Becoming an Electric Car convert thanks to my Nissan LEAF

Bhakti Devi, agreed to share her experiences with her 2016 Nissan LEAF on Drive Zero. She now has her LEAF up for sale on carsales due to an upcoming move, but remains an EV convert.

In March 2016, I consciously chose to become a proud owner of an electric vehicle – a Nissan Leaf.

Having owned and operated the electric car for a year now, I wanted to share my experiences, and five reasons that have made the ride an utmost joy.

Let me start by sharing my personal situation for context. The Nissan Leaf looks just like any other 4 door car with a hatchback – it is spacious from inside and yet it is small and compact enough to make it easy to park. I feel like the Nissan Leaf is like a Tesla, but without all the hype.

I live quite close (at walking distance) from work. Therefore I only tend to drive during Friday and the weekend within the city each week for social events.

The range of Nissan Leaf (at full charge) is on average 150 km. Which means that technically, if I were to live in a place requiring me to commute daily to work, it would allow me a maximum one-way distance of 75 km every day.

These are my favourite things about owning a Nissan Leaf:

1. Never ever having to visit a petrol station

Critics and sceptics of electric cars (in Australia) often go on about how the electricity that is used to charge the battery comes from coal power so you don’t derive any warm and fuzzy feeling of being free from the use of fossil fuel. As far as I am concerned, forget the scope 2 emissions (indirect use of coal power), it gives me immense joy knowing that I have reduced my scope 1 emissions (direct result of my activity) by completely eliminating my dependency on petrol. I take great pride and pleasure in achieving a (no) petrol nirvana.

2. Being able to raise awareness about electric car to my family, friends and co-workers

Looking back at my decision to buy the electric car, one wise thing I did was not to consult any of my friends or family. Not only because none of them had any experience of owning or operating an electric car, but more importantly because most people (Australians even more so) tend to equate anything new as very high risk. This, to me, explains the very low uptake of electric cars in Australia.

My decision was based on a video I watched of an owner of Nissan Leaf who shared how hassle-free it was to own the electric car while he explained and demonstrated how he charged the car from the comfort of his home garage.

Therefore, one of my motivations to buy and own an electric car was being able to give a first hand experience of seeing, touching and test driving the ‘mysterious’ electric car to my family, friends and co-workers. I was able to answer their questions that often arise in people’s mind about electric cars.

By raising an awareness about the electric car in such a direct way, I hoped that it would alleviate any fears and concerns they may have about buying and owning electric cars. In the process I could feel satisfied that I have made some contribution in taking the mystery out of the very practical electric cars.

3. Electric cars are great conversation starters and connectors

I posted and shared about becoming an owner of the electric car on the social media page of my workplace (Yammer) with the view to raise awareness about it among my co-workers. I was bowled over by the number of comments, conversations and questions my post generated. In the process it also connected me to many at my workplace who I didn’t know before. I started to meet co-workers in lifts and in meetings, who would stop to ask how my electric car is running.

I would get similar level of interest and engagement with people I met in parties and social gatherings, if any of my friends mentioned about me owning an electric car.

Whenever I parked in the Concord shopping mall to charge my car at the fast charging station, strangers would come to take a closer look at the car and chatted with me to ask the usual questions.

The large and prominent display screen showing charging status would draw their attention to the fact that what looked like an ordinary car is actually electric. I would see them express shock and see their jaws drop when I would tell them that the electric fuelling was absolutely free, and I paid zilch for charging my car.

4. No oil and engine checks, no change of transmission fluids, no air filter change, no mechanical parts to replace and maintain

Owning an electric car liberates you forever from doing any oil and engine checks, refilling coolant, changing transmission fluid, replacing and maintaining the mechanical parts.

When I went for my very first scheduled servicing, I asked the service guy if there was any particular (routine) care of the car I need to take between the scheduled servicing. It was music to my ears when the guy answered in one word – “Nothing!”

5. Its contribution to my enhanced ability and confidence for trying new things and developing a future outlook

Buying the electric car was a big decision as with any decision involving uncertainties and lack of experience. But I made a conscious attempt to go through each new step involved with an attitude of a learner. That made things easy and fun.

The very first learning was about organising a 15 Amp power point in the garage of my rented apartment. It cost me less than $100 to get the electrician to install. Now, every time I park the car in the garage, I simply plug the car to the power point and let it charge overnight.

15 Amp AC slow charge in my garage

I then moved to a new place without a garage. It was very close to a Council car park that had three reserved parking for electric cars with provision for an AC slow charger power point. So, I decided to learn and experience charging in a public charging station.

To make use of the network of public charging stations, I first had to register and become a member of Chargepoint who own and provide access to the charge stations. Membership to Chargepoint is free, so the use of the public chargepoint charging stations at many shopping centres comes at no cost.

I was able to park the car there and do my weekly shopping while my car charged up, and I only have to pay for my parking. If I park on Sundays, the parking is free and therefore to experience free charging, most often I schedule my car charging and weekend shopping on Sundays!

Since owning the electric car I have developed more courage and confidence in taking on new personal projects and ventures that are out of my comfort zone. When fear strikes me at the start of new projects, I simply have to recall the experience of approaching the electric car with the mind of a learner, and I am filled with a sense of quiet confidence which allows me to feel the fear and venture on.

Moving on…

I feel very sad to having let go of my electric car as I prepare for an exciting phase of balancing my professional work and care of elderly family members taking a long sabbatical re-locating overseas in a couple of months (working on new personal and community projects).

Keith enjoys nerding out about Electric Vehicles, owning a BMW i3, Tesla Model X and now, running Drive Zero .

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