Used 2013 Leaf EV

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Alan B   100 GW

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Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by Alan B » Dec 15 2016 7:29pm

In October of 2016 I started looking at used Nissan Leaf EVs. Lots of the 2013's are coming off lease now, and the market, even in the SF Bay Area isn't buying them up all that fast. Compared to the Mazda 3 my Daughter is looking for, the Leaf's sit there while the Mazda 3's are gone in a few days. The pricing is very soft on used EVs.

I did a fair amount of research and decided to look for a 2013 SL model, the highest level of trim. I wanted the Chademo fast DC charging, the 6.6kW 240V L2 charging, the heat pump type heater and the LED headlights as well as the larger rims. The SL had all those things and didn't cost all that much more than the lesser trim levels. But you can save even more money by getting less on the car.

The 2013 year is significantly improved over the 2011-12 models, and the list of improvements is quite long.

I found a lot of cars available on the internet, generally starting just over 10K. Some as low as 6K but those are the early models in basic trim levels with old batteries. They weren't moving.

One day I saw two near identical vehicles at one dealer that was near the edge of my chosen radius, picked so I could make a round trip to the dealer on a charge. I sent them a query asking what the difference was since they had different prices. Of course they called me and after looking at the traffic between my home and this dealership I told them it was just too time consuming to come look at this vehicle.

The next day the price dropped almost $1500.

So I took the difficult drive over a bridge and through the city to the opposite end of this bay area to look at it, and ended up driving it home for a good price. They weren't too happy I didn't buy any of the extra stuff they always want to sell. It has full battery capacity bars. It has all the bells and whistles except the Bose stereo and backup camera. I'd just as soon not have the Bose since it takes space in the cargo area, and the car is short and has good visibility so the camera is not all that important.

I'll add some photos later, and there's more to this story now that I've driven it for about 1.5 months. I'll post more on that later, as well as interesting comparisons to our 2013 Prius V.

I talked to one fellow who had ordered the new low cost Tesla, and I suggested that while he waits (for a year or more) he could be driving a "cheap Leaf". He was quite interested in that, though I don't know if he did it. These 2013's are good for 60 miles easy range, 80 miles stretching a little, possibly more depending on temperature, terrain and speed. It satisfies the majority of short trip needs for us and is fun to drive. It takes a lot of wear and tear off the other vehicles. I like not having to go to the gas station. These days the pumps are set on "really slow" and filling the tank takes awhile. Maybe they are training folks to be patient and driving them toward EVs. :)

I still like and enjoy my ebikes, but in the wet, cold and dark the Leaf is a nice alternative to have in the driveway.

So don't tell anyone about the good pricing on used EV's, we would not want too many people out there buying them and driving the prices up. :)

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by st35326 » Dec 15 2016 8:53pm

Yep they are so cheap I couldn't pass mine up. Picked up a 2011 with 50k miles with a new dealer installed "lizard pack" for $6,000. I charge it off solar during the daytime. Couldn't be more please with the car. I also have a Volt and a few Prius. Ive noticed the non autopilot capable Teslas are staring to follow the same resale trends as other electric cars.

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Alan B   100 GW

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by Alan B » Dec 15 2016 9:19pm

That's a deal, only $500 over the cost of the new pack. How do you tell it is a "lizard" pack and not just a refurbished original pack?

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liveforphysics   100 GW

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by liveforphysics » Dec 15 2016 9:26pm

>2015, or swapped with a Lizard pack is the way to go (if you're into hot rodding or want it to last as long as possible).

If you read a date on the pack that says a mfg date of late 2014 or later, you have a lizard pack.

It's a marked reduction in cell impedance from the previous cells, along with an improved cell life.

That said, as this steep upgrade curve for EVs ramps up, it's fine to buy any old cheap LEAF because by the time it stops working well, 200mile range EVs will be available used for reasonable prices.
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Alan B   100 GW

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by Alan B » Dec 15 2016 10:00pm

Exactly.

The 2013 batteries seem to be holding up better for most vehicles than the 2011-2012's, but Nissan didn't claim the batteries were different. Any insight there?

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by DanGT86 » Dec 17 2016 9:15pm

I picked up a 2013 Leaf S with 28k miles for $8500. It was just coming off of a lease. I drive it 50 hwy miles daily and can charge at work so its been an awesome deal. I just had it in for some recall service and they ran a battery test on it. They said it was better than average. 5 out of 5 stars on their rating system. It still has all 12 status bars for battery capacity. I was a little surprised because I drive 70-80mph continuous for 22 miles each way to and from work with the heat on full blast. I would think that is the higher end of the recommended continuous discharge they designed it for. Apparently that is not a bad thing or at least not yet according to the diagnostic.

I love that car. It is about the most bare bones no options package you can find but it's still the nicest car I have ever owned. I can get the full 80-90 miles out of it in the summer but going 80mph with full heater in 15deg F weather I get about 50-60miles. I do think I am going to need a level 2 charger for the house since the 1.3kw I get at 110v is barely keeping up with my daily commute under full winter conditions. There just aren't enough hours in the day for such a slow charge rate.

Used EVs really are a great deal! Maybe the skeptical public is afraid to be holding this technology when the warranty expires. I was trying to build my own electric car years ago and ended up paying way to much for a converted chevy aveo with a DC motor. What a massive step up the leaf has been! My 2 year old daughter gets mad when we have to drive the gas powered car. I'm so glad she gets to grow up thinking cars that plug in are normal. She told my wife last night that the car was eating "tizity" from the cord. I wonder where I would be if I had grown up with that same frame of reference. I had to go through many years of gasoline hotrod building before I saw the light and ended up here.

Anyway, no real news to report. I just thought another 2013 leaf review would fit in here.

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by fechter » Dec 17 2016 9:35pm

I think I'll have to get one of those someday. After seeing what Arlo1 did with the motor, well, that could be fun.
I was seriously considering one when I needed a new car last year, but my daily commute would be taxing the range and no place to charge at work. No place to park either, but that's another story. I chickened out and got a Prius.
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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by DanGT86 » Dec 17 2016 10:57pm

Sounds like you came to the conclusion to get the prius logically. I have had so many people with short commutes tell me they could never own one because they go out of town every couple years. Also had some coworkers complaining about how there is no free gas pump for them at work. I offered to give them the 80cents a day that I cost the company in electricity if they would stop complaining.

Taxing the range is no fun. Had 1 really close call in 6 months. Figured I would be padlocking a generator to the wheel and coming back a few hours later. Luckily we made it to a public charger. The predicted miles displayed on the dash will not display single digits. Once it gets below 10miles it just turns into a flashing horizontal line. Probably a smart design move on Nissan's part to keep people from trying to plan it that close.

I also thought about Arlo's work when I was shopping for mine. My thinking was that $8500 was cheap enough to drive it for years and I still have a rolling pile of hobby project parts when its practical life is over.

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Alan B   100 GW

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Some random comparisons between Leaf and Prius

Post by Alan B » Dec 17 2016 11:42pm

Since now we have both a 2013 Leaf SL and Prius V, at similar trim levels, I have been noticing a lot of small differences. They are both good vehicles. Clearly the Prius V has greater cargo capacity (and we use that), and has a lot more range, whereas the Leaf is smoother, quieter, more fun to drive and easier to park. We are getting 43 mpg lifetime average on the Prius in the hilly SF Bay Area.

Little Things..

They are both hatchbacks, but the Leaf hatch closes with little effort while the Prius takes a lot of force to get it closed. Like the gas shocks are too strong for some reason whereas the Leaf's are better balanced.

Both the Leaf and the Prius have a "B" mode where the "coasting regen" is set higher, somewhat like a manual transmission, so the vehicles slow down faster. It is quite useful for moderate descents and in some types of driving. However for some reason the Prius won't engage the cruise control when in "B" mode. The Leaf (and I'm told the Volt) don't have this defect.

I haven't looked up the numbers, but the Leaf seems to turn tighter. Both vehicles are front wheel drive, so I would not expect the tightest radius, but the Leaf does quite well.

The Microsoft software in the Prius is not great. The inputting of Navigation addresses, for example, is backwards, and it won't accept an address it doesn't know about. The Leaf's is a little better, though Google or Garmin is better than either.

The Prius uses your phone for an internet connection which is good, the Leaf has an AT&T 2G radio in it that needs to be replaced, a poor design, but one that does allow remote controls. They reportedly have a 3G upgrade.

The LED headlights on the Prius V are really excellent. It was one reason I was looking for LED headlights on the Nissan Leaf, which are only on the higher trim levels of both Prius and Leaf. The Leaf's LED headlights appear to be good on low beam (not quite as good as the Prius, but good enough). On high beam the Leaf appears to be halogen. There is a distinct color shift. Interesting design choice (if that is actually the case), but the LEDs on low beam are important for saving energy, I expect that for most users high beam isn't a lot of the time on the Leaf.

The heated steering wheel on the Leaf is quite nice. It does get a bit hot and cycles off. The Prius doesn't have a heated wheel.

Both have heated seats. The Leaf even has them in the back seat, and has high and low settings. The front seats don't seem to get all that hot. The Prius heated seats are front only, and they get quite hot, and cycle on and off.

The Leaf is very smooth and quiet to drive. The Prius is not quite as good.

We took a quick trip to LA in the Prius, over 8 hours of driving with traffic each way, mostly via Interstate 5, which gets a big rough in spots. There's a lot of road and tire noise in the Prius. I won't take the Leaf on that trip due to range and charging time and availability but it is quieter and more isolated from road and tire noise. Neither are up to the luxury car class, but the Leaf does quite well in that department.

Being able to program the Leaf to "warm up" the vehicle at a certain time is really nice. The Prius has nothing like that.

Never having to go to the gas station is excellent. :)

I take quite a few 40 mile round trips in the Leaf, and end up at about 50% charge. 60 mile round trips are no problem. 80 mile trips are getting close to full range and may be problematic. I haven't done that a lot, so I don't have a lot of data yet. We have lots of hills that are hard on range, and the current cold weather doesn't help.

So far I'm just using 120V to charge the Leaf at home. I'm going to do something with 240V but our old house wiring may require some major work before it will be up to that. It is tempting to make a DIY PowerWall and get a 240V inverter to charge the Leaf quickly while charging the Wall slowly via solar and off-prime 120VAC.

I've used DC fast charging a couple of times. Nice and fast, but not really convenient or cheap. 240V L2 charging is cheaper but takes quite awhile. A good way to understand charging is "miles of range per hour of charging".

L1 120V 12A 1.4 kW about 4 miles range per hour of charging
L2 240V 28A 6.6 kW about 28 mph
L3 400V 125A DC fast charging, about 120 mph but slows down after 80%.

This isn't linear due to a 300W overhead when charging for running the charger's cooling system, in addition to the lower efficiency when boosting from lower AC voltages so the 120V is significantly slower and wastes more energy. 240V saves both time and money but requires an investment to get the wiring and the EVSE required at home.

The smart charging cable I plan to use is the "Open EVSE" which is Arduino based open software and hardware, and is available as a kit. It can be programmed for various voltage and current levels as well as time windows and integrated charge limiting. For example if you have a 20A or 30A 120V circuit you can take advantage of that and charge at rates well beyond the supplied unit. The "emergency EVSE" that comes with the Leaf is a Panasonic unit and is set up to work at 120V 12A. There is a place that will modify it for some of these features, but I'd rather keep in onboard as a backup (and maintain the UL listing) and use the OpenEVSE for home charging. The EVSE isn't needed at charging stations, it is only required to connect to plug in or permanently wired power.

If I really get stuck (out of power and can't get to a charging station) I have several fallbacks. One is AAA which will either dispatch a charging truck or tow your vehicle to a charging location. Another is to call "WifeStar" and have her bring the trusty Honda generators, or give me a ride home and I'll come back with them. A pair of small 2k Honda Inverter Generators will put out 120V 30A. 5 miles of charging would only take less than a half hour from them.

The Leaf (or any short range EV) is not for everyone. If you have daily travel that requires more than the easy range of the Leaf then it will likely not be a good fit. Driving it 60 miles a day would be easy, and that's well over 20k miles per year. For us before the Leaf we'd drive the Prius first at 43 mpg. If both the wife and I had overlapping independent travel needs I would have to drive one of the older vehicles at 17 or 12 mpg. Now the Leaf handles almost all of my daily driving, so the Prius usage is way down, and the gas guzzlers are only used for trips where their greater capacity is required (such as towing a trailer).

My ebikes are far more efficient than the Leaf. I'm getting about 4.2 miles per kWh average with the Leaf. The Borg goes 26 miles on about 1.2 kWh for my hilly commute, which is about 22 miles per kWh. So the Leaf is about 5 times less efficient than the Borg, and with many ebikes the ratio would be more like 10. When the weather is warm and the pavement dry the Ebike is fun, but for cold/dark/wet/etc the Leaf is a really nice "ebike backup".

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by mbett81 » Dec 21 2016 6:49pm

We had leased a leaf for 2 years and I loved it other than the fact it was slow and ugly. People at work gave me crap about that and occasionally I would charge at work and get crap from co-workers. I drive 54 miles a day and in the winters I would get home with a blinking dash for est range left. That was the big downfall for me. We were paying $199 per month for the SV which had lots of options and we were paying that much per month in gas for a subaru. I think a used leaf would be great for someone looking for a close range commuter car.

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liveforphysics   100 GW

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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by liveforphysics » Dec 21 2016 10:23pm

Because of Arlin's amazing work on his LEAF hotrod controller development, any used LEAF you get (lizard pack and newer ideally) can also be modified into a potent little sleeper.
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Re: Used 2013 Leaf EV

Post by Animalector » Dec 21 2016 10:34pm

I just had a look online, the cheapest used leaf I could find in Australia is $24k for a 2013 model with 16000km on the clock...

I wish you could get something here for $10k... one day

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