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Turning Over a Nissan Leaf

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    NEWSLETTERS

    May 14 was the last day to reserve an all-electric Nissan Leaf, but I'm still on the electric fence. My typical family-of-four lives in a typical house, in a typical San Diego neighborhood, and we already own two typical cars.

    "Why do we need another car," my very smart wife smartly asks me. I don't have a reasonable answer. The Leaf is a high-tech gadget, efficient and not very cool and may make me feel like a commuter drone on San Diego's 14 lanes of round-trip boredom. Then she twists the knife: "Does it replace one of our other cars?" No, honey, our other cars are better in almost every way. One is a sleek, red sedan that looks good, is fun to drive, loaded with tech-gadgets and is really fast. The other's a big, blue SUV that moves the troops, the dog, the cat, the strollers, playpens, ice chests, plywood and anything else needing moving. This little car will save us money on gas, take up space in the garage and cost us an extra $379 a month.

    And yet, I need one.

    It is only $99. That's the deposit, which, Nissan says, is fully refundable at any time throughout the process. So I create an account, "Why, why, why?" still pounding in my brain. What color do we want the looks-only-a-mother-could love sedan to be? Pretty stark choices here: red (a color for Ferarris, not electro-boxes), silver, silvery light blue (snore), white (blah) and black (hot and hard to keep clean). I pick silver because it is the least offensive.

    I continue, caught in a nerd tractor beam.

    I take nearly all the options -- quick chargers, solar arrays to power electronics, Bluetooth, GPS and satellite radio -- otherwise, what's really the point? It's a nerd tractor beam, folks, not an Amish tractor beam. 

    Next, it wants to know where I live and how will I use the Leaf. After you charge this silver monster, I'll only get 100 miles per jolt. So I tell them about my house and how I commute 12 miles from the suburbs to downtown. No big deal. Besides, commuting is my only justification for an otherwise silly purchase of this small car. 

    Now, the money. I give Nissan my credit card number and tell them we're in for their 100 percent electric Leaf.

    My wife is going to kill me. I'm genuinely concerned about my family's safety in this car, compared to my gas-guzzling, larger vehicles. And where are we going to keep it? We have a two-car garage and I just signed us up for a third. Still, it's only a hundred bucks. Not even.

    But, honey, I'm telling you, it was a nerd tractor beam. It's not my fault