TAKE A LEAF FROM MY BOOK

Neil Lyn­don on the pros and cons of Nis­san’s elec­tric car PROS: CONS:

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Life Lifestyle -

Our year’s sav­ings on petrol could pay for a hol­i­day. On av­er­age, in the past, I have filled one tank a month. Since Septem­ber, when I started us­ing the Leaf full time, I have filled only one tank – for a long trip in the fam­ily bus Peu­geot 5008. So the 2p per mile cost of run­ning the Leaf (set­ting aside pur­chase cost) will have saved us at least £300. I have my own park­ing space in the heart of our town which is al­ways empty. No mat­ter if it’s Satur­day morn­ing or the mid­dle of a busy work­ing day, the two spa­ces for elec­tric cars – with recharg­ing points – which the coun­cil has pro­vided at the mu­nic­i­pal car park will al­ways be va­cant. It’s bliss. I don’t even have to buy a ticket to park (though you do have to pay for the elec­tric­ity). The Leaf sets you apart (if you like that sort of thing). Never mind your Bent­leys and your Fer­raris: if you go out in a Leaf, you can bet you won’t see another. Ours seems to be the only one in daily use in Scot­land, where I live. Peo­ple stop and stare when it glides silently by. It’s one of the best-built cars I’ve driven. Nis­san reck­ons the 24 kWh lithi­u­mion bat­tery will be good for 10 years. No­body can be sure about that claim un­til 2023; but I’m con­fi­dent the body and struc­ture will last, in good or­der, at least a decade. No car that costs less than £100,000 feels more solid and res­o­lutely built. With all the weight of that bat­tery un­der the floor, its ride is as flu­ent and com­posed as a pres­i­den­tial limou­sine. It heats up in­stan­ta­neously, even in the depths of win­ter. If you switch on the Leaf’s win­dow heaters on a frosty morn­ing, the ice on the glass dis­solves in sec­onds. In­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines take an age to warm the air in a car (and, mean­while, their tailpipes are putting out nox­ious gases and carbon mat­ter); but the zero-emis­sions Leaf gets cosy in­side in no time. It is chang­ing my fam­ily’s way of life. Since the Leaf ar­rived, I have em­barked on a full-scale pro­gramme of re­form to cut our house­hold en­ergy con­sump­tion. By the end of this year, I should be charg­ing the car for free dur­ing the day with elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from our own so­lar pan­els and CHP boiler, pumped through our Pod Point charg­ing unit. I’d cer­tainly love ours less if I’d had to pay for it. The Leaf we’ve got at home would cost £30,000-plus (less the £5,000 bribe the Gov­ern­ment gives to pur­chasers of ev­ery elec­tric car). That’s dou­ble the cost of a sim­i­lar-size Fo­cus or Golf. You’d have to keep the Leaf for at least 10 years to save that much money on fuel. They talk about range anx­i­ety. Heart-stop­ping ter­ror is more like it. The Leaf’s nom­i­nal range of 80-plus miles on a fully charged bat­tery is as fan­ci­ful as the mpg fig­ures man­u­fac­tur­ers

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