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Economy & Efficiency of Nissan Leaf : My experience after 3 months

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EVNow · · 6 years ago

Thats right, I've now been driving Nissan Leaf for 3 months. Unlike what GM would have you believe, I've not been stranded ever - nor miss the smell & noise of the fossil fuel cars. Nissan Leaf has been an unqualified success.

So, how much does it cost to drive Leaf ? That is one of the questions I get asked regularly.

I've been noting down a lot of stats everyday about my Leaf driving. 3 Months is a good time to take a look at the collected stats.

First, let us see how I collect the stats. Leaf shows quite a few stats - the important ones I use are the the number of miles driven and the Miles/Kwh. I reset these stats before every trip. After the trip I note down these numbers and log them in an excel sheet. By trip, I mean starting from home and coming back home.

The other number I collect is the energy used to charge the vehicle every night. I've the Blink charging station - which keeps track of the energy used. I can see this over my intranet (yes, Blink is on the intranet using builtin wi-fi). I note this down after charging every night (or in the morning).

These two sets of numbers helped me compile the table shown below.

You can see the stats for 3 full months and a lifetime row at the top. Note that lifetime includes 5 days of driving in Feb, so is not the aggregate for the 3 months shown.

The first column gives the number of miles. The second shows the total amount of electricity used to charge Leaf - as shown by Blink. In the third column I've the average temperature for the month collected from a weather tracking website.

Then, we have 2 Miles/KWh figures. The first one is using the electricity used at the "wall" as shown by Blink. The second one is the "efficiency" as shown by Leaf. They differ by about 80% to 80%. That is the charging efficiency of the car.

The rate is the electric power rate I pay PSE, my utility. This includes the extra I pay to get 100% Green Power. This rate multiplied by the total energy consumed at the wall (second column) gives the total amount in dollars that I've spent fueling Leaf.

Yes, you read that right - I spend less than $20 a month charging my Leaf. That is about what you would pay for 5 gallons of gas.

The last column shows cents / mile. You can multiple this by the number of miles you drive per month, and you get an estimate of how much you will spend on fueling your electric car.

I've have a separate blog about the range and efficiency - but note that as the average temperature is increasing i.e. as the wether warms up, I get better economy from the car.

One other thing to note is that EPA's economy number for Leaf is 2.9 miles/KWh. As you can see, I'm beating it handily.

PS : Cross posted at,


· · 6 years ago

I've got a few questions to throw in. Hopefully not too many.

1. How about plugging it in? My friends keep warning me that when I get a Leaf, plugging it in every day will wear thin? Is that the case? Or is it so routine you forget about it?

2. How does 3+ people in the car affect range/acceleration?

3. Does it charge at a linear rate? Or is the first 70 or 80 percent quicker?

4. What kind of freeway range do you get at 70mph?


· · 6 years ago

1. How about plugging it in? My friends keep warning me that when I get a Leaf, plugging it in every day will wear thin? Is that the case? Or is it so routine you forget about it?

It takes 10 seconds to plug in. No different from your mobile phone.

2. How does 3+ people in the car affect range/acceleration?

Don't see much difference.

3. Does it charge at a linear rate? Or is the first 70 or 80 percent quicker?

More or less linear (note that Nissan doesn't let us charge to battery capacity - just the usable portion).

4. What kind of freeway range do you get at 70mph?

I'ven't driven much at 70 mph. But at 65 I get more than the EPA designated 73 miles. I think 70 miles is a good ball park range on freeways.

As yoy drive faster the range goes down exponentially. I expect big difference between 65 & 70 mph.

· · 6 years ago

Thanks for the info. Yeah, the new EPA standards are incredibly rough. My Civic beats them by 3-4 miles per gallon without trying. It's good to hear that the Leaf does the same.

· Matt (not verified) · 6 years ago

What is the total range on longer trips?

· · 6 years ago

Nice report, thanks.
Is home charging 110 or 240 volts ? I still find it painful to see 20% charging losses.

· · 6 years ago

@Matt : As you probably know nominal range is 100 miles. As I said 70 is a good number for freeway driving.

@SageBrush · 240V (thats what Blink uses). We are not particularly sure the charging losses are 20%. The difference between mpkwh at the wall and what Leaf shows comes to about 15% which may involve something other than charging losses as well. But 15% is the industry standard for charging losses.

· · 6 years ago

Your chart shows 1723 miles total driven,
4.3 miles kwh in the LEAF,
and 509 total kwh from the wall.

1723/4.3 = 400 kwh used in the LEAF, of 509 consumed.
400/509 = 78.6% of wall juice making it to the battery.

· · 6 years ago

"4.3 miles kwh in the LEAF" should be
4.3 miles/kwh in the LEAF

Sorry for the typo.

· · 6 years ago

@SageBrush "400/509 = 78.6% of wall juice making it to the battery"

My actual average works out to be about 82% - once I use higher precision on the 2 m/kwh figures. Also, keep in mind we don't know what exactly Leaf's dash measures. The 4.3 m/kwh could be right out of the battery or somewhere later ... (after inverter ?). This average has also been improving as the weather becomes milder.

· Ev fan (not verified) · 6 years ago

That's great to hear. I ordered my Leaf May 11. Waiting for Blink charger installation. No time frame on delivery yet. Based on the test drive in December, the car is killer. Where I work they are going to install two chargers. My first test will be driving to work thru winding roads and clearing a 1200 foot ridge. I've passed 3 Leafs the past week doing the same thing. I think in Portland, they will be a hit.

· · 6 years ago

How did you order it EV fan? I'd order one today if I could, but the Nissan website says registration is closed. Did you register before April 20th?

They're installing car chargers where I work too. I don't completely need them, but the extra range will be nice.

· · 6 years ago

tterbo: Workplace charging is really convenient, even if it's not completely necessary. I recently did a blog post on this very subject if you are interested:

· Travis Cogburn (not verified) · 6 years ago

We are currently working with a Chinese company to import their EV. It is almost identical to the Leaf in specs but is around $6000 cheaper at the retail point. Anyone interested in pics and info can email me at the above address. Thanks

· · 6 years ago

@Ev fan "My first test will be driving to work thru winding roads and clearing a 1200 foot ridge."

Expect some hit on the range - otherwise you will be fine. There are people doing 6,600+ ft climbs.

Infact a Leaf will take part in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

· · 6 years ago

Looks like I answered my own question. Nissan's accepting orders again and I just placed mine. I also noticed that now they're asking if you would prefer the cold weather package with the battery heater. I went ahead and picked that too. There wasn't any question about the 440v quick charge option though.

· mr.D in big D (not verified) · 6 years ago

I have received a confirmed reservation to order a Leaf. I have not done so yet for several reasons: 1. We wanted to test drive. Done. (yesterday)
2. My wife and I split driving duties, so she wanted to see it up close. Done. It is actually quite nice, quiet, spacious per se, and easy on "our" eyes.
3. The dealerships I have contacted will not negotiate much on ANYTHING. Some in other states and in TX have sold under sticker. Our "local" Nissan dealers (within 70 miles or so) won't budge. They state high expenses to be LEAF certified dealerships, training costs, etc. (Isn't this a write off?? give me a break...)
4. I learned that many dealers hope to throw you a curve so you back out within two weeks of delivery, by putting several thousand dollars of ad-ons and saying that these costs were agreed upon. If you back out, they can sell to John Q. Public at excessive profit margin, since average joe knows the car will be gone quick, and two, they are not officially on the reservation list, which may entice impulse buys at fat profit margins... If you back out more than two weeks before delivery of car, it goes to next in line officially with Leaf reservation holders... Local dealers are playing way to many games for my taste, but it is what it is...
5. I am requesting the price in writing before submitting my order. I want legal recourse should the dealership try to pull a fast one.
6. Double and triple checked $7,500.00 tax credit. Yup, it is legit.

Once I get a couple offers in writing, and will choose a dealer and submit my order. People don't seem to realize that all the money saved on gas can be applied to your payment, if you finance. This reduces your monthly $ allocation you would normally put to gas into your payment. Do your homework. Good luck to all!

I want to order an SL with QCP, (how does this really cost $700.?) Dealer want full price. Cold weather package, (940.$?), full price, etc.

I got two perks: One dealer said he would only charge cost for window tint!!! Yipeee!!!! The other just told me he would sell @ 500 UNDER sticker... I gotta see it to believe it.

· · 6 years ago

@mr.D in big D : You should checkout the Leaf forum. There are a lot of people for TX and you can find out the best dealers & price, etc.

The price you agree to when you order is done through Nissan - so dealers will sell it to you for that price. Ofcourse some may try to sell you useless add ons like - some coating or the other - but you can always complain to Nissan. If you are leasing, you should be careful - as dealers can add markups on interest.

· · 6 years ago

SageBrush: "I still find it painful to see 20% charging losses."

In a gas car, only about 20% of the energy in each gallon of gas makes it to the wheels. In other words, 80% of the energy gets wasted, mostly as heat out the tailpipe. Now that's painful!

· · 6 years ago

Tom Sexton,

Uh, no.
I drive a Prius and average about 35% car tank to wheels efficiency. In the winter a large fraction of the 'waste' heat is not wasted, since it heats up the cabin. Refinery to car tank is about 18% losses. Works out to 27.3% of energy makes it from the refinery to my wheels.

Compare that to my running an EV off my local grid: Around 30% plant efficiency from old, dirty coal plants, 7% transmission losses from plant to my home, *and then* another 20% charging losses from the wall to the battery.

You can also figure 10-15% more energy consumption in city driving per mile compared to a Prius due to the heavier weight. All total, that works out to 19.5% of energy making it from the central power plant to the wheels.

I am not anti-EV at all, but let's stay real. Decreasing energy losses during charging is a big deal.

· · 6 years ago

@SageBrush · "Around 30% plant efficiency from old, dirty coal plants,"

Oh, the old "coal plants" excuse again. Get a PV on your house, if you are concerned about that or better work to get those dirty plants shutdown instead of blaming EVs for the dirty coal politics.

· · 6 years ago

^^ eventually .... for now my money is better spent in conservation and solar thermal. Better, as in a dollar spent in conservation reduces my use of dirty grid power more than a dollar spent on PV/EV.

I do not know why you call my local energy plants "an excuse." They are what they are. And all purchases have opportunity costs.

· Jeff R. (not verified) · 6 years ago

We got our Leaf in late April. May was our first full month of charging the car everyday. We have a 4.3Kw PV array and I'm happy to say that in 1800 miles plus of driving, we haven't noticed an impact in our electric costs. May's total was minus $34, and it was a pretty rainy May. June, July, August will be even lower.

EV and PV form a very symbiotic relationship, even when charging at night.

I have heard all of the reasons why solar and EV's don't make sense, people seem to love finding fault with alternative fuel technologies. The dirty coal plant comes up all the time, as if refining a gallon of gasoline didn't require a large amount of electricity.

All I have to say is, so far, solar power and EV's are doing everything we had hoped for and my wife loves her Leaf. We're believers!

· · 6 years ago

"We have a 4.3Kw PV array and I'm happy to say that in 1800 miles plus of driving, we haven't noticed an impact in our electric costs."

1800 EV miles is about 600 kwh, about what your array is producing. How do you end up with a negative bill for your home use ? For that matter if you do not mind sharing, what is your home average monthly energy (all flavors) consumption ? If it helps, a therm of NG is about 30 kwh.

My personal goal is 100 - 200 kwh/month. I think I'll be close once the additional windows and solar thermal are installed.

· Jeff R. (not verified) · 6 years ago

@sagebrush, our May PV production level was 705kWh. May, 2010 showed an electric bill of minus $25.55, so even with the addition of Leaf EV charging in all of May, our bill went down. Solar production in May of 2010 was similar, a bit over 700kWh. The difference has to be in our reducing our consumption.

The other key thing to keep in mind is that while production is 700kWh, the utility pays me .33 per kWh during peak time, which is when I sell my solar power, while I pay .11 per kWh at night when charging the Leaf.

One of the great things about solar and EV driving is that you pay attention to your habits and tend to be better at conservation because of it. Before we went solar, waiting for installation, we dropped our usage from 1000kWh per month to 700kWh just by changing to CFL's and turning things off when not being used. So, we went from $222 per month to around $15 per month by going solar and being better at conserving.

It sounds like you are doing the same thing, paying attention to your usage and making your home more energy efficient--this is the cheapest way to lower energy costs, as you know. At your goal of 100-200kWh, solar won't pencil for you. You need to spend at least $150 per month on electricity. Of course, owning an EV would raise your power consumption and might make solar more financially viable.

· Jeff R. (not verified) · 6 years ago

@sagebrush, my calculations show closer to 400kWh of charging needed for 1800 miles, based on 4.4 miles per kWh, not taking into consideration losses from the wall to the battery pack during charging. Actual mileage in May was probably around 1100 miles, estimated, so around 250kWh of charging for the month, assuming 100% charging efficiency.

· · 6 years ago

Jeff R,

227 wh/mile battery-to-wheels is *really* good. Congrats.
400 kwh into the battery is about 500 kwh from the wall, so your driving patterns are saving you about 100 kwh/month over EPA estimates. That is a lot of energy saved.

Thanks for clarifying the utility rebate tariffs, that explains the net $ savings. What utility pays 33 cents a kwh ? Outside of Europe you are the first person I have read about with that generous a production credit. My local utility in NM pays 11 cents a kwh PTC, and I can use my own production for free, so it works out to up to 21 cents a kwh (or soon to be 23 cents a kwh if the utility request for a cost increase is approved.)

· Jeff R. (not verified) · 6 years ago


My wife takes the CarWings economy rankings very seriously in her Leaf driving style! She's normally gold or platinum ranked, meaning she drives slow. CarWings shows 5-7 miles per kWh routinely, but I go with what the car's historical average shows, which is 4.4 miles per kWh.

My utility in the SF Bay Area is PG&E. Our PV array is optimized for afternoon peak time sun and we avoid using appliances during peak time hours so we can sell as much solar power as possible.

This has worked very well for us since 2007 and I'm thrilled that charging the Leaf nightly seems to have a very small impact on our energy costs.
Most of the time, the car only requires a couple of hours of charging due to my wife's short 27 mile round trip commute, plus we only charge to 80% level do extend battery life.

· · 6 years ago

@Jeff R. "CarWings shows 5-7 miles per kWh routinely, but I go with what the car's historical average shows, which is 4.4 miles per kWh."

Yes CarWings is wrong. 4.4 m/kwh looks good. Now that the weather has (somewhat) improved here, I'm seeing close to 5 m/kwh.

BTW, Leaf has two m/kwh as well. One on the center LCD and another on the dash. The dash is about 0.1 lesser than the center console.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

What happened to

· · 6 years ago

wondering the same thing here.......

· Haluk (not verified) · 6 years ago

Quick question about LEAF: My commute is 65miles per direction per day (130 miles round trip) to San Jose/CA. Obviously, LEAF will not get me back home in one charge (based on what I've read so far). What are my options?
- Of course, re-charging when I am at work is an option. I am not sure if my company is installing charging stations.
- What else can I do?

· · 6 years ago

@Haluk "Obviously, LEAF will not get me back home in one charge (based on what I've read so far). What are my options?"

Yes - you would need to recharge at work. You can check with your employer or nearby commercial parking lots, if you have any.

Another thing to consider is the battery. It is warranteed for 100K miles. You will hit that in just 3 years - so you may want to lease (and the excess miles will cost you extra).

· · 6 years ago

Just got my order in for the 2012... a lease for a white SV. Most Florida dealers are stunned as Nissan wasn't keeping them up to date. Found that the "Leaf specialist" at Universal Nissan was ready. The only problem may be that there is a 70 mile trip home from that dealer..... highway. Thinking of a flatbed delivery.

· · 6 years ago

You should be able to make it 70 miles in the Leaf. Just keep the speed at 60 mph or below and don't use A/C and you'll be fine.
You can probably go 65 mph but why stress out on your first ride.
Flatbed is definitely overkill.

· · 6 years ago

Thanks ex.... I may plot an alternative route in local traffic where possible..... ;-)

· · 6 years ago

Go ahead and take the freeways. It is possible to drive 60 mph on them. I wouldn't plan on doing it on a regular basis but it isn't that difficult and is a lot easier than getting a flatbed - or the slow trip with stoplights.

· Cone (not verified) · 6 years ago

I am expecting delivery of my Leaf next month and I am starting to get nervous. I have a 29 mile each way commute, and only 2 miles of that is city street. So, that's about 60 miles of mostly freeway. Now if I want to go to lunch, or run an errand, it sounds like I am really going to be pushing it. I've been a Insight driver for 12 years, so I know the efficiency drill, but the Leaf will put me back in the carpool lane, and therefore at higher speeds. Am I doomed? Will 110 charging at work for 7 hours make much difference? Any thoughts are appreciated.

· · 6 years ago

@Cone "I have a 29 mile each way commute, and only 2 miles of that is city street. "

There are people with much longer commutes. Within a week you will get a feel for the range and should have no problem with that commute.

· · 6 years ago

@Cone, "Will 110 charging at work for 7 hours make much difference?"

Your standard commute should be no problem but if you do want to run errands during the day 110V charging could ease your mind a lot. You ought to get about five miles of range per hour when charging at 110V. Even if you only got four miles per hour, that would be 28 miles for seven hours of charging.

· · 6 years ago

I commute ~37 miles each way, mostly freeway but I always charge at work too. I'm 100% sure you can do your 58 mile r/t, the only question is: At what speed on the freeway? I think 65mph will be no problem. Higher speeds are less certain.
I'm pretty sure you'll want to try to find at least 110v charging at work. It will allow you to only charge to 80% (friendlier on your batteries) and give you more peace of mind on those errand days.
Depending on where you live, companies can get incentives for installing EV charging. If you run into bean counters concerned about 'giving away free electricity', buy a Watts Up meter and offer to pay for the minimal amount you use. Tell your boss that you can easily make it without charging but you'll have more time to spend at work if you're able to drive faster - enabled by workplace charging. Compare your loaded hourly rate with the minimal cost of electricity (30 miles at 3 mi/kWhr - 10 kWhr. At $0.11/kWhr, that is $1.00 per day) and the value of workplace charging will become immediately apparent. Driving 60 mph means you'll spend 60 minutes driving per day. at 75 mph, you'll only spend 48 minutes driving, multiply the saved 12 minutes per day by your loaded hourly weight and I'll bet you exceed $1.00 per day (remember to count your hours with overhead, not straight).

· Cone (not verified) · 6 years ago

Thanks for the responses all. Very helpful. Now I can stop with the pre-delivery buyers remorse.
PV gets installed next week, not sure when Etec installs the charger, but the car is supposed to be here in September. Pretty excited about it all.

· · 6 years ago


Check out this thread in MNL. There are a lot of people talking about how many miles they get on a charge.

· startin to look (not verified) · 6 years ago

I have read through all your blogs and I am convinced this is my next car buy. How is the interior and does it have all of the standard safety, like airbags ectera..

· · 6 years ago

@startin to look

Leaf has 5 * ratings from both insurance institute & transportation department. So, yes, i has all the normal things you expect in a modern car.

· betterfuture (not verified) · 6 years ago

@ startin to look, first wait till the model S comes out from Tesla this car will transform the competitive market and push it to better miles/charge.

check out my experiences test driving ev's on my blog:

· · 6 years ago

I have a Leaf question for owners out there. I notice that the cargo cover is only included with the SL model, along with a bunch of other stuff that is of little value to me. Does anyone know if a cargo cover can be added to the SV model as an aftermarket purchase?

Yes, a trivial question, but I find cargo covers very useful in hatchbacks and it annoys me that it isn't included with the basic model.

· Ilya Haykinson (not verified) · 6 years ago

@dgpcolorado: You should be able to add the cover yourself. For example, the cover appears as a separate accessory sold by this place:

(You could probably get it through your Nissan dealer's parts department as well)

· · 6 years ago

@Ilya Haykinson, Thanks for the info.

· Randy (not verified) · 6 years ago

I have some interesting observations to add: I own both a Nissan Leaf and a Chevrolet Volt. Both cars have strengths and weaknesses. I think the range on the Leaf is a problem and I've nearly been stranded twice. The way in which it calculates the range is poor, especially since I can compare it to the Volt. I live in a somewhat hilly area of California and my Leaf gauge that shows remaining miles can vary as much as 30 miles when going up a two mile upgrade, or increast that same amount going downhill. So it ping-poings around so much that it's difficult to know what you really have left in a range. I think the car calculates the range remaining if you stayed on the same uphill or downhill road for the entire range -- a bad idea. The Volt calculates much more conservatively and only subtracts miles from the range as you use them, or add them slowly as you go downhill or brake. I find that miles dramatically drops in the Leaf at 65 miles per hour -- my vehicle would leave me stranded it I tried to go 70 miles at that speed. Go over 65 and your range limit is toast!

Since I have solar panels on my home basically I pay nothing to charge either car. That will probalby change during winter months. I get 30 cents per kilowatt for solar power generated durign the daytime and it costs 8.9 cents per kilowatt to charge the cars at night. By the way, I got one charging station that works for both vehicles, but it was very hard to find out what would work, because both Nissan and Chevy are tied in with specific charging station vendors designed for their specific cars. I almost installed the wrong type of charger.

The electric vehicle world is a lot better than the gas world. However my wife and I kept a third car, and there are times when we need it!

· · 6 years ago

@Randy "because both Nissan and Chevy are tied in with specific charging station vendors designed for their specific cars"

That is not correct. J1772 should work with both cars - but EVSEs and cars being so new - there might be initial problems with interfacing (think HDMI problems a few years back).

· Art (not verified) · 6 years ago

Has anyone tried adding a small gas or diesel generator to the leaf to make it more independent?

· · 6 years ago

I don't think it's worth trying to add a generator. If you don't have another car in the family and regularly need more range than the LEAF offers, then maybe a plug-in hybrid such as the Volt or Plug-in Prius would be a better choice. Or, for occasional use, just rent a gasoline car or trade cars with a friend. Many folks could be more than happy to drive your LEAF while you borrow their vehicle. At the very least, they'd save money on gas.

· Ambrose Viars (not verified) · 5 years ago

Solar energy is slowly becoming the primary source of energy in the world today. Imagine if all our roofs will have solar panels that will absorb energy then transform it to electricity; that rocks, right? Ambrose Viars

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