Everyday Electric? Time to turn over a new Leaf

51 Replies

Many RMS members keep their thirsty toys locked up until the weekends, and so the “daily driver” is called into play for commuting and practical duties.  Normally frugal diesels fit the bill, however inevitably with the rise in popularity and affordability of electric cars, someone on the RMS forum was bound to take the step into the unknown world of the electric automobile.

That member was Simon, known as lightning on the forums, a Volvo enthusiast and bona fide petrolhead.  Surprisingly, after a four day test drive provided by Nissan in their latest Leaf, to him, the electric daily driver started to make sense in his everyday life.   Simon gives us his insight into why he is now actually considering buying one.

Four Days with the Nissan Leaf

The car itself, surprisingly good. Full leather, heated front and rear, Bose sound, sat nav, and lots of other tech.

To drive is strange. Any one who’s ever driven a golf buggy will get it, smooth take off, no gears just seamless. Quicker than I thought, pulled a higher speed up the big hill outside work with four of our mechanics in it than most rep mobiles would have. Steers and stops well, although not sporty just very competent. Anyone who I’ve taken out has been very surprised at how well it does in fact perform on the road.


Under the skin of the Nissan Leaf.

Range: the big question

I was pushing on more than the average leaf driver, book says 124 miles, I found 90 to be realistic. I’m sure I could eek out more, but would be boring. The 2014 on models have a different type of heating and power system that means it doesn’t suck power from the battery, in the early ones apparently the heater was not great in the winter.

It takes three or so hours to charge at home, costing around £1.80, or free from a public station, which takes the same time. I found Belfast good as you automatically got the best spaces in town free. There’s also 15 rapid charge stations dotted about which gives a full charge from empty in under 30 minutes.  For longer journeys….take another car, but if you had to it could easily be done with a small bit of planning.

Does it make Financial Sense?

With a bit of leg work and if your prepared to travel you can find one for £150 per month over 24 with 1 payment down. There was £99 deals but they’re off at the minute apparently, internet rumours state they may be back at the end of the quarter. So basically if you use over £50 per week on fuel it is worth looking at.

Overall I was a lot more taken with it than I initially thought. Very relaxing and surprisingly fast to drive, and there was something very satisfying about knowing you were not using any petrol. I only live 6 miles from work, and have other cars, so for me it could work. Will I? Can’t answer yet, but if the £99 deals come back I’d be tempted, and not for ‘green’ reasons, because it would make financial sense and because as a motoring enthusiast it is a completely new experience.

Thanks for sharing Simon.  Where do you stand in the electric arguement?  It’s starting to become convincing.

Read more on the leaf at nissan.co.uk.


About Author

Andy is the founding member of RMS, and when he's not following motoring events around the UK and Ireland he can be found on the track (sideways, having competed in top level drifting for a decade), or of course he'll be on the forum.

RMS Forum Comments

Peadar replied at 07:41, Sat 02 May, 2015
A friend of mine has an i3 and swears by it. Also you pay next to nothing on your P11D and insurance. He says it's nearly a free car to run. Not for me personally tho.
Apis replied at 07:43, Sat 02 May, 2015
I've not driven this one but I have tried the Renault Kangoo van and the Vauxhall Ampera. I was quite impressed although the Vauxhall does have an engine to help with charging so you never run out of power, unless you run out of petrol too. Managed to spin the wheels in the dry with Renault van! Problem is, if you start praising your car too much, you're going to lose your special space in the car park.
Gavlar replied at 07:45, Sat 02 May, 2015
Pass one every morning going to work, always assumed the bonnet lifted to charge it as its constantly sitting on the latch lol Prius not an option? Would increase the range dramatically
amg306 replied at 07:46, Sat 02 May, 2015
We had one out for a week as well a while back. Hilly roads around home really killed the range, so wouldn't have been a lot of use for us. As you say, I was pleasantly surprised by the drive of it, and how well it went. Almost knocked someone down at a filling station when taking off because it was so quiet!
Cartunes replied at 07:56, Sat 02 May, 2015
They make good sense financially, plus being more simplistic than ICE vehicles, are far more reliable. They make good sense for those who drive less than the vehicle's range every day, which, let's face it, is most people. I was involved in the early design of the forthcoming electric Land Rover (2018-ish release) and got a good understanding into how much less of a hammering the wallet gets by choosing electric. I'll stick to a small-block turbo for now though til battery technology improves as I regularly take 150+ mile journeys and don't want to stop off for a nap on the way.
KevM replied at 08:11, Sat 02 May, 2015
For someone that does the same journey regularly and that can forward plan, they are a no brainier. I have driven thousands of miles in them on and off now, and actually do enjoy driving them! It's like a miniature Lexus LS430 for comfort, refinement and lack of noise! If you are a 2 car household & can jump into a 'fuel' car if heading out for a spontaneous trip somewhere, then why wouldn't you? Use the money you save to buy solar panels & it's win win all round!!
wes replied at 08:19, Sat 02 May, 2015
Asked the wife to look at 1 as 2nd car as we got a free charger with solar system she wouldn't entertain the idea lol
Philljdm replied at 08:20, Sat 02 May, 2015
What deals are nissan doing at the minute on them ?
MarkM replied at 08:21, Sat 02 May, 2015
| What deals are nissan doing at the minute on them ?
£500 down and from £159/month on lease dependant on mileage, I think that was for 6k/year, As said, they're quite nice to drive, ugly as sin though, but do make sense for some people.
vwsully replied at 08:45, Sat 02 May, 2015
That's food for thought. Reason I never liked the idea of a lease fir a daily was spending £200+ on car plus another £200 on fuel. This (in theory) would nearly be a way of getting a (nice?) new daily without massive costs to us mere mortals! I do 60 miles a day but 50 odd of them is motorway.