2018 Nissan Leaf long-term test wrap-up: Goodbye to our long-term electric test car

Since our test car was a 2018 model, it had the 40-kWh battery good for 151 miles of range. (The newer Leaf PLUS gets a 62-kWh battery good for 236 miles.) In the last months of Leaf stewardship I found myself getting more used to using SoCal’s handful of fast-charging DC outlets that are oh-so-slowly springing up around the state. Plug in there and you’re back up to 80 percent charge in as little as 30 minutes, depending how much charge you’ve depleted. Granted, there are still painfully few of those and once you do find one – often unmarked in huge mall parking lots — there’s no guarantee they won’t be servicing another EV. So we are all still lab rats in this grand experimental transition from gasoline to electricity.
But the charging infrastructure is much better now than it was when we first borrowed an early Leaf back in 2011. Back then there were less than a handful of J1772 Level 2 chargers available to the public, even in “EV-friendly” Southern California, and those were often in use, out of service, or restricted to private users. Back in 2011, the Los Angeles International Airport, for instance, had three, the LA Convention Center had two and there was one outside the Toyota Museum in Torrance. I had a 240-volt outlet at my house, though, and that is what most users should have. My house also has solar panels on the roof, as new homes will soon be required to have, so my operation of an EV was a lot “cleaner” than users in other states.
I still have the Level 2 charger at my house, a regular three-pronged 240-volt plug into which I plugged my Nissan Leaf charge cable. The new Leaf cable that came with my 2018 Leaf accommodates both 120- and 240-volt power, which is a huge step forward from the 120-volt-only cables of early Leafs and something which I hope all other EV makers will offer. It’s a lot cheaper to the end-user than having to install a wall-mounted charger with its blinking lights and various readouts. All you need is electricity, man, not expensive blinking lights. I should say that the price of those wall-mounted chargers has also dropped significantly since 2011 – ChargePoint has one for $599, JuiceBox has one for $549 and EVoCharge lists one for $479. They used to be over two grand.