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I Like My Ride

Electric Transportation
By Mike Weedall - Senior Advisor

It’s been about nine months now since I got my Leaf. (You’re probably familiar with the product, but to be sure, it’s an all-electric Nissan automobile.) I love the car, but just like the rest of life, it has plusses and minuses.

Let’s start with the plusses.

When gas prices go up, what do we care? We have a 1997 Toyota Camry that our son drives. It gets 23 miles per gallon in the city. With other costs such as oil changes, we calculate that at $3.50 a gallon (good luck finding that), it costs about $0.16 a mile to drive. At $0.10 per kilowatt-hour here in Portland, Oregon, we drive the Leaf for less than $0.02 per mile. I calculate that’s probably saving us at least $1,200 per year in gasoline.

Folks ask how it has impacted my electric bill. I don’t have the Level 2 Charger (equal to an appliance such as an electric dryer) on a separate meter. But for the first two months I had the car (July and August 2011), the weather in the Northwest was extremely mild (so no air conditioning or heat). Our overall electric bill was about $20 higher than usual. Not bad for driving about 1,000 miles per month.

One last plus: people ask how I like the ride. I love it! There’s so much pick-up with the electric motor that our other car just sits. My spouse and I are always trying to beat each other to the driver’s seat.

So what are the minuses? One big one is range. The Nissan folks advertise a 100-mile range. And I believe they’re correct on that ... if you drive in a totally flat environment and never go faster than 25 miles per hour. We live in a neighborhood that’s very up and down, so my conclusion is that the range is effectively about 85 miles. Oh, and if you turn on the heat or the air conditioning, take another 10 miles off the range. But we’ve never gotten close to running out of a charge, so for all our in-town driving, this car has been perfect.

Anyone out there also have an all-electric ride? What are your experiences? Or what else can I tell you about me and my Leaf?

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