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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leaf or MiEV? Which should I buy?

According to this website, Nissan is about to start taking reservations again.

Beginning May 1, Nissan will reopen reservations to selected US customers who were registered before April 20, 2011 in states currently selling the Nissan LEAF™ (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington).

Following this early-reservation period, reservations then will open to the general public in those launch states. More details to follow soon regarding other markets.

It will cost me $99 (which is refundable if I don't buy a Leaf) to get in line to purchase one. Before actually purchasing one at a dealership, I'm expected to spend another $99 to have a Nissan approved electrical contractor send an electrician to my home to tell me what it will cost to install one of their 240 volt, $700 chargers in my garage, which will require a dedicated circuit similar to that used for a clothes dryer.

Mitsubishi is also now taking reservations for its MiEV electric car. However, they want a $299 refundable reservation fee, which they claim will apply to the purchase price of the car (but I suspect the MSRP has already been jacked up by that amount so don't think you're getting a deal). They are waiving the $99 electrical inspection fee for the first batch of customers to sign up. I also doubt if they will be using the same electrical contractor as Nissan.

So, anyway, I ponied up for the MiEV and will also pay to reserve a Leaf on May first. I need help deciding which one to get.

I would rarely need to drive beyond the range of either car and because we are already a three car family (wife and two driving children) I can always use one of the other cars for longer trips.

My youngest daughter thinks it would be dumb to pay an extra $5,000 to be able to haul a fifth person about twice a year.

I test drove a Leaf and was very impressed. My biggest concern about the MiEV is range at highway speeds. The official ranges given are for a mixture of city and highway. Note that the Leaf has a much lower drag coefficient. This means it will get better mileage at high speeds than the MiEV.

But in all seriousness, that would only mean driving a regular car about half a dozen more times per year if I chose the MiEV. For two car families, the range difference is largely irrelevant, and for one car families as well come to think of it because you never want to stretch your electric car to its limits.

Before Mitsubishi dropped their price below that of the Leaf I could see no reason to buy it instead of a Leaf. Why pay more and get less of everything? Although, that logic hasn't stopped Smart car owners. Maybe they should change the name ; )

I also wonder if people will spring for the Leaf just because it has better performance in the same way people spring for a Prius over the Insight?

Which should I buy?

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  1. "I also wonder if people will spring for the Leaf just because it has better performance in the same way people spring for a Prius over the Insight?"

    Since you are in the good ol US of A, I suspect that statement is correct.

    Even though the MiEV is actually a more suitable vehicle for your needs, I'll bet the leaf holds its value better, just because it has better performance and isn't as obviously Japanese Bug in styling.

    It baffles me why both cars, but the Miev in particular, are not made to have better drag coefficients, given that range is such an issue.

    Equally, i have never seen the need for a four seater- let alone a five.

    If the Miev was a two seater, drag of 0.25 or better, and looked good, sporty even, and had a range of 100mi for same batteries, would you consider it then?

  2. Not real keen on a car that will only carry two people.

  3. We got tired of waiting, ordered a TH!nk and it came in three days.

    US made battery, assembled in Indiana, no rust no dent no scratch plastic body panels like the Saturns.

    I am bloggin about the Th!nk at

  4. Do you think Nissan would lower the MSRP of the Leaf once the MiEV arrives? I liked the Leaf I test drove but it's simply unaffordable on our modest income.

  5. One can only hope. Certainly, the Leaf forced a huge price drop on the MiEV. It is this competition that will finally drive the price of electric cars down into the reasonable range but it will take time.

    Maybe you should consider the MiEV? Note that it has almost as much interior space. The engineering compromise to get that interior space is a higher drag coefficient. Not a problem for city driving.

  6. I 'll wait another 10 years. By then, the hidden kinks will be gone, and products much cheaper, computer style price curves . . .

    But thank you all to do me a favor, by being early adopters, forking over a lot of money to get it off the ground. Hope you do not fare as bad as the EV1 and the RAV4 . . .

    By the way, saw a test drive of the LEAF on Belgian TV, the advertised 100 miles range is in reality barely 55 miles, if your daily driving mix consist of mostly a lot of highway 55 mph work commuting . . .

    Just to advise you to test it thoroughly ....

  7. Alain,

    This will be my first time as an early adapter and I agree that there are risks but I'm and old hand at operating an electric vehicle and understand their limitations. 55 miles at highway speeds works for me.


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