The following is a discussion with Aussie electric vehicle (EV) owner Malcolm, who has a Nissan Leaf e Plus 2021 model.
EDITOR: I’m going to publish a regular series of articles with the views of Australian EV owners about their purchase, driving, servicing, charging etc experience.
This will help fill an information gap as the majority of electric car news articles are about new car launches and there’s relatively little published about the longer term Australian ownership experience after you’ve paid for your electric car. Hopefully this shared information helps other Aussies make their own EV purchase decision.
Please describe your purchasing / lease process experience … Easy, Mediocre, Frustrating..?
The car was an ex-Nissan Australia demonstrator. I had a 40kW Leaf, also an ex-demonstrator, that I’d bought from Lennock Nissan in Canbarra and decided mid last year I needed more range but new Leafs were then out of stock.
I rang Elliot Morgan, Lennock’s EV guru, to see if he knew of any around and he came up with this one. It had spent most of its life on display and only had 263km on the clock! Saved about $6k. Very happy camper!
What has the regular servicing / dealership experience been like?
No servicing yet but needs wheel rotation and front alignment shortly.
How do you regularly charge your car for day to day usage?
- plug in to standard PowerPoint at home (when there’s spare solar power)
- plug in to standard PowerPoint at home (scheduled for cheaper grid power time of day)
- plug into public AC charger upto 22Kw
- plug into public DC charger faster than 22kW
What has your day to day normal charging experience been like?
Fantastic. Incredibly convenient to charge at home. I’m retired and only work a couple of days a week so the car spends most of its time at home and the 10A plug is quite adequate for keeping the battery charged.
How do you charge your car for longer road trips on the weekend or during holidays? Do you prefer any particular brand of public fast charger during road trips eg Evie, Tesla, Chargefox and why?
Before heading off I charge the car overnight in my nine hour off-peak rate window for a night or two to get the charge up to 70-80%, and then the night before charge it to 100%. (Note that charging to 100% every few months is advisable anyway to balance the cells in the battery).
Once on the road I mostly use DC rapid chargers supplemented by AC destination chargers if available. I prefer Evie to Chargefox even though I get Nissan and NRMA discounts with the latter – the chargers seem to be better maintained as are in general the site. You get what you pay for…
I don’t like to rely on free rapid chargers because there’s generally only one of them at a site and a lot of people want to use them – too much of risk of having to wait.
What’s the farthest road trip you’ve done in your EV and what did you learn from this experience that would be useful for others to know?
Just finished 1585 km from Canberra to Victoria, going Rutherglen-Daylesford-Rutherglen.
Nothing particularly to note apart from being delighted with how the car went and that it continues the process of stretching what we’re doing with the car. In particular we did our longest non-stop stretch yet – 3 hours 40 minutes from Daylesford to Yarrawonga via Shepparton covering 278 km in 35 degree temperatures in comfort.
Also that there’s still a niche for 25kW DC chargers. If you want to stop for a meal break while charging even a 50kW charger can rush you – with the 25kW in the main street of Daylesford we had an hour to recharge which gave us time for a leisurely meal.
Does your EV have any special features like V2L reverse charging from the car to your portable/home appliances? If yes please share your experience using this special feature
I chose a Leaf because of its V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) capability via the CHAdeMO charger interface. In particular I chose an Australian-delivered Leaf rather than a Japanese import because the Nissan Australia battery warranty covers approved V2G installations.
Unfortunately consumer level V2G approval by the Clean Energy Council appears to have hit a brick wall so given I don’t live in South Australia, who’ve gone ahead with their own approval, I still can’t install a V2G charger 🙁
If you have roadside assist included with the car purchase/lease and have had to use it, which company provided the service and what was that experience like?
Included by Nissan, but I haven’t had to use it.
If you have had issues with your car and asked for these to be fixed under warranty, did the car brand do the right thing and fix it without causing you stress?
Still waiting to hear back on replacing a discoloured rear wiper mount that I missed on initial inspection.
What are the 3 strongest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
- Vehicle to Grid
- an alternative to an SUV
- maturity and build quality
What are the 3 weakest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
- Lack of active battery cooling effectively limits daily range
- Dated facia with poor ergonomics
- No option for CCS2 charging
Would you buy or lease this brand of electric car again and recommend it to others?
I have no regrets about buying it given the central importance of Vehicle-to-Grid – there is nothing on the market so suitable in terms of technology and support. It is also currently the only medium EV hatch on the market since Hyundai withdrew the original Ioniq.
However, for anyone not looking for V2G the forthcoming MG4 and BYD Dolphin, also medium hatchbacks, are going to be much more modern at a lower price.
The tragedy of the Leaf is that Nissan had a world-leading car and prior to the Tesla Model 3 the largest selling BEV in history, but rather than build on that has spent the minimum on its further development so it is showing its age.
The $10k difference between the 40 and 62kW models is also excessive. Unless Nissan substantially updates the car and cuts its price considerably it will be difficult to recommend it against these new vehicles to anyone not interested in V2G.
Do you have any other comments about your electric car brand, experience etc?
Our experience with the car has exceeded my wildest dreams. Originally I thought we’d buy an EV for around town and keep our VW Polo for long trips, and that after the Polo the driving experience would be a bit dull.
Instead the 40kW Leaf proved to be an outstanding touring car, limited only by range. Upgrading to the 62kW has really allowed the car to shine. As for the driving experience, the instant throttle response, maximum torque from standstill and low centre of gravity make it rewarding in its own right.
While dated in some ways, the Leaf remains a practical, compact, comfortable, roomy, well equipped, well built and above all well-proven medium hatch that is also an EV!
EDITOR: An additional comment from Malcolm on 19/3/23: Note that this was written before Wallbox dropped the bombshell that they’ve ceased production of the Quasar, the only Vehicle to Grid charger available in Australia.
Much as I love the car, I bought it primarily for V2G, and compromised on some requirements for that, so I may replace it with a Model 3, Polestar 2 or possibly MG4 and go for a home battery 🙁
If you’re an Australian electric vehicle owner and would like to participate in this interview series by sharing your experience please contact me directly or add a comment below and let me know.