Nissan Leaf Electic Vehicle

Is our next family car an electric vehicle?

This past week I have been given an opportunity to test drive an electric vehicle, a second hand Nissan Leaf. This came about thanks to a wonderful initiative here on Waiheke Island (where I live) where several of these cars have been made available in our community to test drive over for a few months.

I jumped at the chance to test drive one for a week as I am conscious that much of my time in the car is spent being the “mum taxi”. Lots of short little trips to/from school, the ferry, netball training, play dates and so on. I have been curious about what an electric car was like to drive, and what it was like to manage in terms of not having the battery run out!

What if there was an option in future for me to be a “mum taxi” without adding to environmental damage and without spending a fortune on petrol? Petrol is very expensive in New Zealand compared to Australia and EXTRA expensive on the island.

What was the car actually like to drive?

The car is actually really nice to drive.  QUIET. Smooth handling. Easy to get the hang of gears and other functions. It has more power than I was expecting to have when accelerating.

Nissan Leaf
How do you charge the car?

We just charged the car by plugging the charger into a power point in our garage. You can also charge at public charging stations … I don’t know if we actually have any of these on Waiheke Island?

charging electric car

The car can be outside while charging. The end of the charger that fits into the car is weather proof. I have seen photos of cars charging in the snow, in rain and so on. However, the end of the charger that plugs into a wall socket must be dry (inside the garage for me).

What did I like about the electric car?
  • I loved knowing I was adding zero emissions all week.
  • I liked how easy it was to drive
  • It had a really nice deep boot which was perfect for groceries, kids school bags etc
  • the kids loved the heated front seats.
  • has good power up hill – we live up a steep and windy driveway and I had no problem getting the car up.
What didn’t I like about the electric car?

The only thing I didn’t like was that the “km to go” on the battery reading decreased faster than the actual km I was driving. For example I might drive 5km but the “km to go” might decrease by 10km. This left e feeling nervous about whether I might suddenly run out of power!

This may simply be a reflection on the age of the car. Perhaps a new (or newer) vehicle might have a more accurate gauge.

The big question – would I buy one?

Yes. I think when we are ready to sell one of our petrol guzzling SUV’s I would definitely look at getting a second hand electric car as our around the island run about car. Makes a lot of sense to me.

Do you have an electric vehicle? I would love to hear how it works in your family …

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  1. Hi. For me it’s not practical as i have to frequently drive down to the Hawked Bay to visit my mum. Considering I could only just get to first charging station at half moon bay before having to spend 3/4 of an hour trying to quick charge. I could only get 87% charge and this would go down really quickly. After driving around Auckland I found it exceptionally hard to find charging station that were close and without at least 2 other already waiting to charge. This type of car would be suited to a second family car. You would need to have easy access to a power point as it takes overnight to get a full charge. Not safe to leave garage open or Windows
    I prefer having a dual fuel option. ( hybrid)
    With some fine tuning and batteries able to take more of a charge plus a wider range of travel it may be something I would look at in the future.

    1. absolutely agree Jan. We are a 2 car family so I would look to replace 1 car with an electric vehicle. This vehicle would be the “on island” run about – all the little trips I do with 3 kids … to the ferry, supermarket, school, sport etc. Then the petrol car would be used as needed on island and taken off for bigger trips.

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