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When ice collected inside the charge port, the connected EVSE did not delivering the expected charge. A hairdryer soon came to the rescue. (Michael Bettencourt)
When ice collected inside the charge port, the connected EVSE did not delivering the expected charge. A hairdryer soon came to the rescue. (Michael Bettencourt)

Living with the Leaf

Living with the Leaf, Part 3: Fuel bills and range anxiety Add to ...

2012 Nissan Leaf owner’s log

Electricity used January 1-Feb. 29, 2012: 636.205 kWh

Distance travelled: 1,716 km

Total cost of electricity for January and February: $73.36

Average cost per 100 km: $4.28 ($0.04275/km)

Observed maximum January-February range: 80 km

Calculated maximum range January-February: 110 km

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We’re almost through our second full month with the Nissan Leaf, and it’s good news all round: we’ve received our first electric fuel bill from Toronto Hydro, plus the provincial $8,500 rebate.

Time to start saving some money, finally, thanks to our EV’s super low fuel and maintenance costs. And not a moment too soon, as our final outlay following all taxes, options and fees was just over 40 large, not counting interest on the financed portion.

This is after the rebate, which took five and a half weeks to arrive. Nissan folks had estimated a week or so, while the Ontario Ministry of Transportation suggested three. We’d still have preferred it if our dealer had deducted the rebate at the point of sale, as it would have been had we financed or leased through Nissan, but the paperwork is relatively painless to fill out and submit.

If the post-rebate $40,650 Leaf price sounds high, it’s worth noting that almost every automotive review story in any publication lists MSRP prices that don’t include taxes and freight. Although we here at Globe Drive try to include freight in our as-tested prices whenever we can, often those figures often aren’t provided. As for taxes, they vary by province, so in this case, the combination of 13 per cent HST on the car plus the $1,895 freight worked to basically wipe out the provincial $8,500 rebate.

Along with our EV’s separate fuel bill, we also receive a special electricity use report for December and January. It tells us that we used $22.62 of electricity in January to power our Leaf over 998 km. That works out at about two cents per kilometre, or roughly 87 per cent less than what we were paying per month in gas last year for my wife’s daily commute to work, in a similarly sized and relatively fuel efficient four-cylinder Pontiac Vibe.

Through to the fourth week of February, the Leaf’s Carwings telematics system tells us that we’re “burning” electricity at a rate of 3.6 km/kWh, and used 156.4 kWh to travel 585.4 km. The exact price of this juice will depend on whether it was consumed at peak, mid-peak or off-peak hours.

Our electricity report shows that for our first full month with it, just over three-quarters of our charging was done at off-peak hours – overnight and on weekends – with about an even split of mid- and peak-time charging.

For the first couple of weeks, we didn’t use the charge timer, as we were comforted by the knowledge that if the Leaf was plugged in, it was charging. With the Green Goddess arriving home most days around 6 pm after her 25 km round-trip commute, that meant an hour of peak charging per day at a dirt-cheap-next-to-gas 10.8 cents per kWh, but well above the 9.2 cent/kWh mid-peak price, and both notably higher than the 6.7 cent off-peak rate. Most overnight charges are so far costing us about 54 cents.

That’s a massive cost saving, even in comparison to the most fuel-efficient hybrid or diesel-powered car. And every time fuel prices rise, so do your savings.

It’s caused us to take more interest in when we’re paying the most for electricity too – mostly for cost reasons, but also environmental ones. Off-peak electricity in Ontario is much cleaner than peak power, with only a small percentage of night-time power coming from coal-fired plants, by far the most carbon intensive way to generate electricity.

And now the range question. After a full night’s charge on our 240 volt EVSE, the prominent range estimator suggests 145 to 160 km is possible, which instantly turns into about 110 to 140 km of driving once we turn on the climate control and drive to the end of the block.

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