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Car Review

2013 Nissan Leaf: Why I Bought an Electric Car

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2013 Nissan Leaf

author photo by Ryan Dickerson

Believe it or not, I like cars. Not only do I like cars, I like trucks. More importantly, I like things that go fast. So why did I buy an electric car?

If money were no object, I'd probably buy a Ferrari F40. But, like most Americans, money was most definitely a factor when planning my car purchase.

Money Talks

When it comes to the 2013 Nissan Leaf, the main reason I chose it has more to do with tax incentives than anything else. Plus, after looking at the rebates, lease payment and fuel saved, we can almost drive the car for free over the next two years.

At the same time, I don't feel like I'm sacrificing anything or making some big compromise. Things like cooled seats, navigation, LED lights everywhere and smartphone apps make the Leaf feel more like a compact luxury car than an eco-friendly commuter car.

The Leaf Is Fun

Also, the 2013 Nissan Leaf is surprisingly fun to drive. I've driven awesome cars -- a Mercedes-Benz SLS, a Nissan GT-R and a Lamborghini Gallardo, to name a few -- and while exotics are a blast to drive, so is the Leaf, in its own way.

It feels quick because of the instant torque of the electric motor. The fact that there's no engine noise makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

It's a cool car. We're the first of our friends or family to go with an electric vehicle (EV), and that's appealing to us. We like to try new things and this seemed like it would be fun.

Carbon Karma

Also, my wife Emily loved the idea of being more environmentally friendly. I reminded her that the leather seats and battery pack made of precious metals mined from what used to be forests aren't really that great for the environment, but we both think it's a step in the right direction.

We know that the U.S. can't go all-EV yet because of the power-grid infrastructure and lack of materials for lithium-ion batteries, but it's one more way that our household can reduce our fuel consumption.

I have a Chevy Silverado 2500HD and I race motorcycles. A Yamaha R6 isn't really fuel-friendly at wide-open throttle around a racetrack. Clearly, I've got some carbon karma to offset.

Unknowns

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. Emily works in commercial real estate, driving all over the city to show large office buildings, and we weren't sure how the Leaf would do on a single charge. We're still not sure.

Georgia isn't known for being a super-progressive state for much of anything, and charging stations for EVs are no exception. Georgia is behind on the number of charging stations per EV in operation, but we're hoping that this will improve.

Emily's building does not have a charging station, but they are telling her they will have some installed by year's end.

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There are lots of unknowns, but that's part of the fun. Having only owned an EV for a month or so, I'm not sure if this will ultimately work out.

But I'm willing to give it a shot and see what happens. If just a few more people in large cities do the same thing, the impact on pollution and fuel consumption would be significant.

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2013 Nissan Leaf: Why I Bought an Electric Car