Just over a year ago, November 12, 2019 I received a call from Ray Raied Issak of Campbell Nissan of Everett WA that was more than a bit unexpected. I was entering the 20th month of my 2018 LEAF S 40's 36 month lease when I was offered the chance to upgrade to a Plus at the same monthly cost. Well, to say I thought there was a catch is a bit of an understatement but it was 50% more range, nearly double the DC charging speed so he definitely had my interest!
Now, I knew there would be a change on the backend because the Plus was simply more expensive so something had to change. My 40 kwh which I had thought about buying had a residual under $10,000 and its degradation had all but slowed to a crawl so my original 170 miles of range (Remember, YMMV) was down to around 158 to 160 miles. I could live with that. But the thought of a faster charger, the end of NCTC and the per minute billing of the day had me thinking that this was simply too good an opportunity to pass up so I resisted my knee jerk "Hell yeah" decision...and slept on it... Sleep didn't fix a thing so we set a time to swap cars.
November 16th, I jumped in my car, set the NAV for traffic issues since this would be my 3rd car from Ray and I knew the way and off I went past a half dozen LEAF dealerships to THE best LEAF salesman in the Pacific Northwest. Ray was actually the best nationwide twice...or 3 times? Either way, he is VERY good at his job!
Ok, it VERY noticeably faster than my 40 kwh LEAF to the point of being a bit scary. In a year, I have had it to the floor like 3 times and that is probably 2 times too many so if power is your thing, its got it but you probably need different tires. Ecopias simply spin too easily.
So I haven't really tested the range other than 3 times. I did one trip during Winter and although not very cold with more than half the trip in the mid 40's with only the very end dipping into the 30's, it rained nearly the entire time including some pretty good downpours. I was testing L2 chargers on the route so it was more than the normal in and out of the car which means running defrost more than usual was unavoidable but the car performed fine.
Since I stopped to charge a bunch of times even if only briefly, I can only estimate the range to be just under the EPA rating of 226 miles. I was expecting over 200 miles of range so this was a pleasant surprise. As always, YMMV and this trip was the usual minimal climate control trip as much as could be done anyway.
I did do over 272 miles with no charging stops with relative ease which is code for saying range anxiety did not play a part. The original route was about 265 but I had so much left I did some around town errands after my return with 275+ likely possible and yeah, traffic congestion played a part but that is everyday situation here with very few options to avoid it if going North.
Note; All things are relative and I recently realized when I was putting this together that my perception has changed; what used to be a road trip isn't anymore. Any trip that requires less than 30 minutes of DC charging doesn't qualify in my mind and I did quite a few trips in the 300 mile range.
It started out hot but didn't last and my relationship with Electrify America has soured considerably. They expanded well moving into 4 of my 6 desired regions but the real goldmine was the ability to pull 200 amps while paying 18 cents a minute under their $4 a month subscription plan but then the veil was removed and Electrify America was revealed for who they are; NAZI's!!
Ok...maybe that was a bit over the top but they are thinly disguised Germans pretending to be an American company. First they throttled the Chademo down to 120 amps making Webasto and Blink faster. Then they went to a ridiculous 41 cents/kwh rate which means they now occupy the same brain space as Blink and its 49 cents/kwh rates for charging options.
But it was awesome while it lasted. Getting a significant range boost in less time it took to leave some pee was totally cool! But as one fades, another emerges. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has finally decided to get serious about providing public charging services. Yeah, they have had free level 2's for a few years now but few in anything remotely resembling convenient locations and...well its level 2. Great if there are amenities or near places where business needs to be conducted which these weren't. Case in point; The free level 2 at the regional office in Olympia a few miles from my house existed for a few years before my first visit. This is a FREE station and you know me...can't leave them alone!
So it was with HUGE gratitude I plugged into PSE's new complex in Lacey and got over 200 amps! and it was at 25 cents/kwh...higher than the heyday of EA, but still quite reasonable! This was the first in a series they plan to build. We need to show some support here! Hopefully this will lead to many more locations!
Safety and Convenience
Ok, some of this was there starting in 2018 but still worth mentioning because of the seemingly huge number of LEAFers who either don't know about this or doesn't use it.
One of the best features is the TPMS screen which shows individual tire pressures on each wheel AND they are self registering. When I rotate tires, it takes a few power cycles but the new positions are recognized. Pretty cool!
Another cool perk is the steering wheel heater now has memory. Before I had to turn it on every time I got in the car. Now, it remembers its last status and repeats it. So I turn it on in November, turn it off in May. Saving the button cycle count! Keep in mind, its still on a timer so an occasional re energizing is needed. One thing I did test was letting it time out and it still came back on on the next trip!
Ok, I like Lemonade so I will start with what I like. In WA, we are blessed with the ability to support our local charging infrastructure. Every year we pay $75 to fund that endeavour. Naturally the roads also need some love so an additional $150 goes to them. Like any tax, it works better for some than others. (A glance at trump's tax returns verifies this) To this date; the charging infrastructure has seen many new stations installed so its easy to see where that money is going. So lets look at the cost of EVing Washington State.
We pay one of the highest prices for gasoline in the country so its easy to see why EVs are so popular. Having just sprung for $300 for my tabs a few weeks ago (taken from the account that was supposed to pay the sales tax on the car. FYI; got enough in there for several more years of tabs) sometimes we need to remember how it used to be.
WA bills us 51.9952 cents a gallon for gas. The feds tack on 18.4 cents which means 70.3952 cents for every gallon we buy supposedly goes to fix the roads or the same place our $150 EV tab fees supposedly goes. So why am I adding both the state and federal tax when the EV Tab is a WA thing? Well, I challenged anyone to show me how to get gas w/o having to pay both and still waiting for an answer so until that happens, we will deal in reality, not semantics.
Having a huge concern for my footprint decades before EVs started becoming mainstream, I naturally drove the car that came closest to my goals; The Prius. I got 3 of them and like my LEAFs, two of them were tax free. Hypermiling was a new term probably invented by Prius drivers chasing the 50 MPG goal which we all soon found was rather easy to achieve. Even with two highway trips to Disneyland, I had a lifetime average in my 2010 Prius just over 53 MPG. I thought it was super cheap transportation. Since I have gas receipts for the car, a "scenario" which is often tilted is not needed here. Again, reality wins. For this, we will use the last Prius owned; a 2010 Prius purchased May 13, 2009.
During my Prius' 66,000+ mile journey, I consumed 1245.78 gallons of gas costing $4096.98 or 6.2 cents per mile. Granted some of time involved was during a much more expensive time than the prices we are seeing today. Those trips to California were EXPENSIVE! and included the highest price paid @ $4.319 a gallon! A more recent example would be my Corolla that cost $1811.69 averaging 6.78 cents per mile. It did pay prices comparable to what we are seeing today including a lot of sub $2/gallon gas. Ahhh, those were the days! As long as you don't breathe too deeply... Its lifetime was 38.14 MPG. I gave it away 5 days after I picked up my 40 kwh. Yeah, it took that long to realize I didn't need it any more.
Now my Prius was around well before the $75 Hybrid tab fee was a thing so the average tab renewal was probably $80ish but only because of my "DUALPWR" custom plates. The Corolla's last tab fee was $52.75 paid December 2017.
Anyway, I felt that a per mile cost was the most equitable way of determining fuel costs. No maintenance costs are added. To make the Corolla a relatively cheap car (as cheap as you can get with a car over 230,000 miles that is) I had my Sister go thru the car and fix, update, etc. it before I gave it away and that included a badly needed new set of tires. The Prius also had a new set of tires as well. Other than a few "curb" incidences; none of my LEAFs had the burden of that expense. So that is the gas option. Under 7 cents a mile is not all that bad a deal really.
So lets look at the EV "scenario" since reality is waaaay too unfair in this analysis. For this scenario; we will toss in home rates at 2.5 cents/kwh (higher than I pay BTW) The $225 tab fee (I know only the $150 is the "fuel" thing but people will whine so...) and say $10 a month for that road trip over 300 miles. That should allow us 2-3 trips out of town per month.
So in 15,000 miles, my EV would cost
$225 for tabs
$120 for public charging
$345.75 for home charging (Public charging adjustment calculated using Electrify America's 41 cents/kwh averaging 4.0 miles/kwh)
So that is $690.75 or 4.605 cents per mile.
There you have!... "it?" Hmmm?? Ok, so EVs are cheaper but something seems "off" in this comparison... How many of you have done that radio promotion that goes something like "For the next two hours KXXX 91 on your FM dial will be selling gas for 91 cents a gallon if you pull into XX station with us playing!"
In reality, free EV charging is not uncommon and many EVers use it extensively to the point where many have no home or public charging costs. I used to be that way but the added range of the Plus has me not seeking out free charging unless its simply convenient to the day's agenda but I would feel amiss if I didn't mention it. Now, it will not be part of the "My tab fees are unfair" argument but it "is" reality...
After a year and 14,726.1 miles, my "real" cost is $141.39 cents and to be fair, that does include NCTC to Feb of this year, the $250 credit for the Plus lease and current price reduction thru EVgo to 20 cents/min until the end of the year. Include in the total above is $60.53 in public charging fees paid mostly to Electrify America. So my cost will go up on year 2. My guess; it will approach but not exceed the scenario above. Again, it won't be used as ammunition in the tab fee wars but just so you know what is possible.
Like any computer, even one on wheels, glitches are a thing and my LEAF is no different. Like several versions before, this one also redirects airflow randomly. I also notice that occasionally, my steering wheel controls for the audio system don't work. So can't change channels or adjust the volume. But then again, up until 2004, couldn't do that with any previous car I had. Like driving a stick; once you learn, you never forget so a small thing, this audio bug.
Another recurring issue is improper charge termination. This can be fixed by simply power cycling the car a few times or resetting the fault codes with LEAF Spy or disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a few seconds. Hard to blame this on the car considering the abuses public charging stations take both by EVers and outright vandalism but it happens so here it is.
Recently I had the chance to drive the most iconic LEAF in the Pacific Northwest; Steve Marsh's 100,000 2011 SL. Peppy with a new pack, I have to admit it was then that I realized two things;
The power in my Plus is EXTREME and
The seats have taken a step back. I did realize my hip issues were less the seats and more a drawback of one pedal driving. Using cruise control more (I never used it before as it is not the way for best efficiency) goes a long way towards fixing my issues but those 2011 seats were simply AWESOME!
Steering Wheel Heater
Another thing I would love to see is a high/low switch on the steering wheel heater. A lot of people didn't like it when the 2013's came out with them because they would cycle from very warm to cold. I loved the very warm part. Some thought it was hot but then again, some don't like coffee. Shocker, isn't it!! Now my steering wheel heater gets warm and stays that way...warm. So give me the "very" switch!
E Pedal has memory. In settings, we can set it so its on all the time or controlled by the switch next to the Eco button which also has memory. So why doesn't B mode have memory? I don't do D. Its too caffeinated for my tastes. I want the caffeine in me, not driving me.
I don't know what I am doing but lately it seems like I am a "distracted driver" magnet. Experiencing two very close incidents in less than a week made me realize my horn isn't cutting it. One incident had me moving over TWO lanes to avoid someone redesigning the side of my car and I had the horn "bleeping" the entire time. I began to wonder if they could even hear the horn? Expect a blog on addressing that concern.
LEAF Spy, Batteries and Degradation
Finally the BIG thing and as I frequently do, this post has rambled on way too long which means many of you won't make it this far so looks like I will have to make this a two parter.
Although I won't likely post it until tomorrow, I can tell you it is the deepest dive into LEAF Spy data I have done so if you are into that, you might like part two better.