After four months of owning a 2022 Nissan Leaf, I thought I would share my opinion of the automobile. This is my second Leaf. The first was a 2015 Leaf that I considered to be my favorite car up to that point. The reason I traded that car in was discussed in a previous post.
The first thing you notice when comparing a 2022 Leaf with the 2015 model is that it looks more like a normal car and less like a big frog. That means that you won’t get the attention that you might have gotten driving the older version but that could be good or bad, depending on how much attention you want. But this is not meant to be a comparison between the two cars.
I bought the Leaf SV with a 40 kWh battery. The Leaf has three models, an S, an SV, and an SL. The S is the most basic, followed by the SV, and then the SL which has the most features. If there is a “Plus” after the designation, it means it has the larger 62 kWh battery. It also means it is $5,000 to $6,000 more costly.
Since I rarely had a problem with the range of my old Leaf, which had a 24 kWh battery, I didn’t feel the need to spend the extra money. If I was going to be doing a lot of long-distance driving, then I would want the bigger battery, but 90 percent of my driving is within 5 miles of my home. Most of the rest is within 20 miles of my home. If something came up where I had to drive across the state, I would either map out fast charger locations or rent a car. Renting a car on rare occasions is far cheaper than springing for the larger battery.
The official range for the 40 kWh battery is 149 miles but that depends on how you drive. It could be more or it could be less. There is a feature on the dash that shows you where you are on the efficiency scale. It is actually a good way to challenge yourself to try to push up your efficiency rating. I often find myself driving like an old lady so I can increase my rating. I started at around 4.1 miles per kWh and eventually pushed it up to 4.4 before settling in at 4.3. I believe the calculations only count recent miles but I do not know the formula. Lately, I dropped down to 4.2, which still translates to 168 miles on a charge.
The reason I get better than average economy is partly that I drive conservatively but mostly because I drive almost exclusively around town. If I were to take a trip on the highway and drive over 70 MPH, then the miles per kWh would drop. I am not sure why but, unlike with gasoline-powered vehicles, city driving is more efficient than highway driving in an electric car. I’m sure part of the reason is that no energy is expended while sitting at a light, unlike gasoline engines which must idle.
The car has several safety features that are nice. The one I like most is a blind spot warning. If you put on the turn signal and there is a car next to you, the car gives you an audible warning, and a yellow light blinks in your mirror. Another feature vibrates the steering wheel if you start to drift out of your lane. It has collision avoidance features too that involve automatic braking but I have not had any desire to try them out.
The driving display allows you to cycle through several screen options. The one I like shows the driving efficiency, as shown above. It also shows the total miles and miles left on the charge. Another screen has the remaining miles more prominently displayed along with the power usage. There is another display that shows what you are listening to and, if you want to navigate old school, you can bring up a compass.
The media center touchscreen display allows a bit of customization but it is cumbersome to change and could use an upgrade. It does sync with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is nice.
There are also a couple of buttons near the shift knob that helps with efficiency. Eco mode decreases motor output somewhat and also increases slightly regenerative braking. Regenerative braking essentially recaptures kinetic energy when slowing and puts it back into the battery. If you turn on e-Pedal, that is like regenerative braking on steroids. Some people call it one-pedal driving because when you take your foot off the accelerator, you can feel the car rapidly slowing down while it recaptures energy. Driving with the e-Pedal on means you never have to use the brake pedal except in an emergency. Of course, it does take a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it it will be like second nature.
The car is quiet, like all-electric cars, but I noticed a slightly louder hum than on my 2015 leaf. There was over a six-month gap between trading in my old leaf and buying a new one so my memory could be faulty. What hasn’t changed is the loud, annoying noise the car makes while backing up. I would like to find a way to muffle it a little so I can back up my car early in the morning without waking the neighbors. My wife’s Tesla, on the other hand, sounds like a relatively quiet alien spacecraft landing nearby. Nissan should do something like that on future models.
My 2015 leaf came with a home charger that plugged into a 110-volt outlet. The charger that comes with the 2022 model will plug into a 220 outlet and has a 110 adapter. This is a great upgrade, even though I only have a 110 outlet near my driveway. I have not had a need yet to add a 220 outlet but it is nice to know I can do that. I could also pay to have a home charger installed and save the portable charger as a backup.
The Leaf also comes with two charging ports, a standard J1772 port for level 1 (110) and level 2 (220) charging, and a ChAdeMO port for fast charging. I read that the CHAdeMO port is outdated but with all the cars on the road that use it, I can’t imagine that the fast chargers out there will stop offering it as an option any time soon. Interestingly, the word comes from the Japanese phrase pronounced “o CHA deMO ikaga desuka,” Which means something like “How about a cup of tea?” The reason that is used is that the charge time is about the same time it would take to have a cup of tea.
All in all, I think the 2022 Nissan leaf is an excellent car for the money. Yes, my wife’s Tesla is better than my Nissan Leaf, but for the money she spent, I could buy two Leafs and still have $10,000 left over. That is a great deal in my book.
Check back soon and I will talk about the energy costs of electric cars and the hidden reason why buying an electric car is good for the environment despite the naysayer’s reasons why it is not.
The best vehicle I ever had was a 2015 Nissan Leaf. When new it got about 100 miles on a charge. By the summer of 2021 that had dropped to under 75 miles. Still, it was plenty of miles for most of the driving I did and the few times that it wasn’t, I would just plug it in somewhere along my route for just long enough to allow me to finish my trip. I figured I could drive it until the range dropped to under 40 miles. Then I would consider replacing the battery or buying another vehicle. Unfortunately, our situation forced me to consider replacing it years ahead of when I planned to do it.
We bought a house in West Virginia in November of 2020. We packed our three cats in two crates and put them in a moving truck while we towed my wife’s BMW 430i. It was a nightmare trip. The crates barely fit between the seats and we had to listen to constant cat cries for a good portion of the trip.
We stayed there until early January and then headed back to Florida. This time the crates went into the back of the BMW. I bought the biggest crates I could that would still fit in the back seat of the BMW, which was not very big. It felt unsafe because the only way to get the crates in and out was to put the top down. In an emergency, getting the cats out would be tough. Fortunately, we made it home okay but I didn’t want to do that again.
In 2021, we decided to spend September and October in West Virginia because the cold was just too much after being spoiled by Florida winters. This meant my wife needed to bring all her Christmas decorations back to our Florida home. She told me I needed to trade my Leaf in for a large vehicle like a van or SUV. I really did not want to do that and resisted the idea for a long time.
We probably should have just rented a truck again for the return trip but neither of us wanted to go through that again. I instead searched for alternatives. My first thought was that we could rent a large van that could tow my wife’s car but it is impossible to rent a one-way van, or a truck with a back seat, that can also tow a car. Also, because the rental car companies were experiencing a car shortage during 2021, they would not rent vehicles for one-way trips out of state. That eliminated the idea of driving two vehicles home. I also thought we could put a tow hitch on the BMW and tow a small trailer, but for some reason, a tow hitch was not recommended for convertibles. We also could not put on a roof carrier for the same reason.
In the end, I gave in and traded my car in for a big, gas-guzzling 2008 Nissan Titan. It was an older truck but it only had 19,000 miles on it so we thought it would be reliable, which it was. Unfortunately, I overpaid for the truck but since used cars were as scarce as new cars there were no good options.
I was able to buy bigger crates and the trip up to West Virginia went pretty smoothly. But then, with one week left in our stay, it became clear to my wife that I wasn’t totally happy there, even though I never said anything to the contrary. I also think she was starting to have second thoughts about our yearly trips up there. In the end, we decided to rent the house out and then spent the next week trying to find a tenant while we packed up everything that we could reasonably bring back to Florida.
I rented a trailer and we came home with almost everything we brought up there plus more. The truck did a good job for us during that time but if we had known ahead of time that we were going to rent it out we could have just flown up there while someone watched our cats and rented a truck to come back.
I think my wife felt guilty because now I was stuck driving this big battleship around that was totally unneeded and damn near impossible to park except at the back of parking lots. So when I floated the idea of trading my truck in for a new Leaf, she was all for it.
The idea came about four weeks ago when I brought the Titan into the Nissan dealer for an oil change. While I was there I walked around the parking lot casually looking for a new Leaf. I saw none. I asked a salesman named Miguel who said they didn’t have any and the only one coming in was spoken for. He also said that I could not order one from the factory at this time. I asked him for his card and figured I would check back.
Six days later, on a Saturday, I thought I would check how realistic it would be to trade my truck, knowing I owed more on the truck than it was worth. I checked Autotrader but there were no Leafs or any electric vehicles in my price range anywhere nearby. The exception was a few older Leafs that were highly overpriced. I thought about calling the salesman I talked to but I had lost his card and forgotten his name. Instead, I looked on the website of that Nissan dealer.
The website showed no Leafs but while I was browsing it a window popped up asking if I needed help. Without thinking I typed a question that I don’t remember now. I think I asked what my trade-in value might but I’m not sure that was my first question. She then asked me to text her photos of my truck and gave me her phone number. After I did that she said the only Leaf they had coming in was an SV model and told me about payment options but avoided telling me the price or what my trade was worth. I had to ask for each, which started to feel like I was dealing with the stereotypical used car salesman.
When she said the SV model would cost me $35,700, I said it was more than I wanted to spend so she looked for the standard S model and said there was nothing coming in. She then said she found one at another store and again mentioned payments without mentioning the car she found was also an SV model and that the price was $34,700.
I said I saw the car started at $27,400 and asked if I could just order it. She confirmed that they were not taking orders and asked what my max payment would be. I wanted to get away from payments and settle on a price so I asked what my payment would be if the car was $29,000. She said $29,000 is below MSRP and no dealership would sell it for that. I showed her a screenshot of the Nissan website showing the MSRP as $27,400. She replied that was before any packages were added. I said that is why I added $1,600 and she suddenly stopped texting me like she decided I wasn’t worth her time.
Later that afternoon, while my wife and I were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I mentioned that I was considering trading in my truck for another Leaf. She was all for it and thought we should drive straight to the dealer, which we did. There I was met by the same salesperson I saw the previous Monday, Miguel. He almost immediately asked if I had spoken with someone online. I don’t know how he knew so quickly but I told him I did. I also apologized and said I lost his card and forgot his name, which was true. I found out later that he had to share his commission with the woman that was texting me, which he was okay with but I wasn’t because I didn’t think she deserved anything, especially after she just stopped texting me back.
Miguel found a Leaf coming in that was an SV but it was under $33,000. Still, more than I wanted to spend, but it was starting to seem like getting what I wanted was going to be difficult. Besides, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have the extra features that the SV offered. I would have preferred the SV plus which has the bigger battery but I didn’t think the extra $5,000 or so would be a worthwhile expenditure considering I didn’t have a need to drive that far.
While we were discussing the car, another salesman, who I think was a sales supervisor, was also there talking to us. There were several top-of-the-line used cars in the showroom, one of which was a “used” 2022 Tesla Model Y with only about 36 miles on it. That caught my wife’s interest and the salesman was trying to get my wife to take a test drive. My wife wanted to test drive it but considering the price was $80,000 I said that was a crazy idea. But the salesman kept pushing and my wife kept buying into the idea. I kept telling her it was a bad idea and I could not get behind the idea of going that far into debt but, as usual, she didn’t listen to me.
Since she was going to take it for a drive with me or without me I decided to go with her. The car was like driving a spaceship with a glass roof and a computer screen that controlled everything. In the end, she decided to buy the car. I reminded her she was upside down on the BMW that she promised last year would be her last car in a long time after she traded her third Mustang in five years for it. So we spent two and a half hours at the Nissan dealer that evening and drove home in a Tesla.
A week later I was able to pick up my new Leaf.
So far I am happy with the Leaf but, after more than two weeks, I have driven it about 140 miles. I almost think it would have been cheaper if I had just sold my truck and taken an Uber to work every day. It would have been especially cheaper if I sold my truck without my wife present.
I recently vacationed in Germany with my wife and learned
some interesting ways that the country is different than the United States. Of
course, there are more similarities than differences but here I want to share
some of those differences, at least from my observations. Keep in mind that
this is only my opinion based on my travels in the southern states of Bayern
(Bavaria) and Baden-Württemberg and may not apply to all of Germany.
Germany is very similar to the United States in many ways.
In fact, the large influx of Germans into the United States during the nineteenth
century, including many of my ancestors, helped to shape what America has become.
Nevertheless, there are many differences that I have noticed that I will detail
In the United States, people love drinking coffee. There are many ways to drink coffee but I think the most common is with cream and sugar. Cream, when ordered in America, typically is understood to be half and half, which is halfway between whole milk and light cream, about 12 percent fat. I like no sugar and heavy cream in my coffee, which is about 38 percent fat. So far, Starbucks is the only place I have found that has heavy cream as an option.
Coffee also seems to be somewhat popular in Germany but cream is not. It is nearly impossible to find a coffee shop there that offers cream, or even half and half. It is almost always low fat milk which is 1.5 percent fat. That does almost nothing for coffee. One might as well drink it black, which is something I can’t do. Occasionally you might find a coffee shop that has whole milk but you are just as likely to find a shop that doesn’t even have regular coffee. Surprisingly, the Starbucks at the Munich train station had all their fancy drinks like lattes and espressos but no regular coffee.
it is very common for hotels in America to have coffee makers in the room. They usually supply their guests with regular and decaffeinated coffee along with various sugars and containers of half and half. Our hotel in Stuttgart provided us with a kettle to heat water and instant coffee but no liquid cream or even milk. Our hotel in Munich did not have any option to make coffee.
It is also common for American hotels to provide free coffee for guests in the lobby. I looked for that option at our hotel in Munich and was directed to their restaurant. There, they told me I needed to have it delivered to my room, which I did. That was a mistake because the coffee was horrible and they charged me 15 euros for it. Our hotel in Stuttgart had a free breakfast buffet where they provided coffee with milk but I could never get it to taste good. They did have some good tea options, though.
Finding heavy cream or even half and half at the store was equally difficult. We looked for it at an Aldi’s store but could only find an artificial creamer. I did eventually find heavy cream at a store in Stuttgart but when I ran out and went back for more they were out of it.
From what I have seen, the German transportation system is very similar to what you would find in the United States with a few differences,
Speed Limits – Some Americans think the Autobahn is a free-for-all and everyone can drive as fast as they want everywhere but I saw posted speed limit signs just about everywhere we went so it really isn’t that different than the United States except for the drivers. In America, you will occasionally see the crazy lunatic driving like a bat out of hell on the highway but in Germany those crazy lunatics appear way more often than occasionally.
Germany has plenty of slow drivers too and on more than one occasion while we were passing one of those slow drivers, we had to hurry back into the right lane because there was a car approaching behind us who was about to break the sound barrier and we didn’t want to stand in his way. I say “his” because the speed demons almost always seemed to be men.
Road Congestion – We sat through many traffic jams while traveling through Germany but we also covered a lot of miles so I think it is about average compared to the United States. What’s different is the reason for those traffic jams. Every traffic jam we encountered in Germany where we could determine a cause, that cause was road construction. Not once were we delayed by an auto accident. In America, I would guess that auto accidents are responsible for a quarter to a third of all major delays.
I don’t know if Germans are better drivers or we just happened to miss the accidents by chance. I did see one guy hit a pedestrian. He wanted to pull out onto a busy road and was looking left while moving forward. He didn’t notice the woman crossing in front of him from the right until he hit her. Fortunately, she was okay but it makes me think that maybe we just got lucky and perhaps Germans are not better drivers.
While stuck in a traffic jam in Bavaria one day, we noticed all the cars were driving off to the side so there was a gap in the middle. We assumed this was required so that emergency vehicles could get by.
I find this to be a great idea. After this photo was taken, a Polizeiauto sped by with its lights on.
Pickup Trucks – In America, pickup trucks are almost as common as cars. In fact, I recently read that Ford will soon stop selling all of it’s cars in North America except for the Mustang and one other vehicle. It will instead focus on pickup trucks and SUVs. In Germany, a pickup truck is as rare as a good cup of coffee with cream. I saw only one pickup truck during our entire ten days in Germany. By contrast, in America it wouldn’t be unusual to see a dozen pickup while driving to the local market.
Below is a video I took in Munich. Notice there are are no pickup trucks. I probably should have taken a video in America to show the difference but I didn’t think about it until now.
Gas Stations – When self-serve gas stations first appeared in America one would pump gas and then go inside and pay. It soon became a problem because many people would pump gas and then drive off without paying. That problem was soon solved by offering pumps that accept credit cards and and/or requiring people to prepay before pumping gas. In Germany the old system is still in place. I don’t know why. Perhaps Germans are more trustworthy. I did not see one station that accepted credit cards at the pump or that required people to prepay. Considering that I usually pay for gas with cash, it was definitely more convenient for me, although I will admit to being a little confused the first time I needed to buy gas.
Bicycles and Scooters – Bicycles are more common in Germany than in the United States. I used to ride my bike to work so I appreciate a society that embraces bicycles. They not only save gas and lower pollution, they also relieve traffic congestion and parking problems.
Another thing I saw a lot of was electric scooters. A few cities in the United States now have electric scooter rentals, or what they call sharing, but they seem far more common in German cities.
Energy and the Environment
The United States has come a long way during the last fifty years in reducing pollution and conserving energy but Germany seems to have come even farther.
Wind – I saw many large wind turbines in Germany and while I know there are areas in the United States that has them, there are none near me. According to Wikipedia 18.7% of total power in Germany came from wind in 2017. In the United States, that number was 6.33%.
Solar – Solar power also seems to be more prevalent in Germany than in the United States. I noticed many homes and small businesses with solar panels while in Germany. Again, according to Wikipedia, Germany is ahead of America in solar power generation with 6.6% of their power generated by solar in 2017 compared to 1.32% in America.
Energy Conservation – I think both countries have come a long way in improving energy efficiency but I have noticed a few things in Germany that I hadn’t noticed in the United states. Our rental car, for example, would shut off every time we stopped and then the engine would start up again when we stepped on the gas. This was a little annoying at first but I got used to it pretty quickly. I read that that feature is pretty common on German cars but I never saw it on an American car until just last week when we rented a 2020 Chevrolet Malibu that also shut off when the car was stopped.
Another thing I noticed at the Munich airport was that the escalators only run when someone steps onto them. When they are empty of passengers they are off. I thought that was a great idea and I hope to see that in America soon.
In America, drinking tap water is common but in Germany it is not. At many restaurants in America, it is common practice to bring water to everyone before asking what else they want to drink. In Germany, you have to ask for water and then you usually get bottled sparkling water. We had to make sure we asked for still water when we ordered it in restaurants. I have heard that the Germans aversion to tap water comes from its name, Leitungswasser, which means something like line water or plumbing water.
I believe tipping has gotten out of control in the United States. It seems like everyone expects a tip nowadays and in many cases it is virtually mandatory. Restaurant workers are paid meager wages with the expectation that tips will make up the difference. I would rather pay more for the food and not have to worry about paying my server’s salary. From what I understand, this is close to how it works in Germany. A tip is still expected, I think, but it is more like five to ten percent instead of fifteen to twenty percent.
Because servers were not really working for tips, I was expecting service to be worse than in America. In some cases it was but usually it was about the same. Even restaurants in towns that had few tourists had good service.
In some ways, Germans seem to take care of their public properties better than Americans but in other ways Americans are better. Many places we went to in Germany were very clean, including the trains and the underground stations but for some reason the government seems to tolerate graffiti much more than in the United States. Sure, there are some bad areas in America but it seems like everywhere we went in Germany, except small towns, someone, or many someones, had defaced public property with spray paint. Sometimes it was artistic but more often than not it was an eyesore. Some of it seemed very old too, like nobody has bothered to paint over it in more than ten years.
I don’t think there was anything that caused more problems for us in Germany than finding a public restroom. I can only assume that Germans have developed very strong bladders. There were many times during our trip when our good time had to be put on hold because one or both of us had to use the restroom. In Heidelberg, for example, we probably could have spent much more time there but my wife and I both had to pee after the long drive to get there and we couldn’t find a restroom that we could use.
In the United States, places that sell food are required to provide restrooms for their customers but I don’t think that is the case in Germany. Also in the United States, grocery and convenience stores always have restrooms for customers but in Germany I did not find one store with a restroom. Gas stations we encountered in Germany had restrooms but they were always outside and needed a key. Most gas stations in America, except for the older ones, have restrooms that anyone can use and usually nobody need buy anything, although I always buy something because it just seems fair. Some gas stations even try to attract customers by making clean restrooms a top priority.
In the United States, it is most common to have a choice between one king bed or two queen beds in hotel rooms. In Germany you can get a single room (Einzelzimmer) or double room (Doppelzimmer). That means one twin bed or two twin beds that are sometimes pushed together to form a king bed. For Americans, this is weird.
First, there is a crack down the middle which is awkward for couples who like to sleep close together. Second, there are separate sheets and blankets which also works against closeness. Third, the pillows are square which is fine for putting behind your back while sitting up in bed but rectangular pillows, in my opinion, are better suited for sleeping.
Our vacation in Germany was perhaps the best vacation my wife and I took together. It is a wonderful country but my intention here is not to conclude which county is better. I simply wanted to point out some of the differences I noticed. I am sure there are plenty of other differences I could have wrote about but I would have needed more time in Germany to notice them.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed my posts on Germany and I welcome any comments you might have. There are a couple of more German related posts that I want to write before moving on to another topic and I hope you will watch for those.
If you want to read the entire series about our trip to Germany, you can start here.
My wife and I wanted to do something special for our twentieth anniversary so we decided to finally book the trip to Germany that we had been talking about for years. Now that we are back from that trip I decided to write about it in segments because there is just too much to tell for one blog post. I should mention that the first 24 hours did not go well but please stick with me because the story does get better.
We got up early Friday morning, October 11th, and got ready for our trip. We booked an Uber because parking our car at the airport would have cost us around $180 but an Uber was only about $40 each way and that was with a tip. The driver picked us up a little after 8:00 a.m. He was a little older than us and moved here from Crete, Greece in the 70s. He also survived cancer by refusing chemotherapy and changing his diet. I know this because he was talkative. Very talkative.
Our American Airlines flight left for Charlotte just after noon. I sat in the middle seat next to a guy sitting at the window and Rose sat next to me on the isle. The guy had taken over the armrest so I felt squeezed in like a sardine. He also had both his windows closed, as did the people across the isle from us so I couldn’t see outside. That made me feel even more like I was in a sardine can. It was a very uncomfortable flight. Fortunately it was less than two hours. I don’t think I could have survived if the flight lasted much longer.
We arrived in Charlotte before 2:00 and our flight was scheduled to leave for Munich two hours later but it was delayed for two more hours because they found a dent in the plane and had to wait for another plane. Perhaps the pilot hit another plane while backing out and didn’t tell anyone. Whatever the reason, I don’t mind a little inconvenience in exchange for my safety.
The flight to Munich was a little better because we had bought the economy plus which had slightly wider seats, twice as much armrest room, and only two seats in our row. It was also a wide body plane so getting up to streath was a little easier but it didn’t have a lounge like a 747 so there was nowhere to go.
Every seat had a video screen but mine didn’t work right. I tried to watch a movie but had to restart it every two or three minutes because of an error that told me, “Where sorry. The channel is no longer available.” After restarting the movie more than ten times, I just gave up and turned it off.
The last few hours of the nine and a half hour flight were very tough. I was tired but couldn’t sleep and everything was hurting.
When we finally arrived in Munich I had to pee but everyone was blocking the isle and I didn’t want to wait until the line started moving out of the plan to use the washroom so I figured I would go when I got inside the airport. That was a mistake. Upon leaving the plane and exiting the jetway I noticed we were not connected to the airport. Instead, there were busses waiting for us. That did not please my bladder but I had to grin and bear it.
When we got inside the airport we were directed upstairs where there were no bathrooms in sight. First, we had to go through customs but there were no customs agents around. The room slowly filled with people and the ones in the front were waving trying to get the attention of someone on the other side.
Ten minutes went by before anyone came out but they were not customs people. Three or four walked past us pretending not to notice. Finally, after about fifteen minutes, someone said they were on the way but they didn’t say from where. I think a half hour went by before they started processing people. By then many people who came in late filtered around the line to the left and got ahead of us. By the time I got through and made it to the bathroom I was ready to explode.
We got our luggage and proceeded to look for the Avis car rental place. It was quite a long walk and when we got there and saw how long the line was we were not happy. Rose guessed we would be in line for a half hour but it was actually closer to 50 minutes before we got to the counter.
We preordered a Mercedes six months before but we were told they didn’t have any and we were given a Volkswagen SUV insted. They offered us insurance for $350 euros, which was more than the cost of the rental, but Rose said our insurance would cover it and didn’t buy it. We then had to walk what seemed like another mile to the Avis lot where we passed about 500 cars, including several Mercedes. When we got to the car Rose wondered if we shouldn’t have gotten the insurance. I suggested she call our insurance company, which she did, and they told her they did not cover cars outside of the United States.
Now we needed to get the insurance but didn’t want to walk all the way back and stand in line again so we called them. The phone system put us in the queue but never answered. Since our phone company was charging 25 cents a minute we decided to hang up after almost ten minutes.
Rose said she would wait in the car and I could go back. She told me not to wait in line but go right up to the person who helped us. I felt uncomfortable pissing off everyone in line but I went. When I got there the woman was busy with a customer but another woman was off to the side talking to a customer. I decided to talk to her when she was finished so I waited behind the customer. When she was done she ignored me and walked away. I took that as a sign that they were not going to help people out of line so I walked back to the car.
Rose’s was pissed at me for not doing what she said. I told her we should could call the Avis corporate customer service and we got right through to them but we were told only the desk agent could issue the insurance policy so Rose and I both walked back to the counter. When we got there Rose butted right in behind the agent’s customer and when she was done the lady took care of us. I guess I should have listened to her.
When we got back to the car we wanted to put the hotel address into the navigation system but it was in German. Despite all the German I learned, there is still more that I don’t know than I do know. I tried to figure out how to change the language but the solution was far from obvious so I put in the address in and hoped for the best.
Once on the road the navigation system seemed to contradict the road signs on two or three occasions. I wasn’t 100 percent sure I programmed the address right so I decided to trust the signs and ended up adding ten or fifteen minutes to our trip. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but at that point we were both very tired and ready for the trip to be over.
At home, Rose drives because she claims that I am a terrible driver but really she is a terrible passenger. This time I drove because she knew I would understand the road signs better. It was a bit stressful, especially driving through Munich because there was so much traffic and so many pedestrians. Add to that the fact that I didn’t know where I was going and it made for a less than pleasant drive.
When we finally got to the Excelsior hotel, we saw we couldn’t drive to the front of the hotel like every other hotel I have ever seen. It was a pedestrian only area.
There was an area relatively close but there were cars parked there so I drove past and found a parking garage. I was under the impression that the parking lot was owned by the hotel but this was a city garage that charged by the hour.
We pulled in and went down one level but there was nowhere to park so we went down another level and found a spot way in the back. Nearby there was an elevator and we took it up to the main level. When it opened we were looking at the inside of a department store. There we were standing there with two huge suitcases and back packs and needed to go through an entire department store. Rose was willing but I didn’t want to do it and talked her into going down one level and walking up the ramp. She was not happy with me, again, and complained that the garage smelled like piss.
We paid for a room that Friday night simply so we would be able to check in early Saturday morning because we knew we would be tired. By the time we got there it was so late that it wouldn’t have mattered. We got the keys to our room on the third floor and went upstairs with the sole purpose of going to sleep
We expected the beds might be weird but weird doesn’t begin to describe it. Essentially they were two single beds pushed together, each with a single fitted sheet, no top sheet, and two heavy comforters, one for each side. The pillows were also a bit weird with the main pillow being square instead of rectangular.
Our room also had a great view of more rooms.
The good news was that we had arrived and had many days of adventure ahead of us. Next I will write about our first day in Munich.
It has been one year since I purchased my first electric vehicle and I want to share my experiences so far. The vehicle I purchased was a 2015 Nissan Leaf. Though used, it only had about 600 miles on it so it was like a new vehicle.
Before I write more about the car, let me back up and explain how I got here.
I first became interested in electric cars before I was even old enough to drive. I read about a small electric car that was being produced in the mid-70s called CitiCar. These were produced by a company called Sebring-Vanguard, Inc., which was based in Sebring, Florida. The car was very small and the range was limited to only about 40 miles but worse than that, the top speed was under 30 MPH. Still, I liked the idea of a car that required no gas and had far fewer maintenance requirements.
At that time, I figured the technology would improve and in ten or fifteen years time electric cars would have the speed and range of conventional gas engine cars. I’m glad I didn’t bet on that. Even my 2015 Leaf has a range of fewer than 100 miles but it does go quite fast.
A year ago I was driving a 2000 Dodge Dakota that got about twelve miles per gallon of gas. I started a new job in February that year that was twenty miles from home so the cost of gas was killing me. My wife had wanted me to buy a new car for quite some time because the cost of maintaining the truck was very high. I kept thinking the problems would stop because I had replaced just about every part in the truck but new problems kept coming. I hated the idea of having a car payment but I slowly realized that it might be better than feeding a money pit.
I first started looking at fuel-efficient cars but the gas savings was not enough to justify the expense. Then my mind went back to the electric car and I did some research. I looked for used electric cars for sale in my area and the cost of most were too high considering the age and mileage they had on them. Eventually, I found several cars at a nearby dealer called Lokey Nissan that all had under 1000 miles and were very reasonably priced.
As I said, I found a 2015 Nissan Leaf for a little over $13,000. Considering that the original list price was $32,000, I thought that was a deal that was hard to pass up. In addition, it was much bigger than I expected for an electric car. The Leaf is a four-door hatchback that seats four comfortably and five uncomfortably. It also has rear folding seats and a pretty decent hauling ability.
The cost of electricity is a factor that I haven’t fully figured out but if the official estimate is correct then it is less than $50 per month and there are ways to reduce that further which I will talk about below.
The main problem with the car is the limited range of about 90 miles or so, although the 2018 Leaf has a much higher range. This has not been an issue for me because I almost never have a need to drive more than 50 miles in a day. If I do, there are options. The main option it to dive my wife’s Mustang. The other option is to charge the car at one of many charging stations in the area. These charging stations are not nearly as numerous as gas stations but their numbers are increasing every year.
There are three different types of chargers for my Leaf:
Level One – This is the charger that comes with the car and it plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet. This is the slowest form of charging and I estimate that it adds about ten percent per hour of charge. This is the only charger I use at home because I have not yet found a need to invest in a Level Two charger.
Level Two – This Charger runs on a 220-volt system and charges the car about three times faster than a Level One charger. The only drawback to this is it usually requires an electrition to hook up a special outlet.
Level Three – This charger uses direct current to quickly charge the battery. It also requires a different connector. Some cars don’t have both connectors. Mine does. I found it adds about three percent to the charge per minute. The drawback to this is that it is not available for home use and it can be damaging to the battery. For that reason, it is recommended never to charge the battery higher than 80%. I believe it has something to do with the heat generated and a fully charged battery that is hot will lessen its lifespan.
There are several different companies that operate charging stations and their fees vary. I have rarely paid for charging so I don’t have a good grasp of what those fees are but I think you can expect to pay about ten cents per minute for Level Three chargers and about one dollar per hour for Level Two Chargers. There may also be a small connection fee and some may charge by the kilowatt.
I almost always charge for free for a couple of reasons. There are many free chargers that are Level Two. Some of these are in city-owned parking areas like at the airport or near city hall. Some are run by businesses and are there to entice electric car owners to shop there. There is a Whole Foods near me that has a couple of free chargers as well as one or two Publix supermarkets.
There is also a program from Nissan called “No Charge to Charge.” With that, you get free charging on certain Level Three chargers and, I suppose, Level Two as well for the first two years after purchasing a new vehicle. Since the original purchase date of my car was sometime in 2016, I have enjoyed free charging for the past year. When I need an extra charge, I usually charge at Level Three EVgo chargers that are located at several area Dunkin Donuts. I can then enjoy a nice coffee while I wait for my car to charge. I recently traveled outside my comfort zone to Lakeland, which is 52 miles from home. Once there I charged my car at a Dunkin Donuts so I could get home.
There are several things I like about the car. It accelerates quicker than you would expect for a car like this. It is also faster than I expected. I recently tested how fast it would go and had it up to 92. It would have gone faster but I came upon traffic and I also didn’t want to get a ticket.
The dash is well laid out and I can see the important things like speed and miles left before empty very clearly. The radio is especially nice for me because I like to listen to my own recordings and it has USB plug as well as an audio in jack. The downside of that is that if a phone call comes in it mutes the sound but it does not pause the audio.
My favorite thing about the car is the lack of maintenance it requires. There is no engine so there is no spark plugs, timing belt, distributor, fuel injectors, alternator, or air filter to worry about. There is no cooling system so the radiator is not an issue. There is no gasoline so you don’t have to worry about the fuel tank, fuel pump, fuel lines or filters. There is also no transmission that will cost a boatload of money to replace. I recently brought it in for an inspection and the only thing I needed was to have the tires rotated.
Of course, there are things like brakes and tires that need replacing and there is a 12-volt battery that runs the dash and other components that will need to be replaced. I think the biggest expense will come when the main 36-volt battery needs to be replaced. That could cost several thousand dollars. Fortunately, the batteries are more heat resistant than they were on the 2011-2012 models and there is a five-year warranty on the battery.
One thing I don’t like is the shifter. It seems backward to me. Even after a year I still sometimes want to push it forward to go forward and pull it back to go backward but that never works out as planned.
Another thing I don’t like is the noise it makes when backing up. It sounds like a garbage truck. They say the sound is needed because the car is so quiet that people need more help noticing it but I think the volume could be cut in half. I didn’t notice how loud it was until I lent my car to my uncle-in-law recently and heard it for the first time from the outside.
All things considered, I would say this is the best car I have ever owned. I don’t know what I will do when the battery goes. Perhaps replace it or trade it in for a newer model. Either way, I can’t see going back to gas.