Thursday, January 20, 2011

First Impressions

We took delivery of our Nissan LEAF yesterday. It's the end of one journey (going all the way back to this post), and the beginning of another. I'll have more to talk about in the weeks and months ahead, and experience shades perception. So here are some first impressions, from an unjaundiced eye:
  • This is a complicated vehicle But not for the reasons you might expect. The electric part is amazingly simple. Drive the car. Park it in the garage at night. Plug in the cord. In the morning, unplug the cord and drive the car. The complicated part is that this is a new car, circa-2011, with a navigation system, Bluetooth, climate control, satellite radio. Our two other cars are 10 and 12 years old, so all of the electronic gadgetry is going to take some time to figure out.
  • Living on a hill has plusses and minuses It takes energy to go uphill. I know this from my daily bicycle commute, but driving an electric car really drives the point home. On the minus side, the motor uses extra energy when going up hill. On the plus side, it recovers some of it on the way back down through regenerative braking. I need to do some more experiments to determine how much of the energy we're able to recover.
  • I have "range anxiety" Heading home, we watched the estimated range remaining drop from 41 miles to 24 during the climb up the hill. What if we ran out of power? It's not like I can walk to the nearest electric station and pick up a bucket of electrons. Maybe that's why Nissan gave us a roadside assistance program. All part of being a pioneer, I guess. And not unlike the situation at the beginning of the 20th century with respect to gasoline-powered vehicles. If you ran out of fuel somewhere along the way, you enlisted the services of the nearest horse to tow you to a town where, hopefully, the druggist dispensed "benzene".

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