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The Top Gear car review: Nissan Leaf
Running costs and reliability
How often do you drive more than 150-160 miles a day? So for all those days, a home charge is enough, even if it takes eight hours on a 6.6kW 32-amp AC wallbox. You could also go somewhere 150 miles away, charge while it’s parked for a few hours, and drive home.
But the rapid-charge network (they’re at all UK motorway stations except Folkestone) comes to your rescue for en-route charging. They’ll give you an 80 per cent charge in 40 to 60 minutes. So that’s a 300-odd-mile journey with one stop for a bite, a coffee and some emails.
Finally, Nissan will loan you a combustion car for 14 days in the first three years.
There, EVs aren’t so impractical are they? The main issue to travelling out of your manor is making sure you’re a member of the various local payment schemes around Britain, so that if you get plugged in to a public charger you can actually draw electricity.
Having decided to commit to driving by the flow of electrons, what will it cost? Generally little if you charge at home. Remember electricity is taxed at five per cent; petrol at about 400 per cent. Also £0 tax disc, £0 London congestion charge, zero company-car benefit in kind, and none of the upcoming diesel surcharges or indeed restrictions to driving. Some public charging is still free too.
PCP purchase costs look like settling at just over 20 per cent deposit plus £300 a month. Absent an engine or emissions controls, servicing costs are below half the ICE norm.
If you’re worried about residuals consider that the value of old Leafs, at three years old, climbed about £1300 in the past couple of years. There’s no longer significant risk in a battery: there have been practically no failures in all the 300,000 Leafs sold worldwide, and it’s guaranteed eight years.
Point of fact the battery in an old Leaf isn’t a liability, it’s an asset. Nissan will buy it back when the car is scrapped, to re-use the battery in stationary storage units as per the Tesla Powerwall.
Leafs use the Chademo quick charger. There are lots around, but they might soon get overtaken by the Ford-Audi-BMW-Mercedes joint-venture CCS-type quick charge posts. Why don’t European Leafs use the CCS plug? Because Chademo is capable of car-to-grid electricity flow too. Already in Denmark Nissan owners are making money by charging on cheap night-rate electricity, then selling back when the rate is higher at peak times.