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paulgipe
Gold Member
Posts: 191
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:23 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Oct 2014
Leaf Number: 311200
Location: Bakersfield, CA 93305
Contact: Website

Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:06 pm

We leased a 2015 Nissan Leaf in late 2014. This was our first electric vehicle (EV). We liked the car, but we returned it to Nissan when the lease expired. We've now leased a Chevy Bolt. Why we did so is explained below.

We leased the Leaf model S, the cheapest of the Nissan Leaf line. We opted for the DC Fast Charge port so we could take the car on road trips. And we did. We drove our Leaf, EVie we called it, all across southern California. We've documented these road trips and our experiences on my web site at EV Trip Reports.

We didn't baby the car. We drove it like we would drive any car. We wanted to see what it was like to drive electric and then report on the pros and cons to others. It was much like my testing of small wind turbines. I'd report on the car, warts and all.

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However, we didn't want to own the car. The range was too limited to begin with and coupled with the degradation of the car's traction battery in the three years we drove it made three of the four routes out of Bakersfield problematic. We lost 15% of capacity in three years or some 12 miles of range in a car with an EPA range of 84 miles. The decline in battery capacity required us to charge the Leaf every couple days just to drive it around Bakersfield.

Below are some specific comments about the Leaf. These comments reflect both our general observations and an implied comparison with our Chevy Volt, our new Chevy Bolt, and previous cars we've owned.

As you will see, we were satisfied with the car--as a car--and with Nissan. We had no issues with the car or with Nissan. The lease of the car was painless. We leased it by mail order. See Buying an Electric Vehicle Mail Order: Or Why we bought our Leaf from Petaluma and Not Bakersfield. We took the car in to the dealer only once and all they did was wash it.

Driving and Handling

We liked the way the Leaf drove. It had plenty of acceleration for us. We liked the way the Leaf handled. (My sports car days ended when I left my MGB in the hands of my brother.) For example, we found the Leaf's handling far superior to our Toyota Prius on the drive up the sinuous Kern Canyon. The low center-of-gravity of the Leaf was a big plus and is probably something you can expect from most EVs. We had no complaints.

Ingress & Egress

We found the Leaf easy to get into and easy to get out of particularly in comparison to the Chevy Volt's cramped cockpit. I am more conscious of this than I used to be. I had back surgery in 2016 and that changes how you perceive getting into and out of cars.

Passenger Compartment & Trunk

We found the Leaf's passenger compartment and trunk spacious.

The instruments were clear and easy to read. The driver's position was good for seeing the road and the instrument cluster. The S model's instrumentation was basic, but included a State-of-Charge meter that's a valuable addition to any electric car. General Motors, Chevy's parent company, would be wise to note this.

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We liked the position of the digital speedometer above the instrument cluster. It was easy to read without taking your eyes off the road.

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We liked the simple mechanical controls for the radio and climate control system. The radio was controlled with two knobs. One knob tuned the radio. The other knob turned the radio on and off and controlled the volume. This may seem like a small thing and it is--unless you find yourself in a car, as the Bolt, without such simple controls.

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The appointments were in keeping with the low-end model of the Leaf line. There was nothing about the interior that one could label "fancy" or extravagant. The recycled materials used in the seats were comfortable and fit our lifestyle. The floor mats were plush and suffered little from three years of use.

Charging Port

Nissan's center snout charge port is an inspired choice relative to other EVs. The Leaf is, after all, not a gasser so it doesn’t use the same infrastructure as gasoline-powered cars. Most Level 2 charging stations are at the end of a parking space, not at islands as gasoline pumps are. With the Leaf we just simply parked nose in. Contrast this to what you see at some charge stations with vehicles backing in to get their charge ports close enough so the charge cable can reach the charge port. There's no need to design an EV to use the same infrastructure as conventional vehicles. Nissan got this right.

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Tires

We kept the tires well inflated at 40 psi. Even so we noted some wear on the front set and had the tires rotated once in the three years of the lease. We didn't need to replace the tires after driving some 17,000 miles.

Range and Range Degradation

Early adopters of EVs, like us, had to deal with limited range and limited charging stations—or the small gas tank and few gas stations dilemma. Our road trips required careful planning, conservative driving, and not a little bit of luck that the charge station we needed wasn't occupied--and was working. As Tony Williams, a pilot and early EV pioneer, likes to say, "You plan the drive, and drive the plan."

We made the 84-mile range of the Leaf work for us. We learned how to hypermile during some tense early drives. We also learned patience. If you wanted to climb over the Tejon or Tehachapi passes to get out of the San Joaquin Valley you learned how to drive comfortably in the truck lane in the midst of a long line of trucks moving at their crawl speed.

But Bakersfield is hot--blazing hot at times. The early Leaf's battery was heat sensitive and degraded rapidly in places like Phoenix, Arizona. By the 2015 model, Nissan was using what the message boards called the "lizzard" battery. It performed much better than earlier batteries, but it too suffered degradation.

We received delivery of the car in late October 2014. We don't know what the usable capacity of the traction battery was at the time of delivery. We only began measuring the battery's stats in late August 2015 with Leaf Spy. At that time the battery had 22.2 kWh of capacity. When we returned the car in November 2017 the battery had degraded more than three kWh or nearly 15%. Lithium-ion batteries are expected to degrade over time. However, a degradation of 5% per year is excessive under moderate use.

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We "lost our first bar," Nissan's measure of battery degradation, just before we turned the car in.

2017 Leaf & Leaf 1.5


Nissan was promising a new, improved Leaf sometime in 2018. This new Leaf would have a bigger battery and greater range. The message boards were calling this "Leaf 2.0."

In the meantime, Nissan was continuing to sell its "30 kWh" Leaf as it switched over to the new model. This is a slightly improved version of the car we leased.

Nissan is playing catch up. Chevy introduced its Bolt EV in late 2016. The Bolt uses a 60 kWh traction battery with an EPA range of nearly 240 miles. The battery and its range put Chevy's Bolt in Tesla territory.

We decided to wait on leasing a new car until the dust settled. So we extended our lease with Nissan. Our hope was that Nissan would offer something competitive with Chevy's Bolt. We were happy with the Leaf.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed by Nissan's great "reveal" of the new Leaf. Nissan wouldn't compete with Chevy's Bolt on range until 2019. Some were calling the new Leaf "1.5" to indicate it wasn't quite the upgrade many had expected.

Worse, reports were beginning to appear on the message boards that the 30 kWh Leafs were seeing far worse degradation than we had experienced with our 2015 Leaf.

Then Nissan announced the sale of its battery plants to a Chinese combine. This was probably a wise move on Nissan's part. Something was not right with Nissan's batteries. Nevertheless, it's hard for customers to read the corporate tea leaves and determine what that means for cars produced in 2018 or even 2019. That's when we decided to bail on Nissan and move to the Bolt. That Congress was threatening to remove the federal subsidies for EVs didn't help matters either. Yes, it's unlikely, but we'd already reached the conclusion that we wouldn't be leasing any early Leaf 1.5s. There was nothing to be gained by waiting longer.

We leased a Bolt LT, Chevy's base model, on 9 November 2017 and turned in the Leaf the next day.

We've already started planning some road trips.

This article appears on my web site at www.wind-works.org.
Bakersfield, California
2017 Bolt LT with DCFC, leased 11/09/17
2015 Nissan S with QC, leased, returned 11/10/17
2013 Chevy Volt Premium, bought used 10/3/16
L2; ClipperCreek HCS-40; EVSEUpgrade; Jesla; JDapter Stub
http://www.wind-works.org

Evoforce
Posts: 658
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:58 pm
Delivery Date: 28 Feb 2015
Location: Fountain Hills Arizona

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:25 am

Very nice review of your journey and what lead you to your decision making. Good luck with your Bolt!
*2011 Leaf 1 bought 2/28/15 @ 28,000ish mi 10 bar (8 bars @ 11/25/15 @ 37,453 ) (New lizard @ 39,275 mi @ 1/20/2016) Now 52,166 mi.
*Tesla Model S 61,000 mi
*2011 Leaf 2 bought 4/28/15 @ 24,000ish mi 12 bar (new lizard Dec. 2014 @ 22,273 mi) Now 35,485 mi

powersurge
Posts: 770
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:24 am
Delivery Date: 06 Dec 2014
Location: Long Island, NY

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:53 am

This review is from a man who leased his vehicle, and is off to his next "latest and greatest" adventure. His review is basically a review of what we already know about the Leaf, and in my opinion, his "cons" of losing 15% range on the car is not a valid negative. Someone who owns the car would have a very different opinion, as the car is useful for a much longer period of time.

If the user needs to drive 70 miles nonstop before charging, as the battery decreases, the car will not be able to make the full trip... That is not a negative of the car, but an unrealistic expectation of the user when he originally bought the vehicle.

Also, the poster appeared to complain that he was inconvenienced in needing to charge the car every few days.... Is that unreasonable??

Anyway, I really am annoyed that so many people try to write "reviews", viewing the Leaf as a consumer item, like a TV or camera. The Leaf is a marvel of technology, and has its limitations, one of which is "old age", like us all. So is it a negative that a 50 year old cannot run 5 miles as fast as a 22 year old? No, it is what would be expected.

Durandal
Posts: 315
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:55 am
Delivery Date: 22 Sep 2016
Leaf Number: 025018
Location: Central Arkansas

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 6:51 am

powersurge wrote:This review is from a man who leased his vehicle, and is off to his next "latest and greatest" adventure. His review is basically a review of what we already know about the Leaf, and in my opinion, his "cons" of losing 15% range on the car is not a valid negative. Someone who owns the car would have a very different opinion, as the car is useful for a much longer period of time.
.

If someone hadn't spent a bit of time researching the battery degradation issue of the Nissan Leaf, they wouldn't know that they would lose 15% of their range in a 3 year period. I doubt that the original owner of my 2012 Leaf knew that it would lose 32% of range in a 5 year period either. Before I bought it, there were two owners prior who owned the vehicle one month and two months respectively, making me the 4th owner.

I don't think that these people had unrealistic expectations of what to expect from a vehicle, it's just that the Leaf failed to meet standard expectations. Even someone such as myself, who researched the Leaf ahead of time, I have ended up disappointed in the usability of my Leaf, mostly because of standard usage that I could accomplish if the Leaf still had its original range. Yes, I knew it would lose range, but certain things like no longer having access to a charging station at work are things that are beyond my control. (Trying repeatedly with my employer to get the charging stations turned on in our parking deck. They're worried about the $30/mo in electricity...)

When the 150 mile range Leaf loses 32% of its range in a 5-6 year period like my Leaf, will people be OK with losing 50 miles of range in their vehicle? I am sure they're very glad they leased instead of purchasing. We should be glad that the experience with the Leaf didn't turn them off from pure BEVs for good. For myself, I'm glad I bought my used 2012 Leaf, because it means someone else took the $28,000 depreciation on it, and I got to get my feet wet with a BEV. I would be absolutely livid if I had bought this 2012 Leaf brand new.
Pulled the trigger on going EV on 10/2016 with a 2012 Leaf, and a Tesla Model 3 reservation expected to receive in June 2018.

AndyH
Posts: 6329
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:43 pm
Location: San Antonio

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 1:47 pm

The range loss is exactly why I cancelled my LEAF order and grabbed my smart. In three years of routing charging to 100% and driving it hard in the 'moderate climate' of San Antonio, I've lost no range. Yes, lithium batteries age. Yes, aging is greatly accelerated by heat. And yes, we knew before Nissan launched the LEAF that all it took to keep a battery happy summer or winter was moving conditioned air through the battery. Hybrids have been doing from the beginning. Yes, liquid heating/cooling is better, but conditioned air would be good enough. Not opting for active thermal management of the battery pack is where Nissan continues to err.
"The stupid become extinct."-Bill Mollison

2015 smart Electric Drive "The Bumblebee"
OpenEVSE Plus DIY

Leaver
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2017 10:21 pm
Delivery Date: 17 Sep 2017

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 9:34 pm

Thanks so much for the great review of your experiences and thoughts. I, for one, very much value the time and effort you put into sharing your experiences. I am probably a couple years away from making a decision on another EV, so I'm watching with interest to see what Nissan and others come up with. I am very intrigued by the Bollinger B1. I love the simplicity, and no frills design, (I hate all of the tech that seems to be the default and expected in EVs). The biggest question is, will it be anywhere near affordable?

Many thanks again for taking the time.

erco
Posts: 64
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:32 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:08 pm

Paul:

Thanks for your very objective and informative article. Sounds like you were a well-informed customer from start to finish of your Leaf lease. I'm brand new to the EV world and I value all opinions and input, especially those from experienced users like yourself. Enjoy that Bolt!
Ocean Blue 2014 S, 3.6kW OBC, no QC, purchased 10/21/17, 12 bars, Los Angeles

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abasile
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Posts: 1922
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:49 am
Delivery Date: 20 Apr 2011
Location: Arrowbear Lake, CA

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:28 pm

Congratulations to the OP on acquiring a long range EV! Good timing, considering the uncertainty about the federal EV tax credit.

AndyH wrote:Not opting for active thermal management of the battery pack is where Nissan continues to err.

The rapid degradation is probably a combination of that and not having a great battery chemistry.

I'm guessing that Nissan is going to use active thermal management in the 2019 LEAF packs.
2011 LEAF at 71K miles, pre-owned 2012 Tesla S 85 at 98K miles
LEAF battery: 9/12 bars and < 49 Ah (-28% vs. new)
Tesla battery: 250+ miles of range (-5% vs. new)

GRA
Posts: 7584
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:49 pm
Location: East side of San Francisco Bay

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:26 pm

abasile wrote:Congratulations to the OP on acquiring a long range EV! Good timing, considering the uncertainty about the federal EV tax credit.

AndyH wrote:Not opting for active thermal management of the battery pack is where Nissan continues to err.

The rapid degradation is probably a combination of that and not having a great battery chemistry.

I'm guessing that Nissan is going to use active thermal management in the 2019 LEAF packs.

If LG Chem provides the packs as they do with the Bolt I'd say that's likely, but if Nissan just buys the cells and designs their own packs, who knows?
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

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paulgipe
Gold Member
Posts: 191
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2014 4:23 pm
Delivery Date: 20 Oct 2014
Leaf Number: 311200
Location: Bakersfield, CA 93305
Contact: Website

Re: Why We Moved to a Chevy Bolt from a Nissan Leaf

Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:10 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments. I've earned a lot from this forum and have tried to make a contribution.

I don't earn enough to use the tax credit. I'd be a fool to buy. That's why we leased. At first I was angry. We buy our cars. We never finance them. From this forum I learned leasing made sense. I am glad we leased. ;)

Paul
Bakersfield, California
2017 Bolt LT with DCFC, leased 11/09/17
2015 Nissan S with QC, leased, returned 11/10/17
2013 Chevy Volt Premium, bought used 10/3/16
L2; ClipperCreek HCS-40; EVSEUpgrade; Jesla; JDapter Stub
http://www.wind-works.org

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