Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Drove a Nissan Leaf yesterday.

  1. Jul 20, 2011 #1
    I got a Nissan Leaf for the day earlier this week (about 1 week after the Volt) and put it through its paces. I have to say, its not nearly as nice of a car. The car does handle well and acceleration and drivability is pretty good but the rest of the car in my opinion is lacking. The interior has a very cheap feel to it, a lot like a Mazda. You can definitely tell that the car was built to a price point. The shifter is just retarded and the plastic blue paneling in the interior gives you the impression the car was built in some factory in China.

    On the plus side, the interior is very room. Tall people will definitely like it. It also comes with its own high voltage tools, although I can't imagine why. The HMI is also very well laid out and is simple and easy to use. The NVH on the vehicle is rather poor as there is a lot of motor wine, but personally I like the sound so I think of this is a positive. There's very little trunk space because the storage bins in the trunk or over sized for the crap that they hold (Leaf bag, HV tools, etc).

    In comparison to the Volt, the Leaf seems like a piece of junk. The Volt gives you the impression that you're driving a well thought out and engineered car while the Leaf gives you the impression that you're driving a kit car or something that was cobbled together at the last minute. The other thing that I noticed was the range anxiety that I felt when driving the Leaf. I was always paying attention to the range meter and how aggressive I was driving to make sure I didn't get stranded. For someone thats doing a regular <35 miles commute this probably wouldn't be an issue.

    If I was in the market for a $30k-$40k electric/hybrid car, I would without a doubt pick the Volt. To me its totally worth the $7k difference in price between the two cars. Plus, the Leaf has to be a second car while the Volt can be your one and only vehicle. I personally can't understand why the Leaf is now outselling the Volt right now. Probably for the same reason that people keep buying Volks Wagons.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2011 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Ouch. I like my Mazda 6 (might even get another!)! What kind of/age of Mazda are you comparing it to?

    Otherwise, thanks for the review!
  4. Jul 20, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Maybe everybody is waiting for the Chevy Volt 2.0?

    At least GM can survive the wait period / development cycle.

    EDIT: Any scuttlebutt / dealer talk, etc. about how the Volt or Leaf are expected to handle Michigan (or worse, Canadian) winters?
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
  5. Jul 21, 2011 #4
    What's your concern with the EVs and the winter? Snow/ice or some other engine-performance aspect?

    The Volt was mostly road-tested in Michigan as (obviously) that's where GM's Capture Test Fleet is.

    I'd be very suprised if there's a Volt 2.0 any time soon. I think you're more likely to see the luxury adaptation first (which has been cancelled and resumed a few times already).
  6. Jul 21, 2011 #5
    OI! Leave the Dubs out of this.
  7. Jul 21, 2011 #6
    Just my experience with my mothers old Mazda Millenia and my fathers Miata. They like(d) them but I don't think they are very well built cars.

    EV's don't like the cold. A Li batteries discharge capability significantly decreases at low temperatures. Charging can also bring on durability issues at low temperatures. The Leaf will have reduced power in cold winter temperatures, such as those in Michigan where I live. The Volt has a parachute (the engine) which allows it to operate perfectly fine at any practical temperature.

    "Volt 2.0" is scheduled to be the next 2012 model year. Its suppose to have a lighter and higher capacity battery along with many other refinements.
  8. Jul 21, 2011 #7


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    What sort of tools? My gut reaction is that "high voltage tools" and "average car owner" are not a good combination, so I am probably jumping to conclusions here.

    Thanks for the updates by the way.
  9. Jul 21, 2011 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Maybe GM / Nissan (or an aftermarketer) can offer a giant battery blanket / insulation for the pack? Not necessarily something you need to plug in all the time, but if everybody else is plugging in their cars at work, that'd probably be less power-hungry than charging up the battery pack itself.

    For completeness sake, any chance you (or a mod) can edit your first post to link to your other thread on the Volt?

    EDIT: FTFM... And looks like the 2012 Leaf will have something like that, and even standard!
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  10. Jul 21, 2011 #9
  11. Jul 21, 2011 #10


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I heard (NPR, I think) that first responders have had to get special training on how to extract someone from a crumpled EV. It would be very bad to bite through something hot with the Jaws of Life!
  12. Jul 22, 2011 #11
    I was under the impression that the cold wouldn't have any significant adverse effect until you started seeing long term sustained sub-zero (F) temps. (which yes, can happen in MI and other northern states - I wonder what the Leaf does in this situation? I guess I didn't even think about it - the CTF session for the Volt started in the late-spring/early-summer)

    Also, the next platform for the Volt won't be until 2015 - according to the quote in http://news.consumerreports.org/car...lts-resale-value-after-three-years-17000.html. Any changes made for 2012 will be functionally minor. From my experience at GM, whenever there was a short-end-of-MY-run of a vehicle it got almost totally carried over into the next MY (the new-ish body full-size trucks (GMT900) are the perfect example of this - the late-07 and 08 pickups are nearly identical where as the 09s started seeing slight tweaks to options). The Volt is seeing some package changes for 2012, and the battery change (I thought) was going to be available on the 2011s as well as part of a recall? (they did a battery swap for the GMX38x hybrids MY08-09 iirc)

    I'm coming up on a full year away from Michigan (where I grew up and have lived my entire life, until recently). I miss it :(
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  13. Jul 29, 2011 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Would you think that "gas can" and "average car owner" are a good combination? I suppose its all what we are used to.
  14. Jul 29, 2011 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    How about biting into a gas tank or fuel line?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  15. Jul 29, 2011 #14


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  16. Jul 30, 2011 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This is interesting, because I was under the impression that, for small (AAA/AA) batteries, Li's had the best performance in the cold. Everyone I know in the ice climbing/mountaineering community uses them for this reason.
  17. Jul 30, 2011 #16
    Maybe they should install a switch that cuts power when the vehicle is impacted or filps on it's side?
  18. Jul 30, 2011 #17
    No battery works well in cold weather, although some better than others. Li can work better than SLA or NiMH but it depends on the materials and construction. In a nutshell, if you're driving a Leaf in -10*C weather don't expect to go very far or fast. If you're charging at those kinds of temp you're gonna need about a day with a Level II charger.

    I've been told from very reliable sources that at temps of around 0*C the Leaf's range is cut down to less than 40 miles.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook