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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

70 year old lady loves her solar powered Nissan Leaf

My original motivation for buying an electric car was that I hated going to petrol stations and I resented the amount of money I spent there.

I was worried that an electric car would feel so different to drive from my previous car, that as a 70 year old lady, I would find it too difficult to adapt. Once I had a Test Drive, I realised I had nothing to worry about.

To start with the only difference I noticed was that it was much quieter, which does mean you have to watch out that pedestrians don’t walk out in front of you without looking, but doesn’t affect the feel of the car. My first Test Drive was in a Mitsubishi iMiev, which was the only electric car available in Australia at the time. I was persuaded to wait for the LEAF to arrive and I’m glad I did because it is larger and suits my needs better.

To help with reducing the cost of charging the Leaf I installed a 3kw solar panel system on the roof of my home. On a fine day, I can fully charge my car for no cost, using only the 15 amp power point I had installed for the purpose. The whole LEAF/Solar Panel purchase is an investment, which will pay for itself in savings if I live long enough. It is also true that it is a benefit to the environment, both locally and globally. For me, all that is a bonus, it was not my motivation.

I took delivery of my LEAF 13 November 2012. I had to collect it from Sydney because that was the closest Nissan dealership that stocked the LEAF, at the time. My first concern was to get home to Maitland in the Hunter Valley because that was almost 152 kms away.

Although, officially I could go that far without a charge, there was concern that I might not make the distance. I decided to risk it, knowing I am very good at driving cautiously. As a precaution I had a tow truck lined up to collect me if I didn’t. I reached home with 14 kms to spare. That gave me confidence because I bought my LEAF to do short trips around Maitland, not to drive long distances. Having made it home from Sydney it was obvious that ‘range anxiety’ wasn’t going to be a concern for me.

Once I started driving my LEAF regularly I realised there was something else I particularly enjoyed. On the rare occasions when I drive on a 4 lane highway, other cars see me sitting at traffic lights and think ‘electric car, that won’t go fast’ and put their foot down, expecting to leave me behind, only to find I leave them at the starting post with my instant acceleration.

I also enjoy sharing my experiences with family and friends. Within a couple of months I discovered something else special about being a LEAF owner. We like sharing our experiences with other LEAF owners. The Australian LEAF Owners Forum was formed which allows us to share our knowledge and discoveries about our EVs. I have never had a car that is special in that way before and I enjoy it.

NSW members of the Forum decided we wanted to meet to collaborate. This was a bit tricky because all the others live in Sydney. One member found a Caravan Park in Bateau Bay, 90 kms for the Sydneysiders and 90 kms for me, with many 15 amp power points, where we could all recharge our LEAFs while we had a long, lazy lunch talking about our prized possessions. We got on in real life as well as we had in the Forum and that makes owning a LEAF very special indeed.

Guest Post by: Dr Phoebe Thornley @PhoebePhoebet

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