An electric vehicle has an appeal you can only understand once you’ve owned one. Sure, you might feel good about going green, analyzing every environmental consideration like our Alex Kierstein did recently. But there’s a less noble, more immediately tangible reason to buy an EV — it really brings out one’s inner cheapskate.
There is nothing sweeter than passing up the gas station where you used to throw away a $50 bill every week. Before purchasing a 2013 Nissan Leaf to serve my 35-mile daily commute, I had never imagined how satisfying it would be to whoosh past the pumps. Stuck in Seattle traffic, surrounded by gasoline-powered cars wastefully idling, my only energy loss was from the radio. There was political smugness: It felt kinda great to stick it to Big Oil. Don’t have to stop, buy gas, fill up, change oil — don’t have to do anything except remember to plug the car in at night.
After a year or two, I sold that Leaf, a casualty of a cross-country move involving one too many cars. But I have kicked myself many times since. So, it was exciting to get some wheel time recently in a 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus, the new long-range variant.
Let’s get something out of the way about range: There’s no need for anxiety. There are valid impediments to going electric, the biggest among them right now being poor residual value. (I bought my old Leaf off-lease for a song — it had lost an appalling amount of worth despite just 7,500 miles on the odometer.) But range is not a concern if you are realistic about your needs.
The 2019 regular-range Leaf is EPA-rated at 151 miles, a big improvement. And this Deep Blue Pearl Leaf SL Plus in the driveway is rated at 226 miles. Meaning it could do my old commute all week long without ever being charged, then pull into the barn on Friday night with 50 miles of range to spare.
Turns out, it was also achievable with the new Leaf Plus. My week of errand-running involved a lot of inefficient highway miles, yet the car logged 179 miles at an average of 4.1 miles/kWh. Which took the battery to 21 percent before I decided to call it a week and plug the car in. Extrapolating from miles driven divided by percentage of battery capacity consumed, fully depleting the 62 kWh battery would have yielded 226 miles — exactly as the EPA rated it. Multiplying the 4.1 miles/kWh average by 62 kWh equals 254 miles. By either calculation, the long range checks out.
A lot has become possible in the six years between my old 2013 Leaf and this new 2019 Leaf Plus. Imagine what the marketplace will offer six years from now. Someday soon, a lot more of you are going to enjoy never buying gasoline again.