Friday, March 1, 2019

Happy Birthday LEAF!

A year ago (2/16/18) , I picked up my 2018 LEAF from Ray at Campbell Nelson Nissan in Everett, WA and immediately I realized this was not like any LEAF I had before.   The car was quick charged to 96  % and then I drove the 77 miles home and parked the car with 61.4% SOC.  Yeah, definitely not the same!  I blogged my early impressions and a few things have changed but you should read it too as a refresher when you get a minute.

But the differences didn't stop there. I still had LEAF Spy but unlike previous LEAFs, I lost functionality including the brake/motor screen.  It was hardly one I used frequently before but with the new toy, E-Pedal to play with, I would miss knowing how much braking was going on. But E-Pedal quickly made up for the loss.

For those of you who forgot, I lost my 2016 S30 (the "30" is critical since there were 24 kwh S's) prematurely due to an accident.  This really threw my timing off as I felt (and very very much still do) that being in the market in October 2019 would be perfect timing for me.  But it was not to be.

So home came my 40 kwh LEAF S with Charge and All Weather Package which on paper is the same options my S30 had but changes did happen and here is my top 10!

The Gimmees!

1) E-Pedal

Nissan's way of creating "drive consistency."  Many people were more than a bit unnerved by the free wheeling feeling an EV has at full charge.  The lack of regen makes the car seem like its going faster than it actually was.   E-Pedal uses a combination of friction braking and much stronger regen to create a drive that feels the same at any SOC.    Now I know the word "friction" sends cold chills thru you but realize that at less than very high SOC, the friction braking is used quite sparingly and its level of use, while still hotly debated, is likely nearly the same as it would be if you were in Eco B mode. 

Tests showed that E-Pedal adds more than 50% regen power to the battery over B Mode. That is huge! This also allowed one pedal driving most of the time. Although I have not accomplished it yet, my goal is to go one entire calendar month without touching the brake pedal once while driving. My record so far is to the 22nd.  A month might be ambitious but as you can see, a week is a PIECE OF CAKE!

2) Automatic Emergency Braking

What a godsend!  By far the 2nd most loved feature  even surpassing the convenience of the extra range.  After a year, I have yet to allow the car to brake for me. Simply not that trusting of the system but it gives you an audible warning that seems to be loosely tied to the drive mode you are in and that has been more than enough to save me from an embarrassing tap at least once.   Sometimes it alerts when I am changing to an emerging lane or entering a roundabout but despite the alert being easy to recognize, it is not that intrusive. It is an amazing synergy of safety and driving ambience!


Unlike the "idiot light" system my previous LEAFs had, I now had "real" TPMS including individual tire pressure readings on each wheel that did not have to be re-registered when I rotated tires!  Tire pressure maintenance is very important if you want to drive efficiently so an easy way to track tire pressures is a big plus.  I now do it EVERY day (as opposed to once every 1-3 weeks)  and why not? It takes all of two seconds!   The best part is the system is accurate. I did both a cold pressure and hot pressure test and the readings matched my hand gauge within One PSI.

4) More Range

Hey, what can I say?  Its not highly ranked but it did allow me to make trips (Yakima over White Pass to Centralia) that no previous LEAF could have so yeah, its very cool!   But it did make me realize that the most important part of the extra range was allowing me to "live in the middle" much easier and the ability to tailor road trip charging stops to my needs instead of the car's range.

5) Eye Candy

Previous LEAFs had an "all in one" concept for driver information. It was busy, limited and tiresome. The 2018 design team must have hired a smartphone interface designer because now we had multiple screens we can "swipe" to, using a 5 way pad on the steering wheel to access several info screens allowing many more aspects to be examined while driving.  After years of seeing the capacity bars, its nice to not have to see them all the time!

6) Steering Wheel Heater 

Yeah, still not understanding why that was taken out of the 2016 All Weather Package but I did miss it... A LOT!  For me, the things I need to keep warm are my feet, hands and head. The rest of me seems rather impervious to cold.  Because of that, I NEVER wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. (except on vacation which is nearly always during the Summer) This rotation allows my shoes to dry completely which means feet stay drier and warmer! 

But the steering wheel heater changed quite dramatically.  My 2013 would cycle on and off so it went from very warm (some say too hot) to cold and over again.  I loved the very warm part and got around the cycling part by flipping the heater on and off but that wasn't completely effective as there was still a period  of no discernible warmth.  But the 2018 NEVER gets hot. In fact, it never gets more than lukewarm. It was a bit of a disappointment at first but over time, I realized it was still effective. I rarely wear gloves (as in never unless there is snow around) so I didn't think the new system would keep my hands warm but we are about to finish possibly the coldest February in Western WA history and I have to say the system surprised me.

7) Charge Port Light

Understanding the need is nothing new to modders who have been doing DIY's on this for years. Considering the cost, its about time Nissan!

8) Dual Voltage Charge Cable

Obviously this is cooler to others more than to me. I already have 3 EVSE's so didn't need it but many first time EVers will save a bundle (ok, small bundle as EVSE's are dropping in price) and it does help to reduce the questions many have over the sometimes confusing home charging options.

9) More Power

Some seem to need this but I can do without it. But it is a very noticeable jump in acceleration. I have actually squawked the tires surprisingly on a rolling start a few times this past Summer. I will admit a strange sense of pride when it happened.

10) Rear Heater Ducts

My Son will appreciate this more but I wish there was a way to simply divert flow fore and aft.  I rarely have back seat passengers and soon my Son will graduate to the front seat which will make the rear ducts even less valuable.  But many here will appreciate them.

The Backtracking

But as we know, there is no perfect car so things that could be better or rethought so I title this "backtracking" although a few on the list below have no tracks at all.


Ok, so I admit the analog speedometer does not bother me. I dealt with it with company cars in my previous job along with the last 4 rentals (can't actually remember what the 5th rental had...) I have driven.  But a lot of people seemed to take offense to it. I don't really understand it but to each his own.  Gone are the trees but now we have the "Eco Bar" to decipher and its this time its less intuitive.  It grows and shrinks based on some sort of criteria I assume but there is no indication of how big the bar can become and it never seems to shrink beyond a certain size either.
ECO is there all the time so not related to drive mode (In Park for this pix) but the bar does
change size as I drive around. I would assume the bigger the better but what is the max here? 

Some will say this is just another way of saying "Eye Candy" and it is except when its not. Here its simply an unexplained unintuitive nothingness.  I will say the drawback to many screens is when people ask for help on social media, they invariably post the wrong screen thinking they are being helpful... 


With no active cooling of any kind for the LEAF pack, Nissan decided to greatly restrict fast charge speeds to preserve pack longevity.  This was not widely accepted.  The customer of the European Union successfully campaigned to Nissan who relented issuing a software update to increase fast charge speeds during higher battery temperatures.  With most charging providers going to a per minute billing scheme, this was not only a better use of one's time but a money saver as well.

The current stance of Nissan North America seems to be that we didn't complain enough or do multiple fast charges enough to make it a primary issue for them when addressing customer satisfaction.  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  Maybe Nissan should realize that the lack of multiple QCs was due to the extra time it took and people simply abandoned their LEAFs for alternative transportation options.

Charging Profiles
This is definitely in the "no tracks detected" category. Again its all or nothing. No SOC levels except full. In previous LEAFs where the range was so limited, I could understand not having a lower SOC setting but now that we have more than 3 times the average daily driving need, it is now qualifies as a major miss by Nissan.  Again, a DIY area simply because the greater the full range of the LEAF, the more options you have. Now it easier to partially charge especially when 75% could be double the range you need.  Using charge timers is hardly precise but with that much cushion, who needs precise?   Granted not the ideal solution for all things life brings up, but better than nothing.


Intro; LEAF Spy wasn't around when I got my 2011 but both the 2013 and 2016 LEAF easily established full charge guidelines that were rock solid.  I do think part of consistency was due to lack of granularity with BMS monitoring and less to do with LBC granularity.  There was also the phenomena that LEAF Spy readings could be manipulated with certain charging/driving habits.

The first time I charged my LEAF to full, I was calculating roughly a 96% of available pack with a .5% bottom being inaccessible and was quite pleased.  Degradation can be mitigated by not pushing the pack to the extreme ends of its capacity, especially the upper limit.  The quickest way to degrade a cell is to overcharge it so care must be taken to insure that there is a good buffer between full and "too full" and it would appear Nissan did a shoddy job of that as well.  Mind you, this is only an issue if you charge to full and sadly, Nissan has not provided us any tools to prevent that from happening every time we plug in.  Some may argue the Charge timer can be used but even that has lacked intuitiveness.  It took all of a few days after delivery to notice what I consider to be significant irregularities with the BMS including a variance as much as 3% SOC on a full charge.

A few things to note; in all cases, the dash SOC reading was 100% so no shocker there but as we can see, that is not all that well defined when actually looking at the pack.  On the highlighted line with a shocking 99.51% SOC, I did notice that 100% lasted much longer than normal. This was the event where I decided that a closer monitoring of the BMS was in order.  I did this many full charges in a short period of time because I was still doing the "on the road" job and wanted that "full charge baseline"  but these 11 full charges are nearly half of the 27 full charges more than a year later.  With the BMS playing so loosely with my pack, it simply became another reason to avoid full charges whenever possible.

The 4% SOC variance I mentioned? Notice it actually happened on consecutive days.


I was one of the first to get a 2018 less than a month after they first started appearing on the lots but there were several reports that Nissan decided to not pass on all of the federal tax credit on leases (as most other EVs do) making a lease more expensive.  This was a HUGE reason why LEAF leasing was so attractive and led to many buying out their lease at the end due to the low residuals.

Nissan; If you don't bring this back for the more expensive  Plus series, expect many to go to a vehicle with similar pricing and similar range. Your passing on the full federal tax credit in the past was a HUGE advantage for you.  Now that you have leveled the range issue with the new Plus series, don't blow it.  It isn't really "your" money anyway.


Well, its a LEAF and unlike most EVs, we have LEAF Spy (which I am sure Nissan hates) which allows us to track every little thing the pack does.  I have to admit I liken my introduction to LEAF Spy with the same feeling I had when my first born was a week old.  I would literally sit there at night watching him sleep listening for any sign of respiratory distress that might bring on SIDS.  For those who don't have a LEAF, this will sound far fetched but LEAFers will understand.

Now we all "should" know that despite differences in battery chemistry,  (and there are a lot) the same basic rules apply to all Lithium chemistries.   Degradation is a byproduct of time, cycling and SOC management.  If we look at how different chemistries are rated (Battery U if you are interested) the LEAF cells rank poorly for high temperature cycling at high SOC which is hardly a surprise since we already knew that from our LEAFers in Arizona among other warm locations.

So keeping all the above in mind, I now have a short commute and generally charge for roughly 90 mins every morning. I plug in when I get up, unplug when I leave for work, returning roughly 11¼ hours later.  This happens 3-4 days a week. (I work 4 10 hour shifts but frequently have enough on day one that charging is not always needed) Now since I have NCTC free for another year, on my 3 days off, I generally only fast charge anywhere from 1 to 3 times on average.  I am restricting full charges to specific far off events incorporating "charge on the way" as much as possible.

But there were a few instances this past Summer when a full charge was needed in hot weather to make several trips that had no realistic charging options on the route.  I knew it was a risk especially charging to 100% at Yakima with 100º temps but the views crossing White Pass on the the way to Centralia was a worthy trip.

Now in my previous 3 LEAFs, degradation seemed to take anywhere from 2 to 6 months before it started meaning my battery had like new numbers for an extended period of time. This is not possible of course and likely a limitation of the BMS (remember LEAF Spy only reads what it sees) and made some sense as the car simply appeared to have a break in period.  But my inability to determine like new parameters has been rather frustrating leaving me with using day one readings not knowing if those readings were higher, lower or "just right."

So I got my LEAF, did my daily tracking as always and all seemed good. The numbers started dropping right away which was different but it was a slow drop. .01 some days, the same on others. Unlike previous LEAFs, nothing would make the numbers go up. This made things more predictable; a good thing.

April 12, 2018

A few things to note; All public charging shown here is DCFC and the 55 cent charge is due to exceeding my free 30 mins on a Blink. Unlike EVGO (who shuts off at the end of the free period) or Webasto (who doesn't even keep a clock on the free period) Blink simply goes on billing me at 49 cents per kwh. 

So my first thought was the heavy driving and heavy QCing caused the drop. Realize that this timeframe had several "warmer" days mixed in although probably very mild to most people reading this. But reviewing logs did not show any major heat buildup issues. Realize the miles although a lot mostly happened early in the morning when it was cool, contained several hours of sitting and then an afternoon drive home. Most of the time, the charging happened on the way home but mostly to get free juice over any range concerns. This also allowed me to get my daily paperwork done, take bathroom breaks, meals, etc. so it was not really any more time taken from my day to stop to charge.

The thing that complicates this is I started my new job on the 13th (now you know how much my commute is now) so the days of driving and charging a lot were gone. I figured that would be the last of the big drop days.

July 17, 2018

Again, it happened and again,  probables existed.

I was out of town and choosing a supercheap parking option which is the norm for me,  which meant sitting in open air lot during one of the more ambitious heat waves Seattle had during 2018.  Now before we get into this, I took all the proper precautions.  I parked the car with 40% SOC, intended to unplug LEAF Spy dongle (forgot but the intent was there!) and simply planned to feed both me and car upon my return.  But the drop, over two days this time, albeit smaller than the first one was still shocking to me.   Notice I immediately went on a two day bender QCing 13 times?

Now nothing was quite making sense and it was Summer and it was hot and I was doing a lot of multi QC trips?? But I felt like I knew how to control degradation so why wasn't any of it working?

October 9, 2018

Now the drop happened over 3 days and started when I did a full charge, had a last minute change of plans and so the car sat at high SOC (over 90%) for two days in mild (60'sºF) weather.  This was after limiting full charges, less QCing and more temperature control of the pack (Fall helped a lot with that) So was that the cause?  It still didn't make sense. The first day I parked it with like 85% SOC  (bad day to get over 5 miles per kwh!)  but the temps were mild so I thought I was ok. Then all Hell broke loose.

January 8, 2019

My biggest single drop and this time, there was NO EXCUSE. None, nothing even remotely close to even a highly rationalized explanation as to why this happened. Battery temperatures were well in the cool range rarely hitting 60º F.  Also the shortest interval mileage wise between the drops. But the drop lasted SEVEN DAYS!  The thought the batteries were simply too cold to respond quickly did briefly cross my mind.  Without a rationalization, I realized I was not looking at this the right way so back to the logs I went and then a pattern emerged.

  When graphing my stats in 1000 mile increments, I began to realize my BMS was updating on a schedule. With 16 entries,  I was seeing degradation in two very distinct categories.  12 entries had a total degradation running from .07 to .21%, then I had the 4 events above.

So, I pick up the car on 2/16/18 with 20 something miles on the odometer, 5 charges registered. No idea when those charges happened. Build date 1/2018.

56 days later, I get the first big drop

96 days later, I get the 2nd big drop

84 days later, I get the 3rd big drop

92 days later, I get the 4th big drop.

Any guess as to when I will get the next one?


Well, its only been a year so quite impossible to predict what I will do in two years when my lease ends. I do think the range will work well for me as I have found that public charging is "only" what you make of it.  Some consider it to be a waste of time, others an inconvenience and yes, some people are simply frightened over the thought of relying on availability and reliability of charging so far away from home.  But things I will be looking at the next two years.

Public charging costs

They are on the rise and likely not done yet. We have the two most active players, Electrify America and EVGO who are expensive and likely getting more expensive as time goes on and they will get away with it because the overall cost to run and EV will still be lower than gasoline for most of us.  But at the same time, this will work against my LEAF. It simply charges too slowly. When most chargers are going to per minute billing, speed is essential. The LEAF Plus charging at up to 100 KW will save a ton of money for the road tripper.


They say emerging technology starts out expensive but follows Moore's Law in the capabilities double while the price is halved. Well, Dr. Moore got it half right with EVs. The capabilities are going up and with the LEAF S Plus starting at $36,000 its cheaper than my first 24 kwh LEAF but only slightly so.  This makes my under $10 K residual very attractive.  If Nissan does not do an about face on the providing the full tax credit to lessees, that makes keeping what I got all that more enticing.


The issue with buying and the advantage of leasing has always been technology. I drive the latest because I did not buy my 2011 (which was the only LEAF I considered buying) because after all this time, I would just now be finished paying for it.  But leasing allows you to get the new technology without the huge financial commitment. 

So I could speculate on emerging tech but I feel that the thing that pushes me into a new EV will be technology that is not really on anyone's current radar. Two years is a long time.


You didn't seriously think I was done with this, did you?  The other HUGE advantage of leasing is the ability to simply give it back. Its essentially a 3 year test drive to decide whether its really going to work for you.  If it doesn't, I got to drive a brand new cool car for a very reasonable cost.

But what it also does is allows me to decide whether the degradation is ok (bad thing) practically non existent (good thing) or very bad ( a VERY good thing)

Nissan provides a degradation warranty and free replacement of the pack if it drops below 9 bars within 8 years or 100,000 miles.   The thought of driving a car for 6-7 years then getting a brand new battery with the latest chemistry tweaks for free is a very compelling reason to keep my current LEAF.

Here is my chart and I will leave you to make your own conclusions as each LEAF and its environment is different.

Chart info;

**Ignore the unlabeled heading. Its made that way so I can copy and paste from main log. The number is simply the miles driven that particular day and does not apply to any calculation in the chart.

**The part of the chart you should concentrate on is the last two columns. These are the predicted values of SOH and ahr at 100,000 miles. Examining this column also gives you picture of the trending rate of degradation.


  1. Test. Entering comment as some have said they were unable to save comments.

  2. Well, done Dave as per usual. It will be interesting to see how the emergence of the cheaper standard range Tesla Model 3 affects Nissan's pricing and marketing plans for the Leaf as well as how many they gear up to manufacture. Related to that will be where Nissan is with respect to the the amount of federal tax credit the Leaf will be eligible for. My wild prediction for you is that you will that the that a 200 mile plus range Korean EV is likely to be your next car or maybe a Model Y. Time will tell.

    1. Well, not sure what I will be doing although if it looks like I can get a warranty exchange on my 40 kwh LEAF, it would be a tough thing to beat financially as my residual is only $9600. That makes it far far cheaper than any other option and yeah, 150 is not 200 but at that price, I can live with it.

      But the real concern is when the free charging ends. Too many per minute fees out there means I need a faster charging car and even the 100 KW (70 KW effective) rate of the LEAF Plus would be a huge boost.

  3. Leafspy is no longer running constantly in my car.
    I never could use the braking screen with the OBD adapter that I have.
    I even forgot to make my first of the month check with Leafspy this month.

    Going from my 11-bar lease return purchase to 10 bars was somehow associated with my lessened desire to stare at Leafspy all the time.

    I lost faith in Leafspy when the numbers started changing from one version to the next, as he tried to get rid of the 100%+ readings on 30 kWh batteries.

    Now, I just drive.

    1. I only turn on LEAF Spy long enough to record battery stats every morning and during fast charges. The rest of the time, it off unless I am running an experiment.