When you need everyone to know that you're serious about the environment, there is no substitute for the Leaf.
Some women want to save the world, and perhaps you even do as well. But if you're trying to take such a woman on a date, it won't really work to show up on a bicycle. For these occasions, there is the Nissan
Leaf, the single best way to get an edge over that dweeb in the Toyota Prius
. Your eco-minded girlfriend will know you're serious about saving the planet, and women like a man who is dedicated to something other than beer and football. Save the planet and get a date at the same time, it's win-win.
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The Leaf was the first mass-produced pure electric car to be offered to the general public, but it was not the first electric car, or even the first electric car built by Nissan. Small numbers of electric cars had been made prior to this for testing purposes, and they had been largely well-received by those leasing them. One such electric car was the EV-1, built by GM. When GM was done testing the car and decided not to send it to production after all, it sparked outrage, and suddenly the car had legions of newfound fans.
Thanks to "Who Killed The Electric Car?", the EV-1 became a darling of the conspiracy theory community, and millions of people began to believe that some backroom dealings had killed it. This must have looked to Nissan like it would translate into big sales, because its sales expectations for the Leaf have been more than a little unrealistic. It seems Nissan learned the hard way that people just really love to bitch on the internet about perceived injustices, and that this in no way means they will put their money where their mouth is. But you shouldn't let this allow you to think that the Nissan Leaf was anything short of a huge accomplishment.
The mechanics of making an electric car were obviously evolved from the EV-1, as you would expect over such a period of time, but what Nissan managed which GM hadn't was to make an electric car which pretty much just works like a normal car. Sitting in a Leaf, your only clue (apart from the readouts on battery status) that you're in an electric car is how quiet it is. Otherwise it's just a hatchback which can comfortably seat four adults. The EPA rates the range of the Leaf at 73 miles, which really is much more than the vast majority of people drive in a day. Off-peak charging presents a significant savings over gasoline and is when it's most convenient to charge anyway.
The heavy batteries are even mounted under the seats, keeping the center of gravity low and centrally located, thus making for some surprisingly good handling. Of course, you could never take any kind of really substantial road trip in the Leaf, and this is the root of the Leaf's poor sales. After eating up the very short range on the car, you have to endure some very long charging times. So you probably need to have a second car, and the Leaf's shockingly large price tag doesn't leave most people with much left over for that second car.
Moreover, people who live in apartments (35% of Americans rent) don't really have the ability to charge at home in the overwhelming majority of cases, which significantly cuts down on the vehicle's practicality. So a pure electric car isn't for everyone, but so long as we accept that it's a niche vehicle, the Leaf is really a fine example of the breed. It's a car which serves urban commuting duty as well as any other, and could potentially save you quite a bit in fuel costs. But most important, it will truly impress that hippie girl you're after, and that's really what we're talking about anyway.
There are, after all, many different means of achieving status, and just like any other vehicle on this list, the Leaf won't work in all situations. But the Leaf gets the maximum amount of eco points while still offering up some amenities. You can try dating with a Spark EV if you like, but I promise you the Leaf is the better bet.