I have been a petrol head since the time I started taking a keen interest in cars about a decade ago. Having represented India and my alma mater The University of Cincinnati, in International Automotive Design competitions during my engineering days it felt as if there is nothing more special than the sound of an engine and the smell of gasoline. Fast Forward to 2018 and I have been an Electric Vehicle owner and proudly drive my – No-Noise; No-Fossil-Fuel; No-Maintenance Car
The Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the world1. It’s a battery-operated, all electric five door hatchback. Although it has a footprint of a compact car, the interiors feel like a mid-size car: roomy with a decent sized boot space. I was skeptical looking at the odd-shaped car before buying, but as soon as you start driving it, all those fears are put to rest.
The interiors of the car felt different and have a more futuristic appeal to it. The one thing that I like the most is the ‘mushroom’ shaped drive selector where you can switch between the ‘P–Park’, ‘D–Drive’, ‘B–Regenerative’’ and ‘R–Reverse’ modes. The dashboard indicates a bunch of things including the aggressiveness of your acceleration and braking. The green and blue bubbles represent this in a visually appealing format, the attached photograph explains! Along with this, it shows the amount of battery percentage left and the number of miles/kms left on the car. For leaf owners, we jokingly call that the ‘Guess-o-meter’ since it changes the number of miles/kms left in the car based on the driving conditions, weather, heating/cooling and other factors. For me, the heated seats and the heated steering wheel are a big bonus since I live in a state which has sub- zero temperatures for six months of the year.
The Nissan Leaf runs and operates exactly like a petrol/diesel/gas powered car although it takes some time to get accustomed to controls since everything is electronically actuated. The car feels extremely quick to go from stop to run since it has no transmission and the moment you floor the accelerator pedal you are zapped back to your seat. This comes in extremely handy in cities and during peak hour rush times. The drive is extremely quiet and makes you feel confused at times since we all have been used to years of some engine noise while running or idling. One of the most important things that pulled me to it was that it does not consume any power while its sitting idle on a traffic signal. ‘Zero Power’.
The high speed is limited to 90 mph (144 kms/hr). It has a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack mounted on the underbody of the car below the rear seat. The range is about 100 miles. (Approximately 160 kms; +/- 25 kms weather dependent). This sends electricity to an 80 kilowatt (107 horsepower) electric motor that drives the front wheel. It produces about 187 lb-ft of torque (253 Nm of torque).
Equipped with a 100 mile range, the car can easily cover my daily work commute, run all my errands and the occasional weekend outing to a nearby place of choice. The charging infrastructure is not sufficient yet, so there is some range anxiety at times but a well planned trip always helps overcome that fear. When you own an all-electric vehicle, you will often stumble upon questions like, ‘What do I do if I am out of charge?’, ‘Who will help me’? All these are valid questions. But once you start planning your trip well, after a few months the fear and the concerns slowly but surely starts to subside. The current lack of functionality is temporary but could be easily overcome by the economics of running and maintaining the all-electric car which are mentioned below.
It costs me 8 cents per kWh to charge the car at home and free of charge at work/available charging stations. It would cost me $1.92 to charge the complete battery. So I pay about $2 for 100 miles or about 130 INR for 160 Kms , which is 80 paise per km or 52 cents a mile ; beat that with a petrol or a diesel or even a compressed natural gas car!
All of the above information is presented in a tabular format for easier comprehension with more accurate assumptions. The values could change depending upon your location in India.
I have owned the car for a little over a year now and have done about 12000 miles (approx 19000 kms) and paid just $240 as power, an equivalent analogy would be driving the new Mahindra e2o for similar distance and paying just INR 15,200 as opposed to paying INR 1,14,000 for driving the same distance. You might ask about the charging infrastructure, where should I charge? Valid Question. About 80% of charging happens at home at night. I drive about 40 miles (60 kms) a day and come back home and charge, the car is ready to go next morning. There are multiple places which can help you charge faster and if your usage is even more, for a little bit of a cost you can upgrade the rate at which you can charge with a level 2 charger. Why would you still drive a car on fossil fuel one might ask? The answer to this is, Electric Mobility is not the future, it is the present. I have made my mind to drive electric going forward, I hope you don’t just endorse the change, you become one!
Happy Driving with Electrons !
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