Modo member review of the fully electric Nissan LEAF
Did you know 1 in 5 Modo is hybrid or fully electric?
For some, the idea of driving one of Modo’s two fully electric Nissan LEAFs (here and here) is both exciting and a bit nerve inducing. To dispel the mystery of how to operate the LEAF, Modo member Mona took Vehicle #408 for a spin, offering the following review, with instructions for unplugging, powering up and cruising with the windows down.
For first-time bookings, Mona recommends you bring with you the full instructions via modo.coop/leaf and your booking confirmation information; she also recommends padding your booking with extra time to get acquainted with the vehicle and charging station infrastructure.
How to Operate and Charge the Nissan LEAF
By Modo member Mona
Recently, I took Modo vehicle #408, the fully electric Nissan LEAF at The Rise, for a spin. And I thought I’d share my observations about my first ever-electric vehicle booking experience.
In one word, it was FUN! I would go out of my way to book this car just for the experience.
I love how the engine sounds – it’s more of a whirring and a sometimes faint whine than your usual engine revving sound. Don’t underestimate the LEAF’s power, however – it’s got plenty of gumption! Let’s just say I get a real charge out of it! 😉
The interior is very spacious and I thought it was luxurious looking. It’s a very comfortable ride. Also, it’s suitable for persons with decreased mobility to step in and out of, as it’s not a low-seating vehicle.
I thought that the trunk was spacious due to its depth, although it’s different than most trunks I’ve seen. Its depth may make lifting heavy objects in and out of it a bit challenging for those with back issues.
Unplugging the LEAF:
Modo currently has two types of charging stations for the LEAF. Unplugging the car works the same way for both types of charging stations:
When you arrive at the vehicle, you’ll see the car plugged in. To unplug it, simply remove the charging cable from the car by pressing down on the button at the top of the nozzle and return the cable to the charging station.
Ensure that the lid on the charge socket on the car is closed, and close the charge door on the vehicle.
To Operate the LEAF:
Turn on the vehicle by putting your foot on the brake and pressing the ‘Power’ button.
When you start your trip, look at the information display on the dash – it will indicate an estimated kilometre range on the current charge.
After a full charge, the range may indicate a possible trip distance of 150 kilometres. Be conservative with this estimate! Many factors affect this estimated range, including driving style, outside temperature and use of vehicle accessories such as air conditioning, heating or the stereo.
If you don’t think that the estimated range will be sufficient for your trip, call Modo to be booked into a different vehicle.
To get the most out of the charge when you need heat in the car, consider using the heated seats, which offer a more energy-efficient way to heat you and your passengers than the usual ‘heat the air inside the car’ system. In a conventional, non-electric car, the interior heating gets it heat from the engine, but in the case of the electric car, heat is not a by-product of the engine running. The LEAF offers heated seats for both the front and rear seats – and even has a heated steering wheel!
Using the Emergency Brake:
This one’s definitely different than any other I’ve used:
Use the flat toggle lever located in the console area between the driver and passenger. The lever has a little red light on it when engaged.
To disengage the emergency brake, push down on the lever. Wait about three seconds and you’ll see the red light on the lever turn off and the associated dashboard lights also turn off.
To engage the emergency brake, pull up on the lever. Also wait three seconds. You’ll see the red light on the lever illuminate and you’ll see two dashboard lights turn on – one on the main (lower) dash and one on the upper dash. An engaged emergency brake shows a red “P” in a circle on the lower dash.
Dashboard Warning Display:
The upper dash display provides general indicators (such as exclamation marks) associated with their more descriptive dashboard light counterparts appearing in the main (lower) dash.
For example, the upper dash displayed an orange exclamation mark if the seat belts were undone in addition to the usual “seat belt” symbol in the lower dash display. Resolving one warning would make the associated dashboard lights on both the upper and lower displays turn off.
Shifting in and out of gears is also different. There’s a round knob located above the emergency brake lever in the centre console between the driver and the passenger.
To enable Park, press the “P” button in the middle of the knob.
The knob works like a pivot ball in your hand; to drive the car, simply move the knob down for “Drive”, or up for “Reverse”.
A beeping noise is audible to people near the outside of the car when the vehicle is reversing – a sensible safety feature for an otherwise silent vehicle!
Returning and Plugging In the Vehicle:
When you’re done with the car, note the remaining estimated range for the vehicle. If it is less than 30 kilometres, call Modo so that they can book the car off for some undisturbed charging time.
The car will not charge unless you turn off the vehicle, so engage the emergency brake, put it in Park and shut off the car by pressing the “Power” button.
Open the car’s charge door by releasing the lever on the lower left of the dash. Once outside the vehicle, open the lid on the charging socket; it pops open by pressing on the small lever on the left of it.
The next step is a little different depending on which charging station is used.
The ChargePoint charge station, such as the one located at the Coal Harbour location, requires the swiping of the ChargePass card (located on the driver’s visor) to turn on the charging. Hold the card in front of the ChargePoint station reader. Wait for the authorizing “click” sound on the charging station and release the charging cable from the station by pressing on the nozzle’s silver button.
Plug the nozzle into the car’s charging socket. When you hear the “click” of the nozzle going into the car, charging will be properly engaged. Don’t forget to return the ChargePass card to the driver’s visor!
Note that, for the most part, Modo members will only be charging the LEAF at its home location; the ChargePass card won’t work at other ChargePoint stations, and Modo may not cover the costs of charging the vehicle off-location.
You only need to use the ChargePass card when you’re returning the car and ready to plug it in.
The other type of charging station (such as at car #408’s home at The Rise) requires no swiping of a card. Simply remove the cable from the holder and plug the nozzle in until you hear the “click”. Verify that the charge light is engaged.
At the underground parking at The Rise location, it’s easy to see the interior three blue lights on the top of the dash. Depending on the charge level, some of the lights may be flashing. This is another indication that you’ve correctly plugged in the car and charging has begun.
I hope you find this review helpful and enjoy the Nissan LEAF as much as I did!
All photos by Ken Villeneuve