I got lucky and was picked to test a Nissan Leaf for 3 days. I was already interested in this car due to the 4% tax for private use of a company car. So in 2018 the Dutch rules are rather simple: all cars are 22% unless they are full electric. So a full electric car is attractive due to the low additional tax liability.
For instance, a Ford Focus is about € 28.000,-. Take 22% (€ 6.160,-) and multiply your tax scale. For easy calculation, take half. That’s what it costs you a year. So that’s 3k.
A Leaf is about € 40.000,-. Take 4% (€ 1.600,-) take half and that’s € 800,-. So a car that’s about 10k more, costs you € 2.200,- less a year.
That is what makes the Leaf a good company car.
I only googled it once, so I had never seen a Leaf in real life, but my first impression was: looks good! The trunk had more space then I expected (coming from a station car). It even seemed that the backseat had more leg space then my current car. The test car came with seat heating, steering wheel heating, climate control etc. It has great features. I really liked the adaptive cruise control on the highway and all the cameras while parking.
No noise! It’s obvious of course, but at some points while driving, you actually notice that there is no engine sound and it is strange at the beginning. Probably because you are used to the sound for all your life.
This was also the first car that had a DAB radio. While driving, I noticed that the coverage of digital radio is not great yet in the Netherlands. So you notice the switch/fallback between digital and analogue radio. It even has a partial replay of the sound when switching. I don’t know much about the technical details, but perhaps they can fix it with some software? Would be nice.
The handbrake is a pedal… This was new for me. I have seen cars that had a small switch on the place where the normal handbrake was. Like a VW Golf. It’s rather common. The pedal can be confusing when you are not used to automatic gears and you think you need to hit a clutch. This did not happen thankfully.
It’s really a joy to drive one. You only have to get used that you do not put your feet down instant when you want to accelerate. With great power comes great responsibility. So accelerate gently. It’s better for the battery, but more important your co-drivers.
The E-pedal, it’s great, it’s true
This might sound like an expression that could be made by the current president of the USA, but it’s not. Some people can’t get used to the e-pedal so there is a button to opt-out, but I love it! Coming from driving stick, you have 3 pedals. Driving automatic has 2 pedals and this e-pedal makes sure that you don’t even need the brake. You can brake by gently lifting your feet from the gas. This is for real
lazy effective people. Like software developers. Like me.
This is the tricky part. This is the biggest change. Having the car for 3 days gave me the opportunity to charge it. Regular test drives take only 30 minutes so that you can never experience the full electric-car-experience. My first charge was with a normal plug in a power outlet in my garage. It’s not fast, but I just wanted to experience it and it’s the easiest option for me to charge it. There are public locations to charge electric cars within about 100 meters from my house.
I got a special card (NFC?) to charge it. It was a New Motion one. Their website is really nice. You can use this slightly hidden gem https://my.newmotion.com/ to see the locations across Europe. Living in the Netherlands seems perfect for an electric car owner.
If you like speed, like me, you want to use a fast charger. So I checked out the fastned website.
They even have 4 locations in the Netherlands with a 175kW connection at the moment. So I always thought that if an electric car had the fast charging capability that it would charge to 80% of the battery in about 20 minutes. That’s not true. #fakenews The Nissan Leaf can “fast” charge to 80% in between 40 – 60 minutes. There is this news item from about a month ago that there is a fast charging issue with the Leaf.
I fast charged it at the A12 and tried to use the card which failed. It appeared that I needed a FastNed account. Because the card was not linked yet. I have read about sharing a card/account. It comes down to the fact that your card needs to be linked. Several people before me tested the car and card, but apparently I was the first to use the card for FastNed. I needed to install an app from either the Google play or Apple app store. I have a Windows 10 Mobile phone…. So luckily my codriver had an iPhone and was willing to install the app and create an account on my name, on his phone, with the card which came with the car. That’s suboptimal, but it worked. The lady on the FastNed customer service was patience and helped us out great. She explained that this was the only way and told us that the car would charge up to 80% in 20 minutes (because it was not completely empty).
It was a nice experience which you would not get when you would try out an electric car at the dealer. In a 30 minutes test-drive you cannot have a full electric driving experience. So I am grateful that I could test it for several days. Because if I would pick this car. I will have to drive it for about 5 years.
A few years back there was this Dutch news about someone who had the previous Nissan Leaf and sued Nissan for having a battery that would degrade in capacity and could not get the mileage that they advertise with. I understand that batteries have less capacity in cold weather. Heating the car drains it faster and driving over 100 km/h drains it even more. The range is important to me because I have family living about an hour away.
A small side note I found on zap-zap.com the regular charging method has a cap at 6.6 kW/h so if your location has 10, 11, 22 or even 43. It’s capped at 6.6 kW.
I checked it out after the test drive but there are some differences between the current range tests of electric cars as you can see here:
I drove a Connecta I think. So you can see that according to some tests it’s range is between 270 and 390 km that has a 120 km gap! I drove on the highway, some parts even 130 km/h and had my family in it. It was hot, so the air-conditioning was on. And on a single trip of 84 km the FastNed app predicted (I had to select the type of car) that it would use over 50% of the battery.
My goal was to check if I could drive it like I would normally drive a petrol car and see if I could make it back home without charging. If I would pull it of and have sufficient battery left, I’d choose this car. But as I said before, batteries degrade over time and have less capacity in cold weather. There is no data yet about the degradation of electric car batteries, only from Tesla. But I can imagine that in 5 years, in a winter with the heating on I would have to charge a lot in order to get back home.
It’s a great car. Loved to drive it! But due to the current range, it’s just not for me (yet). I have heard about a 60kW battery, which makes it more interesting for me. But that version is not yet available. So is the Tesla model 3. So I will have to stick to petrol for at least a year.
I would like to thank Riemersma Leasing and Nissan Nederland for making this possible. They really gave me the possibility to fully experience driving the new and amazing Nissan Leaf! I really recommend the car (if you have relatives living closer).