Why the Nissan Leaf is Perfect*
The Nissan Leaf is a perfect vehicle for a taxi, and the 2018 model is even better.
How could the humble Nissan Leaf be the perfect taxi?
This is a big call (we know), and we have to consider both the driver and the passenger and Green Cabs' requirements. You could be forgiven for thinking the Nissan Leaf is a lightly-built, small car, and the styling is unique in some people's eyes.
So how is it, then, that when you speak to Leaf owners, you can't shut them up about how much they love it, and how they would never go back to a dinosaur-burning counterpart?
Zipping around town in a plug-in car while doing the shopping is a long way from the demands of a busy commercial taxi, so how does the Leaf stack up against the demands of New Zealand's most environmentally-friendly taxi company? Let's find out.
Smooth: Electric cars glide silently, and smoothly, and feel like a luxury limousine. At motorway speeds, the loudest noise you're likely to hear is the faint whistle of the wind passing the wing mirrors or the toplight.
Comfort: Dr. Who fans will know exactly what we mean when we say the Nissan Leaf looks bigger on the inside than on the outside. The head room is enough for everyone in both front or back (except maybe for folks who are freakishly tall). Leg room is ample in front and back and almost all models come with heated seat warmers for those bitter, chilly kiwi mornings. (It's more efficient to heat passengers directly rather than pumping hot air out of the aircon, so this also helps increase efficiency while creating warm bums!) Plus, because EV batteries are still on the heavy side, the car sits on the road well and seems as stable as a much bigger car.
Safety: 10 airbags! 10! Plus a load more safety features, including assisted-braking for accident/collision avoidance.
Range: For those familiar with EV terms, range anxiety refers to the cold sweat that breaks out when that thought creeps into an EV-owners mind - What if I don't have enough battery to get there? The current sweet spot for Leaf models is the Gen 2, 30kWh battery model. Fully charged, this model can easily do 200km around town before needing another charge. On the open road, this range drops a little as the battery has to work harder to counteract wind resistance at speed, but realistically you'll still get 160-180km of range. In Wellington, 95% of our drivers do no more than 200km a day, 95% of the time. One quick top up for 5 to 15 minutes at the dedicated charger at the airport, or at any of the public chargers in town, and the Leaf is charged up and ready to go (and this charging can be done when it's quiet or while our drivers are waiting for their next customer - no more or less interruption than needing to go to the petrol station for fuel).
Luggage Space: Back to the tardis analogy - the boot is surprisingly large. In fact, it's on par with current Prius and Camry hybrids in the fleet. You can fit 3 decent-sized suitcases in it which is more than enough for most passengers.
Reliability: Time is quite literally money for our drivers, so any time off of the road can be very expensive. Electric cars have no oil to change, no radiator fluid, no gearboxes, meaning service costs are typically very low, and service times are very quick. You need to keep an eye on your tyres, wiper blades and wiper fluid (and headlights and tail lights of course), and you're basically good to go. Every now and then, the brake fluid will need to be flushed and changed, but you can otherwise forget the mostly costly servicing that comes with petrol or diesel powered cars. Less servicing, less time = more dollars being earned. Initial concerns over battery life for the Leaf seem to be unfounded with many Leafs travelling over half a million kilometres with no issues - and still going as strong as they did the day they rolled out of the factory.
Running Costs: We have always favoured Hybrids because they burn less fuel. The Toyota Prius has been the most economical and reliable vehicle - until the Leaf showed up. If we can use another analogy - imagine the Prius runs on the smell of an oily rag. Well, the Leaf threw the rag out completely. Electricity is so cheap (compared to petrol and diesel), that if you charge the car at home, it's the equivalent of 30cpl at the petrol station. 30 cents per litre - imagine that! When you factor in reduced servicing costs, increased time on the road and reduced "fuel" costs, the Leaf works out to an average of around $7,000 per year in savings compared to a conventional hybrid. Imagine the savings over a combustion engine! Over the 10 year life of the car, you could save $70,000 or more.
Green Cabs' Needs
Comfortable Passengers ✔️
Happy Drivers ✔️
Vehicles that fit with our mission to reduce emissions ✔️
Zero emissions are where our goals lie.
There are arguments that the lifetime emissions of EVs are more than that of a petrol equivalent, or that lithium mining causes more issues than oil, or that electricity produces more CO2 emissions than simply burning oil. Without going into a huge debate, suffice to say that we here at Green Cabs have studied, investigated and discussed all of the above and we are satisfied that these myths have been scientifically proven as unfounded.
We are confident that electric vehicles are better for the planet than the conventional equivalent, and particularly here in Aotearoa, where 85% of our electricity is derived from renewable sources. Green Cabs have planted over 270,000 trees to date (more than offsetting all of the emissions we have ever produced, many times over), and plan to continue to do so.
Every single trip you take with Green Cabs contributes to one more tree planted, one less fuel-powered car on the road as a taxi, one more vehicle with less or no emissions, one more happy driver, one more comfortable ride for you.
The 2018 Leaf
If the current model of Leaf you see on the roads is perfect as a taxi for Green Cabs, then why is the 2018 model better than that?
Well, for one, it has more room for passengers. It has more luggage space for luggage. It has a bigger battery, so needs less charging, which means more range (40kWh model has 250km real-world range with a 60kWh model arriving soon).
It is safer, with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and progressively more scope for autonomous modes.
It's faster. The current Leaf models are no slouches, but the 2018 Leaf gets to 100kmph in 8 seconds. Taxi drivers don't need fast cars, and we would never condone speeding - but it's nice to know that theoretically, on a race track, in controlled conditions, we could beat the competitors 😏
The 2018 Leaf is so good, in fact, that reviewers are saying it's the best EV currently on the market, anywhere in the world. We reckon if you are buying a new car this year to use as a taxi and you don't buy a 2018 Leaf then you are a bl.. well. Let's just say that you are missing out on the perfect taxi.