04 November 2012

Hill Starts with an electric brake

I went to dinner one night and a had to park on a really steep hill. When I walked back to my car, someone had parked really close to the back of my car (you could not walk between the two).

Every time I tried to release the hand brake (e-brake) and press on the accelerator, the car would refuse (and show this instruction).

I definitely did not want to press the brake, as I would roll backwards when I moved my foot to the accelerator.

Hill starts were not explained to me when I purchased the car (nor did I think to ask).

Many times I had stopped on steep hills and ramps and used the accelerator to stop and start again, but I had never performed a hill start.

By chance, I still had my foot on the accelerator when I pressed the park brake (e-brake) button again and away I went (so simple, maybe I should read the manual).

-- Update --

Turns out you don't need to press the button, the car will release it by itself :)

17 October 2012

First Electricity Bill

I received my electricity bill today and the leaf used $248.65 to travel 5,862km (979kWh @ 25.4 cents/kWh), so I am very happy :)

My trusty corolla would have used about $654 of petrol (Average - $1.539/Litre @ 7.25L/100km).

I am hoping to be able to use off peak soon, and that should be about 13 cents/kWh, so will be even cheaper.

The only time I see other leaf(s) it at the service department. I am not sure how many they sold in  brisbane, but I don't see them. So I think I will need to checkout the local nissan clubs and see.

26 September 2012

Warm weather has returned

Spring is back and the temperature has been about 15℃ in the morning and 24℃ in the afternoon.
I have noticed that I am getting about 10km more range now.

On the weekend I managed to do 133km on an 80% charge (putting around the suburbs visiting friends and family). I found the range meter was very close, on my last leg it predicted 11km left, and the distance home was 10km. When I got to my driveway, the car gave me the battery low warning and the range meter started flashing - - -

I entered all the data into an iPhone app called road trip and it spat out these graphs of my charging usage.

The big spike to 26kWh/100km looks like a mistake. The level 2 charger I bought reports how long the car is connected, not the time the car was charging, so multiplying it by 3.662kW made it massive).

17 September 2012

Leaf - two months on

It has been two months with the leaf and I have done 4000km and used about $155 worth of electricity (including heating the car in the morning).

My current average is 16.94kWh / 100km (energy from the wall socket to recharge the car), which is about $4.30 / 100km (@ 25.4 cents / kWh). My 2001 corolla uses about $10.5 / 100km (7.5litre/100km @ $1.4/litre).

You get used to the leaf being very quiet! I still get startled by loud cars and motorbikes when I have the windows down.

Lucky for me, Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) is not that big a place . I can get most places and back on an 80% charge (except the gold and sunshine coasts, I can get there on 100% charge, but need to recharge to get back).


I like the economy gauge (rainbow looking meter above the tree display, next to the speedo). It is very handy to show you when you are wasting power (usually means I am pressing the accelerator too much). Also, you don't need to take your eyes off the road to see it.

I don’t care for the tree display (now many eco trees you are saving). I would love to replace the tree display with cruise control or speed alert. (then you don’t need to look down at the bottom display).


The leaf glides up the hills effortlessly (without needing heaps of accelerator). I can maintain the speed limit easily (compared to my 2001 Corolla, which needs second gear and a lot of accelerator).

Stopping on steep hills is super easy. When I go to the shopping centre, there is a very steep ramp  (you get stuck on it waiting for cars in front to turn), I ease up on the accelerator and the leaf stops. The meter says it is not using any power (but it must use some?). When I need to go again, I just push the accelerator a bit more and away you go (I have never done that in other cars before for fear of over heating the engine and transmission).

Energy Usage

If you want to save energy, do the speed limit (I prefer not to go any slower as it upsets other drivers).

I travel a lot on dual lane roads, so I do the speed limit in the slow lane (60km/h) and it extends the driving range up to 20km. I usually charge every two days (average about 55 - 60km per day). 

Once I started driving around in eco mode, I have found that on an 80% charge, I can get up to 120km (it says 8km left when I get home).

I am not using air conditioning yet (Spring has just started). I use the preheat in the morning (set climate control to 18C), and in the afternoons it is about 18 to 20C, so I turn off climate control and open the windows a bit (which is what I do in the Corolla).

New Leaf

New Leaf

I always wanted an electric car, so I bought a Nissan Leaf on the 12th of July 2012.

I found some interesting things driving this car.


The first thing I was introduced to used to was the power meter on the bottom screen. (Regeneration to the left, Power to the right)

At first I used it to help judge the amount of power to use when taking off from the lights.
3 dots for a flat road and 4-5 dots for hilly road matches small cars (corolla size).

I only glance at the bottom screen every now and then when driving as I have to take my eyes off the road

I kept speeding at first, so I used cruise control until I was used to the leaf sounds.

Sometimes when braking at slow speeds, you feel the pedal change intensity (it starts to drop to the floor). It freaked my out at first.

I love how the car slows when in eco mode. When I lift off the throttle, I get about 2-3 dots of regeneration (4-5 dots if I add a little bit of brake). It is great for going down hills without speeding (the police in my neighbourhood love sitting at the bottom of hills).

Climate Control

Using the AUTO mode in the leaf sometimes feels like it is not doing anything (I put the windows down to clear the hot air, but it can still take a while to start cooling).

The climate control sends air to different places depending on the temperature. You can see what the climate control it is doing by pressing the status button about 3 times (is a footer on the screen). I use this to see what it is doing.

Preheating is awesome. I bought the car in the middle of winter (Brisbane does not get very cold - 3℃, but enough to need a jumper). Setting the climate control timer is easy, but you need to get into the car close to the departure time to get the best result.


After a week of driving to work (60km round trip), my distances between charges started to get closer to the estimates when you start the car (It says 134km, but the best I have got is 120km).

If you hit the charge now button (or use the iphone app), it charges to 100% (which the dealership advised against). So if you want 80%, you have to edit the timer setting.

Also, if the car is not plugged in before the “start time”, it will schedule the charge for the next day (again you have to edit the timer setting).

When you plug in the charger, the blue lights in the dash will flash in a circle pattern. When charging, the lights will flash to indicate how full the car is.

Recharging from the last bar to 80% using the boot charger takes about 8 hours (draws about 2.44 kW).

I bought a wall charger from origin energy (about $3000) and it takes under 5 hours (draws about 3.66 kW). The base model I bought does not show how many kWh it has used (I didn't check when I bought it). It costs another $1800 to have that feature installed. So I have been using the boot charger with a Clipsal EZ Audit 15 (I need to pay my share of the electricity bill).