Why I Bought a Leaf
This is Part 2 of my experience buying a Nissan Leaf. Check-out Part 1.
I started in earnest to research a new car purchase (lease in my case) about 4 weeks ago. The lease on our VW Tiguan (an SUV) was ending this summer and I knew that I had no interest in purchasing the car following the lease. Over the past 2+ years it was clear that we only used our car for:
- Commuting <20 miles roundtrip Monday-Friday
- Running a handful of errands on the weekends
We probably made a grand total of 4 or 5 long distance family trips, which included a trip to Orcas island and a camping trip to Mount Rainier. It seemed silly to buy a car optimized for those 4-5 trips instead of the other 1000. The more I learned about electric vehicles and the infrastucture here in the Seattle-area, the more viable the idea was. It' also helpful that we have a 1-car garage with an electrical outlet for charging.
During the course of my research, I narrowed my options down to 3 cars:
- Nissan Leaf
- Chevy Volt
- Ford Focus Electric
You might wonder why I didn't list the Tesla Model S. Well, trust me, I considered it. However, the goal was to purchase a car that was optimized for our daily lives and to save money. The Tesla Model S is just too nice of a car. I would never want to put my kids in it. And it certainly wouldn't help us save money.
- Nice styling and performance
- Can fall back on a gas engine
- Fairly expensive. $40k equipped the way I'd want.
- Not eligible for waived sales tax in Washington State since it's not a pure EV.
- Very small trunk: 10.6 cubic feet
- Only seats 4 (2 rear bucket seats)
I was in San Francisco for work recently and an Uber driver picked us up in a Chevy Volt. I was legimitately impressed. I thought the exterior styling was great and it had an interior to match. It felt like the performance was pretty decent too. However after doing some research, this car is a non-starter for a family of 4 due to its cramped interior and trunk. It also doesn't qualify for the Washington State sales tax break, which is brutal when you're comparing costs.
Ford Focus Electric
- An electric version of a "normal" car
- Nice styling
- Liquid cooled and heated battery pack
- Spacious interior
- No "quick charge" port
- Very small trunk: 14.5 cubic feet
Next I turned my attention to the Ford Focus Electric. I'll be honest, I initially thought this was going to be the car. I really liked the styling and it seemed like a serious entry into the EV market by Ford. In some ways it was more advanced than the Leaf (i.e. actively heated and cooled battery).
The dealbreakers for me were the lack of a quick charge port and the tiny trunk. I know it's going to be difficult to use an electric car for family trips, but not being able to use quick charge stations and not being able to pack our gear eliminates the possibility altogether. So I had to say goodbye to the Focus Electric.
Which brings us to my new Leaf! In the next blog post, I'll walk through the exact model I purchased and the packages/options that I added. I'll also discuss the pros and cons of the Leaf from my point of view.