Tuesday
Feb212012

Pimp My Leaf

By Contributing Editor Gary Lieber

The top 10 things Leaf owners are doing to their cars today.

One of the most important indicators of how well a new car model is accepted is by owners is how enthusiastically they go about modifying their car to suit their personality.  The Leaf is no different, and has turned out to be quite popular in the EV customization community.  Here are the top 10 most popular mods that owners make to their Leaf:

 

10.  Tinted windows.  Leaf owners especially in hotter climates are tinting their windows so that their air conditioner does not have to work so hard, and to make their battery last longer.

 

9.  Charge Port lighting.  The charge port on the Leaf is under a front flap, and is the same color (black) as the interior of the charge port bay.  This can make for some difficult times when you are trying to plug in your Leaf in the dark.  Some ingenious leaf owners have come up with an off-the-shelf motion activated LED lamp that fits inside the charge bay, and comes on when the front flap is opened.  A clever solution, but why couldn’t Nissan just stick a light in there in the first place?

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Monday
Feb202012

My Life with a Leaf: Part 4

By Contributing Editor Gary Lieber

As I write this, it has been 9 months since we took delivery of my Ocean Blue Nissan Leaf. Yesterday we celebrated my first 10,000 miles with the car.

I have to say, that the Leaf has been the most trouble-free car that we have ever owned.  Every car that we have owned over the last 30 years has always had something that needed to be adjusted or replaced in its first few months of ownership.  Not with the Leaf.  Since the day I drove it off the dealer’s lot, it has performed magnificently.  Not a bit of drama, but lots of enjoyment.

Not just another carIn living with the Leaf, my wife and I found that we did have to slightly change the way we approached driving.  At first, we were constantly watching the range meter and did suffer from some “Range Anxiety”, but it quickly vanished as we got a better understanding of what our daily driving routines were.  To be honest, we had never paid attention to how far we drove on a daily basis, but with the Leaf, we took notice, and found that it wasn’t as far as we had assumed.  Over the last few months we have learned that the furthest we normally go on a trip is about 30 miles.  The Leaf has more than enough distance to cover that easily with power to spare.

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Monday
Feb202012

My Life with a Leaf: Part 3

By Contributing Editor Gary Lieber

January 2011 started out cold and rainy, communications from Nissan went dark, and all that I could count on was the last email message from Nissan that the car would be ready in or around May.

I was anxious for delivery because of the incentives that both the Federal and State government had laid out for new EV owners, but only on a “first-come, first-served” basis.  First, there was the $7500 Federal Tax Credit that the Leaf was eligible for.  I had high confidence that I would be able to take advantage of that because it was for the 1st 20,000 Leafs sold.  As it turned out, I later found that my Leaf was number 2331.  What concerned me more was the California EV rebate that was a fixed dollar amount.  My Leaf qualified for a $5000 cash rebate and we certainly wanted to take advantage of that.

Another program that I was interested in was a Federal program called the EV project.  This was a study project that paid for installation of a Level 2 charger and a level 3 fast charge port on the Leaf.  Initially this program was only targeting new Leaf owners in San Diego and Seattle.  In February, I received a letter from the EV project notifying me that the project had been expanded to the San Francisco Bay area, and that I could qualify for receiving the Level 2 charger for our house and the Level 3 quick charge port.  I’m never to pass up something that is free, so I immediately applied to become part of the project and within 3 weeks I was approved to participate.  I was glad that I had passed up on the Nissan Level 2 charger, as I saved $2200.

In February, things started to pick up.  I was asked by Nissan to participate in several Research Panels to help them fine-tune their EV programs, and I got an upbeat letter from Nissan stating that my Leaf would arrive at my dealer in April.  That was only 2 months away!  I was excited!  Late in February I found out that my Leaf had been manufactured on February 28th, and was now on its way to the port to be shipped to Long Beach California, then to my dealer, and then to me by the middle of April. 

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Sunday
Feb192012

My Life with a Leaf: Part 2

By Contibutint Editor Gary Lieber

On April 20th at 2:27:16 PM I got the email.  “It’s time to reserve a place in history,” the email read, “ Your special time has finally come.  The priority reservation period has become, just click the link to start the reservation process, and soon your opportunity to drive your very own Nissan Leaf will be here.”

Julie's introduction to the LeafI was ready; I immediately clicked the link, filled out the form, provided my credit card for a $99 deposit, and clicked send.  By 11 pm that night I was in the queue and I had my confirmation letter that stated by June 30th I would have more details on how to get ready for my leaf.

I thought, “This is simple, this is the easiest process that I had ever had to buy a new car.”  Boy was I a sucker.  I had no idea how much more waiting there would be.  In May I received the email that confirmed that my reservation simply put me in the queue to order the car, not even to buy it yet.  That would come in August when I could contact the dealer and settle on the price.  This sounded like it was going to be a bit more complicated than I thought.

In June, I got another update letter from Nissan, this time about how I could now make another appointment with Nissan’s EV home charger partner to assess if my house was able to support a charger, and how much the charger and its installation was going to cost.  The appointment was set for the middle of July, and the electrician arrived on time, took 5 minutes to look over my garage and electrical panel and said, “Yep, $2200.”

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Sunday
Feb122012

My Life with a Leaf: Part 1

By Contributing Editor Gary Lieber

Hello, my name is Gary Lieber and I am a certified EV-aholic.

It wasn’t always that way, but this is the story of how I became one with the help of the Nissan Leaf.

Gary's Introduction to the Leaf at a Nissan event in San Jose

My story starts in the summer of 1997 when I was employed by a startup in Palo Alto.  My boss who was the CEO of the company was a real gear-head nerd like me and was lived on the cutting edge.  One day he arrived at work in a brand new bright green Honda EV.  This was quite an interesting little car that flew like a bat out of hell, but instead of gas, you plugged it into the wall because it was battery powered.  I was hooked right then and there, but when I went to buy one, Honda said that they were no longer available.  “How could they tease me like this?” I thought, but the more I looked for an electric car, the more frustrated I became.  GM had the EV1 electric car, but they weren’t interested in selling me one either.  Soon other things grabbed my attention, and I put my lust for an electric car aside, gone temporarily, but not forgotten.

 

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