Nissan LEAF FAQ (My Answers)

Originally published on CleanTechnica

leaf_charging_whiteAs I slow to a stop at an EV charger, someone walking by the LEAF takes a long look at the EV and what I am doing. I see the quizzical bubbles of questions popping. The questions people ask about the Nissan LEAF at a charging station have me falling into conversation. I love being the messenger in this circumstance — and see the person glimpse into the possibility of their EV future. The questions may become plans to test drive, I hope.

Yes, I want everyone to be an EV driver (unless they are an active pedestrian or bicyclist). And some are drawn in … as their curiosity becomes a genuine interest.

By now, many people have heard about electric cars — at least Teslas. They are not sure about the Nissan LEAF. I love answering the questions and seeing them burst into light bulbs of possibilities for their future.

I find myself talking about EVs, clean air, savings … and I want to say that they owe it to their grandchildren. At least once or twice a week these conversations take place.

The various questions people ask:

1. How much does it cost to charge?
… (answer) — $1. Last month. I drove out of town for a couple of days where I used charging stations in other cities and I had to pay a little bit — approximately $1.

2. You mean that it has no gas in it ever? No oil change?
… (answer) — That’s right. Only a battery. The LEAF only requires charging. No oil change. No gas in the clean-air car.

3. “How far can you get on a charge?”
…(answer) — Varies with how I drive. In town in “ECO,” the LEAF does quite well recharging some of the range that I lose. If I speed up or travel on highways where I drive faster, the charge dissipates quickly. I take a break, eat, and have a walk while recharging on longer trips.

I invite them over to listen as I start the EV.

8712854918_841b19332d_q4. “It’s on? No sound at all?”
… No sound. (The conversation shifts to the ups and downs of quiet cars. Most people seem intrigued with the idea of less noise.)

5. “Can you charge at home?”
… Yes.

6. Are enough charging spots around?
… Yes, for sure. From Tampa to Naples, there are plenty of charging stations — even a free fast charger.

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14 thoughts on “Nissan LEAF FAQ (My Answers)

  1. Does Leaf have radiator? SparkEV (and Tesla) has radiator for motor, battery and something else. They need flushing every 90K miles. I know Leaf doesn’t have radiator for battery, but what of the motor and others?

    SparkEV has fake noise generator that makes whooshing sound when in R, D, L. Leaf is silent, but not all EV are, thanks to some stupid rules that may be coming.

    1. I have a LEAF. If it has a radiator I haven’t seen it. And it strikes me as illogical. A radiator is after all a device for dumping heat. EVs are very efficient, so there’s not really that much heat to get rid of, so I didn’t think a radiator would be necessary.

      It does have air intakes and ducts for cooling the motor and driveline. But no radiator.

      1. EVs are efficient, but when you have 105 kW motor thats 90% efficient, you’re still talking about over 10 kW that has to be dissipated, enough to melt steel. For high power density motors and battery, I think liquid cooling is most efficient (requires radiator).

        To keep the battery at constant temperature, liquid cooling is best, hence the need for a radiator. Liquid cooling has high heat capacity in that it’s not likely to change temperature rapidly. And if you’re going to have a radiator for the battery anyway, it doesn’t take much to add liquid cooled motor to use the same radiator.

        Simplicity of air cooling is good for low power motor; less stuff to go wrong. But for EV that’s subject to variety of temperatures, liquid cooling would be best (essential) in keeping the battery at reasonable temperature.

      2. I did a quick google search, and Leaf does have a radiator. As Ben pointed out, inverter needs cooling as well as the on-board charger, so radiator is a must. It seems the most important part of the EV (battery) is not liquid cooled with Leaf, but others parts are. That’s a shame.

    1. Not THAT rare.

      Everyone I know who drive an EV has used fast chargers – we had a need for it. Many need them at least once a month, most months of the year. A few need them daily.

      To call that irrelevant is like saying antibiotics are irrelevant because it’s rare that anyone really needs them. Maybe it is rare, I have needed them much less than once a year so far in my life. Yet there’s a rally good chance I’d be dead if not for penicillin.

      1. I’ve never needed to use public charging in 18 months with a Leaf. I have used them because they were free, but I didn’t need it to get home. Eight months with the Model S, I’ve used Superchargers on a 1,200-mile road trip, but I *really* don’t need public charging for that car. My pool of friends that collectively own 4 Leafs and 2 Teslas concur. That’s my anecdote, but I think the larger concern that there has to be all of this infrastructure is the fringe case, not the norm.

    2. For low range EV and degraded battery, charging station use would be more often. Consider 200 miles range EV with 40% degradation (roughly warranty limit). That would be 55 miles radius from home (120 miles total, 10 mile for margin), not enough to cover many destinations even within the city. Today’s 80 miles range EV with DCFC (fast charge) would have more utility than 200 miles range EV without DCFC.

        1. Lots of people drive low range EV. With public fast charger, the range of those EV are about 300 miles per day with some pain. Considering weekend jaunts of 120 miles are not uncommon, 1 out of 7 is about 15%, or 30% if 2 per week. That’s pretty significant.

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