Electric car in Kenya: Many of us here in would love to drive without thinking about fuel consumption and with each passing day that dream is coming closer to being a reality.
You may have seen several full electric cars ( Nissan Leaf) roaming the streets of Nairobi; mostly run by the Taxi company Nopea Ride or a few owned by expatriates. Now the fear of owning a Nissan Leaf to many is all about maintaining this car.
Well I have some very interesting news for you! Maintaining a Nissan Leaf is actually pretty easy and the cost of owning one is quite friendly but there are a few important things you need to know about this car:
- The car is well priced; one imported from Japan will get to you at a price of Ksh.1.3 Million inclusive of all taxes.
- A foreign used Nissan Leaf around 7 years old still has a range of around 250km on a single charge. That is a distance of say from Nairobi to Kericho.
Would I find parts for a Nissan Leaf in Kenya? Why is it “cheap” to run?
The 2014 Nissan Leaf shares suspension components with the NISSAN JUKE. Springs, Shocks, rear suspension beams, lower subframe, lower control arms, sway bars, links, strut mounts etc. With exception of a few components, it is a Nissan Juke underneath. They even share bushes and so getting suspension parts should not be a problem.
The Leaf also has fewer moving parts meaning it has fewer chances of breakdowns and fewer parts to change during routine service. You do not have to worry about engine oil, oil filters and spark plugs. It also shares brake pads with the Nissan Juke.
There are however a few but big challenges of owning a Nissan Leaf in Kenya.
- Kenya experiences hot weather. So how does this affect the Nissan Leaf you ask? Well, The Nissan Leaf does not have an Active Thermal Battery Management System which regulates the temperature of the battery while driving or charging. One of the major contributor to the longevity of the Nissan Leaf’s( or any other electric vehicle for that matter) battery is keeping the battery within the optimal temperature range. This means that when the weather gets too hot, like in Mombasa for instance, the battery life and even the lifespan of the battery could get dilapidated pretty quickly.
- The average lifespan of the battery pack is 10 years as per the manufacturer. This means if you import a 7 year old Nissan Leaf to Kenya you only have 3 years to enjoy the battery working reliably. It could be even shorter or a bit longer. Main challenge here is that even in Europe and Japan, its not cheap to replace the battery pack.
Charging a Nissan Leaf
You can charge a Nissan Leaf from a regular AC outlet through a 120volts cable. (For instance; charging it overnight at home). This is what is called a Stage 1 Charge and it is very slow. It’s there to help you get some charge which will get you to a charging station.
However the faster and more efficient way of charging is through a Level 2 charging station like the ones at TRM, Two Rivers Mall, Holy Family Basilica and The Hub Karen.
As they become more common on Kenyan roads, may be we will find some solutions to some of these challenges, but one thing is for sure, The Nissan Leaf is a very convenient car to own. The future of motor vehicles is electric. Electric car in Kenya.