Electric Car Notes by Ben Zuckerman 03: Spare Tire?

By Ben Zuckerman


Should your LEAF have a flat tire, then getting somewhere to have the problem fixed may not be as easy as with your previous cars. To save weight and space, some new cars, including the LEAF, no longer carry a spare tire. According to a June 20, 2011 story in the Los Angeles Times: “last month about 13% of the more than 1 million vehicles sold in the U.S. did not offer an extra tire as standard equipment, according to a Times review of vehicle specifications and sales data. Spare tires are not required by federal regulators because they are not considered an essential safety feature.”

The LEAF carries a kit that can be used to seal simple puncture wounds to a tire. The car and the kit can then be used to inflate the mended tire so that you can drive yourself to a place where a replacement tire can be obtained. However, LEAF tires are designed to minimize rolling resistance and not so much for protection against various road insults, for example hitting serious pot holes or scraping the side of a tire against a rough curb. Should a tire be torn, rather than simply punctured, then the repair kit will not work and your LEAF will need to be towed to a Nissan dealer or appropriate tire replacement shop. Thus one always wants to carry a cell phone in the car and be extra careful to avoid damaging a tire when driving at night or at a time when businesses are not normally open.

Note: This is the third in 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