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Phil Sadow modified the Leaf’s portable cord to charge much faster. Photo: Bradley Berman for The New York Times.

This past Sunday, the New York Times had a piece by Bradley Berman about owners of the Nissan Leaf and how, as with the Prius, there is a growing community of Leaf hackers who are making improvements to their cars and some who are developing products around some of these hacks.

Using the car’s diagnostic service port to tap into its electronics, Mr. Giddings devised a way to display far more detail than the Leaf’s dashboard offers. The car’s electronics monitor the remaining battery charge in great detail, but display it to the driver in a simplified readout of 12 bars on the dashboard, he said.

Using Mr. Giddings’s home-brewed E.V. fuel-level display, Leaf drivers get the confidence to extend their driving range by 10 percent or more. His gauge, which displays the actual state of charge, reveals that the Leaf dashboard’s “zero bars” display comes on when the battery pack has several miles remaining.

“Until you can find out how much is really left in the batteries toward the end of its range, it’s just a guess-o-meter,” said Mr. Giddings, who has sold a handful of his displays, both as $170 kits and as $280 completed units, to Leaf owners.

The piece mentions Leaf hacking groups, at least ten in the United States, but doesn’t give any links or details. You can find many of these groups, and individual Leaf hackers, on the My Nissan Leaf forums’ Local/Regional discussions.

The Electric Leaf’s True Believers Won’t Leave Well Enough Alone

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. While people have to go to these sort of lengths because ‘the battery pack has several miles remaining’ goes to prove what a long way electric cars still have to go.

    1. Anonymous says:

      :-) Literally! Because Nissan doesn’t provide a percentage reading of the state-of-charge, we’ve hacked it to do so and found that it can keep going! (About 10 miles once the regular gauge shows no more bars.)

  2. Peter Simpson says:

    “I don’t like the term hacking because it’s been portrayed by the media
    as something evil,” [Sadow] said. “To me, hacking is actually very American.
    Go out to the garage. Take it apart. Make it better.” 

    Nice to see this in NYT. Though the tools are now multimeters and computers instead of wrenches, the shade tree mechanic is alive and well in the 21st century!