It’s been a while since I posted the last update and a lot of things have happened since then. First and foremost, the Leaf is still doing great after almost four years. We recently hit 80,000 km at the odometer and we still have 12 bars of capacity on the dashboard.
We don’t have any major issue to report. We did our last service check in July last year, a few weeks before the full warranty of 60,000 km expired. I’m planning to take it for another checkup this summer, and keep it on a regular yearly basis (I used to take it for a service check every six months but now I realize that’s not really necessary). The main major service I expect to perform this year is the flushing of the brake fluid, which was never needed in all inspections done so far. But after 4 years, it’s probably about time to get a new one.
Two EVs in the family now
The best testimony that an electric car works well for us is that we now have a second one! We finally got rid of the Corolla last fall and exchanged it for a Chevy Volt.
My wife drives the Volt now. She was never a car person. She drives one mostly because she has to. But after driving the Volt on a regular basis, she says it’s the first car she actually likes! The silence, the smoothness and the cool looks… she really enjoys it. And I do too.
My son got his G2 driver’s license last year and has since been able to drive the LEAF on his own. He learned how to drive on the LEAF, did all the lessons with a driving instructor on the LEAF, and even did his driving test on the LEAF. He’s yet to drive a gasoline car. (Actually, he once started the Corolla on the driveway and moved it a few inches. And that’s about it. 🙂
The LEAF works great for him. It’s a good compromise for all the parts. He doesn’t have to spend any money with gas, and we feel comfortable that he can’t drive it too far away. LOL
I’ve been keeping track of how the brake pads are doing since I first took the LEAF for service. As you probably know, most of the braking on the LEAF happens by regenerative braking where the electric motor, not the brake pads, are used to slow down the car. The brake pads are only used when you’re about to stop completely. They’re also used if you hit the brakes too hard, something I try not to do very often. At this rate, the rear pads will last a long time. I estimate that they will need to be replaced at 146,000 km, with the front pads lasting a little longer (194,000 km).
There have been reports of brake issues affecting the LEAF in the coldest days of the winter but it seems to be affecting only cars manufactured in North America. Our LEAF was made in Japan and has not presented this issue.
The bumper-to-bumper warranty expired last year after 60,000 km. We actually hit it before the 3 years of ownership. I asked the dealer to perform a service check while the warranty was still on, just in case, but they didn’t really find anything. This winter however, the driver’s power window stopped working. I was hoping it was a cold-related issue that would resolve by itself in the spring (we saw something like this before) but it hasn’t been the case. I’m bracing for how much fixing it is going to cost, but I don’t think the repair will be much different than in any other car.
The dashboard still shows 12 bars of capacity but that doesn’t mean 100%. I used an OBDII adapter and an iPhone app called Leaf Stat to peek into the battery data and check how much capacity is really left after all these years. Right now, this number is hovering around 86%, which is fairly inline with the estimate of 80% capacity left after 5 years. It’s worth noticing that the first bar of capacity on the dashboard will go away when the percentage drops below 85%, so I expect it will happen any day now.
It’s been a long time waiting but I was finally able to use the DC Quick Charge port on our LEAF for the first time. However, I had to drive all the way to Montreal in order to do it. I charged at the closest DCQC from Ottawa, a station installed by Azra Networks about 200 km from our house. The trip required an extra stop at a Level 2 charging station in Montebello, which made the trip not very practical, specially because we don’t have the faster 6.6 kW charger available in the newer LEAFs. Fortunately, this is about to change. Hydro Quebec is actively planning to install Fast Chargers along highway 50 between Gatineau and Montreal, which will be a game changer for us. Rumours are that the first DCQC will be installed this year.
We’ve come a long way since the first LEAF was delivered in Canada four years ago. Now I see electric cars on the road every day. One morning I even saw two LEAFs on my street, only 5 minutes apart from each other.
One place where EV adoption suddenly had a big spike was at my workplace. For several years, there were only two EVs for the two plugs available for charging at our parking garage: the LEAF and a converted motorcycle. Suddenly, this month, a co-worker purchased a Smart ED, another bought a Tesla, and another placed an order for a LEAF! All in the same month! Now those two spots are no longer enough and we started the process to lobby to have charging stations installed at work. I’ll keep you posted.