First Impressions of Driving C3's Nissan Leaf


Last night I got behind the wheel of our new C3 all-electric Nissan Leaf for the second time to give it a go.

Thanks to a partnership with CMA’s Colonial Nissan, we will be rolling out our Driving Climate Solutions campaign this month, where C3 will put community leaders behind the wheel of this all-electric vehicle to spark conversations about climate solutions – of course transportation being a biggie. 

Before rolling out the campaign, I took the opportunity to test out the vehicle for a couple of days and learn more about EVs. Especially since it’s my 2019 resolution to convert away from my gas-powered Elantra sedan.

Regenerative Braking

The biggest difference I found in driving this EV was the regenerative braking feature. Regenerative braking means that when the car is not accelerating, the momentum of the car is recharging the battery and slowing the car down.  Wild! So you don’t actually need to use the brakes as often, which is the part that takes some getting used to. (Note: The cool feature about this EV is that you can always turn off that feature and then it drives like a “normal” car).

A few weeks ago Pete Borches, Vice President of Carter Myers Automotive, gave our staff the lowdown prior to our collaboratively planned EV event with Generation180  in September “Electrify Your Ride” , and I remember going no more than 5 miles an hour around the block just taking it all in. And my stops were jerky, not smooth, with the new sensation of letting off the accelerator to brake.

However, the second time was a breeze! I was able to relax, drive, and enjoy. 

Quiet and Smooth

And I have to say that the first thing I loved – how quiet it is.  This may be because I’m so used to loud teenage boys, so any quiet is good quiet, but it definitely felt smooth and stealthy.  The car includes a beeping sound when in reverse (like a dump truck but MUCH more subtle) so as not to surprise bikers and walkers.

The car also has impressive zip!  I don’t necessarily feel the need for speed, but most people say I’m hard person to keep up with, so maybe this car suits me perfectly.

No More Gas Station, Oil Change/Engine Visits

I realized the third reason I love this car on the way to my first stop as I pass the gas station: no more gas station visits every other week to fill the tank. Think of the gum, beverage, and snack money I’ll save. And no more oil changes!  This vehicle has a ton less maintenance than the combustion engine which was confirmed by my Facebook friends who rave about their maintenance-free Chevy Bolt. An important caveat: when the battery eventually dies, that will be a significant cost down the road, so definitely need to factor that in!

Slash my Annual Transportation Emissions by 65%!

And last thing I love, but certainly not the least: the sheer relief, satisfaction, and warm fuzzy of zero emissions driving!  It felt so good to know that I wasn’t guzzling fossil fuel gasoline. And since my home is now solar-powered, I could charge it during the day on Sundays and it would be the real clean deal. 

Yes, it’s a “new” vehicle and the parts, assembly, and transportation to us had an impact and it’s still connected to Virginia’s “dirty” grid, but in comparison to my combustion engine’s 34 MPG, it gets 104 MPGe per gallon (! And for the record, it runs up to 215 miles on a charge.

Now if we assume that the average household drives about 13,000 miles per year (and if your kids play a travel sport, double that!) according to the Union of Concerned Scientist EV emissions calculator, this vehicle emits 138 grams of CO2e compared to the gasoline car I drive now, which emits 381 grams. So when I do the math, I realize that driving and EV would reduce my transportation footprint by a whopping 64%-- taking it from 5 metric tons a year to 1.8 metric tons! WOW.  That definitely revs me up (couldn’t resist).

Sticker Info.JPG

Other benefits

Other benefits include the Federal Tax Credit on EVs which is $2,500 to $7,500. And the Colonial Nissan Dealer Sticker states the Nissan Leaf saves $3,750 in fuel costs over 5 years. All in all, I’m feeling more excited than ever to see how I can trade in my Elantra for an all-electric this year!

Stay tuned for more information on my personal journey toward buying an EV and the Driving Climate Solution’s campaign (slated for October launch) via our social media and blog. And be sure to check out our what NPR’s Sandy Hausman and CBS19’s Courteney Stuart had to say about the campaign!

—Teri Kent

C3 is excited to drive a myriad of solutions for your home, rental apartment, mobile home, and business. Homeowners can check out our Home Energy Challenge now in its third season and Business/Nonprofit owners can stay tuned for the launch of the Better Business Challenge later this year.