Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nissan Leaf

I saw an ad for the Nissan Leaf, which is a compact electric car. The list price is currently ~$33,000 or about what I paid for the 350Z. It looks interesting, and since I only drive less than 20 miles to work each way, the 100 mile range should be sufficient. Top speed is supposed to be ~90 mph so I can still take the freeway to work.

Yawn... looks like a Nissan Versa.

The only concern is cost. Since moving to the new house, my electricity bill has been much higher than before. Partially it's because the house is bigger (with two refrigerators) but also I pay more per kWh due to the screwy baseline usage rules. On last month's bill, my baseline was 267 kWh. Here is the pricing based on usage tiers:

Tier 1 (within baseline) = $0.13/kWh
Tier 2 (up to 30% over baseline) = $0.15/kWh
Tier 3 (31% to 100% over baseline) = $0.24/kWh
Tier 4 (looks like 101% to 200% over) = $0.27/kWh
Tier 5 (looks like 201% to 300% over) = $0.31/kWh

The huge jump is from tier 2 to tier 3. Our usage was 503 kWh so we get slammed with paying almost double. The stupid thing is that my tiny one bedroom apartment was allocated almost 600 kWh for baseline.

Anyway... back to the electric car. The specs say the batteries are rated at 24 kWh. Assume that you get the full 100 miles in the specs, then the "fuel" cost for me at tier 4 prices is $0.27/kWh x 24 kWh / 100 miles or ~$0.065/mile. Assuming $3 per gallon and 20 mpg, I currently pay $0.15/mile.

More numbers. If I charge it every day, I'll probably be in tier 5 pricing so the cost is probably closer to $0.07/mile. Since the Leaf is a small car, a comparable gasoline car can probably get 30 mpg so fuel costs are ~$0.10/mile. With charger, the Leaf comes out to ~$35,000 not counting government subsidies (which I probably won't qualify for). The same comparable compact gasoline car probably goes for 1/2 that. Assuming a useful life of 175k miles (nice round number), the depreciation on the Leaf is $0.20/mile while only $0.10/mile for a Sentra/Corolla/Civic. Total cost: $0.27/mile for the electric car and $0.20/mile for gasoline. Of course, gas prices can increase significantly if Obama gets his Cap and TaxTrade deal. Even if the operating costs are similar, I can't be sure I'm being "environmental" since California has lots of coal and natural gas generating plants, which just shifts the pollution somewhere else upstream. I can always install rooftop solar panels like Sunny & Steve which will increase my total cost to $0.40/mile.

All that and I still can't make it to Vegas... heck, probably can't even make it to Barstow. I think I'll pass for now.


The electric car is much more efficient though. One gallon of fuel contains ~33.4 kWh of energy. At 30 mpg, one gallon of gasoline will move a car 30 miles whereas the Leaf only needs 24 kWh to go 100 miles. Probably a lot of the energy is lost as heat in a gasoline engine. It also show how energy-dense gasoline is compared to Li-ion batteries.


nissan leaf indianapolis said...

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nissan leaf said...

It is better to try it first to know its efficiency. A car that uses electricity is really different. An innovation like this coming from a reputable car manufacturer is amazing. Good to know that the company came out with this kind of invention.