If Electric Cars are the Answer, What Was the Question? – Nissan Leaf 2019 Short Review
When used on a daily basis, cars are not as fun as we imagined them to be. You could be in the ultimate driving machine, but also be stuck in a 30-minute crawl on the LDP or a 20-minute merging nightmare right after the NKVE Subang Exit. Congestion is a matter that not only affects car drivers. Traffic is horrendous inside Masjid al-Haram too, where there are absolutely no cars at all. It is a function of number of individual bodies per unit area. Electric cars will not solve this problem. Electric cars will also not solve our emissions problem. Both the electric energy generation and manufacturing process of electric cars are major contributors to pollutant emissions.
So, what problems do electric cars address?
- Well, for starters, vibration.
When we drove this Nissan Leaf, there was virtually no vibration. No vibration
at standstill and no vibration when you creep. That’s great.
- Next is the number of moving
parts. There are no overhead cams, intake valves, exhaust valves, and
pistons. There is also no need for a huge gearbox. Less moving parts equals
less parts wearing out. That’s also great.
- Thirdly, space. When arranged
well, the place where the engine usually is can now be a place to put your
things. (Not an advantage of the Nissan Leaf, unfortunately).
- Fourth – thermal efficiency. Internal combustion engines usually have a 20-30% thermal efficiency. (Most energy is lost through heat and noise). Electric motors usually have 85-90% thermal efficiency. That is a big difference.
OK, let’s talk about the Nissan Leaf. We’ve talked about the Leaf previously (link to article), but have never driven it before. Here’s what we have to say after driving it today.
What is this?
A fully electric hatchback.
How much power does it have?
How much torque does it generate?
Is it front-wheel-drive?
What’s the range?
311km on NEDC
How long does it take for a full charge?
7 hours. Unfortunately, the onboard charger is not compatible with the chargers you see at our shopping malls (unless you have an adapter). Without an adapter, you can only charge this at home (charging kit provided). Currently different regions use different sockets.
CHAdeMO (left) and J1772 (Type 1) (right) charging sockets in the Nissan Leaf. These are sockets used in Japan.
What is it like to drive?
Very quiet. Virtually no vibration. Good acceleration as expected from an electric car. Not sporty, not premium, and not exciting, but easy to manoeuvre and comfortable. If you don’t pay attention as a passenger, you would barely notice you’re in an electric car. Electric motor torque is very useful for quick and safe overtakes.
Is it practical?
It is a hatchback so there’s ample boot space with the rear seats folded down. The Leaf is about the size of a Ford Focus.
Is it stylish?
It just looks like an ordinary hatchback. That is good.
How much does it cost?
RM188,888.00 (OTR without insurance). They clearly don’t plan to sell many. For road tax, the power output was used as a measuring stick. The sales advisor said it was assumed like a 2.0L, but with some discount. The Road tax comes to RM187.
Would I buy one?
For RM188,888.00, no. For RM80,000.00, yes. The Leaf is not a premium car. If anything, the Leaf is a good benchmark for an “affordable” electric car. It has very ordinary interior and exterior. This particular Leaf is actually a mid-range Nissan Leaf, but is also the only variant that is sold in Malaysia. There is the more premium version with better features and there is also the base trim which sits on steel wheels.
Should you get one?
If you really, really want an electric car, go ahead. If you just need a car, the Leaf is an overpriced hatchback that you can’t fuel up at Shell, Petronas, Petron, Caltex, or BHP yet. Heck, even those shopping mall chargers don’t work (They’re catered for the European electric cars). Interesting car though.
Are electric cars the future
Personally, I have my doubts. We use coal for our electricity generation. All of this is imported, with around 60% of the coal coming from Indonesia. (source) We are not self-sustainable, energy wise. Making our transportation also dependent on imported coal could risk bringing us to a halt due to factors beyond our control (war, boycott, etc.).