Oddity=an odd characteristic; peculiarity.
But if there is ONE major oddity when driving Nissan's Leaf electric car it is this: there are no major oddities.
After our first drive in a near-production Leaf it is apparent that any driver can get into the electric machine and be comfortable from the start, as you belt up and hit the volts.
Granted there are a few SMALL oddities and I would start with the styling. To each his/her own, but while has done a nice job of singling out the drivetrain with the car's distinctive exterior design, Nissan has been less successful. Cute from the rear, okay side on, but, well, odd up front.
Second small oddity: wow, is the Leaf quiet inside. Not surprising, given its electric power, but it's almost spooky how little noise there is when driving the car. That's not a complaint...how about listening to the Moonlight Sonata turned down low? Okay, or Lady Gaga...but can you listen to the Gaga as less than 120 dB?
Oddly, thinking about your Leaf's mileage range and keeping track of it is not strange. You are driving an electric car, what did you expect? Automakers have to peg electric car range and claim is 100 miles. But it then gets real and explains that range can vary from such limits as 62 miles in wintry New York to 138 miles on a mild day in Southern California.
Nissan makes it easy to monitor your range and modify it by way of a pair of read-outs that tell you how your driving and the use of accessories is affecting that range. Like Hybrid, the data informs and encourages you to better "mileage." Helpful and darn near entertaining.
So off we glide in silence. There are exterior noises being generated to warn pedestrians, but they are undetectable inside the Leaf.
Acceleration off the line is normal–again, not a surprise in an electric car–and blending with traffic in the non-freeway driving we did was, well, also normal. Only that welcome (to some) silence is out of the ordinary.
Monitoring the gauges, it quickly becomes obvious that if you want to shorten your mileage, turn on the a/c or heater and nail the throttle...though the latter doesn't seem so important when you're driving a silent car. Air conditioning knocks you down somewhat, but the heater is the worst. Consider that it's a resistance device, like an electric blanket. There is a neat system that allows you to preheat or pre-cool your Leaf while it's still plugged in and charging by way of your smart cell phone.
You can also select an ECO mode when driving that ups the amount of regen braking, stiffens the resistance on the accelerator and lessens the use of accessories like the a/c. This mode seems to increase efficiency without being intrusive.
Whispering along Pacific Coast Highway, then up Sunset Boulevard and back to Santa Monica, we saw our potential range start at more than 100 miles, dip as low as 64 miles as we tailed an up Sunset, then rise back over 100 miles by the time we returned to our starting point. It was a short drive, mostly in ECO mode with very little a/c, but it demonstrated how your driving could affect range.
What does a Leaf cost? This gets a little ambiguous, for while federal tax credits lower the purchase price to $25,280, there are further state and local credits that can also apply.
Subsidies can lower the cost of installing your 240-volt home charging station. There is the question of when we will see an electric car recharge infrastructure that will truly raise their practicality as city-to-not-so-near-city vehicles, but we're told it's in the works.
For all their publicity today, electric cars are not new. Belgian Camille Jenatzy was the first man to drive a car more than 100 km/hr (62 miles per hour) and it was an electric vehicle called La Jamais Contente. That was in 1899, and in the first decades of the 20th century you could buy the likes of a Baker or Detroit electric car.
So the Nissan Leaf is not the first series production electric car, but it is (with a tip of the hat to the ) the first in terms of being a modern, practical everyday electric automobile.
It sure won't be the last...