An ode to my electric car


The story below is reposted from January 2013. We are now on our second lease with a newer Leaf, and it is now around $200 month, but the battery is much better and goes farther. We continue to love this car! When our lease runs out, the 2018 looks very promising. The electricity cost has not been noticeable at all- we charge it at our home and it takes about 2 hours. We charge it every 2-3 days.

I never expected to love the Nissan Leaf. We needed to replace our second car, and I had my heart set on a Prius. I realize it is not that sustainable to even own one or two cars, but if I drew you a map of where we live, work and the two separate schools our children attend, they are all in completely different directions about 4 miles apart. Somehow, with just commuting around, we were driving at least 50 miles/day.

Neither my husband or I even get excited about cars at all. In my perfect world, I would love to be in walking distance of everything, and we may get closer to that ideal. For now, I was ready to go into the Prius dealership and walk out with a car. Then my husband mentioned the Leaf. And to be honest, I didn’t consider it to be a strong possibility at all. It just seems too early adopter (to me), and confusing. But to be fair, I said I would check it out. We did a little test drive, and I was surprised by how much it just seemed like a regular car. Quieter, but accelerating and driving normally, and the interior was familiar but much cooler than any of our other cars.

I started thinking seriously about it. But, $36,000 was way more than we wanted to spend. Right now there is a $7,500 energy incentive that knocks that price down quite a bit. But still high for this new technology. There was a 2011 used Leaf for $20,000 on the lot with only about 6,000 miles on it. But, the other concern is what happens in 4 or 5 years when everything has progressed even further and you are stuck with an old model?

We went home and thought about it, and saw an ad in the paper for a lease option. Usually I feel like leasing is a bad idea since we are the type to keep the car until it dies of old age. In this case, it would give us the opportunity to try it while not being locked into it. Two years down the road, prices may be lower and battery life longer.

If you are even considering trying electric, it is a really good time to lease right now. We got ours at Nissan of Portland for $89/month (plus almost $4,000 down payment). I am almost embarrassed to admit how cheap it was. Literally, that would be our cost of gas anyway in a month, so I feel like we get to try it for practically nothing. The guys there were great!

If it is something you are thinking about- the special ends Jan 31. And, we are hoping that we also get a free charging station installed at our house as part of this deal (we applied for it). Either way, last night it charged completely on our 110 volt outlet. After that, the 2013 comes out, which is probably an even better car, and it’s price is way lower than the 2012.

What is the downside? Well, honestly, I wouldn’t do this if this was our only car unless you never want to go more than around town. And, I would only do it if your commute is mostly city street driving. It seriously hogged miles on the freeway going to Tigard yesterday (hills plus speed plus climate control and 4 people). But on the streets, it is perfect. And the electric chargers are scattered around at some Fred Meyers and other spots, I expect there to be more as there are more adopters.

We are fighting over who gets to drive it. Kids love that the back seat has seat warmers. There is much to learn about this car, as it is a little like driving around a giant cell phone. Like programming it to warm up in the morning (from your phone). I feel great about never going to the gas stations, zero emissions, and the lack of maintenance like oil changes.

Well, that’s my unpaid commercial for Leaf, as a complete amateur to electric cars, and mostly cars in general. I feel I owe them something for giving us this amazing car for almost nothing. I’ll be honest and update this if there are major issues. So far, it just requires more thoughtfulness as far as charging it and miles driven. It’s definitely a trade off I feel good about.