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USA: Robert’s LEAF diary – week 14: LEAF-tech lowdown

By Robert LLewellyn
Jul 30, 2011at 12:33PM
Under Robert’s LEAF diary, Star Columns
One of the things I rapidly got used to in the Nissan LEAF was all the extra gubbins. The driver support and feedback, the stuff that happens that you rely on but you’re not really aware of when you’re driving.

There’s no point being modest, the tech in the LEAF is amazing; it pushes all the technology another step, they’ve gone out on a limb and it works.

Yes, there’s obviously Carwings, the iPhone app that let’s you control aspects of the car remotely. Turn the heater or air conditioning on and off, set the charging timer and check the state of charge. You don’t need to be anywhere near the car.

But what is built into every LEAF is what’s really impressive. There’s the obvious battery level indicator on the dash, a series of bars that slowly disappear as you drive. Next to this is a range estimator that constantly changes and is the most difficult thing to get used to.

Very often when I get in the car in the morning, it will read 104 miles, battery full. If, as I have done to test it, I drive the car aggressively for the first five miles, this indicator can drop to say, 70 miles but I will still only have used one bar on the battery indicator.

If I then drive carefully, that range will go back up. I’ve got it as low as 67 miles, then gone back up to 98 after gentle driving, it’s constantly adjusting to the driving style. I admit this aspect takes getting used to and I’ve heard from a LEAF driver in the USA who stuck a bit of black tape over the number so he wouldn’t be able to take any notice of it.

When the batteries are nearly empty the range indicator drops rather alarmingly until it says two miles. I got it to this level once and I was at least five miles from home, and there was a big hill to climb. I did it without drama and when I got home, it still said two miles.
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