Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

The Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. (Michael Bettencourt/Michael Bettencourt for The Globe and Mail)
The Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. (Michael Bettencourt/Michael Bettencourt for The Globe and Mail)

Living with the Leaf

Living with the Leaf, Part 4: Spring sees a budding improvement in range Add to ...

2012 Nissan Leaf owner’s log

  • Electricity used in March: 148.3 kWh (153.876 adj.)
  • Current mileage: 3,046 km
  • Total cost of electricity for March: (est.) $30.32; (updated February: $33.97)
  • Average cost per 100 km: (est.) $2.48 ($0.02477/km)
  • Observed maximum March range: 102 km
  • Estimated maximum March range: 140 km

Extra warm temperatures in March prompted extra warm feelings for our all-electric Nissan Leaf, as we watched our range jump up, our electricity usage (and therefore costs) go down, and gas prices continue to climb. We could now leave the Leaf parked in our driveway for two or three nights in a row, unplugged, without worrying about running out of juice for the next day’s commute and errands.

More related to this story

This became especially handy when the Green Goddess fractured her left foot. She needed to wear a big ski boot-like brace for six weeks. In our relatively narrow single-car garage, this made squeezing out the door from the driver’s seat a little tough, so leaving the Leaf outside was a welcome option.

Granted, that meant that we stuck with 100 per cent charges every night. Nissan says this is fine for the battery, but may degrade its longevity over time. Instead, they recommend charging to 80 per cent.

With the warming temperatures, it was nice to see a full charge promise 160+ km regularly – even 181 km one morning!

We had no battery-depleting, nail-biting close calls this month. Our furthest observed distance on a charge was just over 100 km, and two bars left on the display promised another 44 km. We wanted to keep going, but suspected we’d need more than that the following day.

Meanwhile, excited tales of 140+ km drives started appearing online from Canadian Leaf owners, many of whom also received their Leafs in the depths of winter. As usual, how fast you drive make a huge difference to the overall range, with max range coming from folks who rarely strayed over 90 km/h.

Among Leaf owners, you’re an aggressive driver if you do 120 km/h on the highway with the heat on. Not sure when the Canadian actuarial tables will catch up, but in the U.S., some insurance companies already offer discounts for EV drivers.

As I found out while writing the last Leaf update, driving an electric car also means learning much more about your electricity bill. Toronto Hydro's advertised electricity rates were used for the Leaf's energy consumption calculations, but these rates did not include HST and other special charges on Toronto Hydro bills – for example, a debt retirement and regulatory charges, among others. These charges are added to Toronto Hydro's stated off-peak, mid-peak and peak electricity prices of 6.7, 9.2 and 10.8 cents, respectively, making the actual prices currently closer to 12.1, 15.5 and 17.3 cents per kWh.

For this month’s figures, these other costs, delivery fees and taxes have been added, to make costs as representative as possible. The figures also include the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (the 10 per cent McGuinty discount) that’s applied to all Ontario electricity bills, a discount set to run until Jan. 1, 2016.

As announced in the recent Ontario budget, if your household or business uses over 3,000 kWh a month, you’ll lose that 10 per cent discount on energy over that threshold. But even though we plugged in the Leaf regularly for my wife’s normal commuting – in addition to a Chevrolet Volt press car that I tried to run exclusively on electricity for a week and our normal home rates – we still didn’t surpass the 1,500 kWh mark for the month.

On a percentage basis, over the past three months, the Leaf has added between 21 and 24 per cent to our overall electricity bill. We’re expecting that number to drop in the spring and fall, and are curious to find out whether A/C degrades range in the summer as much as heat does in the winter.

What that Volt press car unfortunately did was slightly inflate the electricity cost figures above, as someone forgot to leave the 110V plug-in connector in it, so we had to plug it in using our wall-mounted 220V EVSE.

Sure, to keep our Leaf electricity cost calculations pure, we could have run the Volt on just (premium) fuel. But if you’re going to drive a Volt, or any plug-in car, the 80 to 90 per cent savings on fuel when running on electricity is hard to ignore.

Single page

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Drive

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories