kiev
Posts: 1146
Joined: Sun May 03, 2015 7:15 am
Location: The Heart o' Dixie
Contact: Website

Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Thu Dec 12, 2019 6:23 am

i've been driving a 2012 Leaf for the past couple of months to do some troubleshooting and repair verification. And it is a very nice car with some great features that Mits don't have. Here's some notes and observations.

The Good:
The 3 blue charging lights let you see status from a distance (on Mits you can't see without opening the door).
Quick off the line, acceleration
Cruise Control
Rear heated seats, heated steering wheel
Full featured center screen console with backup camera
2 timers to control Charging (On/Off time, 80% or 100% level)
2 timers for climate control (automatic HVAC, defrost, departure time)
GPS/maps/destination address book
Energy monitor screen w/ propulsion, climate and misc (DCDC) loads
Instant consumption gauge, and Eco driving display to help squeeze the miles.
All the tires and wheels are the same front and rear.
Quiet ride, well insulated, feels solid when you shut the door.
key fob in your pocket unlocks doors and starts the car, no need to mess with keys.
armrest with CD storage
plenty of cup holders and plush luxury interior (compared to meev)
adjustable steering wheel height
Instant defrost response, clears the glass really quickly

The Bad:
Less visibility from inside, tall rear door height and small rear glass
useless regen, mostly unailable, very weak to no braking action
brakes: grabby & inconsistent, electric driven master cylinder, way too complicated and co$tly repair
Goofy instrument panel display, bars and bubbles

The Ugly:
Rapid Pack deterioration, seems to be a built-in or programmed decay in 3 month increments.
User forum lacks technical rigor and is obsessed with useless numbers, counting and tracking "gids"
Bulky uglyast headlight housing

Summary:
For most cars of this year, the pack will only have 60% or less capacity remaining regardless of the mileage. That will get you about 55 miles range--driving it all the way down from fully charged to nearly empty with no heater, but without hitting turtle.

These cars are selling low (under $5k) and are very plentiful. They are comfortable, smooth and quiet. So if your daily commute is 50 miles or less, then these seem like a great bargain for an EV. i don't need another car, but i like the leaf enough and they are so cheap that i might have to get one.
Last edited by kiev on Sun Dec 15, 2019 4:37 am, edited 2 times in total.
kiev = kenny's innovative electric vehicle

JoeS
Site Moderator
Posts: 3874
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:47 am
Location: Silicon Valley, California

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:36 am

Thanks for the input. A neighbor is looking for a first car for her teenage son and I had just suggested a newer (2015+) Leaf with supposedly better batteries.

Back in 2011, the primary reason I did not buy the Leaf is the wimpy regen - this, as I was driving a hacked Gen1 Insight with great fingertip control over the regen/accel using a joystick. Wonder how the brakes are holding up, as certainly more brake use takes place than with the i-MiEV.

Does this one have CHAdeMO?

VERY disconcerting that depressing the J1772 button doesn't turn off the EVSE!
EVs: 2 Wht/Blu SE Prem., '13 Tesla MS85, 3 156v CorbinSparrows (2 Li-ion), 24v EcoScoot(LiFePO4)
EV Conv: 156v '86 Ram PU, 144v '65 Saab 96
Hybrids: 48v1kW bike
ICE: '88 Isuzu Trooper. Mothballed: '67 Saab (orig.owner), '76 MBZ L206D RHD RV

coulomb
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:32 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:07 pm

kiev wrote:The J1772 port does not respond to trigger press to shut off the EVVSE, have to just pull out (scares me)

You might have gotten that from me; I was wrong. They do respond to the trigger press; it's just that nothing visible happens. If you check the AC current or charge current with LeafSpy, it does go to zero immediately, and ramps up in a few seconds after release.

Edit: it doesn't shut down the EVSE, and that's a Good Thing™. So you can unplug with confidence, arc free, but you can also pause the charge for a few seconds and continue again. I personally find this a useful thing. I charge 98% from solar, and sometimes I need the load to fall below 3400 W for a second or so to get the solar inverter-charger to switch from utility back to battery/solar.

kiev
Posts: 1146
Joined: Sun May 03, 2015 7:15 am
Location: The Heart o' Dixie
Contact: Website

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Thu Dec 12, 2019 8:59 pm

Oh great thanks for the update-- that's good to know, and i agree that is a good thing. Saves wear and tear on snapping contactors, plus i like that it is controlling the current down to zero before removing the plug.

gonna edit the OP
kiev = kenny's innovative electric vehicle

JoeS
Site Moderator
Posts: 3874
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:47 am
Location: Silicon Valley, California

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Thu Dec 12, 2019 11:36 pm

Don't know about you guys, but there's something comforting about hearing that contactor click in the EVSE after depressing the J1772 button and before withdrawing that connector. :geek: :roll:

Leaf question: are those bars on the Leaf display a good enough indicator of capacity, or should one get Leaf Spy? I haven't been following the Leaf at all and have no idea how their individual cells are holding up other than the general capacity loss, especially in the early years.
EVs: 2 Wht/Blu SE Prem., '13 Tesla MS85, 3 156v CorbinSparrows (2 Li-ion), 24v EcoScoot(LiFePO4)
EV Conv: 156v '86 Ram PU, 144v '65 Saab 96
Hybrids: 48v1kW bike
ICE: '88 Isuzu Trooper. Mothballed: '67 Saab (orig.owner), '76 MBZ L206D RHD RV

coulomb
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:32 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:14 pm

JoeS wrote: Leaf question: are those bars on the Leaf display a good enough indicator of capacity, or should one get Leaf Spy?

The bars are pretty good; just don't put too much credence on the Guess-O-meter (distance to empty figure). Later Leafs have an actual SOC%, I wish mine had that.

LeafSpy is good for getting info out of the car; it's probably a good idea to get LeafSpy Lite (free) before buying one, to read the various state of health figures (though sadly those can be reset and stick for a number of weeks). Definitely needed if you're a details fanatic (like me :geek: ) I should have gotten the Pro version (a little more expensive, and lets you retrieve trouble codes).

[quote=kiev]useless regen, mostly unailable, very weak to no braking action[/quote]
That's likely a function of a weak battery. I bought mine a month after the battery was warranty replaced. The previous owner says it never had as much range, even when "new" (it sadly sat on dealer's lots for about 3 years). Also, they reported that the regen was much improved after the battery replacement.

kiev
Posts: 1146
Joined: Sun May 03, 2015 7:15 am
Location: The Heart o' Dixie
Contact: Website

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Sun Dec 15, 2019 5:03 am

Can't believe i forgot about the 3 blue charging lights at the front edge of the dash under the windshield. That is a good feature.

Years ago before i drove an EV, i thought the lights were a goofy gimmick, but having used the car i now realize it is quite useful. The charging status can be seen from quite a distance--the lights reflect up on the windshield so you can see it from any angle and especially easy when its dark out.

On the Mits it is nearly impossible to read the fuel gauge without being at the car and opening a door. Except for using the Mits remote, but it usually cuts off charging when you connect to the car. Leaaf has built-in timers for charging and pre-heat so no need for a fiddly remote.
kiev = kenny's innovative electric vehicle

coulomb
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:32 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:36 am

kiev wrote: The charging status can be seen from quite a distance--

Yes. I park my Leaf in a carport just outside my bedroom, and can easily see the charge status from my bedroom or the adjacent office. That's really handy for me.

DBMandrake
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:57 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Older Leaf driving impression (good value)

Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:38 am

kiev wrote:i've been driving a 2012 Leaf for the past couple of months to do some troubleshooting and repair verification. And it is a very nice car with some great features that Mits don't have. Here's some notes and observations.

Thanks for the useful post kiev. I'm actually strongly considering replacing my Ion with a 30kWh Leaf next spring. By then I'll have had the Ion for over 3 years and 50k miles and we have unfortunately outgrown the car both in terms of size and range, coupled together with battery degradation bringing the winter range near below my 35 mile commute meaning I have to charge on the way home in winter which has made the daily commute a real range and charger anxiety chore.

I tried replacing four of the worst cells and while it restored the lost rapid charging speeds that were being limited due to high cell resistance I unfortunately only gained a measly 1Ah in usable capacity, (which has ticked down 0.5Ah in the month or so since then, so half of the gain is already lost if the BMU is to be believed) probably due to other cells that are also weak, so I'd probably have to replace another 6-10 cells to make a significant improvement to the Ah capacity which just isn't worth doing.

So, time to move on, and here in the UK the only BEV's widely available 2nd hand for an affordable price are the Leaf and the Renault Zoe. For various technical reasons the Zoe is out of consideration.
The Good:
The 3 blue charging lights let you see status from a distance (on Mits you can't see without opening the door).
Quick off the line, acceleration
Cruise Control
Rear heated seats, heated steering wheel
Full featured center screen console with backup camera
2 timers to control Charging (On/Off time, 80% or 100% level)
2 timers for climate control (automatic HVAC, defrost, departure time)
GPS/maps/destination address book
Energy monitor screen w/ propulsion, climate and misc (DCDC) loads
Instant consumption gauge, and Eco driving display to help squeeze the miles.
All the tires and wheels are the same front and rear.
Quiet ride, well insulated, feels solid when you shut the door.
key fob in your pocket unlocks doors and starts the car, no need to mess with keys.
armrest with CD storage
plenty of cup holders and plush luxury interior (compared to meev)
adjustable steering wheel height
Instant defrost response, clears the glass really quickly

Lots of good points there. Does the one you are driving have a resistance heater or heat pump ? Heat pump would be on my definite want list. The heater in the Ion is so slow to warm up and gobbles so much power and range for such miserly heat output. I really hate the heater.
The Bad:
Less visibility from inside, tall rear door height and small rear glass
useless regen, mostly unailable, very weak to no braking action
brakes: grabby & inconsistent, electric driven master cylinder, way too complicated and co$tly repair
Goofy instrument panel display, bars and bubbles

How is the front visibility looking to the sides at a T junction ? I find the front visibility of the Ion pretty poor. The massive braced A-pillars block my view of oncoming traffic when driving on a slight curve, and at a T junction the opposite A pillar almost perfectly obscures any oncoming cars meaning I need to lean right forward to see if the road is clear.

Also despite the large windscreen I find that I can't see the traffic lights in front of me if I'm first in the queue unless I lean and look out the side windows - a bit of a problem in the UK where many junctions do not have "repeater" traffic lights across the junction!

I also find rear visibility in the Ion very poor due to the humongous head rests that make it difficult to see when reversing. In short I find visibility in the Ion actually pretty poor compared to other cars I've owned.

The Regen sounds like you have a fault with the car - of the people I know who have driven both, most people say that the Leaf in B mode has more lift of regen than the Ion - certainly in D mode.

I've heard the brakes are a bit inconsistent and grabby on the Leaf, I guess I'd just have to get used to it, and yes, I'm not a fan of the dashboard design either. However at least it has driving information that is not available in the Ion like consumption figures. Canion is great but it's quite a hassle having a tablet running in the car to get information the car should already be providing me.


The Ugly:
Rapid Pack deterioration, seems to be a built-in or programmed decay in 3 month increments.
User forum lacks technical rigor and is obsessed with useless numbers, counting and tracking "gids"
Bulky uglyast headlight housing

2012 models of Leaf have high rates of degradation especially in high temperature climates, (not so much a problem in the UK) and it wasn't until the newer battery chemistry used after around 2013 that they got a handle on this, so I would not buy one of the early 24's with high degradation rate batteries.

I would only be considering a 30kWh model which means 2016 or later and degradation rates in the UK for those have been low so far.

As for programmed in decay of the reported battery capacity - that's normal with all BMU's. On my Ion it originally used to drop the Ah figure by 0.1Ah every month/1000 miles (not sure which as I always do 1000 miles a month) like clockwork. After my battery degraded more and cells started to go bad it started dropping 0.1Ah every week or 250 miles...
Summary:
For most cars of this year, the pack will only have 60% or less capacity remaining regardless of the mileage. That will get you about 55 miles range--driving it all the way down from fully charged to nearly empty with no heater, but without hitting turtle.

My 2011 Ion has not fared well either - it's now down to 72% at only 58k miles and falling very rapidly despite swapping the four worst cells. And when you compare degradation rates with newer (2014 or later) Leaf's, the Leaf's have far less degradation for the same mileage then an Ion/C-Zero/i-Miev.

I suspect it depends a lot on your driving cycle. If you regularly drive the battery down to near discharged then the high depth of discharge will rapidly degrade the battery. I suspect this is what has happened on my Ion due to my commute length forcing me to discharge the car down to about 20% every day in the winter.

In something like a 30kWh Leaf with heat pump I would only be running the battery down to about 65% SoC even in the middle of winter, the much shallower discharge depth would cause far less degradation over time than a deep discharge.

The single biggest thing you can do with an EV to make the battery last a long time for a given driving pattern IMO is to buy the biggest battery you can afford even if you don't "need" the range, as this both reduces the cycle count for a given total mileage and reduces the depth of discharge required for regular driving both of which will make the battery last more miles before significant degradation. At nearly 60k miles the battery in my Ion is already near 1000 cycles which is a lot for Lithium Ion. With a battery twice the size the same mileage would only be 500 cycles.
These cars are selling low (under $5k) and are very plentiful. They are comfortable, smooth and quiet. So if your daily commute is 50 miles or less, then these seem like a great bargain for an EV. i don't need another car, but i like the leaf enough and they are so cheap that i might have to get one.

Here in the UK you can pick up an early 24kWh Leaf for around £6000-£8000 however they have quite high mileage and almost certainly heavily degraded early type batteries, so not an option.

30kWh models with low to moderate mileage are around the £11,000 range at the moment. Rather bizarrely, Ion's/C-Zero's are fetching a relatively high price here seemingly regardless of mileage.

I have seen some with equal or higher mileage than mine going for £5500 or so! So I could pay for about half the Leaf just from selling the old car....
- Simon

EV: 2011 Peugeot Ion
ICE: 1997 Citroen Xantia V6

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