Tomorrow it will be exactly four weeks since we took delivery of our Nissan LEAF. It’s been a tremendous experience but what probably impresses me the most is how inexpensive it is to drive: almost 1,700 Km for less than $25. That’s about $1.50 per 100 Km!
For comparison, our Corolla would need 116 liters of gas to get this far, at a cost of $145. And our old Sienna, which we just sold last weekend, would need 181 liters, at a cost of $226. Since the Sienna was the car I was driving the most, that’s about $200 saved in a month!
However, some of these savings come from the fact that my employer IBM allows me to trickle charge at work. I do it for about 4 hours during the morning, in order to avoid the afternoon’s peak hours. That’s about enough to recoup the round trip to work. Without it, I estimate that my costs would likely be $2 per 100 Km, which is still very impressive.
Next week, I’m planning an adventure trip to Ogdensburg, NY to purchase a set of winter tires, and I’ll be driving the Leaf! Wait. Why are you going to the United States to buy snow tires? Simple. Because they are so much cheaper over there . I’ll be getting a set of four low rolling resistance MICHELIN, X-ICE XI2, 205/55R16 + rims. All balanced and installed for US$836. The tires are made in North America so there are no duties at the border, just the HST. After taxes, that’s $350 less than buying them here in Ottawa.
The next question is, how am I going to get that far and still have enough charge to come back? The round trip is tight: 167 Km in total. It might sound OK given the advertised 160 Km average range of the Leaf, but that’s for mostly city traffic and we’re talking highway here. Opposite to what we’re used to with gas-powered cars, the Leaf is less efficient on the highway than it is in the city. On the highway, you spend a lot of energy to cut through the increasingly higher air resistance, while in the city you’re going much slower and taking a lot of advantage of regenerative breaking. I can drive 185 Km on a single charge in the city, but on the highway, even going 10 below speed limit, I can only drive 130 Km on a charge. So how am I going to get there?
First, I won’t be taking the highway. Instead, I’ll be following some fairly pleasant country roads where I can average 70 Km/h. The distance is about the same and it’ll be a Saturday so I’ll have the time. Second, I’ll be driving in Eco mode, very conservatively. Third, the place where I’ll be installing the tires will let me trickle charge while the service is being performed, and a bit more if I need to. This should give me the extra range to get back home. And finally, to be extra safe, I contacted an old friend that lives in Kemptville, ON, 128 Km into the round trip and only 39 Km from home, and he’s more than happy to let me trickle charge at his house if I really need to. I already booked an appointment for next Saturday, Oct 29, so wish me luck!