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Long Term

Living with Leaf: Learning to Speak Conversational EV

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2011 Nissan Leaf

author photo by Joni Gray

In the electric car world I live in with my Nissan Leaf, Hal, there is no exhaust pipe, no combustion engine, no gas gauge, gas tank or gas pedal. Because I've grown up with gasoline-oriented terms in my conversational lexicon, it's actually difficult to stop saying things in the old way.

Historically, when manufacturers serve new terminology to us, it doesn't always stick. Popular culture and conversational ease come into play and a new slang begins to form. As I cruise the online forums where my fellow Nissan Leaf EV owners chat, the words that get the most play are not as "official" as they are descriptive. Here are some of the terms that, although they don't easily roll off the tongue, I am beginning to understand their meaning and, occasionally, even use them in a sentence.

SOC (State of Charge): The SOC is the equivalent of a fuel gauge for the battery charge in an EV. In conversation, it might be said, "With my SOC at 80%, my range is only about 67 miles."

Hysteresis: This word has nothing to do with "hysteria," though there is a coincidental double meaning. Since Nissan engineered an historical brain into the charge gauge of the Leaf, the final number is determined by the history of the driver. Used in a sentence: "You can't always trust the number of miles since there is hysteresis built into the number."

80 Percenter: When the Leaf is powered up after a full charge, my SOC typically shows at around 80%. Thus, I am an "80 percenter." This is not something to be proud of because if I were a good little EV driver who followed all the rules, I'd be seeing 100% or more on a full charge. It's a strange thing to imagine, but Hal is constantly being monitored and penalized for the way his human is driving.

Range Envy: That brings us to the ultimate in EV confessions. Range envy exists when you start comparing your car to other EVs that might get more range than you. It's the equivalent of a bunch of gear heads standing around asking each other, "what will that baby do?" In our case, it's more like, "how much to you get on a charge?"

In this brave new world where the choir is preaching to each other, they still need the appropriate words to express their angst, joy and doubt. So, next time I see you at the local Nissan Leaf meet up, I'll proclaim, "It's a shame that my SOC reminds me daily that I'm an 80 percenter, but it's that darn hysteresis that was built into the car - and I have such range envy when I hear what you get."

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

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Living with Leaf: Learning to Speak Conversational EV