Nissan Leaf review

One of the major attractions of any electric car is how little it can cost to run. Depending on how you drive and charge it, it can work out to be significantly cheaper than a conventional petrol or diesel car.

When you plug into one of the sockets under the flap in the nose to charge up, it’ll take 21 hours from empty to 100% off a household plug, 7.5 hours with a home 7kW charger or you can get an 80% charge in 40 minutes from a 50kW fast charger.

Perhaps the big question is: how far will it go? According to the new Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (designed to produce a more representative result than the previous test), the car will do as much as 168 miles; and, if our test drives of the car are anything to go by, around 150 miles should be achievable.

However, in common with any electric car, the range you actually achieve will also depend hugely on the way you drive, the temperature and how much you’re carrying.

Regardless of how far you go, having zero tailpipe emissions also means that the car gives you access to further savings. For example, the car qualifies for the maximum government incentive for buyers of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (currently £4,500) and is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

Regular maintenance can also be cheaper on the Leaf than on a petrol or diesel car, because there are fewer moving parts, and you won’t have to pay for things like oil changes.

What’s more, for the same reason, you’ll also save on annual VED rates. From the second year onwards, electric cars incur no VED, whereas you would be paying at least £130 a year, even on an alternative fuel vehicle.

Finally, for a company car user, there are potentially huge savings over a petrol or diesel car, as an electric car incurs BIK tax at 9%, compared to 22% for a diesel car that emits 100g/km of CO2.

Insurance groups

If you’re the kind of buyer who decides which model to buy depending on its insurance costs, the Leaf won’t help you. Every version sits in group 21 – exactly the same as the BMW i3, but higher than a Volkswagen e-Golf or Renault Zoe.

Depreciation

It’s too early to be able to predict with any real certainty just how well the Leaf will keep its value. But, from the figures we have seen so far, it looks as if the cheaper models will lose their value more slowly than the most expensive versions.

That means that the lower-spec versions look better than, for example, the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf – which are dearer to buy. However, if you look at more costly Leafs, which have similar list prices to the BMW and VW, they lose value at a similar rate to their electric rivals.

On the other hand, if you compare them to non-electric cars with similar list prices, the more conventional cars look set to retain their value more strongly.

 

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