Nissan Leaf endurance test: easier to convince?

Rutger Middendorp tests cars in the Bright Endurance Test. Also follow our YouTube channel

In 2011, it was still quite difficult to convince people of the future of the electric car. The arguments of opponents were largely the same as now: it drives better, if you have a driveway, charging is more pleasant than refueling, apart from purchasing an electric car, it is cheaper and it is cleaner than driving on fuel.

But then there was also more uncertainty. For example, there was less reliable research about the decline of batteries, about the true well-to-wheel impact of the electric car and there were fewer alarming reports about the habitability of our favorite planet. So if someone made the argument that those batteries wouldn’t last long enough, you could say: Nissan has tested it and assumes at least eight years. But no one knew for sure, because the cars were just around the corner.

Environmental impact

Reliable research was also hard to find. Statoil in Norway sponsored a study that would show that the electric car was worse for the environment. But they included the battery of an industrial forklift truck in the calculations instead of that of a car. In many studies, the full environmental impact of the electric car has been calculated, from production and electricity to consumption, and for fuel cars only production and consumption of the car has been calculated.

When really well-weighted research was carried out (from, for example, Transport & Environment) it turned out that the environmental impact of the production of an electric car is indeed higher than that of a fuel car, but that the emissions for every liter of petrol or diesel also doubles due to refining. and transport to the gas station (by boat and tanker).

After more than ten years of driving, it also appears that the deterioration of batteries is not as bad as predicted. There are a number of batteries that do not work well: for example, those of the very first Nissan Leafs from before 2013, but in general you do not have to worry that your battery will deteriorate very quickly. There is now also a known trick to keep them healthy: once a year, drive your battery almost completely empty and then charge it again at a 220V socket. As slowly as possible. Then the cells are rebalanced.

The argument that a petrol car is better for the environment can no longer be substantiated. There is convincing evidence to the contrary. The fact that batteries deteriorate rapidly or cannot be recycled has also turned out to be nonsense. The evidence is overwhelming that electric cars are better for the environment and last long enough.

Range

Two arguments then remain: I will miss the engine sound of my car and the range is not large enough. Let’s start with the second one and save the best for last. Our Nissan Leaf of around 40,000 euros has a real range of 340 kilometers. On average, we cover 36 kilometers per day in the Netherlands. Not even a sales rep will drive 340 kilometers in a day very often. Since you can fully charge any electric car in one night and a person still has to sleep, that driving range is really less of a problem than people think.

During the holidays you can do 600 kilometers in a day with one lunch stop with our Leaf. Do you find that too exciting or do you really want to drive 1400 kilometers in one evening and night against all advice, then you rent something or exchange your car with a family member for the holiday. The Leaf is certainly not the best example, because there are cars with more range and especially cars that can charge faster. But the principle is the same.

Sound

And then that sound: the vast majority of people nowadays drive a car of less than 2 liters of displacement with a turbo on it. The best-selling cars in 2021 were the Kia Niro, Volvo XC40 and Volkswagen Polo. If we skip the electric variants of the first two, you can get the thickest engines with a 1.6 petrol that delivers 105 hp, a 2 liter 4 cylinder that delivers 197 hp and a 3 cylinder that delivers 110 hp. And those are the thickest engines.

The Leaf we drive has 204 hp as standard and sounds better than all those engines. When I switched to a Mazda CX5 after driving an electric Kia Niro, I noticed how much noise there was when I stepped on the gas to overtake someone.

Admittedly, overtaking someone in a Porsche 911 or anything with more than four cylinders sounds really nice. But the majority of drivers have no such thing in the garage and will miss the sound like a toothache.

Rutger Middendorp tests cars in the Bright Endurance Test. Also follow our YouTube channel

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