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2011 Nissan Leaf: A Year of Thinking Differently

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2011 Nissan Leaf

author photo by Joni Gray

When new technologies arrive, people often adapt their behaviors to them. Apple realized that fact when it challenged us to “think different” in its iconic 1984 ad campaign. You don't have to think too far back to see the transitions, like before there was Internet access, we had to go to the library to research topics of interest. And I can remember a day when it was not simple to record a TV show. What did we do with photos before social networking? We mailed them our loved ones, and then graduated to sending huge email files.

I'm sure EV ownership in the year 2011 will one day be seen as a time of great transition to a future of better living through technology, but reflecting on the first year of mass-electric production car usage, I have seen both the ups and downs of early adoption. But it certainly changed the way I think.

So now, as my 2011 Nissan Leaf, Hal, and I usher in a new year, here are some of the recurring thoughts that have replaced my gas-powered car thinking...

Doh! Did I plug in the car?
Since Hal is set on a timer to get top rates from the electric company (SCE in my area), the plug in my garage must be engaged for that to happen. I'd say I'm successful around 97% of the time, but on those days I forget, I lose valuable range time. One thing is for sure, this thought has completely replaced the seemingly ancient, “Do I need to get gas?”

Can I make it?

With every plan to go anywhere, there rises the accompanying mental gymnastics of figuring out if the range is within my comfort zone. Destinations on the cusp of my range put me in a bad mood since Hal is my only chance for hitting the carpool lane as a solo driver. When I have to forgo using Hal, I'm not only bummed, but a little resentful.

Nightime or daytime driving...pick one.

Within the day to day reality of driving an electric car, if there's a destination you have planned for the car's use and it's going to take the lion's share of charge to get there and back, whatever your day or night activity is must usually be forfeited.

Should I go-go or go ECO?

Yes, driving in ECO mode saves several miles of range, but it pretty much takes all the fun out of driving my Nissan Leaf. If at all possible, I choose fun. My husband never does. This practice has caused a lot of confusion in Hal's algorithm, but my only defense is that

This is my car - not a family appliance!

When a car gives so many freedoms - no gas, carpool privileges, effortless operation - the entire family feels somehow entitled to its use when the need arises. Suddenly ownership means nothing and it's all wrapped up in a simple, “I'm taking the Leaf.” I find myself in the position of making frequent household reminders that permission must be sought from the key owner - ME!

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Can this car be real?

Sometimes I just have to ask myself if Hal is really a car? He makes no noise. He doesn't rev up annoyingly. He is gentlemanly in a parking lot. He uses his power when it counts - in the take-off. He is generally more pleasurable to drive than anything else. He needs no gas and never demands an oil change. His demands are small, but he also has a limited ability to provide. But things will change.

So here's to Hal and his limitations and a new and successful year for the next generation of Nissan Leaf in 2012. The world will look a little different as competitor arise and infrastructure grows, but it's all for the greater good. May the EV world prosper and grow in the coming years and may we each play a small part in lighting up the world with hope for a better future. A very happy new year to all.

Want to learn more? Follow our long-term test of theNissan Leaf.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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2011 Nissan Leaf: A Year of Thinking Differently