Nissan Leaf

Yes, I’ve ordered one. I hope to get it by Christmas. The question I get most when I tell people is why? The answer is complicated but I’ll try to answer.

I’m actually an ideal candidate for an electric car. My commute is less than 20 km per day and I take trips outside the city by car very rarely (about once a year on average). For those trips I can easily borrow or rent a car. I can travel anywhere within Ottawa and return home very easily on a “tank” of electricity. That doesn’t answer “why me” though.

I just love the idea of never (well almost never) having to buy gas again. My current car takes high octane gas which has gotten considerably more expensive in the last few years. I think no one would argue that the cost of gas will continue to increase. Also, gas is a finite resource so we are going to run out at some point. How quickly that happens is a matter of debate but to me that’s unimportant. I want alternatives to be available for everyone as soon as possible.

Whether the gas we buy comes from tar sands in Alberta or an oil field in the middle east there are “issues” that result. Environmental problems and political unrest will not get any better as the price of gas goes up and the supply of the oil goes down.

What can I do to help ensure that alternatives to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be available sooner rather than later? I think by buying a Leaf I’m doing a small part to ensure that alternatives to ICE vehicles will continue to be available to everyone and that the cost of them will continue to reduce as the demand grows.

Nissan also is proud to point out that the Leaf produces zero emissions – there is no tailpipe. To me this is less of an issue but that’s probably because smog is certainly not a problem in Ottawa. That said, it is a problem globally and again, every little bit helps.

More important to me is that the Leaf requires no oil changes and the scheduled maintenance will be significantly less than that of any ICE vehicle.

Some people have said “but isn’t the price of electricity going up?” Yes it is, but the Leaf (and all electric vehicles) are so much more efficient than all ICE vehicles that the cost per km is in the area of one tenth of the cost for an ICE. The total cost to operate the Leaf will likely not offset the purchase price difference between the Leaf and a comparative vehicle FOR ME. The reason is because I do so little milage. I encourage everyone to do that calculation for yourself. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Others have asked why not a hybrid? I think hybrids are really just a stepping stone that will only be around for a short time until the public charging infrastructure grows to be plentiful. In my case I expect to make five to ten trips (once a year) in a rental/borrowed car before I will be able to drive to Montreal and stop halfway for 30 minutes to “fill up.” I really don’t need to carry around an engine in a Volt or plug-in Prius for example for the 99% of the trips where I can charge at home the night before.

It’s for all these reasons and more that I am buying a Leaf.

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