The first two weeks of ownership of a Nissan Leaf e+ imported from Japan has been easy sailing, say Canberra couple Karen and Shane Maher.
As The Driven reported in July, the couple decided to buy the 62kWh Leaf with 385km driving range (WLTP) using Australian grey import laws, which allow electric vehicles not brought in by dealers within 3 months of a global release to be brought in privately.
Officially added to the “Specialists and Enthusiast Vehicle” (SEV) register in August along with the Kia e-Soul, the Fiat 500e and Peugeot E208, the Nissan Leaf e+ is a step up from the 40kWh Nissan Leaf which sells in Australia from $49,990 before on-roads and offers only 270km range (WLTP).
Speaking with The Driven this morning, the Mahers say that their experience owning the Leaf so far has been a dream.
“I love it – it’s nice, it’s comfortable,” says Karen, adding that she loves that it is smaller than the couple’s previous vehicle, a Nissan Xtrail.
She adds that it is also much zipper than the Xtrail. “It’s got better take off, I have to make sure I don’t speed,” she laughs.
“It’s a game changer but not yet available in Australia,” says Shane.
The couple made the decision to import the Leaf e+ after driving around New Zealand for a week in Nissan e-NV200. A test drive of the 40kWh Leaf in Woden sealed the deal.
“The price convinced us to get the 62kWh – the drive away price for the 40kWh Leaf is around $54,000-55,000,” says Shane.
“We did entertain getting a 40kWh out of Japan for $37,000, but someone planted the wild idea of getting a 62kWh instead, so we set a goal of getting long range Leaf for under $50,000.”
OK people, this is what we promised.
Full disclosure of all pricing !!!
e+ JDM LEAF
We had a slight blowout.
Due COVID, we had to transport down to Canberra for $445, but these are wacky times. And its a very tiny impact, when compared to other people's suffering.
Cheers EV4ME pic.twitter.com/JXPawBv77U
— EV4ME (@EV4ME2) September 4, 2020
Driving range test
The couple have been documenting their import and new EV ownership journey on Youtube and a Twitter account (@EV4ME2) – their most recent upload includes a range test that you can view at the bottom of this article.
“We know we can get to Wagga on one charge,” says Karen.
In the range test, Shane says they got a very acceptable 343 kilometres: “We did a highway test run last week and drove it from 100 down to 4% and got 343km.”
“That was mild conditions, it was around 17-18 degrees and when we got in at night it was 9 degrees Celsius,” he says adding that they had no heater and air conditioning or other auxiliary devices on other than the fan.
The Nissan Leaf battery uses passive cooling, which often attracts criticism because of Australia’s climate. While they know the range will reduce in summer as the need to use air conditioning will add more demand to the battery, the couple expects it will be a winter test, which will have to wait until 2021, that will push the vehicle to its limits.
“We are lucky, we are in Canberra so operate in cooler climate,” says Shane. “The big thing is going to be the winter test on -8 degrees mornings.”
Kaz does her first solo run, travelling to work, in “Yuki” the EV. pic.twitter.com/xlBWm0pTwq
— EV4ME (@EV4ME2) September 6, 2020
ePedal and Propilot
While the Nissan Leaf e+ shares the 40kWh Leaf’s ePedal “one pedal driving”, it has an advantage over the shorter range model imported by Nissan because it includes Nissan’s driver assist suite, Propilot.
The couple’s verdict is that while they like the ePedal, they are more likely to use the Propilot’s adaptive cruise control.
“The ePedal works quite well and gives you a heavier braking – it is a bit to get used to if you just want to use one foot,” says Shane.
But he adds that if you need to brake quickly, you might forget you have to bring foot to brake rather than ePedal.
“It seems a little gimmicky but I find that we don’t really utilise it at all.”
Propilot, however, they describe as a”game-changer”.
“Propilot is adaptive cruise control basically, and steering assist,” says Shane.
“You push the Propilot button and it engages the Propilot computer. You set your cruising speed, and you can set your distance range for the adaptive cruise control – 60, 45 or 30 metres – it will detect the vehicle ahead and slow the vehicle down to keep you a safe distance from vehicle ahead,” says Shane.
“If you’re in B-mode (battery or brake mode) – that sits between D-mode, drive or ePedal. When you use that in conjunction with Propilot, because its heavier braking, Propilot gives better control going up or down hills.”
“It also comes in handy in traffic jams when you are stop and start again.”
The couple says they also enjoyed the lane assist, although it was a bit disconcerting at first.
“You need clear white lines either side of you,” says Shane, adding the couple have so far only tested it driving around Canberra’s parklands.
“It’ll steer around gentle bends, it slightly gets a bouncing effect It works quite well but we turn it off because it doesn’t take much effort to steer a car.”
Full surround camera
Karen adds that she loves the full surround camera, which gives a full view when reversing. “It’s a game-changer – it shows 360 degrees of view all around the car, by breaking it into quadrants – perfect if you’ve got kids or dogs around the car,” she says.
Shane says the reversing camera is also extremely helpful, making parking and backing out of driveways safer and easier.
“It also has a reversing camera, guided lines and things of that nature,” adds Shane.
“When you pull into tight car park if it thinks you’re too close it’ll bring that corner up so you can see more clearly.”
Charging the Nissan Leaf e+
Although there are a few ChAdeMO fast-charging stations around Canberra, the couple are largely charging at home, and that the Leaf e+’s range is more than enough for Karen’s 16km a day commute.
“We’re charging on a Zappi 7kw single phase at home, just trying to charge once a week on a Sunday night,” says Shane.
“We’re also getting our electricity meter changed to a smart meter so we can take advantage of off peak charging.
“We have 2.5 kW solar, but as in the ACT we are 100% renewable contracts, the solar does contribute but it doesn’t lessen carbon emissions.”
“It’s about bringing everyday people equality and access to electric vehicles,” Shane concludes.
A previous version of this article had the incorrect WLTP driving range stated for the Nissan Leaf e+.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.