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Thinking about buying your first EV?

We've got some advice that might help.


This guide assumes you are buying a secondhand Nissan Leaf, but lots of our advice applies to other makes and models too. If you know someone who owns an electric vehicle, we recommend you take them with you on your shopping trip - they will be full of knowledge and will know exactly what to look out for. There are also a number of groups on Facebook for EV owners in NZ - have a look for those and join them too!


Some dealers have no interest in electric vehicles - they only want to make a sale. We recommend you avoid those dealers and look for a specialist EV dealership, or a dealership who can demonstrate a commitment to advancing EVs (not just hunting for sales).


At the bottom of this blog post we've provided a checklist we recommend you could use to guide your purchase of a Nissan Leaf (and some other EV models).


Our Recommendations:

Interior/Exterior: make sure the vehicle is in good condition on the inside and out.


Motor: The motor, inverter, battery management system is unlikely to go wrong - either it works, or it doesn't. As for the motor itself, it is nothing like an internal combustion engine - an electric motor will run quite happily for hundreds of thousands of kilometres. Check the "engine bay" for any signs of damage and to make sure it's clean.


Battery Pack: Take your time on this one, and follow this checklist. Either you or the dealer should LEAFSPY the vehicle when it's fully charged:

  • First screen: (see images below) Set the screen display to 50 mV. The first screen (first image below) displays all of the battery modules. Red and blue cell readings just indicate that some of the cells are balancing, which is perfectly normal. Balancing means power is being shifted from cells which are higher over to the lower ones to 'balance' the whole pack.)

  • In the images below, note the number of fast and overnight (L1/L2) charges. Many fast charges doesn't necessarily mean anything is wrong - the owner probably lived in the central city and didn't have anywhere to charge at home.

  • As in the image above, SOH (State of Health), mileage and the millivolt reading can be seen at the top of the screen. A healthy reading is between 10 and 30 mV (millivolts).

  • In the image above, you can see the kWh remaining. Fully charged, a 30kWh Leaf should display within 25 and 28kWh.


  • On the instrument display, scroll through the menus until you reach the Energy Economy display (the one pictured above). 6.2 is a good reading.

  • If you multiply the kWh remaining by the Energy Economy figure, you should get a good idea of the true range of the vehicle. In this case, 25.5kWh x 6.2kms = 158kms.

  • If you can, you should also get a LeafSpy report when the main battery pack is nearly flat. Have another look at the cells, especially the millivolt difference reading.

The vehicle should also come with a charge cable for overnight/trickle charging. The best cable is the 8amp OEM cable, designed and certified in NZ. Unless you need a 16amp cable with a "caravan" plug on it, 8amps is better as you can charge your vehicle from any 3-pin power socket, meaning less chance you'll get caught somewhere without any way to charge!


EV Pre-purchase Checklist -
Use this to help you form an overall impression of the vehicle, taking into account its age and mileage. Check all items for condition and correct operation. We have used this checklist for the purchase of 30kW Leafs, but it will be useful for any model or make of EV.

Outside:

  • Alloy wheels and tyres

  • Check bodywork for all dents & scratches

  • Roof

  • Aerial

  • Doors working properly, consistent panel gap, central locking functional

  • Fast and standard charging ports present

  • Check underneath the car for damage

Inside:

  • Climate control (hot and cold) functioning

  • Electric mirrors functioning (optional - may not be present in all models)

  • Heated seats and heated steering wheel functioning (optional - may not be present in all models)

  • Seat belts all in tact

  • Folding rear seats functional

  • Upholstery condition

  • Windscreen glass condition

  • Electric windows all functional

  • Radio and GPS functional and set to NZ standards/reception (optional)

  • Speedo displays in kilometres

  • Battery pack shows 12 bars

  • Air bags present

Driving:

  • Driver's seat is adjustable

  • Handbrake functional

  • Power steering performing correctly

  • Hill-start assist functioning

  • Rear-view camera with driver's aide functioning correctly

Misc:

  • Smart key operation (2 keys provided)

  • English handbook provided