Our primary vehicle is a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with 192,000 miles on it. It is starting to show signs of aging. Lianne frequently drives the van around town with only one or two of the kids with her. It isn’t very efficient. Also, Ava just got her learner’s permit, so we will soon have 4 drivers, but only 3 vehicles. It was time to look for a new car. We quickly settled on an electric car of some kind because of the reduced cost of ownership and the lower impact on the environment. After much research, we chose the 100% electric Nissan Leaf. We found a good deal on a 2013 model down in North Carolina and went and picked it up last week. It didn’t take long for the family to fall in love with her and she was christened “Boogie” because “It’s electric.”
We’ve driven Boogie around for about a week now, and we have to charge about every other day, depending on what’s going on. A few things to note.
– It would be tough if we didn’t have other vehicles to rely on. Boogie can only go about 75 miles on a single charge, but since we know we can hop in one of the other cars if we have to, it isn’t a big deal.
– Interstate driving reduces the range by 10% or so. The colder weather also seems to be reducing the range a little bit. We’re getting about 65 miles on a full charge.
– We don’t actually charge to 100% or drive down to 0%. We have her set to “battery saver” mode which only charges the battery to 80%. Lithium-ion batteries do best in the 20% to 80% range. Keeping it in that range gives us over 40 miles, and sometimes we are able to go 2 days on a single charge.
– ECO mode is a drag. It reduces the acceleration and increases the regenerative braking. It isn’t as zippy in ECO mode, but we tend to keep it there anyway to increase the range.
– Electric cars don’t have gears and are extremely quiet. It’s a fun, and different, driving experience. Everyone wants to take Boogie when they head out. She’s popular in our house.
– The gauges and meters on the dash cause us to drive it differently. We accelerate slower because we can see the energy consumption. We coast to a stop more frequently because we can see the battery recharging as we slow down. Personally, I’m much less likely to speed up to pass someone. I’d rather see the little tree grow on the dash, which means that I’m driving in an eco-friendly manner. It’s funny how the icons and bars can actually change our behavior.
– There are more charging stations than we realized, and many of them are free. This is an added bonus that we hadn’t considered. I can charge at work, or at the dealerships, or at parking garages all over Tidewater. Since we are early adopters, we haven’t had any problems finding available chargers. Many of the chargers are networked and accessible via apps. Plug Share is our go-to place for finding charging stations on the various charging networks out there.
– At home we just plug into the wall. That’s called Level 1 charging. It would take over 20 hours to fully charge, but since we only charge up to 80% from 20% or so, it charges up fine overnight. It pulls 13 amps, and we did trip the breaker one morning when the hair dryer was on the same circuit.
In conclusion, we are happy with the purchase. Boogie fits our needs perfectly and is a welcome addition to our family. The added bonus of saving money on gas, and reducing our carbon footprint just seals the deal.