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September 21, 2011


My son's friend has a Leaf. Nice car and eerily quiet. As I recall there is a device available to make the car audible to warn animals and humans of the car's approach. Do you have this?

In Oregon, or most places for that matter, you may need it. When we lived there we struck a deer at 60 mph. Major damage to the car and the deer which was quickly tossed by a passing motorist into the bed of his pick-up. No protests from me as I was still a vegetarian. We were lucky the deer didn't go through the windshield and hit us.

Bad enough to hit a deer, but it would really suck to hit some person who didn't hear the car coming.

I'm all for clean burning transportation, but I wonder if everyone had a Leaf if the emissions would be transfered to increased demands and therefore emissions from power plants?

Now, if you could charge the thing with solar or run a charging generator with methane from your composting toilet, then I think you would really have something.

tucson, every Leaf has the audible sound device (in a wheel well, I believe). It goes off at something like 17 mph. I don't even notice it, though my wife did during a test drive in Corvallis. She has better hearing than me. The youngish Nissan salesman also can hear the sound.

It can be turned off, but you have to do that every time the car is re-started. And if you run over a blind person in a crosswalk, your legal case would be a lot shakier if you've turned off the sound. Many Leaf owners don't like the device, because it seems discriminatory that expensive regular cars which are very quiet at low speeds don't have to have a sound-making device, while electric cars do.

Our electricity comes from PGE, which says on its web site that about half of its power comes from renewable sources -- hydro, wind (lots of wind turbines in Oregon now), a bit of solar, etc. I agree that in some parts of the country, almost all electricity comes from coal-fired plants, which obviously aren't Green.

But here in the northwest we pay less for electricity (our rates are in the 6.5-7.5 cents per kWh range, while I think the average nationwide is about 11 cents), and a higher percentage comes from renewable sources.

I've only driven our Leaf a few times, but I already know that I like it. It's well designed, handles well, and is full of cool electronics.

The Leaf's battery pack costs $18,000. It is designed to last 10 years, provided the owner abides by the maintenance guidelines. It is cautioned that constant rapid charging of the battery pack will decrease it's capacity by 10% after a number of years.
This is basically irrelevant for most Leaf owners. However, a couple of realities need to be recognized:
The Leaf's range can only decrease - it will never increase. And, trying to sell it when the thrill wears off is going to be difficult.
And hoping that some quantum leap in electric storage capacity will occur in the future, whereby the battery pack can be exchanged for a newer and larger capacity battery pack is pretty much a pipe dream.

Willie R, our salesman told us that individual cells in the battery pack can be replaced as they go bad, which shouldn't happen for quite a few years.

We're going to charge our Leaf's battery to 80% most of the time, and only rarely use Level 3 fast chargers.

Yes, you probably are right about the pipe dream. We asked the salesman about the prospect of NIssan offering a replacement battery pack, if a cheaper and better one came along in the future. He doubted this would happen, as Nissan would want Leaf owners to buy a whole new model.

But I think Nissan would be smart to keep early adopters of the Leaf happy. If they screw over us early adopters, then word will get around and buyers of the second generation Leaf will wonder if they're going to get screwed when the third generation comes along.

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