The UX of the Nissan Leaf

I brought my car in for service today.  They gave me a complimentary rental, which was the Nissan Leaf.  I drove it for 10 minutes so far, so this won’t be too in-depth.

Super Cool Golf Cart
I didn’t realize this until today. The Nissan Leaf has NO GAS ENGINE at all.  This is not at all like the Chevy Volt.  The Volt is electric and then kicks in to gas after 50 miles or so.  The Leaf is 80 miles on electric and then you are done.  I could have sworn it was like the volt.

How the heck can you live with just 80 miles.  Sure, I could do it most of the time.  Work is 3 miles each way.  However, sometimes I need to get to Berkeley and back.  That’s 70 miles.  It’s like starting every day with 1/4 tank of gas.  That would freak me out!  I am definitely going to run out of juice!

This to me is the biggest panic moment in thinking about buying the car.  How could I live with just 80 miles for my primary car.

Shhhhhhh, Zip!
Man, this thing is quiet.  It’s electric, so there is no grumble of the engine.  It sounds more like a bumber car or golf cart.  Plus, the power is just fine.  I merged onto the highway without any trouble at all.

Not too comfy
I am a fairly big person, 6’2″.  It just felt uncomfortable to me.  The chair was too high, the steering wheel was too low, the blind spots were too big, the windows were shaped funny.  This ultimately sealed the deal for me that I couldn’t buy the car.  I need to be comfortable.

There was a bizarre shifter int he car.  Actually, it was more like a stub of a shifter.  This is a UI that has been honed already. I felt their “improvements” were actually just distracting.  The HUD was extremely confusing and kinda distracting.  I am used to Nissan controls, so it wasn’t horrible, but there were alot of lights and things right in your face.  It didn’t feel super usable to me, but with only 10 minutes in the car, how much could I know.

Only 80 miles.  Not too comfortable with annoying controls. Yet, it was an electric freaking car!  That almost makes up for all the shortcomings.  I need to check out the Chevy Volt.  Hopefully, it will be better.  Still, it is a highly compelling vehicle for someone like me with a short commute.  I hope and pray that more car manufacturers come out with electric focused (not hybrid) vehicles.


One reply on “The UX of the Nissan Leaf”

I’m waiting for the generator in tow.

All full electric cars should have a plug and a hitch, so that you can add a small trailer with a generator and some additional cargo space. It seems to be insane to add a heavy battery pack, a gas tank and a gasoline engine and make all the compromises that a single engine car needs. Instead put the four electric motors in (or near) the wheels. Reduce the need for steering mechanics and gear boxes and drive shaft tunnels. Use the space for something more useful.

If you add the same drive into the trailer and make the self parking electronic smart enough you even get the last UX hurdle (backing up with a trailer) solved. Then make the trailers available for rent like a zip car.

Voila, all electric car with a range when you need it. All the quiet, and the exhaust free driving in the city and a smaller car that is enough for most driving. With all connections electric and mechanical, I could even see a two seater car with a stretch module to make it a four seater when needed.

Whatya think?