I'm excited to report that I picked up our Blue Ocean Nissan LEAF today!
More than eighteen months after I first saw the LEAF concept car and more than eleven months after I reserved the car on Nissan's website, we finally have our new LEAF. As focused as I have been on this goal over the past year, it seems a little unreal that our LEAF is sitting in our garage right now, connected to the charging dock and waiting for the timer to allow it to start charging tonight at midnight.
As I reported previously, I got my first hint that my delivery was coming closer on March 9, when my delivery estimate on Nissan's web site changed from "Month of April" to a more specific "Week of April 5". As is customary, that date estimate bounced around and finally settled on "Week of April 11". In fact, amusingly, at this moment it still reads "Week of April 11", despite the fact that we already have our car!
Then on March 23, I received an email from Nissan telling me that our car would be delivered within seven days. I wasn't sure how accurate that estimate would be, since others had found it somewhat variable. As it turned out, I was able to pick up our LEAF seven days after that email.
My Nissan dealer of choice was Connell Nissan of Costa Mesa, California. I took the time to get to know Mark Ranauro, Connell's general manager, last June, as I chose the dealer I wanted to work with. I liked Mark's openness and friendly, no nonsense manner immediately. Mark later agreed to discount the LEAF a nice amount, which sealed the deal. One thing that I liked about Connell is that they are a center for Nissan's technical engineering staff here in Southern California. Nissan engineers are based at Connell and they can provide special expertise on short notice.
Mark and his staff did a great job today in getting our LEAF cleaned and ready for me, in handling the financial details with no pressure or overselling, and in explaining the many technical details of the very high tech LEAF. We decided to lease the LEAF, though it is the first mass market EV that is available for direct sale to consumers. We want to reserve our capital for other uses and we want the opportunity to watch the way that EVs perform and are received in the country before we purchase one. I would also like to have an electric sports car someday, so a lease gives us the flexibility to make that change in a few years. But we may love the LEAF so much that we decide to buy it at the end of the lease, and that is also a possibility.
Expert and careful Dealer Prep
Other new owners have written fascinating accounts of their well planned long drives home from their chosen dealers, who happened to be located 75 to 100 miles from their homes. The dealers sometimes picked the customers up from their homes and drove them to the dealership to pick up their cars. The drives home were done carefully, in ECO mode and in the slow lane to conserve energy. Some new owners stopped for an hour or so at another Nissan dealer to recharge for a while.
My nine mile drive home wasn't nearly as interesting. I basically drove two or three miles from the dealership to the freeway and five or six miles to Irvine and home. No planning, no careful speed control needed. I greatly admire the planning and intrepidness of my fellow new LEAF owners. I just didn't need to worry about it. That is basically how we plan to use this car, for short trips, errands and for fun. We won't be pushing the range envelope and we won't be trying to squeeze the last mile out of the batteries. Instead, we'll be using our free solar power to enhance the quality and fun in our lives without producing any pollution or CO2 and without suffering the financial cost increases that will come with increasing gas prices.
So how do I like the car? I love it.
The LEAF is such a green and efficient car, it's easy to see only that aspect of it and to forget that it is really a satisfying car in many other ways. I've actually found myself underestimating the car, even as I obsessed about its details and anticipated it with enthusiasm. As I test drove our own LEAF and drove it home and on the local highways today, I found it quick, nimble, quiet, smooth, roomy and even sporty. The LEAF gives a high quality impression in the feel of its switches and controls, in its many unusual technical features, in its weight and stance on the road, and in its roomy and quiet interior. Recall that my last car was a BMW and you'll find this impression even more significant.
Tonight, our LEAF is plugged in to our Level 2 EVSE (charging dock). The car's charging timer is set to begin charging at midnight, when our time-of-use electrical rates are lowest. I can check my iPod LEAF app to see the current state of charge (nine of 12 bars of charge), the number of miles I can drive on the current state of charge (70 miles at this state of charge), and the estimated number of hours needed to charge it completely (two hours, 30 minutes). If I wanted to, I could use the app to tell the car to pre-heat or pre-cool the car's interior while it is connected to power and to save battery charge. This is all very cool stuff, and it makes owning the car even more fun.
Carol and I will drive the LEAF to exercise and to breakfast tomorrow morning and on errands later in the day. Because we make enough solar power to drive more than 12,000 miles per year for no fuel cost, we'll replace some of the miles that we drive our hybrid Prius. The Prius will be our long distance car and our backup to the LEAF, but the LEAF will be our primary vehicle.
We're excited to learn and adapt to the changes that our electric LEAF will bring. This blog was conceived as a way to chronicle that journey. After nine months of blogging about our journey to reach this point, I'm thrilled to be at the point of being able to begin to write about the electric part of the journey.