I have had the pleasure to drive the 2018 Nissan Leaf for a week by now, which by my standards comes down to about 1000km of driving it and it will be my pleasure to write about my experience so far.
The car itself
First up, this is my new company car, aka my daily driver, what I got is a 2018 Leaf in the Acenta trim (EU), we got it used, so it wasn’t quit as expensive as it would have been new. But I got lucky in terms of a used car.
It had 43000km driven at the day I got it (exactly) and there battery has about 98% of its total capacity. There are no scratches, no damage to the interior and everything works perfectly, all in all a nice catch.
I also was rather surprised at the level of trim this thing has, it does do cruise control with auto distance, lane assist, high beam assist (more on that later), one pedal driving, traffic sign detection, heated seats back and front, heated steering wheel, comes with sat-nav and DAB radio, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, voice control both car and smartphone, automatic wipers and so forth.
It also features a heath pump instead of the standard AC the prior owner added to the car, which improves the range.
Again, all in all a nice catch.
Driving and range
I got this car in what is winter in Austria, so all I am going to write about from here on is in temperatures between -5°C and about +10°C tops, on winter wheels and with heating on.
The first thing anyone reading about an EV is going to ask about is range. Well, I get over 220km of range out of it in described conditions, but be aware, I am only doing about 100km/h on the Autobahn with it, beyond that speed, that car does not feel stable. My first drive with it, I went to the allowed 130 km/h with heating on and drove about 160km using up ~66% of my charge, your mileage (haha in km) may vary.
One pedal driving does need some getting used to, if you are like me coming from a petrol car, but once you get the hang of it, it is rather nice.
Driving itself is a big improvement over the last generation of Leaf, the car feels more stable and seems to have a lower point of gravity, giving it a more sporty feel. It has about 160 bhp but giving it’s weight of ~1500kg it is not the quickest thing I ever drove.
Like most modern cars, the Leaf sports a number of driving assistants, some rather good some to be turned off immediately. Let me start with the good ones.
The Leaf features a cruise control with automatic adjustment to so you don’t crash into the next vehicle. This works really well and rather smooth, I have had way worse experiences in other cars, all in all as long as you stay in the same lane it is doing pretty much the same as if I would be driving. That is a huge compliment, just so you know. The only down side I could find here is, it accelerates to the set speed as soon as you indicate you want to overtake. Not a bad thing, but sometimes drivers behind you are, how do I put this delicately, arseholes. They accelerate as soon as they see you indicating and thus you can’t get out. I would be better if the car waited until you turned the steering wheel a bit.
If activated, the car makes sure you stay in your lane by pulling you back in if you happen to drive out and also giving you an acoustic feedback, that you, pardon my french, just fucked up. This works very well and I have no complaints about it. This Friday I decided to play with that feature a bit, since I was pretty much alone on the Autobahn and, just to make you aware of it, after 4 to 5 times of letting the car hit the lanes, it gets angry. What it does is, it hits the breaks for a short time, smashing you into your seat belt to wake you up, since it seems to assume you are sleeping, because otherwise you couldn’t be that stupid.
High beam assist
That one is the same as with any other car I ever drove. Utter garbage and best turned off. I am not sure, who programs these things, but maybe all they ever rode were trains. It uses the high beams way too late, turns them off for now reason and if someone comes along on the other lane, it turns them on all of a sudden to blind them.
This is just the same as before, why is this so hard for a computer to do? It does not wipe at all when the wind shield gets wet or wipes so frequent you are afraid the wipers are going to break. Just disable and control it manually…
All in all for an used EV I am very happy with what I got and considering the assistants are 2018-builds it is doing ok. The range is more than expected and having CHAdeMO and Type-2 Charging gives you a good range of ports for long distance drives. It is a good deal for an used EV, really.
But here is the thing: compared to a petrol car it is very expensive, you could get an equally equipped used Skoda Fabia for 10k€ less than this cost us. Even factoring in petrol and insurance over the average usage of a car (6-8 years) this still comes out more expensive, not considering the charges.
I mean, that car, new costs about 40k€. You could get a new BMW3 Series or Audi A4 for that kind of money, not a floor model as in my case.
And that leads to my biggest problem with EVs:
They are way too expensive for what they are.
You can get a VW Up! for 15k€ or a VW e-UP! for 25k€, at current prices.
The Leaf gets me about 250km at best for around 18€ of charge right now.
My BMW gets me around 800km for around 110€ per refill.
So the EV comes down to about 7,2€/100km
and the petrolcar to 13,8€/100km
Okay, so refills are double, and insurance is way higher for my BMW, but the comparioson is not really fair is it?
My BMW is in an entirely different class of car than the leaf, other than the Mercedes EQE, Audi e-Tron GT and the BMW i4M you won’t find anything comparible in the EV sector to it (and no, Teslas don’t count, because they are nowhere near in production quality) and allt of those cars cost more than twice of what my cars was listed at.
I am afraid, the switch to EVs will set us back a couple of decades for a while, by now most families have multiple cars, but in EV-Times it will come down to one per family, if that is even possible.
I sure hope, that with growing numbers EVs will come down in price, because if I am to be honest, if the Leaf was a petrol powerded car, 20k€ new would be on the upper end of the asking price, not to speak of the almost 40k it does cost….