Real world “what’s it cost to run a LEAF?”

Gas Pump

Ahhhh… the days of $2.50 gasoline

With our Blink no longer on the blink, we were able to use it to charge our LEAF last night. We wanted to take advantage of the super off-peak rate from midnight to 5AM of right around $0.075 per kilowatt hour. As there is no 120-volt outlet on our second meter, all of our charging using the 120-volt EVSE has been at household rates that are significantly higher. And since we bought our LEAF, and we are interested in maximizing battery life, we chose to charge to 80% of capacity. For perspective, we will provide real world numbers and projected mileage numbers from the LEAF.

When we went to bed last night, we had 24 miles remaining according to the LEAF. When we woke up, we had 75 miles available. At the end of the day today, we had 21 miles of range available. So it would seem that we drove about 54 miles, according to our LEAF. We did not actually drive that far.

Had we been thinking ahead to writing this article, we would have jotted down the odometer reading this morning, and then again when we got home. Having failed to do that, we turned to the all powerful Google. We plugged in the drive from our house, to the store, to the in-laws, back to the store, and back home. Google maps put the drive at just over 39 miles. An acquaintance wanted to drive it so we let him have a go behind the wheel. He wasn’t gone long, so it was probably only a mile at most, so let’s call it a 40 mile day. Our 12 kilowatt hours of electricity usage last night to charge our LEAF cost us about $0.85. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that regular gasoline costs $4.25 per gallon. In San Diego currently, that would be on the low side. We heard of a station today on the island of Coronado charging $4.79 for regular, $4.89 for mid-grade, and $4.99 for premium. We chose $4.25 for a simple reason. Five times $0.85 is $4.25. So if we went 40 miles for $0.85, five times that would get us 200 miles down the road for the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

And for all of you really analytical folks out there… yes, we know that we were actually replacing the electricity that we used yesterday, not today. But with the range display showing something close to what it did at end of day yesterday, and trying to be conservative on the price of a comparative gallon of gasoline, we think it is not too far off. Our general point is this, the cost of driving the LEAF on a day-to-day basis is dramatically less than driving  a gasoline powered vehicle. And we like driving past gas stations. We’re thinking of adding a laugh track that we can play through the Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) speakers that we can play when we drive by. That would be fun.

This entry was posted in Battery/Charging Experience, Charging Infrastructure, Driving Experience, Driving Range, Is the Nissan LEAF right for me?, LEAF 101, LEAF Information, LEAF Ownership. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Real world “what’s it cost to run a LEAF?”

  1. Traciatim says:

    I wonder what the payback mileage is between a Volkswagon Gulf TDI, a Ford Fiesta, Honda Insight, and the LEAF? A very hard thing to determine based on the usage, and a lot of other assumptions. MSN Autos has the base invoice price of the fiesta at 14950 and the LEAF at 31394. The fiesta will probably average somewhere near 32MPG under normal driving. You estimate your 40 miles at $0.85. The fiesta will use $5.63 (@4.50/) to cover the same distance, or $0.1195 per mile more.

    With a difference of cost of 16444 in price (not including taxes or other people paying for your car [subsidies]) that puts a simple back of napkin payback mileage at 137606 miles.

    This comparison has it’s limitations of course, It doesn’t include oil changes for instance, and makes lots of other assumptions (Like the rental car if you want to actually go anywhere when you own the LEAF).

    I wonder if it’s worth it for the limitations.

    • Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) says:

      Traciatim – welcome to Living LEAF. These types of calculations are, unfortunately, almost impossible to provide with any degree of precision. As you mentioned, many of the routine maintenance of a traditional vehicle (gasoline or diesel) simply go away with an electric vehicle (LEAF or other). In our household, we have a second vehicle negating the need for a rental. Many have a different situation.

      We most often begin a discussion of the LEAF like this – “The LEAF is a situationally specific vehicle. If you happen to be in this situation, it fits extremely well”. The fact is, the LEAF is not for everybody. Anyone trying to say that it is is not really in touch with reality. People still need trucks and vans and long-distance vehicles. But many – our family for one – have found the LEAF to be an amazing vehicle that can be cost effective – over time. The problem is this – few people today wish to own a car “over time”.

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