The Leaf has an attractive, well thought out interior.

The Leaf is a car for the person who drives no more than 50-60 miles per day and can plug it in every day if needed.  For example, my commute is about 10 miles each day.  In theory I would only have to charge the Leaf once a week.  However, in the winter I probably would have to  charge it every fifth day because of the cold.  According to Nissan the Leaf’s battery pack, and therefore its driving range, is affected by the outside temperature.  Unfortunately Nissan, like most electric car manufacturers, is reluctant to say how much the battery pack is affected by the cold.   To some degree this is understandable because there are many factors that determine the driving range.  The outside temperature is probably the main factor but you also have to consider how long the Leaf was exposed to the cold and whether it was plugged in at the time.  The 2012 Leaf has a battery warming system that keeps the battery warm when the Leaf is plugged in, if it isn’t, the warming system draws its power from the battery pack.  How much the cold affects the driving range is hard to determine but, since I am a cautious individual, I will assume it has a measurable impact and would therefore tend avoid long drives until the Leaf proves me wrong.

About the $7,500 Federal rebate on electric cars.  To the best of my knowledge, this is how the Federal rebate works.  The Nissan Leaf, like the Chevy Volt and other electric cars, is eligible for a $7,500 dollar rebate.  The rebate applies whether you purchase or lease the car.  The important thing to know is that if you buy the car and you pay less than $7,500 dollars in Federal income tax (after deductions) you will not be able to take full advantage of the $7,500 rebate.  For example, if you only pay $5,000 in Federal income taxes, then your rebate is $5,000.  In addition, even if you do qualify for the full $7,500 you can’t take advantage of it until you file your taxes.  On the other hand, if you lease an electric car you get the full rebate immediately.  I am not a tax expert, so I strongly recommend consulting someone who is, before purchasing an electric car so there are no unexpected surprises.

The Leaf is now available for test drives at most Nissan dealers but they can’t sell you one off the lot.  The Leaf must be ordered and then delivered to you by your nearest Nissan dealer.  If you are considering the Leaf I recommend a test drive followed by a cooling off period (I recommend a cooling off period before buying any car).  Car dealerships thrive on customers who make quick, emotional purchase decisions following test drives, so no matter how much you love a  car, take a deep breath, walk away and think about it for awhile.  Even if the dealership sells your dream car while you are waiting, they can usually trade with another dealer for one just like it.

Nissan Leaf
Chevy Volt
Ford Focus EV
Base Price
$27,700 inc. rebate
$39,995 $39,995
Overall Length (in.) 175.0 177.1 172.9
Overall Width (in.) 69.7 70.4 71.8
Overall Height (in) 61.0 56.6 58.2
Wheelbase (in.) 106.3 105.7 104.3
Cargo volume (rear seats up) (cu. ft.) 14.5 10.6 NA
Headroom (in) 41.2 37.8 38.3
Legroom (front/rear) 41.2/37.3 42.1/34.1 43.7/33.2
MPG* (city, highway, combined) 106/92/99 93/95/94 110/99/105
*MPG courtesy  All specifications are subject to change without notice.

If, after giving the purchase or lease of a Leaf careful consideration, you decide to go for it, that’s great.  The Leaf is an amazing car that is quiet, comfortable and fun to drive.  You won’t have to worry about lining up at gas station on a cold rainy day and you’ll never have to replace an exhaust system, timing chain or spark plug again.  You will be doing your part to reduce emissions and helping support a new, promising technology.

If you have any questions about the Leaf, feel free to leave a reply.  I try to answer questions within 36-hours, often sooner.

Have fun and happy motoring.