This morning, I got to be one of the first in Atlanta to test drive the all electric Nissan Leaf and it seems like a great car for the average Atlanta driver (even to forsyth county.)
480 Volt Charging
One new thing that I hadn’t heard about is 480v charging systems at major transportation / rest areas (applicable to me because I can’t drive to visit my brother in birmingham without 150 miles.)
One concept is that vendors might give me kwh in turn for shopping at their store… but I shop at their store now and they charge me to park there…
My number one complaint about the leaf ( and Toyota Prius) is how much they try to reinvent the controls. The shifter looks like a can of coke and is not as obvious. I’m also not a big fan of one touch start.
The Q&A session included a great talk about sound dampening and reducing as much noise as possible. Without engine noise you notice a lot of things, aka wiper motors, wind from the mirrors.
That being said it was pretty comfortable. Not sport car bolstered seat, super leg support comfortable, but pretty comfortable.
The radio and navigation unit looked and felt pretty cheap. I’d much prefer rubberized plastic than hard shiny plastic. It basically seemed hard to read and hard to use.
Why It Would Work For Me
As a waterski coach, it is awesome that half of a charge is to Cartersville, because that means I can get back and forth to the lake.
It would also be great for weekends, getting to the Highlands, visiting friends in Dundwoody or visiting some of my family up in Roswell.
Why does it not work for me?
So, while it would work for me 95% of the time really easily to have a 100 mile range; my < 100 miles trips are pretty low in volume too (aka, I drive my car about once a week, sometimes 2 weeks) and I want something extra in my car if I own it – like it being a good track car.
The ultimate in Green Hipster is still a big lifestyle commitment (living within walk / bike range of public transit and having work, city points in that range.)
Effectively, Zip Car should still be the green decision for last mile transportation.
And the advantage that my car has (that I can go to the beach one weekend or to visit my brother)[trips where I consider renting] would be lost on the leaf.
They wanted to tout the torque, so yes, I floored it and squealed the tires some, I also went heavy on the brakes and tried going lock to lock. The steering is about what your typical commuter car is, and the throttle is effectively the same. I really don’t like front wheel drive so it didn’t really turn right for me.
Also, like other cars, you almost have to activate the regenerative braking more than just letting it happen.
The other thing that annoys me about automatic tranmission cars that the leaf definitely did, is move without any gas.
The test drive
I felt kind of rushed to get in the car and get it going. While the co-driver did note to put a seatbelt on, by the time they explained the shifter to me it was time to go… and we ended up going on the road, so I needed to have adjusted the mirrors. Perhaps the worst part was the close spacing making it hard for me to actually test the brakes or accelerate really hard.