By: Steve Uyehara
(HawaiiNewsNow) - When they first getting we were getting new cars for I week, said "Game on, let's do this." I got the Nissan Leaf. I was pleasantly surprised. It's roomier than I thought and had more kick than I expected. But there are some things you need to know about driving an electric vehicle that could really affect your family.
For instance, you get about 100 miles on a full charge. But that varies according to how and where you drive. I drive back and forth from Kalihi to Mililani Mauka. That uphill drive back home takes a lot of juice and can knock me all the way down to just 15 miles. That meant I had to charge every single day.
My first day I got a little nervous watching the odometer go down so I instinctively turned off my a/c and radio. But apparently that's not necessary.
"There's a solar panel on the rear of the vehicle that's like a 12-volt solar charger," says Daniel Gatewood from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (they let me borrow the car). "It uses the sun's energy and that is what's used to charge all the electrical and the a/c, as far as your radio's concerned, you can blast it all day long, it'll keep recharging itself."
Another thing to consider is the charging time. Charging your Leaf can take up to 4 hours at a station which means wherever you are, you'll be stuck for a while. I actually got off to a bad start with my Leaf. My first day using it, I plugged it in at the charging station in Mililani. After 2 hours i came back to check on the progress to find out it hadn't charged a bit, so I had to start all over. A repair man came to check it out only to find that the station itself wasn't working properly. But I've been assured that doesn't happen often.
There are portable chargers that you can use to do it yourself at home rather than getting stuck for hours somewhere else. But keep in mind it does take longer, possibly up to 10 hours. So if the Leaf is the only car you have, you're stuck. But apparently they're working on speeding things up.
"You know this bigger port right here it's called like rapid charge," says Gatewood. "It's gonna be like a third or a fourth of the time that it takes for a regular charge. So they're thinking you know, half an hour to maybe an hour for a full charge. It'll go way quicker."