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Nissan Leaf Owner Says His EV Didn't Cost Him Anything for the 1st Six Months

A Nissan Leaf driver Kelly Richard Olsen is a long time EV activist who is now making a movie about Plug In America co-founder, Paul Scott, called "My Lunch With Obama." Here Olsen in his own words about his Nissan Leaf. His city has 55 public chargers and will add 26 more.

Olsen drives a 2013 Nissan LEAF SV - with a Quick Charge port. The EV has a Bose 6-speaker stereo with sub-woofer, 6.6 kWh charger, 4 camera Birds Eye View, GPS, satellite radio, LED headlights and CarWings data communications.

Why is this Nissan Leaf so special for you?

My first experience in an electric vehicle (EV) was driving a GM EV-1 and I was hooked in 3 seconds. I have been waiting for some company to make a mass produced EV that was financially viable and had dealer support. The Nissan LEAF fit these criteria.

What is unique about your EV?
It is a LEAF SV, but has the quick charge port, which makes it a lot easier to travel greater distances.

When did you buy it?
June 22nd, 2013.

In what condition was this Leaf before and what work did you do to it?
It was new, I added just tinted windows.

Any interesting particular story associated with the car?
This Nissan Leaf for the first 6 months cost me virtually nothing. $2,200 down plus $300 first payment was due at pickup. $2,500 total for drive away. State of California EV Clean Air Program sent me a check for $2,500 for leasing the car so net zero out of pocket.

State of California has another program where they will buy older cars to get them off the road and crush them for recycling. I had a 1995 Volvo that was getting terrible gas mileage and was time to be retired. We took the car to the recycling center where it was crushed and I received a check for $1,500. Since my payments are $300 a month this equaled 5 months of payments. This, combined with the first rebate check, took care of the down payment and 6 months of lease payments.

We live in an apartment building that has no parking and no ability to charge. I rely on public charging. My City, Santa Monica has 55 (and will be adding 26 more by the end of the year) free level 2 charging spread around the city. Thus, I utilize the chargers to fuel the LEAF. Other cities like Beverly Hills, Pasadena and many businesses including Nissan dealers offer free charging as well.

Since this is how I charge the car I paid no fueling costs. This means that the car was completely free to us including down payment, 6 months of payments and fuel. We now have to make the monthly payment out of pocket, but we still get our electricity for free. We were paying about $200 a month in gas driving the 18-year-old Volvo so the new LEAF is really only costing us $100 a month compared to our old car.

Additionally, we won’t ever have to pay any of the other associated costs that go with an internal combustion engine vehicle such as oil changes, tune-ups, smog check, water pumps, gas filters, etc. And, the LEAF is more fun to drive than a 1995 Volvo station wagon!

Tell us a little bit about yourself please.

I'm a former Santa Monica City Councilman and I initiated Santa Monica's Alternative Fueled Vehicle Policy, which has resulted in 90% of the City's fleet (except emergency vehicles) being alternatively fueled.

The city has and 55 public EV chargers in municipal parking garages, parks, the pier, airport, etc. By the end of the year we will have another 26 public chargers. Since the city is only 8.3 square miles I think we do or will have the highest ratio of free chargers per square mile of any U.S. city. This does not count the amount of chargers at businesses such as markets and office buildings which is about another dozen.

I'm very active as an EV advocate, working with Plug In America and I'm a documentary film director and producer. I am currently making a film about long time EV activist and Plug In America co-founder, Paul Scott, called, "My Lunch With Obama."

Is there a YouTube video of this car that can go with the story?
Not in particular, but I do have a YouTube channel dedicated to EVs and there are several there that feature other LEAFs. Pick any one of them.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your car?

I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and the LEAF is the most comfortable car I have ever owned. Very quick, lots of fun to drive. I never have a "range anxiety." I have driven it to my sister’s in Temecula, which is about 95 miles from Santa Monica and had no issues because there is a DC Quick Charger about the half-way point.


John Blanker (not verified)    January 28, 2014 - 4:59PM

Kelly Richard Olsen does not get his electricity for free., nor was his downpayment free. Taxpayers subsidized his new toy, and are paying for his fuel. I have an EV too. I bought it out of bankruptcy for cents on the dollar, but pay full price for the electricity to run it. This is as it should be, in my opinion.

Charlotte Omoto (not verified)    May 22, 2014 - 1:30AM

This is a great story. Oh, how I envy the density of charging station there since I live in a charging "desert" of Eastern Washington/Idaho. A few people who own Leafs around here are truly brave!