Frequently Asked Questions - > Driving our all electric Nissan Leaf

FAQs - > Driving our all electric Nissan Leaf
Driving the Leaf is a pleasure, but if you’re unfamiliar with electric and automatic cars you might find this information helpful. You will also find useful information in the glove compartment in the car.

The car should be fully charged but if you are going on a long journey you may need to stop for a top up. It’s a good idea to plan your journey. The on board sat nav screen has info on the nearest charge points and, is really useful.

 Make sure the car is not plugged into the charging unit! See “HOW TO CHARGE / STOP CHARGING THE CAR” for a guide to disconnecting.

 This car will drive if you are logged in with your Co-wheels smartcard. To log in / out, hold your smartcard next to the blue square reader on the windscreen. (It works from inside or outside)

IT’S AN AUTOMATIC... you use your right foot to accelerate and brake - just like a petrol automatic car. Rest your left foot - you only need it when you park up, to engage /

disengage the parking brake.


1. On the lower left side of the steering wheel is a starting
button. With your right foot on the brake pedal, press it once. The dashboard will light up with a nice bit of “Trekie” music. You will see a green car icon with a double arrow. This means the car is operational and ready to go.
No music or lit up display? This means that either you didn’t have your foot
on the centre brake pedal or you have been logged out, in which case use our smartcard to re-log in.

2. Using the gear selector, select Drive by pulling the gear knob towards you and down. A little orange light will indicate you are in forward drive. To Reverse, push the knob forwards.

To disengage the gears for parking (or when you are stopped at traffic lights), press the P button. Parking mode will stop car from rolling backwards if you take your foot off the brake.
The display will show D for drive, R for reverse, P for parking or B for braking mode. (See “ECO DRIVING / EXTENDING THE BATTERY RANGE” for more on Braking mode.)

3. With your right foot on the main footbrake, push down on the parking brake with your left foot and slowly bring your foot up to release it. The parking brake is tucked away on the left side of the driver’s footwell, and you may have to look for it the first time you use this car!

4. Slowly release your foot off the brake pedal and the car will start to move. Use your right foot only to control the accelerator and brake pedals as required. You won’t need to perform hill starts with handbrake as automatics in drive or reverse mode will automatically move when you take your foot off the brake pedal.
Not moving? Is the parking brake (left foot) still on?


1. To stop the car for a very short time (e.g. Traffic queue), put the gear knob into Neutral and press the brake pedal so that you don’t roll back.

2. To stop the car for a couple of minutes (e.g. Traffic lights), press the P button on the gear knob. This stops the car from moving forwards or backwards and you can relax your right foot.

3. To park the car, press the P button on the gear knob and press the parking brake with your left foot.

4. To turn off the engine, press the on/off switch! If you forget, the car will beep when you open the driver door.

Don’t forget take out all your things - remember any CDs - switch off lights, wipers, radio, unplug charging leads and lock the car by holding your smartcard over the reader. Thank you!

How to charge/stop charging the car (at the home charging point on Sycamore Road)

This car must be plugged in to the charger whenever it is parked at Bournville Community Hub, so it is fully charged for the next user. 
When charging is complete (takes about 2-4 hours), the charger stops and the blue charging lights go off.

TO UNPLUG THE CAR (car end first, wall socket last)
 Unplug the car end (press the turquoise button on the plug while pulling), close the flap over the socket and push the lid on the bonnet closed.

Then unplug the charging point end (there’s no button, and you may need to pull quite hard).
Put the cable in the boot of the car (there’s a Nissan bag if you want to keep 
it contained). Some public charging points require you to use the car’s own cable. (The cable is also very expensive to replace!). There are wipes in the door pocket to clean your hands if the cable is dirty.

TO PLUG IN THE CAR (car end first, wall socket last)
Open the lid on the bonnet by pressing the button on the dashboard on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. The symbol on the button is a petrol pump with an electric plug.
Open the flap covering the right hand socket.
Take the cable out of the boot and plug in the end with the turquoise button. It will click and beep when it’s in properly.
Then plug the other end into the charging point on the wall. Push it firmly in and the light on the unit will change from blue to green, and the 3 blue lights on the car dashboard will start to flash.

How to charge/stop charging away from home (at public charging points)

Please read this if you are planning to take our electric LEAF on a longer trip

Green electricity company Ecotricity operate the Electric Highway, rapid charging points across the UK (mainly at motorway service stations, and some IKEA stores).
These charging points used to be free to use, however, Ecotricity have now changed the system so that they can charge for charging - sessions last 30 mins and cost £6 - which will top up our LEAF to run another 70-80 miles.
The Ecotricity card will no longer work on the charging points. You need to use the Electric Highway smartphone app. The app requires your credit or debit card - but if you are an Ecotricity customer, you can still charge for free. We suggest that you download the app before you leave home!

For other charging points there is a Polar / Chargemaster / Charge your car card in the glove compartment which Co-wheels Birmingham currently pays for.

We want charging to be easy for our members so if you find a charging point not covered by the above, please let us know.

Extending the battery range

The maximum range on a full charge is 80-100 miles.
This depends on your driving style, so motorway driving with the heaters blazing WILL reduce the range. When you select ‘extras’ like cruise control and seat heaters, you will see the available miles reduce instantly.

The approximate number of miles left on the current charge is shown on the lower right of the display.

Use the power meters on the screen behind the steering wheel to help you drive more efficiently: the fewer white dots the better! You can also “grow” little trees at the top of the display.

The car’s regenerative braking system means that as you free wheel or brake, energy is converted into power for the battery and extends the range. This is indicated by the green lights coming on the power meter’s left side.

To extend battery life, you can choose one or both of these modes:

In Braking mode, the regenerative braking system kicks in whenever you take your foot off the accelerator. Choose Braking mode via the gear knob by selecting Drive twice.

In ECO driving mode, the acceleration is slightly reduced (but you will still find it WAY zippier than your average petrol or diesel cars), climate control is reduced and regenerative braking enhanced. To activate, press the ECO button on the steering wheel.