost. Jag's prototype C-X75 suggested using gas microturbines for just this purpose.

      Batteries are a crap way to store and transport energy compared to fuels, and simply don't charge fast enough... But they are useful as a way to smooth demand needs, hence the appeal of microgeneration.

      Hydrogen is not the answer to fuel either in my view because of the poor comparative volumetric energy density.

      I realise I'm not solving the fuel crisis with this post, but the leaf doesn't meet people's needs or expectations of a 30k car.

      Until Mr Fusion arrives to process beer and banana peel, we'll need something else to carry energy and if we can get the very most bang out of whatever fuel that is, so much so the better.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Diesel hybrids

      It's cost-effectiveness. Compared to petrol, diesel engines adds manufacturing cost. Electric hybridization adds cost. But having both doesn't sum the two improvements because the advantages of diesel and hybrid overlap.

      Trains aren't cars. It's how trains are operated that makes it worth having the simplicity of serial diesel-electric hybrids instead of a diesel engine and transmission.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC, Diesels

        The truth is that the best Diesel engines are more CO2-efficient than anything else at the moment, in real cars under real conditions. Exhaust control technologies such as bluetec and filters assure a small amount of unhealthy particles.

        The most efficient thermodynamic engine (of all thermodynamic systems) is a slow-running Diesel of MAN having more than 50% efficiency.

        And according to wikipedia, about 50% of cars sold in Europe are already Diesel-powered. With the Chinese competing with us for oil, I assume this will gradually go up to 100%. Even the cost of transforming petrol into Diesel will be offset by the higher efficiency on the long run.

  36. Stephen 11
    Boffin

    Daytime running lights, not foglights.

    "To remind you that the car is in drive mode, the Leaf’s front fog-cum-running lights stay lit continuously when the car is switched on. Which is exactly what I told Greater Manchester plod when I was pulled over at a road check aimed at stopping people using their fog lamps for aesthetic reasons in times of good visibility."

    All new cars type-approved in the E.U. from 2011 are required to have daytime running lights (DRLs). The police should know this and should not be stopping anyone for these lights being on. These lights must be functionally specific, and can not be piggybacked with other funcitons. (e.g. using the DRL light as a fog light)

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I HATE DRLs

      If I ever get a car with them the fuse will be removed.

      Waste of energy, and they dazzle other road users.

      1. handle

        And...

        make pedestrians and cyclists more vulnerable by conditioning drivers into not noticing moving things which don't have huge great lights on them.

        1. Darryl

          Really

          Can you quote some stats to back up these claims? We've had daytime running lights mandated here in Canada for over 20 years and I don't recall any news reports of any increases in pedestrian/cyclist deaths.

          And if the lights dazzle other drivers during the day, it must be hell on the roads for you at night.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Missed the point

            Headlamps are angled down so not to dazzle - unless high up on a 4WD.

            DRLs are also brighter (about 1.5 x) than dip beams and designed to be seen.

            They dazzle, hurt your eyes, not as bad as welding, but even on sunny days dazzle.

            I CAN SEE YOUR CAR YOU DO NOT NEED IT TO BE SO BRIGHT!

            Also the size with these small LEDs makes it worse.

            Old style Volvo side lights NEVER bothered anyone, nor did the old dim dip. But these new LED lights are terrible.

          2. Jim 59

            Daytime lights

            Lights in daytime might be a good idea in places like Canada and Sweden. Here in the UK they aren't necessary. Usually it is a misguided driver trying to draw attention to his slightly-better-than-average car. Some put their fog lights on at night, liking the effect even at the risk of double-dazzling oncoming traffic.

    2. Al Taylor
      Alert

      Fog lamps

      According to the Leaf handbook they are fog lights not side/running lights. I consulted said handbook while chatting to the police office at the road check. We both agreed that if they were running lights there were the brightest set either of us had seen.

      That's why they pulled me and not the other cars driving past with their running lights on.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be nice if our electricity prices were that low...

    Like the comments of electricity prices of between 13 abd 15p per KwH. Great for those that get that rate, not so great for those of us in the country that get raped for 24p per KwH...

  38. Armando 123

    Time is money

    "Even when fully charged, the Leaf’s digital dashboard never told me I had a range of more than 90 miles. Fire up the climate control on a chilly day and the estimated range will straight away drop by 20 miles."

    So on a winter's day, this is going to cost me half an hour of waiting around a dealership (assuming I can find one) for every 70 miles I drive. And in that half hour, I can ... be at a dealership and do things online, rather than making dinner or washing the dogs or helping the kids with homework WHICH I HAVE TO BE HOME TO DO!!!!

    Sorry, but this thing is going to cost me about 45 minutes a day in free time, ie over three hours a week, and that just isn't good enough. I don't HAVE three hours of free time a week.

    1. handle

      So don't get one

      You're not the right market for it. Just as I wouldn't want to cycle from London to Edinburgh. Simple.

  39. Jamie Kitson

    Plod

    > a road check aimed at stopping people using their fog lamps for aesthetic reasons in times of good visibility.

    Just saw this:

    "just under a year ago, on 7 February 2011, the Commission made it compulsory for all new cars to be equipped with daytime running lights that switch on automatically when the engine is started."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16215106

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Devil in the detail

      Cops should not be stopping, and certinly won't be prosecuting, drivers of cars with LED or low wattage daytime running lights. There is a big difference between those and 55W or greater halogen or xenon bulbs!

  40. Jim 59

    Good

    Well written article, good pics, nice car. The world of electric cars might be closer than we all think. And when it arrives, we won't look back.

  41. Nev Silver badge
    FAIL

    Plug-in electric cars in countries....

    ...where >65% of electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels ....?

    Illogical ecology.

  42. John Tserkezis
    Thumb Down

    It gets better.

    The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Nissan Australia is testing customers' suitability before allowing them to purchase one.

    <http://smh.drive.com.au/green-motoring/buyers-must-qualify-for-leaf-electric-car-20111221-1p4vp.html?page=-1>

    This is great news for Nissan, because it allows them to claim 100% customer satisfaction in their sales lies ^H^H^Hpamphlets, while still selling a piece of crap.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1
      FAIL

      http://...?page=-1

      I smell kludge !

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