Sometimes being a revolutionary requires a lot of personal sacrifice, and sometimes it doesn’t.
After one year of driving of a 2015 Nissan Leaf electric car, I was surprised to find that daily driving with a gasoline car requires more sacrifice than with my electric.
Like most people, before buying the Leaf, I had concerns about owning an electric car: battery range, charging, the impact of hot and cold weather, vehicle cost, depreciation, rebates and incentives, and more.
After a year of owning one, I’m no longer concerned about any of these.
Each morning, I simply get in the Leaf and drive to work. Each evening I drive home—the same as I have for decades in other cars I've owned.
About the only ritual that changed is that each morning, I spend 5 seconds unplugging the car. Each evening, I spend another 5 seconds plugging it in.
Much of that has to do with its modern features: backup camera, center console screen with navigation system, heated seats and steering wheel, auto-dimming mirrors, “leather” seats, Bluetooth phone pairing, USB port for music ... all of them features I’ve not had in other vehicles.
But the Leaf is certainly also a nicer driving experience. The car is unbelievably quiet.
Gone are the noises of the Corolla’s starter motor, followed by the revving of the engine which rises and falls with the manual shifting of the gears.
The leaf has no transmission or starter motor and its electric motor makes only a quiet humming noise.
Torque is delivered in a smooth and consistent manner under all conditions, something not possible in a gas or hybrid vehicle.
Despite buying the top-end SL model, it doesn’t have modern driver aids like radar-based cruise control, or lane-keep assist, or automatic emergency braking.
The cargo bay under the hatch, despite being large, is poorly laid out, decreasing its usability. And the cargo-cover removal method is annoying.
In most cars, cargo covers can be snapped out and simply removed through the hatch.
To do that on the Leaf, at least one seat must be lowered, the cover then snapped out, twisted in just the right way—and only then it can be pulled out through the hatch.
It's a technique I've only recently figured out; I previously had to remove the cover by passing it first into the rear seats, then pulling it out a rear door.