Electric Car Notes by Ben Zuckerman 01

By Ben Zuckerman



Note: This is the first of a series of guest posts on electric vehicles–EVs. I’ve written about the potential of EVs in my books since 1995. As part of my work with renewable energy I’ve examined the amount of electricity required to meet North America’s electricity needs, including that from a fleet of EVs replacing all passenger vehicle miles travelled. Consequently, I am keenly interested in the real world experience of those drving EVs, so I’ve asked Ben Zuckerman if he could periodically summarize his experiences with his Nissan LEAF.–Paul Gipe

I’m a professor in the Physics & Astronomy Department at UCLA. In part because I’ve been on the Board of Directors of various environmental organizations, I’ve felt it my responsibility to try to lead a low-carbon impact lifestyle. So, 8.5 years ago my wife and I had solar PV panels installed on the roof of our home in Los Angeles. Then a year later (late 2003), we were one of the first few dozen or so Americans to own a second generation Toyota Prius. Recently (May 2011) we were among the first few hundred Americans to own a Nissan all-electric LEAF. This report is the first of some occasional postings by me you will be seeing on Paul Gipe’s website.–Ben Zuckerman

For this first posting I would like to mention a few things about the LEAF. My wife and I really like the car, not the least of which is that it runs on the electricity generated by the PV panels that cover only about 1/3 of the roof area of our house; that is, the panels generate sufficient electricity to power both the house and the LEAF. We haven’t had the car long enough yet for me to characterize the range accurately, but it now appears that, driven carefully, that range will be at least 100 miles (~4 miles per kWh). We have a 240 V fast-charging unit installed in our garage that should charge the batteries from empty to full in 6-7 hours. In the coming years the statewide plan is to have really fast charging stations (480 V) installed along the interstates; with these the empty-full time is supposed to be 30 minutes or so, making trips like L.A. to San Diego feasible with a LEAF.