We've changed our minds about changing our minds... about getting an electric car. In early May I put down reservation deposits on both a Nissan Leaf and a Mitsubishi i MIEV. A few weeks later, we'd decided to take a pass on going electric automotively.
I gave Russ at Jack Scoville Nissan in Corvallis a $500 credit card deposit to hold a soon-to-arrive blue 2011 Leaf for us. Obviously, something changed to make us change our minds again, after we initially changed our minds about getting a Nissan Leaf.
Well, a few weeks ago The EV Project notified me that my application to get a free 240 volt Level 2 charging station installed in our garage had been approved. This could be up to a $1,200 value. Plus, the cost of a Level 2 charging port on the Leaf would be paid for, which I think saves us another $750 or so.
This was good news, but I'd still said "no thanks" when someone from Cherry City Electric phoned and wanted to schedule an appointment to make sure that our garage was ready for a charging station.
I told the woman that we'd decided to pass on buying a Leaf. However, a few days later I decided to take another look at the Nissan Leaf web site. I was curious about whether the 2012 model was much different from the 2011.
It is, but not hugely.
I learned that the 2012 Leaf has more standard equipment: a cold weather package (battery heater, heated seats and steering wheel, and other stuff) plus the Level 2 rapid charger. This reviewer was unexcited about Nissan charging more for this new standard equipment on the SL (high end) Leaf than the equipment cost as options on the 2011 model.
Still, my first thought was that the battery heater would extend the 2012 Leaf's range, since batteries work more efficiently when they're warm.
Russ corrected me about this when we talked today. He told me that the battery heater only kicks on when the temperature reaches 15 degrees F, which is essentially never here in western Oregon. The battery heater is just for making sure the car starts in really cold weather.
But researching the 2012 Leaf had gotten me interested again in an electric car. So I decided to phone the first buyers of a Leaf in Salem, Richard and Pauline Mather, green pioneers who were profiled in this SolarFlareBlog post.
Pauline returned my call, leaving such a wonderfully enthusiastic message about how much they love their Leaf her voice mail time on our Qwest service ran out. So she called again to finish her thoughts. This time my wife could answer the phone and got more positive information.
Assuaging much of my "range anxiety," Pauline said they sometimes return to their home with a greater charge in their Leaf than when they left by using regenerative breaking and other techniques.
This sounds sort of like perpetual motion to me, which defies the laws of physics, but I'm open to the possibility that such can happen. More importantly, Pauline responded to a concern I'd expressed in my own voice mail by saying, "You shouldn't worry at all about living six miles from the Salem city limits."
Today I asked Russ, the Corvallis Nissan salesman, how often he had been stranded in his own Leaf.
"Never," he said, though he admitted that he'd purposely drained the battery a few times to see what happened to the car. Russ also told me that none of the 30 or so people who have bought Leafs from his dealership have run out of electricity.
After I'd requested a quote on a 2012 Leaf, I'd gotten an email from Jack Scoville Nissan saying that a blue 2011 Leaf might be available for quick delivery. When I phoned Russ to ask about the car, he said we'd save about $3,000 if we got a 2011 Leaf rather than a 2012.
That's a lot to pay for heated seats. And a battery warmer we'd likely never use.
So we decided to put down a deposit on the 2011 Leaf which is due to arrive in a week or so. Before then we'll probably head down to Corvallis and take a test drive, either in Russ' own car or a demo vehicle at the dealership.
Who knows? We might change our minds again. But getting a Leaf feels right this time around. Avid environmentalists that we are, we want to support the emerging electric vehicle industry.
Oregon is a leader in the construction of public charging stations. Fairly soon it will be possible to do a Level 3 charge of an electric vehicle every 50 miles, or thereabouts, all along I-5 between the Canadian and California borders. Stations also will be on routes leading to, and along, the Oregon coast.
My wife and I don't like to drive long distances at a stretch. We, well, like to get out of our car and stretch. So stopping for 30 minutes to get a Leaf 80% charged, providing another 70 miles or more of traveling, isn't worrisome for us.
Stay tuned to this blog for more electric car news. The times, they are a-changin'. And, probably, charging.