January 27th 2011 2:06 am PT

A preview of my experience with the Nissan LEAF

 

 

Nissan LEAFEarlier this week, Nissan let me borrow one or their Nissan LEAF electric cars. While some may argue that the exterior design is not the most pleasing to the eye, it’s what you can’t see that will really turn heads. The car has almost every conceivable high tech gadget and gizmo packed into the car: GPS, Bluetooth, LED headlamps, back up camera etc.

 

What I found most interesting was the always on, always connected aspect of the car. The LEAF has a Telematics system that Nissan calls Carwings. IMG_0007This system can upload and download data about the cars performance and energy savings, as well as update the GPS database with the location of charging stations in your area (very helpful.)  You can also use this connectivity to query the status of the car, as well as send it commands like start charging or turn on the heat via your mobile phone.

 

Driving under 100% battery power is a little different from gasoline power. First off, you have all of 100% of your torque from the moment you step on the accelerator. If you’ve ever played with a slot car, you know that means: A LOT of power right off a dead stop. It’s pretty impressive how fast you can go when you need to, like merging into fast moving traffic. Fortunately, when you hit the brake, the LEAF is designed to capture that power with the regenerative brake and send it back to the battery. Second: I did find myself having a little ‘Distance Anxiety’ when I was driving around. Since charging up a battery can take a lot longer than filling up a tank of gas….you drive around and wonder (hope?) that you’ll make it home.

 

The Nissan LEAF tries to calm your fears by giving you real-time feedback on your remaining battery power, as well as showing you via the GPS Map what your current range is. It helps.

 

There are plenty of reviews posted for the LEAF, but I thought you’d enjoy a closer look inside through some videos and pictures I’ve posted. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I’ll try and answer them.

 

Listen to the show this weekend where we’ll talk more about the experience with the LEAF.

 

See my video and pictures of the Nissan LEAF

Random By Larry Hryb, Xbox LIVE's Major Nelson

  • Doctor Gadget

    Darn! I already envy your job and now this? this is outrageous, really, don’t you need a colleague? I’m available!

  • CyberKnight

    “While some may argue that the exterior design is not the most pleasing to the eye,” says the guy who drives a Prius. >:)

    I’ve been driving one since ’03, and I *still* think it’s the weirdest-looking car on the road. ;)

  • Greenskull

    I like thse posts where you branch away from gaming! Keep it up!

  • ElektroDragon

    Why are you experimenting with the Leaf when you should be trying out the Chevy Volt instead? Buy American! Yes, I know Nissan has plants in the US, but in the end, the profits go overseas.

  • CyberMaxX

    “The Nissan LEAF tries to calm your fears by giving you real-time feedback on your remaining battery power, as well as showing you via the GPS Map what your current range is. It helps.”

    That is if you feel confident in that it displays correctly.

    Not like that iPhone4 signal bar fiasco where apple stated that they were “stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.” http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2010/07/02appleletter.html

    Keep driving and keep wondering :D

  • bullka LT

    @ElektroDragon: Well… that means I shouldn’t have bought Xbox because Bill Gates is American.

  • HugoStiglitzJr

    Larry, you are a well known public figure in the gaming world. How much did Nissan pay you for this shameless plug? I see right through it, you had to have been compensated for this blog post of yours.

  • Aliasalpha

    Bah, give me a Tesla Roadster! It’s damn nice to drive in Gran Turismo 5 anyway

    Ooh more important question, can you get achievements with the Leaf?

  • Boe2

    Wow….Cars? Really?
    If you plan to earn some extra money with this blog, just place some banners instead of doing stuff like this :/

  • chiruno99

    Can’t help but think, Tool. I’m still not convinced on Elec cars since there’s no way to actually run them in UK since the amount of elec refill stations is still a single figure. Although I do show an interest in them, I’m not enduring e’s voice just to listen to what you have to say bout it. Either sack him or tell him to shut up.

  • I DLord I

    @ Chiruno
    Or, don’t listen.

    But really, this does seem like a cutesy little promo for Nissan.

  • Major Nelson

    Well. I thought that you guys might want to see and hear about my experience. I was not paid or compensated for this post (or ANY of my posts.) I just wanted to try something different. I get access to interesting things and thought I might share them with you.

  • I DLord I

    @ Major Nelson

    We have to vent our jealous rage somehow.

  • Major Nelson

    Perhaps. But know that I like to share experiences with different types of (new) technology, and this one falls firmly in that category.

  • cerafino

    i’d rather prefer my 370Z :)

  • Hauz20

    I think these are interesting little sidenotes. No point in you creating yet another blog. I welcome these posts, and it’s easy enough to skip over them.

  • Spargo CXVII

    Sounds cool; nevertheless, 100% battery power is still far, far behind gasoline power. I think I’ll be keeping my 2008 Nissan Frontier king Cab Nismo 4×4….but that’s just me.

  • TheChindian

    This is cool stuff! I haven’t actually read too much about the Leaf so sorry if it’s old hat but when you recharge the car, how long does it take? Also how is the phone connectivity with this thing? That is, can you stream music from your phone to it and make calls?

    I think the Ford SYNC is interesting technology and it would be nice to see it in such a tech-savvy car like this.

    What was the real MPG and range for you?

  • I DLord I

    @ Major Nelson

    Consider me “in the know”. I also now know that this electric car warrants my attnetion
    -

    In all seriousness, shameless plug might be a little far, but this site does get a lot of traffic and cross-advertising is just, all over this here internet and it was a careless assumption on my part. Your current advert is for a 2011 Chevy Volt.

  • chiruno99

    …I wanna drive the Leaf. I wanna pay nothing for road tax! Pouting face tounge hanging out.

  • Rdsknsfan3

    I wouldn’t touch that crap electric car for anything. I’m sorry, but electric cars aren’t the answer. Furthermore, I wouldn’t buy a foreign car no matter what the cost. They might be built in the U.S., but they are foreign owned and the profits go back to a foreign country. No thanks.

    I’ll stick with Gasoline Chevy Silverado.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll take my 08 Honda Civic Coupe over any domestic car out there. I’m glad to see Nissan show off their new technology though (especially since I consider them quality vehicles unlike GM and Chrysler. But I would buy a Ford as they know how to do things right)

  • robincognito

    @Rdsknsfan3 I don’t really understand what you’re saying. Electric cars may not be quite there at the moment but once it becomes too expensive to run cars on gasoline, electric is the only answer. Unless you’ve discovered some new form of energy? Hydrogen power looks to be the future but hydrogen cars are still powered by a battery.

  • RICE md

    Thanks for the post and photos. I can’t wait to see more electric cars available. Hopefully, the price of the cars will come down, because now, they’re just too high.

  • Major Nelson

    The charge time depends on the type of charger.

    Since I don’t have the dedicated charging station in my house, I had to use the 110 ‘trickle’ charger. That meant from zero battery to full could take up to 20+ hours. Yea. not the best. If you get the dedicated charging station installed, the zero to full charge time is like 5 hours

  • Casserole

    That and the unavailability of charging stations put me off. I commute to work in the city and an electric would suit me fine, on the rare occasions I go on holiday I go by public transport with friends. Plus like with any new tech, the newness factor will make it top priority on a thief’s list.

  • Grumbledock

    @ Casserole
    You still got electricity in your home, right?
    Compared to a “regular car” an electric really is awesome, you don’t have to find somewhere to get “gas”, you can fill her up right at your home while sleeping, and atr a lower cost. Sure, it is slower but you got unlimited “gas” and can “refill” in any place with electricity, even when your way out there ;)

    Sure, there are a few problems with electric cars, especially how short you can drive before you need more jui8ce, but those are expected problems in a beta.
    Compare with regular cars, you got 0 bad environmental hazards released when you drive, no annoying sounds (dead silent no matter speed), fluid gear changing and driving, cheaper “fuel2 and ability to refill anywhere in a civilized country etc.
    Electric cars are glorious, as soon as they get a decent milage I’ll get myself one and enjoy it full-time :)

  • CageyBerserker

    I think the Leaf is an interesting step towards the concept of zero emissions. What I like most about the car isn’t even the car itself but all the connectivity with the phone. You can tell the car to charge itself via an Iphone? You can see the status of the car and turn climate control on via the app? That’s really awesome!! So you do have to plug it into an outlet so it wont be to convenient on trips or anything. I also saw on majors pics that it has the regenerating brake and a solar panel. My only real question is how much power will the brake and the solar panel actually give back to the user?

  • IRB

    So, do you think Porsche will send you their electric car when it out :)
    I’m sure Eric wouldn’t mind giving you a hand testing that one.

    I like the post btw, your blog does always have to be about gaming.
    I always welcome new tech/gadgets.

  • Xboxfanuk

    Will Nissan be supporting the charing App on Windows Phone 7 as well? Personally if I was in the market for a £25,000 car I would buy one. But I am poor.

  • Xboxfanuk

    Will Nissan be supporting the charing App on Windows Phone 7 as well? Personally if I was in the market for a £25,000 car I would buy one. But I am poor.

  • IR1SH SN1PER

    Yeah, the LEAF is impressive.

    Tesla are doing some interesting stuff in this area. Their Model S is due for release in 2012. 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, 300 mile range, 45 min quick charge, 4-6 hour full charge.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/models

  • VEXTREXXX

    FORD Focus 2012 for me! All electric,Better looking,Better battery life,charges quicker and Sync (a.k.a. My FORD Touch in new cars.)
    I think people knowing that Microsoft made Sync and after hearing and then seeing about Sync on TWiT (Leo Laporte) and then seeing it in person at this years Detroit Auto Show. Myself and a lot of people I think would have liked to hear more on Sync and the new Focus then the Nissan Leaf.

  • Mike17032

    Power is never the problem with electric cars, it is always battery life. You can make one plenty fast, but it will drain its battery in 5 minutes.

    They might be the future, but I still think that future is a ways off. The long recharge time is a deal killer for most. I have higher hopes for hydrogen or other cars that can be refueled in a way we are used to.

    Try and keep track of what this does to your electric bill, I know they claim it is a lot cheaper per mile than gas but I wonder about that. There is a reason that it is cheaper to burn oil or coal for heat at your house than it is to have electric heat, and gas is actually a pretty efficient way to store energy. Let us know if you see much of a difference.

    For me, I don’t plan to give up my 5.7 V8 Trans Am anytime soon. The sound alone is awesome.

  • Mike17032

    “Tesla are doing some interesting stuff in this area. Their Model S is due for release in 2012. 0-60 in 5.6 seconds, 300 mile range, 45 min quick charge, 4-6 hour full charge.”

    Ya but the price puts it above that of a new Corvette, and a Vette blows its doors off in performance. Even my car (that I got used for $11k) beats the model S to 60. They also tend to have a very low top end, and handle like garbage because of the weight of the batteries. So far Tesla has not impressed me.

    I think Tesla is taking the wrong approach with going after the high end sports car market, at least the Leaf is targeting the right audience.

  • Mike17032

    “Compared to a “regular car” an electric really is awesome, you don’t have to find somewhere to get “gas”, you can fill her up right at your home while sleeping, and atr a lower cost. ”

    There are a lot of people who do not park their cars at their house, like anyone living in a city. Those of us stuck with street parking would have no where to plug in at, and that is a huge issue that is not easy to solve.

  • Lanmanna

    Yes, buy from Chevy, the company who had to be bailed out of bankrupt. If it was any other company, they would have sunk.

    Buy from a company who got themselves out of the hole, like Ford.

  • CRUSADEX

    I logged onto majornelson and found myself in the front row of crappy eco car church.
    Did you forget the Xbox is all about gaming and blowing stuff up?
    Why do we have to be subjected to car(if you can call it that) reviews.
    If i want to find out about a short distance eco hopper that in reality is a waste of time and money i will do it myslef.
    Games please.

  • SatansReverence

    Electric cars are a joke.

    They already failed in the early 1900′s and they will fail again.

    If you’re a car enthusiast, you will go Petrol.

    If you’re an ecomental, go diesel.

 

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