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Used LEAF as entry into the EV market?

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by jarred767, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. jarred767

    jarred767 Member

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    To start with, I love Tesla and will one day own one, probably a Gen3 as thats what kind of fits with the finances, but I don't want to wait that long with my extremely inefficient ICE (98 ford explorer).

    I'm thinking of entering the EV world with a used LEAF, probably a 2011 or 2012. I was just curious if others have gone similar routes in the past, and if so, what I should be looking for when buying a used EV. I'm pretty competent at checking out ICE vehicles before buying, but completely new to (and learning about) the EV world. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    First thing I'd ask is what your basic needs are. How long is your commute? How many family members do you have? Personally, I would probably buy a Chevy Spark EV right now. But if you routinely have more than one passenger, probably not a great choice, because it's pretty tiny. If you can hold out for a few months, I might consider a Kia Soul EV. I think the initial rollout is going to be CA and maybe OR, but you might be able to get one in WA. Leaf is OK, but is range-limited (as are most current EVs). If you're not quite ready to make the full plunge into EVs, but you kind of want the experience, maybe try to find a slightly-used Chevy Volt. A good friend of mine bought one and loves it.
     
  3. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    The Leaf is a fine car as long as you are not in a hot area with temperatures commonly breaking 100. I have several good friends with Leafs and they are all pleased and have had very few to no issues.

    So yes if a 75 mile range will meet your needs go for it.

    For hot climates the active battery cooling is helpful.
     
  4. sefs

    sefs 2012 Ford Focus Electric

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    I went pretty much the same route. I bought a 2012 FFE with 2,000 miles on it this past November. Just to add some experience, if you are going to get the Leaf, make sure you go with one with the 6.6 kW charger. High speed charging is much more important in a low range EV like the FFE or the Leaf as compared to a Model S. You are going to want to be able to charge up quickly, for instance when you get home from work and are getting ready to go out in the evening. The faster charging greatly increases the utility of the vehicle.
     
  5. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    Note that 2011 and 2012 Leafs:
    - 3.3kW charging only
    - have no heat pump

    So I'd suggest:
    - Check your usage patterns closely to see how it'd fit and what kind of range you need to make it work, understanding that heating will kill range.
    - If you're in an area with a CHAdeMO charger get one with CHAdeMO for emergency use.
    - Look for a history that shows it was in a more temperature state so it doesn't have rapid degradation.
     
  6. sperrysburg

    sperrysburg Member

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    Depending on your range, a Chevy Volt might work for you also. They have pretty good lease deals. I leased a 2013 Volt (from a 2002 Ford Explorer) and consider it a great gateway drug for venturing into the world of electric vehicles. In Midwest weather, I get about 40 miles of electric during warm weather and 30 during very cold below freezing temperatures. These ranges are without babying the pedal. I drive it normally and usually above the speed limit keeping up with or slightly exceeding the traffic. I think the Volt is a great drive and if you have any range anxiety at all, the gasoline range extender obviously takes care of this. I would have never of thought of buying a Tesla had I not had my experience with the Volt. I plan on getting a Tesla after my Volt lease is up.
     
  7. EnergyMax

    EnergyMax Member

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    I started leasing a Leaf six weeks ago and really like it. I have a short commute, so have only put 400 miles on it. It's a great stepping stone to Gen 3, I think. No more gas is a great way to live. I just trickle charge about once every 10 days - no range anxiety. If a used model works better for you, go that route.
     
  8. Zarwin

    Zarwin Member

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    Don't forget the range reduction in cold weather. I owned a Leaf for a bit over 2 years and liked the car a lot. The biggest challenge I ran into was range dropping down to 50 miles or less (with the heat turned off) when the temperature was below freezing. Sure pre-heating is fantastic, but if the battery is really cold, the range still suffered quite a bit. Other than that, it was a great car as a commuter.

    EDIT: I'll also note that I parked it outside. Parking it in a garage would help a bit in the dead of winter as the battery probably wouldn't get quite as cold at night.
     
  9. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    I wish I had a shorter commute. If I did, I'd buy an EV now. But at 100 mi R/T, no current EVs really work for me (except for the Model S). Holding out for Gen-III. If I was really determined, I could probably make it work, but there are too many contingencies and uncertainties to reliably being able to count on being able to charge for the return trip.
     
  10. GlennAlanBerry

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    Depending on your finances, you might want to consider leasing a brand new 2015 Leaf, given all of the current incentives and product improvements (such as the faster charger) since the older models. I have seen a lot of TV commercials talking about a 3 year Nissan Leaf lease for $249/month.

    A Chevy Volt would also be a good choice, that would be a little more expensive.
     
  11. ckessel

    ckessel Active Member

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    As others have said, really understand your usage. The LEAF's short range falls short too much of the time for me, particularly as your only vehicle. By all reports, people like it, but as a primary car I'd start to really feel I'm making sacrifices to be electric, something I don't feel with the Model S. With the LEAF there's just no margin for error. You can't have an unexpected trip (like a drive back to work for a systems outage). You can't ever get lazy and forget to plug it in. Or have a 1-night power outage.

    90% of the time I'd be fine, but having a car that can't do the job 1 day out of 10 means that car isn't sufficient for my needs. My Model S does the job 99.9% of the time...only once in the last 18 months have I hit a day where I had a trip that wasn't feasible in my S.

    As a 2nd vehicle for daily errands or if you've got a really short commute, I can see the LEAF doing the job well.
     
  12. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    While I have a Prius, I have 2 boys turning 15 in August and 16, obviously, a year from then. Would love for them to have a Leaf as their primary vehicle as they should have mostly very short commutes (the HS is just 2 miles away and they farthest they go for activities is 20 miles away). I wouldn't have to worry about when they need oil changes and such, they would have to be responsible for charging (and concern about who pays for gas is gone). It seems a perfect new-driver vehicle.
     
  13. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    a used leaf for $10,000 or so could be a good deal but you have to know how to look for battery degradation. The leaf has only passive cooling for the battery pack (no fans or coolant loops, just big chunks of metal and very little to no air flow).

    It is basically impossible to baby the battery pack on a Leaf. An enclosed garage with strong AC can baby the pack some but anything short of a cold environment (think no more than 80F on the hottest day of summer) and you will see loss of battery capacity.

    My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Early Capacity Losses-Was(Lost a bar...down to 11) is a thread with almost 7,000 posts discussing this

    http://www.mynissanleaf.com/wiki/index.php?title=Real_World_Battery_Capacity_Loss will show you a small portion of the cars that have lost significant battery capacity and if you explore the wiki you should see stoaty's aging model and the temperature coefficients for various cities.

    Also worth knowing that the battery capacity is only warranted for 5 years and 60,000 miles and only if it loses 4 bars capacity by that cutoff so if you buy a used leaf with more than 60,000 miles on it or if it won't lose more than 3 bars before it hits the cutoff you are looking at several thousand dollars to replace the battery pack if you aren't satisfied with the range.

    Once you are aware of all that, you might be able to live with a 2 or 3 bar loser for many years to come. If heat isn't an issue in your area, and you aren't afraid of 40 or 50 mile range limits when the batteries get weak, then go for it.
     
  14. adiggs

    adiggs Active Member

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    You need a used Roadster! Admittedly they take some work to find, but Roadsters will have a legitimate 170+ range every day, with >120 miles available without thought or concern about the rate you're using energy (heather, A/C, up/down hills, headwind, snow, etc..). If it wasn't for the Model S, the Roadster is the car you'd be thinking about anyway, so no need to wait :)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Others know the Leafs better and have better direct information about the Leaf. I note that you're in Washington, so outside of a hot garage, you're really not dealing with extremely hot weather - that's a plus for you and for any EV you'd get.

    One thing I'll note - Washington and Oregon have a quite well developed network of fast chargers (CHADEMO) which at least some Leafs are compatible with. Using the CHADEMO charger, you can roam over large chunks of our 2 states even more effectively than I can in the Roadster (I cover the first 150 files faster as it's just a straight drive, but after that, faster charging time starts to take over).

    So you might be pleasantly surprised at the utility of a Leaf or other CHADEMO equipped EV in our corner of the country.
     
  15. abasile

    abasile Independent Software Eng.

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    Aside from battery degradation being more rapid than hoped for, we've found our 2011 LEAF to be very, very reliable. Virtually nothing has gone wrong. This seems to be the experience of the great majority of 2011/2012 owners. On the other hand, I have to admit that, as a hopeful, future Tesla buyer, the frequency of major Model S repairs such as drive unit replacements and battery pack replacements has me somewhat concerned; hopefully Tesla gets these issues under control soon. Otherwise, the cost of ownership after warranty would be my concern.

    As for LEAF battery degradation, after three years and 49K miles of mountain driving mostly in a cool climate (but significant time in the heat down the mountain as well), our LEAF's battery capacity is down 20%.
     
  16. Mr X

    Mr X Future Owner

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    Just look at the leaf... would you really want to drive that thing around let alone spend your money on it? Clearly I dont know about other people but its a simple quick decision for me on. All it takes is a second to decide whether or not i'd consider a car and the leaf... never ever EVER, even if i was blind.


    If i was running away from zombies and there was only 1 car in sight that i could get away in, a fully charged leaf, and the zombies were gaining on me, i'd still keep on running rofl.gif


    Get a used Volt, they are cheaper now, looks good, drives better than a leaf and it can be your only car if your worried about range, although it only gets half the electric range the leaf gets, which isn't bad. And it gets 40+ MPG.


    An ugly exterior with ~80 electric range (note that range will drop using ac, heater, in those times of the year so keep that in mind with a ~80 mile range pure EV which will drop to anywhere to the low 50's all the way to the high 60's and sometimes low 70's)


    or a nice looking exterior with ~40 electric range (will drop as well) and 350+ miles of gas so no worries


    dont know how long your commute is... but still... get a Volt :cool:
     
  17. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I have no hard data on the rate of Model S battery or drive unit failures, but want to point out that owners who have experienced problems are far, far more likely to post online that owners who are not having problems.

    My Model S experience is over 10K miles with no significant issues, some very minor glitches that were addressed by Tesla.

    I have a friend with a 2011 Leaf and he sings it's praises. Has had no issues, but lives in a very mild climate, SF Bay Area.
     
  18. GlennAlanBerry

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    I don't think there is any real reason to be concerned about Model S reliability. I have not heard anything about large numbers of major component failures. If this were happening, you can believe that the many Tesla naysayers and stock shorters would have tried to make a big deal about it. You also have to keep in mind that an enthusiast forum like this going to be a magnet for complaints and any reports of any problems that someone has had.
     
  19. igotzzoom

    igotzzoom Member

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    I wish it was that easy! I have a hard enough time convincing my wife to let me get a second-hand Miata! I need at least a nominal 4-passenger capacity, and 150-ish mile range. Also, I seriously doubt I could afford even a used Roadster. I want an all-in-one vehicle that works as a daily commuter, but still has enough power and performance to be entertaining when not making the daily slog. Patiently awaiting the Gen-III.
     
  20. dhanson865

    dhanson865 Active Member

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    #20 dhanson865, Jul 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
    Model S vs. LEAF Reliability

    Apparently Tesla owners are reporting more issues than Leaf owners (sample size so far is 30 of one and 36 of the other*). Though to be honest I'd gladly buy a Leaf for anyone that wants to trade me their Tesla. :)

    as to the type of issues the breakdown is:

    Model S (2013)
    37% body and trim
    20% electrical and AC
    13% supsension
    13% other
    10% engine
    3% transmission (odd choice there)
    3% brakes

    Leaf (2013)
    57% Electrical and AC
    13% Body and Trim
    13% Brakes
    4% suspension
    4% engine
    4% transmission (odd choice there)
    4% other

    as to the transmission reports there was 1 for the Tesla mentioning "Tesla replaced the drive unit (including differential)." and 1 for the Leaf mentioning "Dealer removed front axle shafts, cleaned, lubed, re-torqued, replaced cotter pins." I'm not sure if those should be under the transmission category or not but truedelta marked them as that category.

    * It'd be nice to see more model S and Leaf owners signing up for truedelta accounts and putting in their repair history or lack there of.
     

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