Thursday, February 09, 2012

Would You Drive an Electric Car?

Recently my husband and I were discussing if a 100% electric car would be suitable for our lifestyle.  With gas prices as high as they have been, perhaps this is something you have considered too?  So, we looked at the Nissan Leaf , which first came to mind as they had recently won the 2011 World Car of the Year award.

We liked that fact that a 100% electric car would mean never having to buy gasoline.  (To fill our minivan, we are currently paying about $110 per fill up!)  And because an electric car has no tailpipe, it gives off no emissions.  Definitely wonderful news for the planet, the air we breathe and the sky!

How far could a car like the Nissan Leaf really drive, we wondered?  Would it get us to work and back?  Could we drive across Canada?  Could we drive up to a cottage?  The answer is that the Leaf on a full charge can travel 160 kilometers.  We did the math, and 160 kms was more than we would require for daily needs.  However, it would be insufficient to travel "off the grid" and drive somewhere distant like a cottage--at least for now. 

Next the question that everyone has been wondering: how much does it COST to charge the Leaf?  We were floored to learn that to charge the Leaf from empty, costs only $2.50!  $2.50?  Yes, about the price of a charge a 100% electric car!

In our travels, we found a great Nissan Leaf Forum run exclusively by Leaf car owners.  We located a thread discussing what Leaf owners pay on their electric bill. It is definitely worth a read if you want to be amazed by how little these car owners are paying!  For an even bigger shock, compare your car's current gas bills to what you could be paying by going electric! 

There are practical considerations when considering the purchase of a 100% electric car.  How long does it take to charge your vehicle?  When you are out on the road, where do you "power up" if your battery is low?

To fully charge the Nissan Leaf's battery (from empty) takes approximately 7 hours on a 208-240V home-charging station.  A standard electrical outlet will take double that time to charge...or more.  We have heard said even 18 hours!  In certain geographic areas, 480V quick-charging stations are able to provide an 80% charge in under 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, this infrastructure is not properly developped in Canada yet.  So for now, the home-charging station is the only option.  There are no real options to charge the vehicle on the road, unless you find a conventional electric outlet--and have hours to spare.

How about the cost to buy the Nissan Leaf?  The price ranges from $38,395 to $39,995. Currently, customers in Ontario and Quebec are eligible for rebates of $8,500 and $8,000, respectively.  So, although there is a generous rebate, the Nissan Leaf is a car for people who are willing to pay to "go green".  At least for now.  And it is worth noting that many dealerships in Canada do not sell the Leaf, as the dealer must also have equipment to repair said vehicle--and be certified for the same--before being allowed to do so.  Apparently this specialized equipment runs in the millions.
And what about torque? We were surprised to learn that the Nissan Leaf has surprisingly good torque: 207 lbs per foot, with 100% torque available at 0 RPM! The Leaf even beats some high end performance cars at speeds from 0-40 mph! Amazing but true! 

Lastly, how would a 100% electric car measure up the our family's daily needs?  Well, one downside for us is that the Nissan Leaf has seating for 5 passengers--and our family has more than 5 members.  Most conventional cars have seating for 6.  Obviously this is not a downside for families of 5 or less, who comprise most of the Canadian population.  So it was decided, if we were to ever get an electric car, it would be solely used for our commute to work--and not used as a family car due to the seating limitations.

In summary, my husband and I loved the low cost to charge the Leaf, as opposed to the price of gasoline. We were thrilled by the prospect of having a car that gives off zero emissions, for a healthier planet. And the Leaf's amazing torque really did impress us! However, at this stage in our life we require a car that seats more passengers. But more importantly, we require a way to charge our vehicle when we are on the road. So for now, we will pass on a 100% electric car...but will consider a compromise of a hybrid electric and gas car!


  1. The Leaf is just not practical in the real world. A car like the Chevy Volt is a much better compromise. No range anxiety.

  2. wellthatsdumb, you are right that the Volt is better option right now, for people who travel off the grid.

  3. would love to get a electric car, first, i shall have to get my licence tho

  4. We don't have an electric car, but I like how accommodating the city of Vancouver have been with electric cars though. In a span of 2 years, there are special parking spots in area of town where parking is especially hard to find and outlets for charging cars in various parking garages now.

  5. interesting,but seems many things to think about


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