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As I drove to work the other morning it finally dawned on me that I have been driving my Nissan Leaf for over a year. (For whatever reason it wasn’t when I renewed the tabs.) One year with an electric car has changed a lot about my day-to-day life. I thought it may be interesting to share some of the things you never think about when you drive a gas car.
Bye Bye Gas Station
Yes, I led with the obvious one. With the Leaf I don’t ever have to go to the gas station…or do I? Before we replaced our gas lawn mower with an Ego Electric Lawn Mower I couldn’t help myself but drive the electric car to the gas station to fill up the gas can. During this visit, the owner of the station came out and we talked about electric cars for over 10 minutes. We also will sometimes meet people at the local station to sell stuff we listed on Facebook or Craigslist.
Otherwise, the only times I’ve had to go to any gas station was to fill up the Camry. (Somehow I’m the one filling up the cars). Having to fill up Ms. Blue Ribbon’s car is a constant reminder of how inconvenient and expensive filling up a gas vehicle is. A lot of my blogger friends have talked about how much their time is worth and do the math to know exactly how much their hourly rate is. Gas stations eat time. I usually have to go out of my way to fill up (+5 minutes), fill up the car (+4 minutes), may have to pay inside (+4 minutes), and get back to the route i was on (+5 minutes).
We are talking 14 to 20 minutes a fill-up. Depending on your driving that can add up fast. (14 minutes * 2 times a month * 12 months = 336 minutes a year)
During the summer I only plug in every other day and during the winter every day just to make sure I have a full charge. It takes about 15 seconds to pop the port and plug in the car. Plus, I can have a “full tank” every day without having to go anywhere. 365 days a year * .25 minutes = 91.25 minutes. May I point out that was a best case gas scenario and worst case plugin.
Go The Distance
The other hot button issue everyone has with electric cars is range anxiety. To be honest I have had it a few times.
I had to drive my Leaf from the dealer in Wisconsin to our house in Minnesota. We had to stop at a Hy-Vee to charge otherwise we wouldn’t have made it. That was a fun (sarcasm) adventure since it was the first time driving the car, pushing the limits of its range, and having to figure out how to use a public charging station (FYI you should have a chargepoint account set up beforehand).
The other time was when Ms. Blue Ribbon and I had to run a bunch of errands before Babe was born. We cut our trip short since she was getting a little anxious about the charge left. There was a charging station where we were going but I think she just wanted to go home.
Overall the range hasn’t bothered me. We use the car for the majority of our daily driving. Ms. Blue Ribbon’s car only gets used when we go on longer trips, whether that’s lots of errands or going to visit family an hour away. One thing I can say is right now the Leaf can be used for 85-95% of our driving and if its range was 150 miles that would get us to 99%. I would have to save the 1% for those really long distance trips to Wisconsin Dells or Colorado (the trips we make every other year).
We don’t really use charging stations outside of the house unless they are free. Any station that isn’t free generally is really expensive when you compare it to charging at home.
But How Is It As A Car?!
Hands down best drive ever. I have given a number of rides to friends and co-workers and the first thing I do is turn off the fan so the car is 100% quiet as we pull out of the parking lot. Blows their minds. I still can’t get over how quiet the thing is. I love listening to music and for once I don’t have to crank the music to hear it over the car (a bit dramatic I know)
Gasoline vehicles get their cabin heater from the waste heat off the motor which takes a while to heat up in the 0°F cold of Minnesota. The Leaf has an electric heater and has the car heated up in a fraction of the time.
My parents hated that I was getting a “smaller car.” The car itself is actually bigger than my old Focus hatchback. We had to read the stats a few times to believe it but it’s true.
The center console is a little blah compared to our Camry but we did buy the lower end model. It is still a major upgrade compared to the ‘07 Focus.
Saving the Green
Since this is a personal finance site I have to bring up the money side of things.
We bought the car wholesale and used for around $8,500 (the dealers at the time were selling comparable cars for around 12-13k). Either way, it was sick cheaper to buy than our Camry (you know the car we bought new…from a dealer…financed).
I’ve been tracking both the Camry’s and the Leaf’s mileage since December of 2016 so I could see just how much they were costing a year to run.
.0477 per mile cheaper to run the Leaf. Helps that we don’t have to do any sort of maintenance on the car!
Are electric cars the future? Yes. Do they make sense for everyone right now? No, but that is changing crazy fast. I mentioned that we could do 99% of our driving with a car with 150 miles of range which is how far the 2018 Leaf has. We won’t be buying it anytime soon but it is out there. The Chevy Bolt has a range of 238 miles and the Tesla Model 3 is 220 to 310 miles. My old Focus’s range was only about 340 miles but would fill it up after 270 or so miles.
We will be keeping the gas-fueled Camry for a while longer. The car is in very good shape, reliable, safe, and since we bought it new we will be driving it into the ground. The only thing that would change that if there was some sort of massive spike in gas prices.
Do you have an electric car? What do you think of it? Do you want an electric car? Have any questions you want me to answer about life with an electric car?