Why Leaf?

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New member
Nov 20, 2012
My name is Tim. I'm currently searching for a new economic family car and I'm choosing between Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius. It looks like they both have their certain advantages, but I've never had an electric or hybrid car before, soI don't really know what to look at. At the certain point I like Nissan Leaf more, but maybe real owners of Leaf could tell me why you actally bought it? Why you think it stands out? And maybe any insights on it as owners? I would really appreciate if you could express your opinions and help me make my final decision. Thanks.
Well, being that I have had plenty of Prius's before, and a Leaf I guess that makes me qualified to answer. The Prius is a fine automobile, very reliable, very economical to drive. For anyone with long commutes or who cannot live with the limited range of the Leaf, a Prius or Volt is usually my suggestion.

I like the Leaf better over the Prius primarily because I literally NEVER have to buy gasoline. I hate going to the gas station. Not only does it cost money but it is inconvenient. After driving a Leaf for a while, the idea of going to a gas station to fuel up seems about as stupid and stone-age as using a film-camera and taking your film down to get developed. While it may have seemed normal in the 1980's, it seems stupid now. That is how I feel about buying gas.

I also like how clean the Leaf is. It is so quiet and I never have to worry about messing with changing nasty, smelly fluids or having oil drip on the floor of my garage only to pour kitty litter on it.

I love the lack of vibration. Getting into a gasoline car, even a new one, feels like I'm riding in stone-age technology. Even our Volt produces this feeling when the gas engine kicks in on rare occasion. We can't wait to charge it back up so we don't have to have the engine running.

Of course, I love high tech cars. That is why I had the Prius before the Leaf. It is plenty high-tech and a hybrid feels much more like a Leaf than most other gasoline cars, but still can't reach that level of satisfaction for me.

Reasons to buy:

No gas, period. Car is only an around town commuter. My range on full charge has been 70-80 miles.

Do you have a second car for long trips?

Lease rates are great at this time and you will get the $7500 government rebate applied as your down payment. If you buy, the $7500. rebate gets claimed by you on the next year's tax filing but, if your total tax liability is less than $7500, you will not get the difference as a rebate. If you want to buy, lease, make a couple of payments and then go back to dealer and let them know you want to purchase the vehicle. This way, your 7500 has been applied in full and don't have to worry about losing part of it potentially on your next year's tax returns.

So states, cities, counties have additional rebates on top of the 7500 government rebate.

Where do you live, some people in Texas and Arizona have had reduced range in the battery as a result of extreme daily heat temperatures.

Range anxiety will disappear after a couple of weeks of driving the Leaf and knowing how far it will get you based on your driving habits. Driving under 60mph is your friend. Perhaps try to have the dealer loan you one overnight to do a sample daily drive or rent one locally.

Once you have one, you will NEVER look back. Did I say no maintenance pretty much other than rotating tires.

Ian B
Too simple a question. Anyone who is considering a LEAF needs to do their homework carefully. Don't get me wrong, I love mine and I'm happy to tell everyone how great it is, but there are limitations that are unique to a fully electric vehicle and no one should pull the trigger without fully understanding them.
Three simple questions:

1) Can your commuting needs (or another family member's) be predictably met within a 50 mile range most days?
2) Are you a multi-car household so you have access to another car for those times 50 miles isn't enough?
3) Do you live in a single family home or other situation where you have control over your parking space to install the EVSE?

If you answer yes to all three, you'll probably be very happy with the Leaf, particularly if you lease it on one of the great deals out there so your monthly outlay is mostly offset by gas savings. If the answer to any of those questions is no, you might still enjoy having a Leaf, but it's going to be more of a project.
get a leaf, you will love it.
so will your wife.

i am as lazy as you are.
you want to provide us some details: where you live, your commute, number of cars, single family home where you can install a charger.
you know...help us out if you want our help.

also, you might want to read some of the threads that have already addressed this issue and demonstrate some involvement with targeted questions.
I dont mean to be rude....but really.

apologies, if none of this occurred to you. hope this helps.
You may want to do your home work regarding electric usage before investing in a Leaf.
What impact will an E car have on your monthly bill..?

Don't get caught off-guard by not knowing how much the extra electricity can cost you.!

In my area the power company will charge their users many times the cost per kilo watt hour if you go over the average residential base line. This is know as tier usage from one all the way up to tier five which is almost 5 times the cost. I called my power company and they were well aware of the Leaf and its power consumption factored for x miles average per day and for me, they predicted about $30 more per month and since I have solar its even less than that.

So depending on where you live this can vary significantly.
Here's how I answered in another venue:

You've heard EV's are very cheap to operate. True. And that they are expensive. Also true. If lowest total cost of ownership is your goal, nothing can beat a good used car with conventional engine, reasonably small, reasonably high gas mileage, and reasonably good repair history. Nothing that is except a bicycle and/or a transit pass.

So if you're looking then probably lowest TCO isn't your top goal. Maybe you're concerned for the world's climate, for your city's air quality, for the economic and/or military security of reducing foreign oil imports, for your ability to get around in the event of oil supply disruptions, or you like being among the first to try out the New Thing.

First step, characterize your driving pattern in terms of both average daily distance and variability. You can use this to estimate how various cars would work for you. Most Americans greatly overestimate how many miles they drive (probably because we sit so long in our cars while stopped in traffic). If you drive less than 60 miles a day (22,000 miles per year) with very little day to day variation then a Leaf could work well for you. If you drive less than 40 miles a day (15,000 miles per year - still higher than the average American) then a Volt could run almost entirely on electricity.

You may have read Nissan's advertising that the Leaf's range is 100 miles. Yes there are test cycles for which it goes 100 miles or farther. I could probably drive mine over 100 miles - around in circles in my neighborhood at 30 MPH. But the fact is if I'm going 100 miles then I'm driving on the freeway where the slow lane goes at the speed limit of 65 MPH and the other lanes go faster. For combined city/highway driving the EPA's estimate of 73 miles is pretty close.

Variability is as important as distance. Even with an average of only 15 miles a day, if you fairly often have 80 mile days then a Leaf might not work well for you while a Volt would. If you have a second (gasoline) car in the family and could easily switch cars on your high mileage days then a Leaf could still be a good fit. If either would serve equally well, a Leaf will have somewhat lower operating cost, lower purchase cost, less mechanical complexity, and greater passenger carrying capacity.

Then there are the really long days, such as road trips. With quick charging stations just beginning to be deployed a Leaf can practically make regional trips of maybe 200 miles round trip, whereas a Volt can make road trips of any distance. As can that second gasoline car in the family. A Ford Focus Electric or Toyota RAV4 that lacks quick charge capability is purely a city car.

While a Volt starts off the day as an EV it may end the day as a gasoline car with 40 MPG. Not bad, but if you have a lot of long distance driving you may prefer a 50 MPG Prius. It has a very short electric range and the gas engine kicks in anyway at modest speeds. I think of Volt as a gas assisted electric, and Prius as an electric assisted gas car, where plugging in just raises your effective gas mileage from 50 to 75 or more.

Operating cost of a Leaf depends on your electric rate. On my special 7.6 cents/kWh EV overnight rate it works out to about 2 cents a mile. Your rates could be higher. Or if you're charging with excess solar production that the utility would otherwise pay you a pittance for, your effective rate could be much lower.

On top of that 2 cents I'm figuring on about an additional 4 cents a mile for eventual replacement of the battery pack. This, the biggest portion of my operating cost, is also the biggest unknown. Nissan refuses to disclose the replacement price of a battery pack (swap). Probably they won't say because it's outrageous today, and they're counting on the new Tennessee factory and economies of scale to drive the price down dramatically by the time anyone needs a replacement.

Battery lifetime is another unknown, but it will probably degrade to something like 80% of original capacity in 5 years. That takes your original 74 mile range down to about 60 miles. If that still meets your needs then you don't need a battery replacement yet. If your range was marginal to begin with you could face battery replacement even sooner. The battery degrades most quickly when it's new and tapers off. So someone driving 40 miles a day in a 5 year old car with an 80% battery might yet get another 5 years of use out of it. Deployment of public quick charging infrastructure is another unknown, and clearly if you can recharge quickly and easily wherever you go then you will care less about lost battery capacity. The final uncertainty is improved technology. I'm guessing that by the time I have to replace my battery the new one will be cheaper, lighter, and have higher capacity. But no guarantees.

Finally there's the driving experience. It will probably be the smoothest and quietest car you've ever driven, and may well be the quickest off the line unless you've been driving a Porsche. After you get used to driving electric it's hard to go back to driving an old fashioned gas burner with its rough balky gas pedal.
I own both a Leaf and a Plug-In Prius. I drive the Prius on a 20+ mile commute each way, and my wife has been driving the Leaf on her 6 mile each way commute. On the Prius I have been able to get about 100-104 mpg on my way to work on a full charge (20 miles). I get about 57 mpg on the way back home. I'm working on getting a plug at work so that I can average the same coming home as getting to work. The Prius is our long distance car as well. If we have to make trips out of town, that's the car. The Leaf is primarily for my wife's short commute and running around town or nearby neighboring towns (grocery shopping, go to the movies, etc, etc). If the round trip would be more than 60 miles with no place known to plug-in, the Prius is the car we use. Shorter than that we use the Leaf. I have 1 240 volt charger at home and usually use that for the Leaf. I also ran a dedicated 120 volt socket for the Prius in our car port. On weekends I might plug in the Prius on the 240 to get a quick charge in case the wife and I are doing separate errands and using both cars.

As for pluses and minuses on each car:

Prius - I think the Prius is a little more roomy. There is no battery hump in the back which makes for a more useful hatchback with folded down seats. The rear and front seat leg room seems better on the Prius. The voice recognition is better on the Prius than on the Leaf. You can just call out a destination with the address and city of your destination in one voice command on the Prius. I haven't found how to do that on the Leaf yet. At least not an address that is not in your address book. I still don't know how to speak an address that is not in the address book in voice command on the Leaf. I have had to pull over and stop to put in a new address. I may just not be doing something right, but that's a big negative for me on the Leaf in the navigation system. On the leaf you seem to have more menus to go through before getting getting to your goal. Even a phone call seems to take several commands before you get to make the call you want. There are two versions of the Prius Plug-in; the base; and the Advanced. The advanced version is about 7 or 8 thousand more than the base and you get drive assisted radar in cruise control and a bigger navigation screen with a few more options and also leather seats. Those bells and whistles are nice, but I don't think it's worth the extra 8 grand. On the Prius you can go anywhere as you can always fill with gasoline if needed. I get about 500 miles on a tank. You can fill a tank in a few minutes with the Prius whereas the Leaf could take you most the night depending on what kind of charger your connected to. The Prius is rated at 10-15 miles on a charge before it goes in the hybrid mode. That can vary significantly depending on terrain. If you are going down hill for quite some time, that mileage can be greatly expanded. I have driven well over 30 miles total coming down a 4000 ft mountain and using very little hybrid mode on mine for the entire 30 miles. The Prius takes about 3 hours to get from 0 to full battery charge on a 120 volt plug. 240 volt (level 2 charger) is about an hour.

Leaf - The Leaf is more expensive than the Prius Plug-in Base, but there are better state and Federal Incentives for the Leaf. The Prius is only eligible for 2500.00 Fed Tax Credit whereas the Leaf gets $7500.00 Fed Tax Credit. In California you get a 1500.00 rebate for the Prius and 2500.00 for the Leaf. I can't speak for your state if your not in California. The Leaf requires no engine maintenance. No Oil changes,, no spark plugs. You never use gasoline. There is no exhaust pipe so you can't even pull it into the garage and commit suicide with it while it's running in your garage. Both the Prius and the Leaf have XM radio, and I prefer the Leaf menus for the Radio. However, The Prius does have Pandora capability with it hooked through your cell phone service. The Prius also has Bing internet search engine available to find Points of Interest. The Leaf however has a search for charging stations which the Prius for some crazy reason left off. The Leaf has the Carwings App which allows you to control your car from your cellphone to turn on climate control and monitor charging status. The Prius only comes with an A/C on button on the key fob and you need to be a pretty close range to the car for it to work. The app for the Prius is called Entune. Entune has a few nice other nice things like weather, weather forecast, and even a Doppler weather radar image. But Entune does not give you the option of communicating with your car from great distances as Carwings does. Both have smart key entries which will spoil you if you hadn't had it before. With the Leaf you really need to think about investing in a Level 2 Charger. The level 1 charging is just really too slow and is not an efficient way of charging. I found a charge station for about 750.00 at Home Depot and had an electrician run the wiring from my electric panel which cost a few hundred more. I believe there is a fed tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of installing an EV charge station up to $1000.00. Many people spend around 2k to install a station, but it can be done for less. The Leaf takes about 20 hours to charge from 0 to full charge on a 120 volt charger. A Level 2 charge takes about 6 hours.

Some other thoughts: I don't care for how the "source" button on the steering wheel on the Leaf sticks out. It changes your radio station or audio source. If I'm driving with one hand for any reason and use one hand to turn the wheel, sometimes my palm will scrape against the source button which changes my radio station or audio source. That's happened a few times. Both the Prius and the Leaf have climate control buttons on the steering wheel. Volume controls for the stereo as well. I think the stereo sound is pretty much equal between the two. You might want to consider the climate of your home town. You get better mileage on your Leaf if you do not need to use climate control (turning off the A/C or Heat). On the Prius, it doesn't seem to affect the mileage quite as much. The Prius has heated front seats whereas the Leaf has heat buttons for front and back seats, as well as the steering wheel. Both the Prius and the Leaf are offering really good Lease deals at this time, just remember you are not eligible to claim the Fed Tax Credit if you lease. Nissan does give the tax credit back to the consumer in the form of a Rebate. I was able to get just under 10k in a rebate from Nissan on my lease. That makes up for it. Toyota has a different rebate offers depending on where you are located in the country. When I got mine in California the rebate was only 1000.00. I think it is now 1500.00. However I understand back east it is up to 4000.00.

On the Prius you won't be suffering from what they call "range anxiety", but you will still need to visit gas stations. However, On the Leaf you can proudly roll down your window and flip the bird to the gas stations as you drive by.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask me any questions about the two.
Sometimes it helps to reinforce what others say...

So big fat DITTO to the previous posts.

I hit this site for a week before leasing. Helped tons! 3 weeks into it...only one close range issue that I could have avoided.

I live in Seattle and I am averaging 75 miles on a charge exactly as advertised.

No complaints really... The windows accumulate sweat more than I thought....but my added notice of this stems from knowing if I keep the defrost on longer than a few minutes, you lose juice (range).

Wish a level 3 station was close!

Wife LOVES the Leaf and so do I! Coming from an Xterra...it's change for sure! And by change... I mean I pay myself $200 in CASH every month!
forte88 said:
I own both a Leaf and a Plug-In Prius. I drive the Prius on a 20+ mile commute each way, and my wife has been driving the Leaf on her 6 mile each way commute. On the Prius I have been able to get about 100-104 mpg on my way to work on a full charge (20 miles). I get about 57 mpg on the way back home. I'm working on getting a plug at work so that I can average the same coming home as getting to work..
I have a question - Why don't you drive the leaf, and have your wife drive the Prius? Seems like you would not have to buy gas at all if you made that switch for the daily drives. You wouldn't even need to charge to 100%, nor would you need a charge spot at work. You must have a reason, just curious as to what it is.
The question is impossible to answer without knowing what you want/expect/need the new car to do. The Leaf is a great car, but that doesn't mean it is right for you. Until you spell out where you live, how far you drive in a typical day, what your longest anticipated drive is, etc. there is no way we can help you.
i will answer (because i always do) but not sure how my reasons for getting a LEAF will apply to you. you would be better served by giving us your transportation needs, wants, goals and concerns and letting us then give you a targeted reply

but, I got a LEAF because I became interested in striving towards sustainability. after looking around at various aspects of reducing my energy usage, waste, recycling more, etc. it became very apparent the greatest room for improvement was personal transportation, so i got a Prius. that was 2004. I have since upgraded to the 2010 i still have. but in 2007, i bought a ZENN an NEV (neighborhood Electric vehicle) and it was my daily commuter for over 3½ years. it plugged into 120 only. it was slow (i got "upgraded" to 35 mph) and it did not go far (range started at 30 miles and within 3 months was done to about 20 miles where it kinda levels off. Lead acid has a much faster "decaying" rate) but the car was cool. My Son loved it (it was a 2 seater so he got to sit in front and for first time in his life, he could see where we were going)

But the ZENN was very poorly designed. it was modified from an existing gas car (which is one BIG reason why i pretty much ignore the Focus EV...)and that was a mistake. EVs built to be EVs are best. gas cars converted to EVs "can" be ok but in my experience, not so good more often than good.

now i was in the active process of upgrading my ZENN to use Li when I heard about the LEAF. now this is where its at! having had a TON of experience with degrading batteries, i did not fool myself into thinking that my LEAF would last forever or go as far as they claimed (My ZENN was rated at 35 miles, only went 30 when new and like i said, was done to 20 in a very short period of time) so i thought "ok, its Li so it will last longer (Lead batteries only have 300-500 cycles in em verses Li which can have 1500 or more) so i figured. "ok, Nissan says 100 but then they put out a chart that says 70 miles (highway which is one of the commutes it needed to make) and at the time we needed 62 miles.

well i know that if 70 miles is the official word, then i could beat that by simply lowering the speed, etc. so i thought "ok, this will work" but only because i figured out the 30% degradation which would be 50 miles instead of 70 thinking i could stretch that to at least 55 miles and knowing that WA had several public charging projects going that would keep me going (although the rollout was much slower than i thought) after a few years when the LEAF's range would not make it and i still had the Prius for the longer trips so i got it.

back to sustainability. WA has the ability to create a lot of electricity. during the day we have to use fossil fuels to cover our peak demand but at night we generate way more power than we can use. Hydro is our single largest source and although we can control the flow to a point the Dams are limited in what they can hold. This is one big reason why we hose Aluminum plants (very high electrical demand) and server farms where cooling needs are extreme and power hungry. all this in an attempt to better utilize the natural resources available to our state.

Electric Vehicles help on two fronts. Besides charging on the grid during our lowest demand period at night, every mile driven on electricity is money that is prevented from leaving the state. we produce no oil and very little gas so it all has to be imported which means WA dollars leaving the state. When you add in selling electricity out of state at rock bottom prices, burning gas is simply killing our states economy and unless you are in a oil producing state; you are in the same boat.

if you are still not sure what you should do; i highly recommend renting a LEAF or any EV for that matter for the weekend. driving electric is something many here try to describe but no one can really properly relay the joy and sense of power instantaneous torque gives you.
Caracalover said:
forte88 said:
I own both a Leaf and a Plug-In Prius. I drive the Prius on a 20+ mile commute each way, and my wife has been driving the Leaf on her 6 mile each way commute. On the Prius I have been able to get about 100-104 mpg on my way to work on a full charge (20 miles). I get about 57 mpg on the way back home. I'm working on getting a plug at work so that I can average the same coming home as getting to work..
I have a question - Why don't you drive the leaf, and have your wife drive the Prius? Seems like you would not have to buy gas at all if you made that switch for the daily drives. You wouldn't even need to charge to 100%, nor would you need a charge spot at work. You must have a reason, just curious as to what it is.

Good Question. We are still in debate over it really. We bought the Leaf after the Prius. We traded in my wife's car when we got the Leaf, so we basically considered that her car. However, this conversation has come up about which would be the most economical. We still didn't have the level 2 charger when we started this routine, and I did drive the Leaf to work once. When I returned home after also having to drive an additional 20 miles on a lunch hour, I was near empty on the charge (about 15 miles left anyway). There wasn't enough time to get back to a full charge with Level 1 Charging for the next day for me to get to and from work again. That issue has been resolved with the install of the level 2 charger... However.. There is also the issue that I work for a college and "sometimes" I'm called to a sister campus which is about 40 miles away. If that happens, I'm afraid I will be beyond the range capabilities. That instance is pretty rare, but it does happen at least a few times a semester. There might be a way around that issue if I run by my wife's work to swap cars on my way to the sister campus.. but for now.. our arrangement really has no complications with the way it is. But you're right.. it might be more economical to switch cars, and we have been discussing it. In the meantime, my wife does not work on Fridays, but I do half a day with no lunch. So I have decided that I will drive the Leaf to and from work on Fridays and use no gas on fridays.
If that is a 40 mile round trip, you are good with the Leaf. If it is 40 miles one way, depending on your driving style(aggressive, heavy on the pedal) and not able to plug at sister campus, then it may be borderline and no need for you to sweat it. But, if you can charge at the sister campus, you should be ok with at least 2-3 hours of charging at 110.

Good luck and welcome to the 22nd century. lol

Ian B
MrIanB said:
If that is a 40 mile round trip, you are good with the Leaf. If it is 40 miles one way, depending on your driving style(aggressive, heavy on the pedal) and not able to plug at sister campus, then it may be borderline and no need for you to sweat it. But, if you can charge at the sister campus, you should be ok with at least 2-3 hours of charging at 110.

Good luck and welcome to the 22nd century. lol

Ian B
It's 40 miles 1 way with no charge station, and that is 40 miles extra after I have already driven 20 miles to my home campus.. But my house is "kind of" in-between. But that doesn't really do me any good. The swapping of the cars is plausible, but that still is a few miles out of the way to accomplish this.
forte88 said:
I own both a Leaf and a Plug-In Prius. I drive the Prius on a 20+ mile commute each way, and my wife has been driving the Leaf on her 6 mile each way commute.

Interesting choice. When I replace my wife's Altima it will be with with a plug-in hybrid. However I will use the LEAF for my longer commute and the plug-in for her shorter commute so we can drive electric almost all of the time.

Why would you not use your LEAF for your commute? 20 miles each way should not be a stretch even if you are travelling at 70 on the interstate and charge routinely to 80%. The Pip will be using gas all the way on the return journey right?

Not being critical, just want to understand your choices given that I intend to have the same mix of vehicle types before too long.
If you circumstances allow for using LEAF, then it is way nicer car to drive. If you are in Europe and can wait then Renault Zoe could be a decent car.