Nissan Leaf - 3 months of experience, tips, etc.

 I leased 2013 Nissan Leaf S trim ( quick charger package installed, which has DC charge port and backup camera) almost three months ago and spent some time before I picked the car to get info, so I’d like to share some.


1. You can’t get full federal $7,500 tax credit with purchase if you have nothing to pay more tax for 2013. To maximize this benefit, you have to lease with more than 36+ months period, which is what I dd.

2. Why Lease? Not purchase?
Nissan and other automaker is trying to increase their battery capacity and range to double until 2015 or something, so EV purchasing now wasn’t an option to me. ( also to maximize $7,500 federal tax benefit )

3. CA benefit will takes up to 60 days once you apply for it. There are limited amount of funds for this benefit. CA still have some, but it will be gone soon, so you need to hurry.

4. There are another “free charging station(level2)” promotion by CA. They put certain amount of free EV charger at the first Tuesday(or Monday) of every month. Once it’s all gone, you can’t have it and need to delay your purchase/lease until next month if you want to apply for it.
It’s monthly base, so let’s say if you purchased or leased EV this month and there are no more free charging station this month, then you can’t get one and can’t apply for next month. You better need to wait until next Month until it’s back.
Also, EV charging station installation fee need to be covered by your own cost. You can apply for this with your temporary registration paper, so do it ASAP.
FYI. The Irvine Company Apartment leasing center won’t allow you to install level 2 charger in your garage.

5. For carpool lane decal, you need to wait until you get number plate from DMV.

6. Other benefits like free public parking (meter based one) in Santa Monica and other area needs “carpool lane decal”, so wait #5.

7. I paid around $1,700 for out-of-pocket for my 36 months lease, and monthly is $229 incl tax from OC Nissan Irvine.

I went other Nissan dealerships in OC as well to get the best price, and then ended up with OC Nissan Irvine since they provided the lowest price and also my Costco membership Auto program suggested me OC Nissan Irvine as their partnership.
I thought I had very nice deal, but then Costco Auto staff reached out to me and asked to send my lease contract to see if I actually got benefit with Costco Auto program. A week later, I got $440 check from OC Nissan Irvine.(!!!!!) <3 Costco!


1. CarWings in Nissan Leaf needs subscription and use 2G network, although it’s given as free during first 3 years.

2. Only benefit you can get from CarWings + Navigation from my perspective is, you can set up “start” and “end” charging time. Without this, you can set up “end” time only and charging started immediately either 1) when you plugged in or 2) turn off “charging timer” manually.
It’s not uncomfortable to me at all, and You can use another mobile phone apps like “CatStations”, “PlugShare”, also other apps like “Blink”, “WattStation”, and “ChargePoint” which comes from commercial charging station network. FYI. Blink is recently acquired by ChargePoint, still almost every service of Blink are functional though.

3. Basic S trim comes with steel-wheel, not alloy, so if you really want alloy wheel you need to go with SV or SL.

4. Almost every S trim comes with quick charger package, which includes DC charge port and backup camera, so skip any vehicle which does not have it. Nissan and CA is trying to increase DC charging station, which charge up to 80% in 30 mins, so you’ll need it.
Every time I go near LA with my Leaf, I visit Downtown LA Nissan and charge my Leaf with DC charger.


1. With 100% charging, you’ll have about 85 miles to move without eco mode. So far, I tried from Irvine to LA Korean town/Getty museum. If you over-speed, air condition use, heater on, etc, it will drain more battery power and decrease your range.

2. Almost every Nissan dealership has at least two level 2 charging station and provide it to their Nissan Leaf owners for free. Sometimes I see some article/comment that you don’t allow other EV owners to use it, which is makes sense to me.
 There are Nissan dealership everywhere you can use if you get Leaf, and that’s the most important thing. Unlike Volt EV, you can’t move without having them.

3. There are many commercial charging station around. It’s mostly level 2 charger and costs $1 per hour for their member. ( membership is free for most case )
Some place you might want to  use if you are living in/near Irvine, CA, that would be

Irvine Spectrum Center : has 4 WattStation level2  charger outside of parking building.
Costa Mesa IKEA : has 3 Blink level 2 charger
Carl’s Junior near Irvine Center Dr : has ChargePoint level2 charger. ( It looks like other Carl’s Junior also has charging station, not every store has it though )
Quail Hill Shopping Center : New 2~3 level charging station and two DC quick charging stations are recently located in the shopping center. Charging cost for level 2 is $1/hour, and DC was $4/hour ( well.. with 30 minutes you can charge up to 80% though.. ) if I recall correctly.
 Orange outlet near Santa Ana : There are three~four “free”(yes, FREE as of Dec 2013) level2 charging station installed near D&B.
New Irvine Company's apartment communities have several charging stations as well.

4. There are several different types of charging station, and some of them are just for earlier EV model. So, if you use apps like CarStations, you need to know charging station types you can use.
J1772 : charging station type for latest EV model like Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt/Spark.
CHADEMO : DC quick charge station you can use for Nissan Leaf if your vehicle has DC charge port installed.
SPI : For earlier model EV, latest EV can’t use it.
5. With given level1 120V “emergency charging device”, full charging from 0% to 100% takes more than 20 hours!! You might think it’s not ideal to commute, but you don’t use 100% battery in a day usually, so charging from 9PM to 6AM with your home 120V will works. Also you can upgrade your charging device given by Nissan to use 220V with small upgrade costs, that way you don't need to install expensive charge station in your garage.
You can use other commercial charging station when you go there to see a movie, shopping, etc.

Hope this is helpful to you.

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