This post has been a long time in coming because almost immediately after I signed over two years of my driving life to the Nissan Leaf, I noticed some issues. These problems were with more than just the vehicle itself.
An electric car is more than just the driving experience. The car is all about the range and the difficulty charging. Forget all the other minor issues I came upon as a result of solely driving this vehicle for several months. This car has real issues that should make any prospective buyer pause.
The worst problem is lack of responsibility. You might laugh. But when you are stuck at a semi remote location in 30 degree weather trying to authorize payment on an electric charging station that is out of your “network” you will not be laughing. Who is at fault for faulty/broken/damaged/not working/ chargers? I don’t care who is at fault or what the issue is because s a 70 mile range car leaser, I need to be able to rely on that charger. Who is responsible for fixing the issue. Now there’s the rub. In my investigations it’s always the person you are not talking to. I have a length example for you. Feel free to skip to the section other issues I have with the car.
Example of lack of responsibility over electric car charging infrastructure: This incident highlights the stupidity of electric car chargers and the absurdity of Nissan’s selling points and the aggravation of trying to charge your all electric dud of a car.
I had picked out a perfectly positioned quick charging station three quarters of the way to a destination that I was almost certain I would not reach at my current electric level. I needed that charge.
Background: the Leaf takes 4-6 hours on average at a normal charger to fully power up, around 24 hours at a regular outlet to charge up, and only 20 minutes to get to 80% at a quick charging station* and note that only certain Leafs are even equipped with the quick charging capability. I paid about $1000 extra to have this feature, which the dealer and Nissan claim can charge my car to 80% capacity in only 20 minutes. Not as convenient as a quick stop at the gas station but perfectly adequate amount of time when taking into account the regular charger time and the regular outlet charging time.
Back to the example: I was on my way to the charging station, located at the Fred Meyer’s in Kirkland #351. I saw that the Blinknetwork app I use to locate information about open and available chargers said that there were two quick chargers and that one was busy and one was ready. Excellent, I thought, I’ll whip in and out in 20 minutes, maybe snag some groceries while I’m there during my 20 minutes. I got to the store around 7:05 P.M., and spent at least 3 minutes locating the blink ports. They happened to be right next to the handicapped spots, one regular 4-6 hour charger next to the large double quick charge station and then another regular 4-6 hour charger. All of them were Blink chargers.
Background: Blink was going through bankruptcy several months back and merged with another company recently. In that time, Blink became rather unreliable with machines on the fritz more than usual and no servicing going on. How interesting that the infrastructure can almost collapse when one of the larger companies is having a hard time. Bailout anyone?
So I get to Freddy’s, find the charging station and park next to a silver leaf, which is a lot nicer than the white one I have. White is the worst color, if at all possible don’t go with white. Heck, don’t get a Leaf at all but if you do all I’m saying is don’t go with white. I pull out my Blink card and everything is going smoothly. It knows it’s me.
Background: I’ve had issues with using a card before, usually not with Blink. Do you know I have three separate charging station’s cards and there are still stations I can’t access because I don’t have the proper key fob. Come on, why can’t I have a universal access card? Why is this so difficult for the companies?
The card reads perfectly fine. I finagle the large and awkward charger into my car and lock it in so nobody can steal the $5 of electricity I have just authorized. $5 for no more than 70 ish miles is not much better than the price of gas and when you add in the inconvenience factor… The machine gets stuck on the waiting cycle, not starting my charge. I start to panic. I have 15 estimated miles left. There aren’t any quick chargers in my direction and I’ve already deviated for this stop. I don’t want to wait 4 hours to charge at the slower pace. What’s going on? Then I read the screen:
So let me get this straight Blink, I can’t charge until the car next to me is done? Why are there two ports then? What is going on. I glance over at the other car. It has 56% and is set to go to 90%. I wait for the percentage to go up, it’s about 1 minute for the percent to change. Oh my dear lord. So in 20 minutes my car won’t have any more charge than it does right now?? How is this possible? What happened to my 80% in 20 minutes? In 20 minutes the guy next to me won’t even be done. I become angry. Why Leaf, why do you cause me so much stress?! I do what any normal person would do in this situation. Instead of spending my extra time shopping leisurely at Freddy’s I whip out my phone and enter B*tch mode. It’s on. I will get answers. I will get results. You can’t deny me my 20 minute charge. First I put in a call to Blink. I get a nice man on the phone and I play it cool. I describe the issue, he tells me that basically it must be the owner’s prerogative that the double quick charger will only charge one car at a time and that he has never heard of the problem before. I thank him and verify that the owner of this particular Blink charger would in fact be Fred Meyers. He confirms and I say goodbye. I feel sorry for him having to work the customer service line on a Saturday night. Did I mention it was the weekend? I have a new target: Freddy’s is to blame! I stride into the store and march down to the customer service desk. I wait patiently in line and bring up my query when it is my turn.
“Does Freddy’s own the Blink stations, the car chargers out front?”
The customer service lady confirms in confusion that yes they are Freddy’s chargers. She doesn’t know much about them, however, and when I describe the issue she can only apologize and call over the manager. The manager doesn’t know much about them either and says that anyone who would know is out for the weekend. I explain the issue and how upset I am over the extended time frame. She is understanding (one of the two things I want out of this is understanding/sympathy and fixing the issue) so I remain polite yet firm. I even bring her outside and explain the basic premise of an electric car and how they charge. I tell her this problem is an anomaly that has quite upset me and partially ruined my evening and that I would appreciate the problem not happening in the future. She says she will discuss it when someone who knows more about the chargers is available. I thank her and remain in the 30 degree weather to make sure my car starts charging after the silver leaf next to mine finishes.
I notice the video on loop. The video is in between the two ports on top and explains how to use the quick charger. It also explains explicitly that when one car is charging the other has to wait until the other is finished, no big deal. YES BIG DEAL. I was told that I could get a charge in twenty minutes! It is now close to 7:40 PM (note 30 minutes has elapsed) and the other car is close to finishing. I also notice there is a glaring stop button on the charging port. So, I could stop their charge manually and mine would start? But I’m not that big of a jerk so I don’t do anything of the sort. I continue to watch the video loop 10 more times. The video confirms that indeed I could stop the other car’s charge. This makes me worry that someone else could come after that car is done and stop my charge.
I’m bored and idle so I decide to go into b*tch mode again and call Blink one more time. I briefly put in a call to Nissan but they are closed, of course. You can buy a car on a Saturday evening but you sure can’t fix any problems with said car on a Saturday evening. Their customer service is not 24 hours like you would think. Strike 367 for Nissan as a company. I place my call to Blink and get the same guy as before. I begin to explain that this problem is not an unusual one since Blink themselves are advertising on their video that only one car can charge at one time. I repeat myself several times until he asks me what I want him to do. I want Blink to have standards, sheesh. I tell him I don’t want this problem to happen again and that this should be reported. He promises to do just that. Case closed. I hang up.
It isn’t until approximately 7:45 P.M. that I can start my own charge. I wait until 8:15 or so before I become overly impatient and extra aggravated. I’m only at 74% or so and I unplug. It has been over an hour since I’ve been here. I’m fed up and have some more calls for the liars of Nissan and their quick charge myth. What the hell did I pay extra for if it still can take upwards of an hour for an 80% charge?
This is just one example of how the Leaf is not worth the trouble. Other issues I have with the car that MSRP’s for over 30 grand:
1. The heated seats lie about being high or low. They aren’t high on high or low on low. They cycle on and off. That is very different. They claim it’s to save electricity but if it’s 13 degrees outside and I’m already saving electricity by not having the heater on, I want the seat to stay hot. Every other car with heated seats stays hot when you put it on hot or 5 on 5 or high on high. What other car gets boiling hot for 2 minutes then shuts off for 15? That won’t keep me warm.
2. The trunk won’t close properly unless you shove it with considerable force. Was it just made poorly? Probably. I have been informed that when any other door is open you can let it drop and it will close. When do you close the trunk with other doors open? Nissan engineers = idiots. I don’t leave my driver door open for no reason and get something out of the trunk and then close the driver’s door. Who does that? If you don’t shut the trunk properly the back light will stay on indefinitely and do I hear energy suck? Yeah I do.
3. The paint. They tried to sell me close to $1000 of extra crap to put on the paint for it to stay fresh and chip free and dirt free and to keep it looking new. I laughed in their faces. That would amount to an extra $42 month for what I assumed was no reason. If they can’t make the paint last two years, why would I want their car? It has been 6 months and things are sticking into my car! Sticking into my car, ya hear? What the what! That is not normal.
4. No cruise control. I was well aware of this one when I bought the car and it was a compromise I was willing to make. However, I really miss my cruise control and for a 30k + car, you are missing some luxuries like the cruise control.
5. Lately I’ve had issues with charging the car. Horror of horrors. It already takes a million hours to charge the thing, it HAS to work every time you plug it in. I mean, the car can only go 60-90 miles in one bang. Twice in the last week when I was charging using a regular outlet (24 hours max charging time you may recall), it shut off randomly and didn’t charge. So that 12-hour overnight charge didn’t happen. What was the problem? I don’t even know. Once could be an anomaly but twice indicates a real problem. The nature of the issue makes it a problem no matter how many times it occurs.
6. The range. Let’s face it. It’s not that far. How many miles do you get on your car when it’s on empty. Could be 30-50-70, right? Well, now think if you have this Leaf you area always on that empty sign. Nervous yet? Now you stop at a charging station and it doesn’t work. What do you do now? Well, you could write a passive aggressive blog post about why you shouldn’t have bought/leased the car in the first place. Maybe someone will heed the warning and go with that gas guzzling hummer instead.
7. The worst spam I have gotten is because I gave out my personal information to Nissan when I signed over two years of my driving life for the Leaf. I have gotten called 5 times from Sirius XM Radio trying to get me to continue with their overvalued service. Their prices are ridiculous. I wouldn’t even pay $1 for their radio service. I have gotten two letters from them as well. I have gotten emails from Nissan I don’t want or need. I have gotten two calls from Nissan themselves. If I have a problem, I will call you and I would appreciate it if you were open! I have also gotten an erroneous call asking me to extend my warranty. I leased the car… but thanks for almost giving me a heart attack when I thought there was a problem with my insurance.