What a ride! It has been over a year since we leased our Nissan Leaf. To be honest I didn’t care much about the actual car to start with as it was the only electric vehicle in our price range. I had decided years ago that our next car will be an electric car, so that was the only criteria it needed to meet. Over time, the Leaf has grown on me (ha!) and I really enjoy driving it now. I have had the opportunity to test drive a few other EV’s that are more expensive because they have more “nice-to-have” features, however the Leaf has most of what I need. (and yes, the 16 year old really does get to learn to drive in an EV!)
Over the last 12 months we travelled almost 21,500km, requiring almost 3.2MWh of electricity. We estimate that about 80% of the energy comes from our solar system, while the rest we purchased from the grid, either at home or away.
I wouldn’t say that we did not have any problems along the way. Almost immediately we realised that the standard household 10A plug didn’t do the trick for us. We needed a faster EV charger at home to effectively consume excess solar electricity and access charging flexibility, to have the car ready for any longer work trips back-to-back. Almost three months after buying the car, we bought a myenergi Zappi, 32A single phase model. This means that we can use the full output of our 6kW solar inverter at almost full capacity of the onboard car battery charger. If we weren’t trying to optimise use of solar, the household plug and charging slowly overnight would be fine.
While we are still on charging…
In the city we mainly use the DC chargers installed by City of Adelaide in Franklin Street. This is our safety net when travelling south and we enjoy a walk through the Central Markets while it charges. Since March last year, we have utilised 364kWh from external chargers (6 hours of charging time) at an average cost of 19c per kWh.
After 12 months of driving we are a lot more relaxed about travelling long distances and sometimes pushing the range limits. We better understand how driving and road conditions impact on the car’s energy consumption. We now blend driving economy with better planning to achieve mostly guilt free driving.
Now with our own EV, we better understand the challenges surrounding electrification, but nothing should discourage any of us from the opportunities including increased energy security that this transition can bring to all Australians. We observed on many Sundays in the last 12 months, that we can with a little of our intervention almost reach a 100% energy balance between demand and supply. The following image show the results of a sunny Sunday in the beginning of April in South Australia. On this Sunday, we did a couple of loads of washing, ran the dishwasher, charged our car by over 50% (24.2kWh), heated up our hot water and cooked both lunch and dinner, all from the solar we generated at our home.
Optimisation of household consumption enables all our energy loads including the EV to be used via renewable energy
Nissan Leaf offers two odometer readings for 999km trips. Every time I use them to track our energy consumption, I find that our average travel over 999km is between 14.5-15.0kWh/100km. The energy consumption may vary over different trips but always ends up in this average. This might a little bit different if we lived in the hills, spent most of the time driving over 90km/h, lived in a cooler environment, or drove the car differently. We always drive on Eco mode and use regenerative braking, which helps our energy economy a lot. Our total average energy consumption for the last 12 months was 14.8kWh/100km.
Annoying things about the Leaf (not related to being an EV)
– When a mobile phone is connected to the infotainment system, the notification for an incoming phone message alert is startlingly loud and so far impossible to control
– The in-built maps are hard to use and even harder to look at, compared to our phones/Apple Car Play
– I tend to use the cruise control system almost every time I drive the car and the Leaf can be a bit of pain when you use this feature in an urban environment, because the car suddenly slows down when a car in the front of you is moving into a slip lane to turn and you have plenty of space. It’s not so smart at those times!
– The main bugbear is definitely connectivity to the car (or lack of it). To check the state of the battery charge in the car you physically need to get into the car and turn it on. Nissan for some unknown reason has removed Nissan Connect app connectivity from the Leaf. It would be so handy to be able to double check the battery on your phone instead.
We all know that electric cars are expensive and there is barely any support from governments in this space. We definitely wanted an electric car but we didn’t want to buy it outright. For us leasing an EV is a great balance. We get to drive an electric car, understand the current challenges, and share our experience with friends, clients and strangers interested in EVs. This is probably the best thing about driving an EV.
At our current driving rate, the cost of owning and driving this electric car is $0.42/km. The equivalent cost of owning and driving an internal combustion engine (ICE) car with fuel economy of 6L/100km is $0.35/km, due to the lower lease costs for this car. With our current driving range, the ICE car works out cheaper overall, but if we drove an extra 10,000km a year, the costs of ownership would become equal, providing we use free solar energy for EV travels. Of course we know that cost is not the only factor when making any choice, and the environmental and innovation benefits of the EV far outweigh the cost for us.
Total kilometres travelled 21500
Annual cost of finance $8640 + cost of charging = $9000
Petrol 1290 litres for 21500km @6L/100km fuel economy
1290 litres at $1.8/litre = $2322
Service = $400
Annual cost of finance = $4800
Greenhouse Gas Emissions = 4.5 tonnes CO2e
Offset cost at $30/tonne = $135.45
Total cost $7657.45
Thanks for the story Tom! Readers, let us know your thoughts, experiences or questions related to EV’s…