Car Trends + [test drive]

Is the 2011 Nissan Leaf a Good Buy?

Nissan Leaf

Taking into consideration that you will have to pay about $25,000 to buy one, is the new Nissan Leaf electric car a good buy?

Before purchasing an electrically powered vehicle of any kind you should be aware of how this car will differ from the standard gas powered car. For starters, while you will not be constantly stopping at the gas pump to fill up, you will need a home-charging station that should cost in the neighborhood of $2,200. Over the long run, this will prove to be a favorable exchange. Recharging the battery will come with a cost, but compared to buying gas the price is hardly worth mentioning. The power source for the Leaf is a lithium-ion battery pack—the first of its kind.

Electric car

In many ways, the Leaf is a test case. Sure other electric cars are on the market and various ones have been tested previously, but this Nissan is designated to be mass produced and made available (affordable) for the average American. Speaking of a few things to get used to with electric vehicles verses gas burning ones, here is one. When the battery pack is fully charged, the Leaf should be able to cover about 100 miles before the unit wears down and must be recharged. Drivers accustomed to driving long distances may find this a major inconvenience.

Recharging from the home station is estimated to take between four and eight hours. However, a commercial station set up for charging could reduce that time to 30minutes. While 30 minutes is much better than the time it would take to charge at home, the time period is much longer than it takes to pump your tank full of gas. Are you ready to make that adjustment? It’s a question you should ask before buying a Leaf or any other electric car.

Hybrid car

Another drawback to a totally electric vehicle is that there is no backup source of energy to propel you on your way should the battery malfunction or simply wear down and need recharging. Of course, predicting where you will be and how much battery time you will need doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take more planning than most of us are doing with our current vehicles. This is something that hybrid owners don’t have to concern themselves with. However, it is important to remember that many Americans drive less than a hundred miles a day and for them the 100-mile driving distance per charge would seldom come into consideration.

Nissan is making the car available in SV and SL trim and many of the amenities are the same as you find on any of the company’s other vehicles (16-inch alloy wheels, key less entry, cruise control, adjustable seats and a spacious cabin). This electric car is designed to mesh into the current environment of car design, not standout as an experimental aberration.

2011 Nissan Leaf

If you the buyer are willing to make a few sacrifices/adjustments, and the Leaf proves to be a success then this electric car might very well be a good buy. With electric charging stations becoming much more prevalent, charging will also get easier as time goes on. There are lots of benefits to make the switch.