Rainbows Are The Only Emissions
(Click to enlarge)
Fourth Year
Driving on Sunshine
in My Nissan Leaf

March 28, 2016

Mark D Larsen

Today marks the fourth year since I took delivery of my Nissan Leaf. As you can see in the photo below on the left, this morning the dashboard shows that I have put 38,711 miles on the odometer —actually driving 11 fewer miles per day than the U.S. average of 37.

Miles and Smiles
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Got My Number

Energy Efficiency

The table on the right above shows the number of kWh to drive that distance, as well as the averages for kWh-per-day, miles-per-day, and miles-per-kWh. This latter stat has actually dropped two-tenths of a mile since last year, probably because I had to install new tires in May, which significantly dropped my montly MPkWh. However, since then I have been putting more rubber on the road, so that average is slowly waxing as the treads are waning.

Unfortunately, this year I can no longer fully report those data because of a major blunder by Nissan. Specifically, on September 29 the automaker replaced its CarWings telematics with the new and “improved” NissanConnect EV. Not only is the upgraded system unreliable, inaccurate, and —in my opinion— butt-ugly, the programmers lost all my data from before the transition. Consequently, these readouts are missing nearly 6 months of stats in 2015:

Click to enlarge any screenshot:



I am frankly appalled at the incompetence of losing those data. Surely any major company should store a backup of previous records before switching to a new system. Heads should roll among Nissan’s programmers for failing to take that precaution. To make matters worse, the “improved” system only plots MPkWh in whole numbers in its monthly and yearly graphs, rather than with decimals, as is obvious in the last two screenshots above. What good is that? Consequently, I now manually record and then reset my Leaf’s energy efficiency at the end every month using the readout in this photo from this morning:

More to the point
(Click to enlarge)

The good news is that, although installing new tires lowered my Leaf’s MPkWh, it is still much more energy efficient than any gasmobile on the market. If the EPA's estimate of 33.7 kWh per gallon is accurate, my MPGe is now:

5.4 miles-per-kWh x 33.7 kWh-per-gallon = 182 miles-per-gallon equivalent

I surmise that this is why my energy efficiency still ranks “platinum” among other Leaf owners, as shown in the following screenshots. I can only guess that such was also the ranking for the missing months in the last readout, caused by the “improved” telematics. At least the tables still include decimals for the monthly MPkWh —unlike the new monthly and yearly graphs:

Click to enlarge any screenshot:

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4 (only last 7 months)

Readers might note that, as of this morning, the web portal reports 5.1 MPkWh so far this month, rather than the 5.2 in the photo of my Leaf's display up above. In truth, there have always been discrepancies in both miles driven and energy efficiency between the automaker’s telematics and the vehicles themselves, and obviously the “improved” NissanConnect EV has not “improved” that accuracy.


As is inevitable, my Leaf’s battery has continued to lose capacity with time and miles. Below on the left you can see that LEAFStat reports its SOH (state-of-health) is now at 73.56%.

Click to enlarge either screenshot:

Leaf Spy Pro on the right above rounds the SOH up to 74%, but provides much more additional information, such as the temperatures in the four separate gauges in the pack rather than merely an average, its total volts, and even the minimum, average, and maximum millivolts in its 96 cells. Curiously, it also reports that I have QuickCharged my Leaf two times, but that is not true: I tried to use its CHAdeMO port twice in Las Vegas for NDEW 2015, but those attempts failed. It also reports 3,839 Level 1/Level 2 charges in my Leaf, but I have serious doubts about that tally. Most days I simply plug in my LEAF when I pull in the garage, yet that number divided by the 1,461 days that I have owned the vehicle works out to... 2.63 charges per day! Have I really taken that many day trips, recharging so many times en route to raise the 24-hour average that high!? Hard to imagine.

Regardless, below is a graph of the periodic capacity readouts to date, compared to the loss which would barely qualify for a free replacement battery according to Nissan’s warranty. If that calculated trend continues, it looks like my battery will not lose the mandatory 4 gauge bars (supposedly at 66.25% of capacity) before the warranty expires one year from today. Bummer.

Running on Fusion

I cannot tell you how many times a naysayer will regurgitate the cliché accusation that my electric vehicle is even dirtier than a gasmobile because it “runs on coal.” Through gritted teeth, I try to point them to my web page that clearly proves the claim is merely bogus petrolganda, but I doubt such sheeple ever bother to follow through and actually look at the cold, hard facts.

Regardless, what I can do to set them straight is clarify that I charge my Leaf with solar panels on my roof. As the side emblem on a Nissan Leaf states, mine truly is a zero emission vehicle. This pie chart shows the distribution of the kWh that my solar array has generated since the day I took delivery of my Leaf. For the sake of simplicity, I have rounded the decimals to whole numbers:

Perhaps this infographic makes it easier to understand exactly how and when those kWh are used, not only to power my home, but also to charge my Leaf:

You can see that my solar panels continue to generate more electricity than I need. Rocky Mountain Power, however, then steals the excess every year with this month’s bill, and sells those kWh to my neighbors at the full rate. To make matters worse, in the last legislative session, the utility rammed through a bill that will allow them to set its rates for at least 10 years without the approval of our Public Services Commission. And to add insult to injury, they can target certain “groups” (read: net-metering customers) with even higher rates. The entire fiasco convinces me that we can no longer rely upon politicians, utilities, commissions, organizations to mitigate global warming: each individual will have to shoulder the responsibility. At least I will exit this planet knowing that I’ve attempted to play my minor role as best I can by driving on sunshine. The icing on the cake that it also benefits my pocketbook:

What’s not to like?
What’s not to like?

Looking ahead

After four years of ownership, I love my Leaf more than ever, and honestly tell people that I will never buy another gasmobile. An electric vehicle is not only cleaner, not only cheaper, not only breaks our fossil foolish addiction, it is simply a better car. Last summer we needed to drive to Kanab, Utah, to meet some European friends who were here on vacation, and had to dust off our old BMW Z3 ICE to make the 180 mile round-trip, since there are no charging stations en route. As much as I used to thrill to drive that car, I could hardly stand it for a day. It was stinky, noisy, lurchy, rattly... downright nerve-racking. The whole trip I was in a sour mood, longing to get back behind the wheel of my Leaf.

Sadly, its dwindling capacity suggests that it is starting to grow long-in-the-tooth —just like its driver. My guess at this point is that I might have to bite the bullet and pay to install a new battery myself if the warranty won’t cover it. As you can see in the graphic on the right above, I have already saved enough in fuel costs to cover that expense, so I suppose that I will still come out ahead. I have to confess, however, that it really irks me that Nissan now puts 30 kWh packs with the very same dimensions in new Leafs, but refuses to install them in older models like mine. The best I could hope for is therefore a 24 kWh “lizard” battery, supposedly more heat-resistant, but with the same range as mine when brand new. Should I do so?

I suppose that it all depends upon when and if Nissan and other automakers start selling their anticipated next generation EVs, touted to go more than 200-miles per charge (although I project that such claims are more boastful than realistic, similar to what happened with the original claims of 100-miles per charge).

Whatever their practical range, will those EVs get here soon enough that I can simply replace the entire car instead of only its battery? Time will tell. Year 5 lies ahead.