Nissan Delivers to World's Second LEAF Owner, and So On

By · December 12, 2010

Tom Franklin watches Nissan LEAF ceremony in San Francisco

Tom Franklin (in white shirt in second row) watches the ceremony in honor of Olivier Chalouhi (left) becoming the world's first Nissan LEAF owner.

While electric car enthusiasts are still celebrating the delivery of the very first Nissan LEAF to its owner, the world's second owner is poised to get his EV on Monday in San Diego. Tom Franklin, a patent attorney and electrical engineer specializing in clean technology patents, will tomorrow drive off the lot of Mossy Nissan and into the bold new electric future of automotive technology.

“I'm excited about not using foreign energy to power my car,” Franklin told “We go to war and do all kinds of crazy things, certainly influenced by our great need for foreign oil. To be able to power a car domestically, it's a huge deal.” Franklin was in attendance in San Francisco when Nissan executives, city officials and other well-wishers honored Olivier Chalouhi, the first LEAF owner.

A week of first LEAF deliveries continues on Tuesday in Arizona, on Wednesday in Oregon, and on Friday in Seattle. The rollout will culminate next week when a customer in Nissan's U.S.-based home turf in Tennessee becomes the first Nissan LEAF owner east of the Mississippi.

Tom Franklin's car is a blue LEAF SL-E. The SL trim is the premium package which includes fog lights, automatic headlights, a rear-view monitor and a solar panel spoiler. The “E” refers to the limited number of LEAFs that come with the port for DC quick-charging at no extra cost—but it's free only in the specific locations where the LEAF rollout overlaps with the EV Project (a program in which the U.S. Department of Energy and ECOtality, a private company, will install thousands of charging stations).

The quick-charge port, which is only available on the SL model (not the base SV trim) costs $700 for customers not included in the EV Project. In August, Nissan's Mark Perry informed via email: “For those customers in the five D.O.E. project launch states who meet the research criteria and are willing to participate in the study for two years, one of the benefits is a free option for a DC fast Charger.” Perry wrote that only a small subset, about 5,700 LEAF owners who will participate in the research study, will have the cost subsidized by the D.O.E. grant. The ability to use a public quick charger means LEAF owners can recharge the car's drained battery pack to 80 percent in about 30 minutes.

Selling the Hybrid

Franklin registered to participate in the EV Project soon after ordering his LEAF. His ECOtality 220-volt charger was installed on Friday while he was in San Francisco—and will be ready to use on Monday when he drives home in the LEAF. Franklin's charger, the first installed in Southern California, took more than a day to put in. “My house is kind of funny. I have a basement level garage, and the panel was way on the other side of the house,” Franklin said. “You had to snake it in a very funny way.” Franklin lives just a few miles from Nissan's San Diego-based design center.

Before receiving the call that he would become the first San Diego LEAF owner, Franklin believed he was going to receive his EV in spring 2011. But he was growing impatient about his urgent desire to switch to electric fuel. As a result, he was planning to convert his Toyota Prius to a plug-in hybrid. “I was thinking that I would get extra batteries for the Prius, because I just couldn't wait any longer,” Franklin said. “I was about to buy that battery, but I'm glad I waited, because five days later, I got the call from Nissan.” Franklin will now sell his Prius to make room for the brand new 2011 Nissan LEAF.


· · 5 years ago

Holding my breath for the story about the 213th delivery. ;)

· · 5 years ago

I'd like to read about the 100,000th!

· · 5 years ago

1 millionth! When will that be?

Actually, it's going to be cool when buying an EV becomes completely routine and boring and normal--and there's absolutely nothing to say about it.

· · 5 years ago

I look forward to the day when you'll have to apply for a special exemption certificate to burn gasoline.

· sjLEAF (not verified) · 5 years ago

I'm looking forward to reading when Nissan sells the 30,000th LEAF--then it will be a billion dollar business. Of those 30,000, I was hoping to be in the first 400 but now it seems it'll be more like 4000. And I've had my EVSE in place for over a month already (installer said I was 2nd in the South Bay Area for the AV unit).

· · 5 years ago

And pay big money--a tax for the ill effects on society and the environment!

· · 5 years ago

When I see advertisements for used Leafs a couple of years from now - and new ones are still selling in the showrooms - I'll know we've really arrived.

· Anonymousdaveinolywa (not verified) · 5 years ago

I 2nd the "gas permit" and I hope the day when EVs are not news happens soon but not likely. When they are mainstream a lot more money will flow into research and innovation will follow. can't wait. But I am #258!!

· kevin (not verified) · 5 years ago

Does anyone have any info on the tier 2 ordering setback?

From ordering in December 2010 to " late summer 2011 "

· Steven (not verified) · 5 years ago

Continuing good news! And more questions...

The first two are open from a previous post -
1. A Nissan guy said that using the 110 volt cable that will come with the Leaf extensively / exclusively could / would damage the battery. Is this true and if so why? I can see where dumping in a lot of energy really quickly could cause 'excessive wear' because of the accompanying heat. I would have thought the 110 volt cable would have been even kinder to the battery than a level 2 charging station, however.

2. There is a cool web-based application that allows you to calculate the kilowatt hour cost of trips. The presenter said he thought it was available to the public but I couldn’t find it.
DC vs. AC - when the tour guide was showing us the motor compartment, he said besides the motor the inverter was the principle heat-generating component. So for us non-engineer, PV system owners the natural question is ‘why AC motors in the first place – and hence inverters?’ Isn’t DC supposed to be more efficient? And wouldn’t I get more bang for the buck from my PV system if the energy it produced didn’t have to pass through TWO inverters?

· Steven (not verified) · 5 years ago

Whoops! Question 3 is buried in question 2. Posting apparently strips line-feeds. Next time I'll use 'Preview':

3. DC vs. AC - when the tour guide was showing us the motor compartment, he said besides the motor the inverter was the principle heat-generating component. So for us non-engineer, PV system owners the natural question is ‘why AC motors in the first place – and hence inverters?’ Isn’t DC supposed to be more efficient? And wouldn’t I get more bang for the buck from my PV system if the energy it produced didn’t have to pass through TWO inverters?

· · 5 years ago

1) I'm not sure exactly why slow charging is bad for Li-ion batteries. With Lead-Acid (Pb-A) and NiMH, slow charging tends to build up bad things inside the battery (sulfates in Pb-A I'm not sure what in NiMH) while faster charging doesn't. Li-ion appears to be similar. The only problems with faster charging are that one must keep batteries cool enough and can't overcharge them.
2) The reason we use AC for our power generation in the first place is because it is easier to control the voltage and current with than DC. Today, we can control both but the reality is that a DC -to- DC converter just converts DC into AC, adjusts the voltage, then converts it back to AC.
While imperfect, at better than 90% efficient, they are still pretty awesome compared with the alternatives.
3) For PV -to- EV, I'd love to see a way of directly feeding an EV from PV, however, that would only really help if you were parked during the day and, you'd want to be grid connected anyway for those times when you need more or less charge than the PV can provide. It would be a shame to waste the photons when you weren't charging so you want to ship any unused of the solar-produced electrons to the grid. You also are likely to want to charge your EV at night, when the PV is useless. I'm not sure the business case for direct DC -to- DC PV -to- EV chargers makes much sense yet but give it time. First we need the cars, then the easier market can form around supporting them.
Fortunately, the cars are clearly coming!

· · 5 years ago

FWIW, here is a link to the Leaf owner's "Quick Reference Guide":

The full owner's manual appears to be available on rapidshare type sites, but I haven't had time to try to sign up and download one. I'm still curious about Steven's question # 1 about the trickle charging being bad for the battery.

· · 5 years ago

ex-EV1 driver: Slow Charging Li-ion batteries is not bad for them, what Li-ion batteries really like is to be at 30-40% charge and they will last a long time. They wear out sooner when you continuously charge them up to 100% and run them near fully discharged and keep doing it over and over again. That's the $25k Nissan Leaf Question!

A better explanation about AC vs DC in power generation is to talk about the energy losses in Transmission lines due to ohms law with DC Voltage. "Tesla" knew this and thats why the world settled on AC Voltage particularly at very high voltages. It's funny they named a car company "Tesla" considering they run on DC. Big fat short wires are ok with DC.

· JRP3 (not verified) · 5 years ago

The Tesla Roadster runs a 3 phase AC induction motor, an invention of the original Tesla.
Nissan has management in place to prevent 100% charge and discharge, you only use part of the actual battery pack. I don't know where the idea came from that 110 charging will harm the pack, the opposite is likely true.

· · 5 years ago

@JRP3 -

Nissan sure comes pretty close to using the available battery capacity! The Prius and the Volt - those are two cars that only use roughly half of the pack's capacity. The Leaf will be using almost all of it.

· Steven (not verified) · 5 years ago

Thanks for the information! Ask Plug-in Cars and you shall receive.

· · 5 years ago

Actually, Ohms law applies equally to either DC or AC transmission lines. Both need to be at very high voltages to reduce the losses. In fact DC actually transmits a bit better because of less skin affect (tendency for AC current to ride on the outside of the transmission wire thus using less of it), The most efficient transmission lines are actually DC but there are very few of them. They convert the DC back to AC at the other end. AC, of course, as I mentioned earlier, was easiest to transform up to higher voltages so in the old days, it was best for transmission. A new grid today might more likely choose DC all the way, using DC-DC converters to boost and drop the voltage for the long hauls.
I agree with your assessment on Li-ion batteries "liking" to be at mid-charge but the jury is definitely out on charging speed although my sources tend to be leaning away from trickle charging in general.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 5 years ago

The disadvantages of HVDC are in conversion, switching, control, availability and maintenance.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 5 years ago

110 Volt in is really backwards. It is time to go to 220 V or perhaps even 400 V. People should remember that historically, 110 V was chosen because, back then, it was already a lot for systems without differential security and waxed clothing as wire insulation. But today we have differential security, high performance insulating polymers and intrinsic safe plastic confinement. That is all more then doing the case for 400 V, when we see the economy of copper and energy that can result from it. Today fast charging ability brings another good reason for a change.

· · 5 years ago

Priusmaniac, the reason some of us are thinking about 110V charging is that we already have that in our garages and the Level 2 charge stations being offered at present are outrageously priced, and one is limited as to which installers can be used unless a car warranty waiver is signed (from reports I've read, don't know if it is true). If I'm already paying a $10,000+ premium to buy an EV, why should I pay thousands more just to put in a fancy electrical outlet? It is absurd.

If time isn't a constraint, why not slow charge the car the simple, cheap, way? If it turns out that trickle charging really isn't good for the battery pack, that changes things entirely. I expect a robust secondary market for Level 2 chargers that can be installed by local electricians to develop. But why spend anything if 110V outlets work ok?

Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't get it.

· · 5 years ago

I think both dgpcolorado and Priusmaniac are correct. 110v may be ok to get started with since it requires very little up-front expense. I'll assure you, however, you'll want more very quickly. Many Tesla owners opted for 110v initially but, after they saw that their EV usage was limited only by charging time, they upgraded. 240 volt or higher is where it is at but starting at 110v is ok too.
Most garages already do have 240 volts available in them so it isn't generally a big problem. For some, however, it is a multi-thousand dollar expenditure to bring 240v to the garage. I'm pretty sure that we'll see cheaper options than a full-blown EVSE charging station. I, for one, use a standard 240volt outlet (like for an electric clothes dryer) with a mobile connector to the EV. As far as I know, nobody makes these for J1772 connectors yet but that is likely to change. Even with my EV1, I simply connected a (very big) wire to the EV1 charger and plugged it into the dryer outlet. I'm probably going to actually install a J1772 charging station eventually since it is likely to last a while.

· · 5 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver, You may be right about wanting the ability to charge quickly. However, my EV usage pattern would be different from most since I'm retired. I make an eighteen mile trip to town perhaps three time a week and a 70 mile grocery shopping trip every ten days or so. Trickle charging overnight would be no big deal. I could plug the cord into the garage door opener outlet on the ceiling and not even have to trip over cords. Unlike some I don't have a dryer outlet in the garage (here in the snowbelt, washing machines in unheated garages are NOT a good idea...)

My electrical panel is in the garage, so adding in a standard 240 V plug would be trivial (again, I'd prefer to put it in the ceiling for convenience since I'm tall enough to reach an eight foot ceiling with ease and my attic access is good).

But I really object to these hugely overpriced level 2 charge stations because I'm poor. Just buying the EV will be a major stretch for me.

We're all going to have to figure out what works best for our particular situations.

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 5 years ago

The 240 V or 400 V discussion was more on a general basis for the entire grid, not just for the specific case of vehicle charging. There are just so much more things that can be done once more electric power is available. Which in turn call for a higher voltage in general. To put it clear, I mean it could be time to upgrade the entire grid to 240 v or 400 V instead of 110 V.

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