Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Is No One Immune?

Yikes. This one is pretty bad... Sent in by #1 blogdaughter is yet another recall - but not from GM.

Recall sends some 2014 Nissan Leaf electric cars to the crusher
Just because you own an electric car doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to all the recalls and potential problems that conventional cars experience. Nissan has recalled about six weeks of production of the 2014 Nissan Leaf for missing welds in the front structure that could compromise the car’s structural integrity in a crash.

Affected owners are being notified to take their cars back to the dealership for inspection to see if all necessary welds are in place. If they are not, industry sources tell us, Nissan is replacing at least some of the vehicles free.
I'm assuming that the vehicles that were scrapped were incomplete; I would like to think Nissan would be smarter than destroying (nearly) intact cars. Then again, I'd also like to think they'd be smart enough to weld all the critical body components the first time around. While it looks like this is a pretty small recall - I don't believe it affects all Leafs out there, and the Leaf isn't exactly a huge seller to begin with, it's a pretty serious error in the manufacturing process.

If I owned a Nissan, I'd be pretty concerned about what else they may have missed in my car. If I were thinking about a Nissan, I might re-think Honda/Toyota/etc. You'd like to think that a car that costs more than double a comparable gasoline-powered variant would have a little more attention to detail, wouldn't you?

And that's my big beef with this entire segment. I understand that these cars are significantly more expensive to produce, but charging double the cost of a gas model? The Leaf STARTS at $30K - it's far more with extras - whereas a comparably equipped Versa (about the same size) starts at $12K. The Versa is excellent on gas, too - 31 MPG city, 40 MPG highway - meaning that, with a 10 gallon tank, you've got a range between 300 - 400 miles. Compare that to the Leaf's official range of 84 miles (at best; other sources put it closer to 30 - 40 miles) and the recharge time of "overnight" (no time is given at their charging stations).

Oh, and you need an electrician to come to your house and install the charger. They say the cost can be up to $2K plus whatever fees your municipality charges. It's a 240 volt service - which I would imagine isn't going to be cheap. This isn't exactly like running an extension cord from the house, folks.

So, the Leaf realistically costs 3X as much as the gas-powered car, has up to a tenth the range, requires extensive electrical work be performed just to refill at your house overnight or can be recharged at random stations for unknown amount of time and price. Forgive me if I am less than enthusiastic about this from the get-go.

I'm sure the Leaf makes sense for someone. I'm just trying to figure out who. They've got to live close to work and shopping centers, or have access to a charging station (apparently you can use a regular power cord, but considering that the special 240 volt charger they install at your home takes all night, I can't imagine a standard 110 volt outlet being *faster*...) They've also got to have disposal income - you're talking about spending a sizable chunk of change that you will, realistically, never make back, to buy electric over gas.

And, now, they've got to be willing to hope that Nissan didn't cut any *other* corners...

That is all.


Sevesteen said...

I was involved in a similar situation at a previous employer. Bad code meant that under certain somewhat unusual circumstances most of the welds in the back got skipped. Turned out that only a tiny handful of trucks were actually a problem...but figuring out which 30 out of tens of thousands wasn't easy.

And the next year in a cost cutting measure, they quit archiving the data that had allowed me to pinpoint the bad ones.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here is is something I want to add. If you think you're "saving" the environment the where do you suppose electricity comes from?!? Europe? Ever hear of coal fired plants? Natural Gas plants? These add pollutants.

I regularly make a bi-monthly 300-mile round trip, or even a 44-mile round trip between cities.
If I buy one of these cars even at optimum, I have to spend an inordinate amount of time shut-down, or even "broke down."

Homes have 240-volt already (Stove, dryer) so you could potentially tap one of those sources for recharging. I have 240-volt in the garage. As I understand it the requirement here is called 3-phase and costs $10,000 plus parts to hook an outlet in the garage. Thankfully it was in when I moved in.

Keep your electric car, I want to arrive at my destination safely and without additional headaches.

Dave H said...

The Leaf charger uses 240 volts split phase, which is the typical house feed. (It's what your electric dryer uses.) But it also draws up to 30 amps, which is slightly more than a clothes dryer. If your house only has a 100 amp service and you have enough other appliances, you might need to have your electrical service and breaker panel upgraded to 200 amps. That's pricey work.

Cormac said...

All this after how much in subsidies?
(right...we're paying a chunk of every one of these rip-offs)

Stretch said...

A friend wants an electric car because "it the right thing to do."
Ya, she's got Kool-Aid stains all over her.