“When it rains, it pours”, so goes the age-old saying. On a Saturday morning (November 6, 2021), my wife Shawie and I were privileged to be invited to participate in the first-ever Electric Vehicle (EV) Eco-Run organized by the Electric Vehicles Association of the Philippines (EVAP). Not only did we have fun and enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, we finished First Place in the Long Loop route. We took home some giveaways and prizes but the best part was I got to drive the all-electric Nissan Leaf. Again.
Let me clarify that: I was able to drive the Leaf – albeit a right-hand-drive (RHD) version – for the first time around Hong Kong in February 2019 and enjoyed the experience of driving an electric car around busy city streets in actual traffic conditions. After driving around the Kowloon and Hung Hom districts, I began to wonder what it would feel like to drive a Leaf around Metro Manila and how it will perform in the crawling traffic. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long – just two years and nine months – for me to find out.
Early Morning Saturday Traffic
The battery level of our Leaf was at 97% when I drove off from the Nissan Mantrade dealership along Pasong Tamo Avenue in Makati City. I took a right on Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) and immediately joined the usual slow traffic pace on a Saturday morning. Except for the silent electric propulsion, our Leaf behaved like any other car I’ve driven in traffic – it crawled along with rest while keeping us cool and comfortable inside. I just had the quiet realization that our car was not adding to the carbon emissions being spewed around.
After a brief stop at UNIOIL Guadalupe to perform some required activities for the EV Eco Run, I drove into EDSA traffic again, this time slowed down even further by an MMDA crane truck rearranging concrete barriers in the middle lane just before the Pasig River. I glanced down the instrument panel and noticed that the battery level has dropped by just 2% to 95% after crawling in traffic for 15 minutes, and with the air-conditioner and the infotainment system with 6 speakers at full song.
Quick and Nimble Hatchback
Traffic eased up a bit as we passed Robinson’s EDSA Pioneer, which allowed me to mash the throttle a little bit. The 110-kilowatt EM57 AC synchronous motor of our Leaf provided 320 Newton-meters of torque that allowed it to accelerate away briskly from other vehicles. However, my excitement was cut short when EDSA northbound traffic slowed down again so I sped up the overpass towards Ortigas Avenue, went around Annapolis Street to exit EDSA southbound, and marveled at the smooth ride and impressive handling provided by our Leaf’s independent suspension system comprised of front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam axle.
After our brief stop at the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) dealership in Greenhills to perform more EV Eco Run activities, I drove at a faster pace towards the BGC area harnessing most of the 148 horsepower channeled through the single-speed direct-drive gear-reduction transmission before it is delivered to the front wheels. The Bridgestone Turanza T005 205/55R16 tires wrapped around 10-spoke 5-lug 16-inch two-tone alloy wheels provided tenacious grip and confidence-inspiring traction while the front ventilated and rear solid disc brakes provided sure stopping power.
City Driving Using Just One Pedal
Expecting heavier traffic on the drive from Greenhills to BGC, I decided to activate the e-Pedal switch where it felt like I was driving with the emergency brake engaged even though it wasn’t. The e-Pedal allow me to speed up, slow down, or completely stop our Leaf using just the accelerator pedal. At crawling speeds, it felt relaxing to have the car decelerate and stop without stepping on the brake pedal. Our Leaf’s wide array of Nissan Intelligent Mobility* technology constantly monitors its surroundings to avoid any collision but disc brakes on all four corners guarantee reliable and surefooted stopping power.
The e-Pedal mode also enhances regenerative braking where deceleration allows the motor of our Leaf to act like a generator and charge the 350-volt 40 kilowatt-hour laminated Lithium-ion batteries to extend the driving range of our 5-door compact hatchback. A quick glance on the instrument panel showed that at 93% charge, our Leaf can still go another 255 kilometers before it needs to be plugged in. I estimated that the factory-claimed 311-kilometer driving range is realistic and can even be extended given the chance to drive on the toll ways and go through the acceleration-deceleration regenerative braking cycle.
Compact, Comfortable and Convenient
As I drove around the city in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I appreciated the maneuverability and compact dimensions of our electric Nissan. At just around 4.5 meters long and around 1.8 meters wide, the engineers and designers at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. were able to create a spacious, cool and comfortable interior for five occupants within the Leaf’s 2.7-meter long wheelbase and 1.5-meter height. Keeping the curb weight below 1,570 kilograms allowed the motor to propel the car faster and further without excessively taxing the batteries.
During our morning drive, Shawie and I appreciated the comfort of the Zero Gravity front seats while I appreciated the D-shaped leather-wrapped steering wheel with control buttons, customizable digital information display, 8-inch Advanced Touchscreen Display Audio infotainment system, and interior materials that are soft to the touch. The cargo area in our Leaf’s rear hatch is quite large and can hold around 668 liters of luggage. To show its versatility and utility, the Nissan Leaf brochure even shows that a bicycle can transported inside the car with the rear seats folded down.
Next on My Wish List
It took us only 52 short minutes to complete the EVAP EV Eco Run, thus I was not able to experience the full suite of our Leaf’s Nissan Intelligent Mobility* features. Nor was I able to use the 6.6-kilowatt Double Speed Onboard Charger with Quick Charger, or marvel at the illuminated charger port with EVSE smart lock and unlock features, or see how the car works with the provided 220V plug-in charger, the Wall Box wall-mounted charger, or the EV charging stations at UNIOIL Guadalupe and Nissan Mantrade.
I wish that I have P2.789 Million in loose change so I can run a 2021 Nissan Leaf through the gauntlet of everyday driving situations and subject it to our series of Long Term Tests. I would like to measure and record how much electricity it consumes during charging and how often it needs to be charged. I’d love to compare the operating and ownership costs of this EV against that of our gas-powered daily driver and see if the high acquisition costs of EVs are reasonably justified over the long run.
But for now, I just have to be contented with the thought that I have satisfied my curiosity about driving a Leaf around Metro Manila. I’m certain that I’ve conquered any fear of range anxiety when I’m driving an intelligent EV like this electric Nissan. I just have to wait until I can have the opportunity to subject an EV to a long term test. I guess I can wait another two years and nine months…
2021 Nissan Leaf
Vehicle Type: Electric motor FWD 5-door compact hatchback
Engine: 110kW EM57 AC Synchronous electric motor
Battery: 350V 40kWh laminated Lithium-ion
Transmission: Single-speed direct-drive reduction-gear transmission
Power: 148 bhp (150PS)
Torque: 320 Nm
Suspension: Front MacPherson struts, Rear Torsion Beam Axle
Steering: Electric Power Steering (EPS)
Brakes: Front ventilated discs, rear solid discs
Curb Weight: 1557-1569 kg
Gross Vehicle Weight: 1902 kg
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Length: 4490 mm
Width: 1788 mm
Height: 1540 mm
Ground clearance: 155 mm
Cargo Capacity: 668 liters (rear seats up); 849 liters (rear seats folded)
Warranty: 36 months / 60,000 kms
Powertrain Warranty: 60 months / 100,000 kms
*Nissan Intelligent Mobility includes Around View Monitor (AVM), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC), Blind-Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning LDW), Rear-Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), High-Beam Assist (HBA), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Intelligent Lane Intervention (ILI), Intelligent Traction Control (ITC), Intelligent Driver Alertness (IDA), ECO driving mode and e-Pedal. Standard safety features include front, side, and curtain SRS airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), among others.
Nissan Philippines Inc.
21st Floor Eco Tower, 32nd Street corner 9th Avenue
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines