A Washington Nissan LEAF owner this week became the first to drive a LEAF past 100,000 miles, according to Nissan.
The press release from Nissan said Steve Marsh, of Kent, WA, was congratulated on the milestone by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, and representatives from Nissan on Monday, Dec. 16.
Marsh said, “With a daily commute of about 130 miles, I’ve saved more than $9,000 compared to my old gas-powered car since I bought my LEAF. With plenty of public charging options, as well as a charger installed at my office, my LEAF is a perfect car for my commute.”
That’s a pretty unique set of circumstances, considering many of us in rural America never see an EV charger at our jobs or at the places where we shop and do business. The Chicken-and-Egg Scenario still haunts EVs to a large extent even as they become cheaper.
I’d consider leasing one in the right conditions — namely a low-enough initial payment and a low lease rate with the ability to leapfrog into a new LEAF every 24 to 36 months. Both would be contingent on a good CPO program that would help Nissan balance the costs on the backend by selling lightly used LEAF lease turn-ins to customers. That kind of arrangement would be a win-win-win: Nissan gets more new LEAFs on the streets, lessees don’t have to worry much about battery lifecycle issues, and end buyers get a reconditioned LEAF, possibly with a new battery, at a bargain price.
I say I’d consider a LEAF lease in such circumstances, but there’s the sticky matter of those nonexistent charging stations. Nissan’s working on it both here and abroad, but even now, a handful of years into the LEAF’s commercial existence, the focus remains mostly in metropolitan areas and at dealerships. Ruralites like me are still waiting for charging stations to become hip where we live. If I could charge at lunch, you’d better believe the prospect of daily driving an EV in the Tennessee hills, where points “A” and “B” are often a lot farther apart than they are for urban folks, would get a lot more appealing.
Regardless of where one lived, a lessee wouldn’t be eclipsing the six-digit mark like Marsh, of course, but a CPO buyer probably would. They could take heart in Marsh’s story. The press release said he was one of the first people in Washington to take delivery of a LEAF, and he even convinced his employer to install a public-use charging station — becoming one of the first businesses in the region to do so.
Gov. Inslee said, “Steve Marsh has proven that it’s possible to drive an electric vehicle long distances on Washington’s roads using clean, low-cost electricity. His dedication to driving electric helps to foster economic growth, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce carbon emissions, and preserve our environment for future generations.”
Secretary Peterson — who according to the release also drives a LEAF — said, “It’s exciting to see how this network of charging stations is breaking the range barrier for EV owners. It puts Washington’s diverse, natural landscapes in easy reach without vehicle emissions and at a significantly lower cost.”
Peterson references Washington’s state-backed efforts at charging network expansion, a prime example of which is the West Coast Green Highway that traverses the state’s Pacific Ocean coastline. Such state and federal government-backed efforts are likely the only way charging stations will crop up in areas of the country like mine, where population density, well, isn’t. EVs are few and far between around here — because face it, for-profit charging companies don’t want to build a charger in a town that has only one confirmed EV and one confirmed PHEV. That’s my hometown. I’d bet more locals might consider an EV like the LEAF if a few of the town’s many fast food establishments or one of its three (three!) grocery stores had a charger on-site, but if you’re someone like Blink, you’re not going to make that kind of gamble.
The effort to increase charging station proliferation may be paying dividends in the number of EVs sold in Washington, however: Nissan said more than 5,000 plug-in electric cars are already registered in the state. Nationwide, the automaker has sold more than 40,000 LEAFs since introducing the model in 2010.