Nissan very kindly loaned me one of the first Nissan Leafs in Western Australia for a few days and I’m here to report on the results. In brief – it was very impressive! By the end of my loan I really didn’t want to give it back and nor did my kids – they loved it too.
You can read about the Leaf, specs etc. here. In this image the Leaf is pictured next to my converted Mitsubishi Mirage. The difference in drive and appointments is pretty dramatic. I felt I was going back to the cheap seats after handing it back to Nissan.
This particular model was fully loaded – everything from cruise control to reverse camera on the good size screen to keyless ignition (and everything else you’d expect in a high end vehicle). The acceleration impressed everyone who came for a ride – instant torque and very quick. The ride was smooth, silent, excellent turning circle, good cornering and pretty well everything you’d expect from a vehicle with this price tag – $52,500. The price however is the biggest drawback and will be the main roadblock to takeup. Sure the well heeled early adaptors will relish it but at this price it is simply too expensive for the average motorist. Combine the high price with limited range and it will be some time before we see many of them on the roads of our cities.
Personally if I had cash to burn I’d buy this car – I liked this vehicle virtually immediately and by the end of my test period (I had it for 5 days), I was totally in love with it. Over time with economies of scale and greater competition in the marketplace I’m sure the price will drop to more acceptable levels. The range issue is not a great one for me – my conversion only manages a little over a third of the range of the Leaf yet I’m able to achieve about 90% of my driving with it. From all I have read and the statistics on motoring habits the Leaf has more than enough range for the average motorist in virtually all circumstances – range anxiety perception however will throw up resistance.
These images by the way were snapped at the Queensgate car park in Fremantle, Western Australia. Even in the most remote capital city in the world (and also one of the most beautiful) – ev charge stations are popping up. While I advocate more infrastructure for public transport, the car will be with us for many years to come. Moving to a cleaner personal transport system is imperative is we want to clean up our cities, reduce the massive burden imposed on the public health system by poor air quality (have a read on the externalised costs to the health service here), reduce our dependence on foreign sourced oil and protect our balance of trade, we need to move to an electric fleet – quicker the better.
To sum up I’d like to thank Nissan again for providing the vehicle for review. Overall I considered this car to be fantastic and can highly recommend it. Just a pity the entry price will be prohibitive for most people.