Why I got rid of my LEAF
If you have read Clean Technica for a few years or more, you may recall my first post here, where I talked about my experiences with my 2018 Nissan LEAF. There was some good to share, some bad to share, and some ugly to share. Since then I’ve done some crazy things, like driving the LEAF on a 1200 mile trip through rural Arizona and New Mexico, and suffering a bit at a time from the deplorable state of the infrastructure 2019 non-Tesla EV charging and LEAF shortcomings. After lobbying Nissan to fix the #Rapidgate issue, I tested it again to see if they improved charging speeds, and found very little had changed.
As the miles went on things got a little worse. The degradation continued to accumulate, eventually reaching around 18%. The CV joints had trouble a third time and the car started eating tires at an accelerated rate (which was obviously bad for range). An electric door lock broke. A plastic interior part that should have been removable broke and cost nearly $200. The battery meter started to oscillate wildly during normal mild weather driving, among a number of other irritations.
And, no, I never took the car to the track, raced down the street, or did anything very harsh (there are a few LEAF Stans here who repeatedly accused me of this in the comments ). For most of the car’s life, it was used for urban/suburban commuting (the first 40,000 miles in the Phoenix metro area), taking the kids to school, getting groceries, etc In fact, I coddled the car with my constant hypermiling. The hot climate of Arizona and New Mexico and the poor quality of parts stacked against me.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who are very happy with their second-generation Nissan LEAF, and I don’t mind other people who have had better experiences than me. In fact, I think it’s pretty cool that an EV model succeeds, because we need it. If I drove less, lived in a cooler climate, didn’t carry kids, and didn’t buy one of the first cars that came out of the factory, I’d probably be a lot happier too.
It just didn’t work for me with my particular first copy of the car, and as they say, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).
Finding a good replacement on a budget was a challenge
If it hadn’t been for the 2018 Model 3 production ramp issues, I probably never would have purchased the LEAF. Getting an EV on a lower budget is already a challenge, and has been for a long time. I spent about $37,000 on the LEAF, but it was supposed to be about $32,000 (dealer ripped off the paperwork and ripped me off for the difference, and I didn’t notice it until later ). If the promised $35,000 Model 3 had been available when I needed a car in 2018, I would have opted for this.
So in some ways the LEAF was always something I settled for and wanted to get out of when I could. But, I was very hesitant to go into a larger payment for the car, and the dealer scam situation made me dive into the car. So I waited a few more years and had to endure constant complaints about my wife’s car.
As we were really fed up with the car in 2022, we found ourselves in a rather difficult situation. I had hoped that a used Tesla or a used Bolt EV would now be available at bargain prices and that I would be able to get out of a change with a lower payment than I had for the Nissan . But, used car prices have gone absolutely crazy this year, often exceeding the price of a new car (which you probably couldn’t get).
And the new EVs? Fugghedd about it. I make quite a bit of money writing here, and the cost of living in New Mexico is low, but I also have four kids who don’t get any cheaper as they get into their teens. I can’t spend $48,000 on a car, no matter how cool. Ideally, I need to keep the price around $30,000 if I want to be financially responsible and not achieve that by opening an OnlyFans.
GM seems to understand this dilemma
Although I write these articles for our readers, that doesn’t mean I don’t read them too and think about how they affect me personally. An article I wrote a few months ago explained GM’s strategy to catch up with Tesla (a task that still seems almost impossible). But GM seems to be in a good position to undermine Tesla and grab a part of the market that Tesla doesn’t dominate.
“To really sell 30, 40, 50 percent electric vehicles, you have to have people in that $30,000 to $35,000 price range,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. PA.
I was like, “Hey! That’s me! I’m in this ‘$30,000 to $35,000 price range.’
For this part of the market I live in, the recently announced Equinox EV that’s supposed to start at $30,000 and run on the Ultium platform sounds great, but GM didn’t want to wait for this vehicle to start taking the market . For years, his Bolt EVs have had discounts that put them under $30,000 new most of the time. For 2023, these low prices will become permanent, and the remaining 2022 Bolt EV and EUV vehicles on dealer lots and on order all come with $6,300 in factory incentives to match the 2023 model year prices.
I was able to get a Bolt EUV Premier (without sunroof, Bose audio and Super Cruise) for around $30,000. Even adding what little negative equity the LEAF still had, a basic protection plan, and a few add-ons, I’m still signed up for a very comfortable and responsible car payment for my income and family situation.
Other than the Nissan LEAF, it’s the only electric vehicle in this price range for sale in North America, and that will likely continue to be the case for some time.
How I like it so far
In the future, I’ll write more in-depth posts about the car’s features and how I like them, but I’ll go ahead and share my first impressions here.
When I first heard GM was making a slightly bigger Bolt, it sounded like more American crossover madness. Losing range when you’re not adding seats or capabilities (towing, off-roading, etc.) is just wasteful, isn’t it? But, when I had the chance to watch in person, I figured out pretty quickly that the extra legroom and extra second row room made a big difference in a family with teenagers (I don’t had no teenage children in 2018). So the 10 mile range is definitely worth it for the safety and comfort of my older kids.
Being able to buy the Premier package for less than the MSRP of the 2018 LEAF was also nice. Features like perforated leather seats (easier to clean), driver assistance (adaptive control, lane keeping assist, 360° parking cameras, blind spot warning) and heated seats make the much better vehicle for the family. The improved range and liquid/refrigerated battery cooling also make the vehicle much more useful for my family’s transportation needs.
As for the driving feel, I really like it when put into Sport mode. For power, Sport mode is something of a gimmick, as pushing the pedal to the floor produces no more power than in normal mode (you get 200 HP and 266 lb-ft either way). But, the car lightens the electric power steering assist in Sport mode, making the driving experience more engaging by giving you more feedback and road feel. With tire pressure of 42 PSI (just 4 PSI above recommended pressure and still below sidewall pressure), you get better range and a slightly stiffer ride, which improves road feel.
All of that makes it better enough than the LEAF that my wife asked if I could take us on road trips in the thing. Obviously that would require a lot more patience than just refueling our Jetta (the EUV, like other Bolts, maxes out at 55kW DCFC), but for someone who isn’t an EV enthusiast to ask to get in instead of the gasoline car says a lot.
But, I’m only about 250 miles away from driving the car, so there’s a lot more to learn and share in the months to come. Stay tuned.
Featured Image: My new Bolt EUV Premier at one of the Transmountain Picnic Areas in El Paso, TX with a New Mexico sunset behind. Image by Jennifer Sensiba.
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