Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Christmas Cards...

So, I have two boxes of Christmas cards sitting on my floor..... and absolutely no idea what to do. I like to make my cards offbeat and different. I enjoy making up little stories but I seem to be tapped at the moment. As a result my Christmas cards continue to lie there, mocking me.

The new job kept me hopping until the week of Christmas and I have been having trouble being responsible ever since the break began. I have been galavanting about Arizona (the Phoenix area in particular) doing nothing but hanging out and socializing. I am not sure there is a clever or creative spark left. I certainly don't feel it leaking out at parties. I seem to be filled with negative juju and no clear idea of how to get back to normal. I think the CHristmas cards will not be sent this year.... I will try to make it up to those of you that are waiting, somehow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Nissan Leaf Reviewed! (AKA Help Me Win!

I recently drove the Nissan Leaf...... It was a beautiful December day in Tempe, AZ. There was an art fair happening, the fantastic Tempe Art Festival. I like to go there and look at things. I often find things to buy but I am perpetually too broke to buy anything. This time my experience was different. Nissan was there and they had brought along the Nisaan Leaf. They did a little education and then let you go for a little tiny test drive. When I was done taking the car around the block I was able to get a picture taken and to record a video. By recording the video I had successfully entered myself in a competition to win a Nissan Leaf. In order to win you need to see my video and vote for me! Go to this website:
Help me WIN a 100% electric Nissan LEAF™! View and vote for my video now!

You may ask how I liked the Nissan Leaf? Go ahead.... ask!

Still waiting.... c'mon ask me!

Wait this is a blog.... which means I can't hear you. I bet you are begging for a review! I am so sorry friend! I will review the car... but you should get off your knees. You look silly begging like that.

The Nissan Leaf is cute but not super compelling looking. It is another car that is designed for people who do not really like cars. It seems to be the trend with the more "eco-friendly" cars. Think about the ugliness that is the Honda Insight or the unsexiness that is the Toyota Prius. I am not real sure why they can't make a car that looks good. Apparently "saving the earth" means driving a car that makes you sad inside. The Leaf is by far the most acceptable of the cars I have mentioned and I could see people liking it's little hatchback styling.

It was fun to drive. It is super techy inside; push button ignition, gps in the dash and some other junk. It drove smoothly and had a little pick up but I was not able to really test that because they did not allow a freeway run. I was on a prescribed set of streets and really did not get a complete feel for the ride.

They have an eco-drive mode that gets you 10% more range per charge but the minute I had it in that mode I was seriously irritated. I would only cruise in that on longer trips or if I had a low charge. The eco-drive does engage if you get too low as do other energy saving features (radio volume lowered, heat/ac turned down or off). It is automatic and happens so that you will become aware that your juice is low and you are about to be stuck on the side of the road. This is a great thing to add to a car with limited range. It is like the beep your phone gives when it is at 10%.

The ride was distubingly quiet... all you get is a little road noise. It was unnerving and if I was an owner I would plug my iPod in and play it very loud. That way I could steer my focus away from the lack of engine noise. I am sure I would adapt but it was glaringly apparent after driving a loud pickup and a rattling sedan.

The other thing I liked was my chaperone on the drive. She was a gorgeous black lady named Tammy. I was in love with the car partly because I had a crush on her. She gave me interseting tidbits along with a pleasant conversation.

I am excited by the thought of an electric car and I would like for it to be successful and for them to become steadily more normal.

So.... electric cars.... The things I don't like:

I did not like that I walked away not knowing the price of the car. That bothered me a little bit but the website has it posted. One version is 26,000 and the other is 27,000. They estimate the battery pack will last 10 years and also did not provide the price for replacing that. They also couldn't talk about how you will pay for charging up as that system is still being installed. They also have not figured out how payment will be made and how to keep it cheap and (I would imagine) profitable for the charge station. There are a lot of things left unknown.

They did talk about the range of the car. It is estimated to be 100 miles on a full charge. Which translates to a car that is for local use only. The range is not an issue for my weekday commute but it would be for my weekend activities and any trips I would want to take (including a drive on Route 66 I would like to make this summer). The range makes the Leaf a second car and can not be used as the sole car. I do not need 2 cars nor can I afford 2 cars. I seem to not be a primary target for this car.

Another issue is the charge time. You can plug this car into a regular outlet but it will take 20 hours to charge. This means you need to install a charging station using a 220v charge. This was estimated to cost 2,000 to get installed. So forget about it if you live in an apartment or a rental. They say this charger will get it done in 7 to 8 hours. There is an option of a quick charger you can put on the car which if used at a quick charge station will fill it to 80% in 30 minutes. This begs the question, why would the quick charge be an option on this car? Is there a drawback to quick charging?

The other thing I wonder is how green is this "green" car? You do realize where most electicity comes from, right? It comes from fuel burning turbines for the most part. This means coal and oil are burned to generate electricity (electricity is a secondary energy source eaning it needs a primary energy source to be created), with the exception of California who uses natural gas exclusively (which is still non-renewable). 92% of the energy used in the nation is non-renewable which means a good chunk of the electricity would be coming from the evil oil and coal companies. So does this mean the car is really earth friendly? How much more earth friendly is it?

The worst thing I have to say about the car is about the lame polar bear ad. This bear walks for days to find a Leaf driver and give him a hug. Yet no one is scared by a rampant polar bear. Even worse, the polar bear doesn't rip the owners head off and steal the car as would have happened in my version of the commercial.

My interest in alternatively fueled cars is still very high. I am looking at the Nissan Leaf as a first step of many. In order to really turn things around we need a first step. So if you are someone who can afford 2 cars and a charging station please buy one of these. Your purchase could help drive the research on making these things better. We need more research and development to happen to really change the world. I want to stop giving the gas man half my check.

Don't forget to vote for me to win the car. Despite all I have said I would love to win! I like the idea of being an electric car pioneer.
Help me WIN a 100% electric Nissan LEAF™! View and vote for my video now!