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Discussion Starter #1
I'm thinking of buying a cheap EV to go alongside my petrol car. In short, most of my trips are fairly short - commuting stuff like going to the main office (20 miles each way) or shopping trips or going out to eat locally - that kind of thing. I've looked in the autotrader and I can see quite a few cheap, early Leafs for 5-6 thousand pounds. They've probably lost some range, but provided they're reliable even a 50-60 mile range would suffice for what I want. I'd keep the petrol car for longer trips (I have to make long trips now-and-then for work or to visit relatives further afield) as it has 18 months left on the finance, then probably go fully EV for my next car trading in the petrol beastie and whatever is left of the leaf by then.

I like the leaf as it's a common car (relatively speaking!), meaning parts are easy to come by on the used and pattern market, making maintenance cheaper. The Zoe's all seem to have battery lease (no, Renault, I'm not going to gift you my petrol savings!). The I-Meiv/C-Zero/Ion is another option, but they seem to be rarer than the leaf & I gather they don't have the range or the power & aren't much cheaper so I can't really see why that's going to be a good option.

So I have 3 questions;

1/ What is flex (battery rental, but I can't find any details of costs!) and do I need to be worried about buying a car and finding Nissan want me to pay them 8p a mile like Renault would? - how do I tell before buying if a car is a Flex car - Zoes always seem to say. Leafs never do.

2/ Is there something I need to know about buying a Leaf of this age - is it likely to be a disaster or are there particular "gotchas" to watch out for?

3/ If I find the battery isn't working so well is there the possibility of getting a specialist to replace some of the cells to rejuvenate it a bit, or is it "sorry, you need to pay Nissan 3-4 grand"?
 

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2019 Renault Zoe R110 (ZE40)
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I generally use the TFL Congestion charge website to get an idea of exactly what the car is. Type in its number plate and it will ask you to confirm if thats the right vehicle. It will say FLEX at the end of its name if it was sold with a battery lease, otherwise there will be no mention. It is quite rare that you will find one of these cars that still has an active flex lease on the battery though. Most owners, or dealers have bought them out by now. I don't actually know what the lease cost is, but suspect it is probably comparable to what Renault do.

Look out at the degradation on the cars you view. Ideally use the leafspy app and an OBD dongle but if not possible you can get an idea of degradation by the health/capacity bars that run alongside the indicator that shows you the battery charge. It will tell you how much capacity is available from new out of 12 bars. The LEAFs are typically good, reliable cars. But I would still advise against buying an early model. Try to go for one of the later models that was made in the UK if at all possible. They come with a few improvements including to the battery chemistry which hopefully means less battery degradation.

Buying an early model with an especially bad battery will make even your 40 mile round trip difficult, especially if you are using the heating at any significant power for example, it could even become impossible. It's important you are realistic with range, and don't just go with whatever number the guess-o-meter tells you. It can be wildly inaccurate.

As for iMiev/C-Zero/iOn they can be bought a bit cheaper than the LEAF typically, and will be better suited to city life due to the smaller size and great visibility to help squeeze into tight parking spaces for example. They are also a little more basic so less to really go wrong. These cars unlike the LEAF have battery cooling so the degradation isn't as significant to these cars in many cases, but the battery was smaller to start with, and again winter range can make your 40 mile round trip hard or again impossible.

Only buy the car if you are happy with the levels of battery wear, and are confident that it will serve you well for the duration of time you will be keeping it for. It's really not worth opting for battery replacements or refurbishments with your use case. If you do decide you like your car when you get it, and it proves itself to be reliable for you, then you could consider paying for an unofficial battery replacement where you could even look to go for a bigger battery pack rather than a whole new car.

I Don't suppose your place of work has charging facilities on site or close by? (Check Zap Map to see what is around) At least if you know you can plug in on especially bad days, it means you can worry less about the battery health as there are back up options to save you from getting stranded if you find you can't make it. If not I would definitely be suggesting you look for an especially healthy battery or stretching to something a bit newer. (To be clear in summer conditions this shouldn't be a concern at all. But if you are commuting in sub zero temperatures with snow and strong winds sometimes, you need to be sure you can also manage to do this... If you can it is way better than your petrol car being able to just walk out in the morning to a comfortable pre-heated warm car that doesn't need ice scraping from the windows)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response, 80698 - this is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to know. The problem with buying a newer car is they cost more, and i'd have to finance it... and it starts to eat into the savings in Petrol.

Interesting point that the IMiev/C-Zero/iOn have battery cooling. I hadn't realised that and it does make a difference because you're right - those should last longer. Although they're less powerful cars with shorter range to start with and being rarer than the leaf might be harder to maintain. I think the standard range new was around 97 miles (yeah, right!) so a 10 year old one would be probably down to 50 miles, real world. Thing is you CAN get cells replaced in a Leaf if one particular cell lets you down or even a replacement battery from a scrapper. With a rarer car that might not be so easy.

My work (as I suspect many places are) is currently a bit indecisive about supplying power for electric cars. Basically it's chicken-and-egg and they don't have charging posts because nobody has electric cars. Because they can't charge them at work. Because there's no charging posts. because there's no demand for them..... etc etc. But if I can get 50 miles range, I can get there and back. Once a few of us have electric cars, maybe we can get some cheap 240v posts put outside? I know that's not a fast charger, but since I am there for 8 hours it ought to get me enough to refill the battery (which won't be completely flat).
 

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Question 1. Do you have off-road parking by your house so you can install a charging point (or at least a dedicated 13A socket) so that you can charge up at home every night - if not, then I would be doubtful about using an older car.

Similarly, does your workplace have an external 13A socket by the car park that you might be able to use to charge using your EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) charging lead (the one that connects to a 13A socket) while at work. For 20 miles to work in winter, 4 hours should be more than enough to put back what you used getting to work, so you could possibly share a 13A outlet with another electric car driver (one has the morning shift, and the other has the afternoon shift).

BTW, the EVSE lead is commonly known as the 'Granny' lead as it is expected that you would only use it when you visit your grandmother!!! For 'proper' charging at home it is recommended you have a fixed charging point installed (and there are some grants available to help you do this) with either a tethered lead having (for the older Leafs) a 'Type 1' connector on the end, or having a 'Type 2' socket and you have a Type 2 to Type 1 connecting lead (which you will need anyhow for charging at public 'destination' chargers - the slower ones for when you are at a visitor attraction etc).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Q1 - yes, this isn't a problem. I wouldn't contemplate this approach if I didn't have a drive. Although I might need to move the Petrol car on to the road. The thing is that the car is going to be parked overnight outside the place. Lets assume I put it on charge at 9pm, and leave the following morning at 8am, that's still 11 hours charge. Given that the battery is unlikely ever to be completely flat I reckon that might be enough, without the need for more than a granny charger. If I find it isn't I can always add one later.

Q2 - I think I could persuade them to install one. Maybe.

your leaf is approaching the kind of age i'm thinking of. How do you find it? - especially interested in range.
 

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My advice-get a cheapie 30kw, even if it's got tatty bodywork, as long as the inside is ok and not too many heel marks on the headlining it will serve you better than a really good 24kw. Look at leafspy tho........
 
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I considered an iOn too, but they seem to be getting a bit older now compared to leafs and they have less range. However I absolutely love the little cars, they are small and easier to park, but I got a leaf due to more support if problems and the bigger range.

Do take leafspy tho as I have 2 weak cells. Also ask to take it on a good test drive and see how the battery percent drops at about 50% onwards, make sure you get at lest 1 mile per percent.

I have never loved a car like my leaf! I love the way the original leaf looks and it’s so much fun to drive!
 

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Q1 - yes, this isn't a problem. I wouldn't contemplate this approach if I didn't have a drive. Although I might need to move the Petrol car on to the road. The thing is that the car is going to be parked overnight outside the place. Lets assume I put it on charge at 9pm, and leave the following morning at 8am, that's still 11 hours charge. Given that the battery is unlikely ever to be completely flat I reckon that might be enough, without the need for more than a granny charger. If I find it isn't I can always add one later.
30kWh leaf have charge timer which gives a couple of options.
Set start and finish time daily.
Set finish charge time. This allows the car to start charge the required amount of time before you need to set off. In your case finish time 8am charge will stop at 8am you get in and drive. Its important not to leave car at full 100% charge for extended periods doing it daily will cause degradation.
 

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I started off looking at a 2013 24kw leaf acenta for 8.3k and ended up buying a 2016 (66) 30kw leaf tekna for £12.6k. As Barfly suggests, if you can stretch to a 30kw its well worth it. 30kw started in 2016 and came with a 8yr battery warranty compared to the 24kw 5 yr warranty - 30kw will therefore have a chunk of warranty remaining.

Leaf spy is very helpful if the seller will allow you to check the car.

Also consider changing your home energy supplier if you get an EV - Octopus Go are very competitive on their normal day rates but also do a 4 hour slot from 12.30 till 04.30 at 5p / kw/h compared to a typical rate of 13/14p/kwh. If you do consider swapping then use the referral code in my signature and we both get £50 credit !!

I featured my pickup day in a video here: EV Virgin Buys Leaf Tekna

I've 90% finished my 240 mile return journey / first impressions video which will be posted soon.
 

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your leaf is approaching the kind of age i'm thinking of. How do you find it? - especially interested in range.
In cold winter weather on shortish (7.5 mile) journeys I can manage at around 5 miles per 10% state of charge as indicated on the dash, although gain in height takes a bit extra out of the battery - from home to Church Stretton which is 7.5 miles, I gain about 70m in altitude, and find I can use 20% SOC to get there, but only 10% SOC to get home. This is travelling up and down the A49 at 50-55 mph on Eco with the heater set to 18.5 deg C. On longer journeys can get slightly better. Early Sunderland built 24kWh Leaf with 49k miles on the clock, lost the first battery bar [85% SOH] in October 2017 (so may be losing the second battery bar [77% SOH] soon). Don't have Leafspy to check further details. Significant seasonal variation in range, last summer monthly averages were better than 0.7 miles/%SOC, in February averaged 0.589 miles/%SOC (February 2015 was 0.678 miles/%SOC)

Take a look at the charts attached to the first post of The battery health thread!
 

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