Anna Nguyen and Steve O'Neil don't know each other, but they have a lot in common.
Both are ardent environmentalists and early adopters. Fitting each part of that profile, both have piled tens of thousands of miles on their 2012 Nissan Leaf electric cars.
Their experiences with the Leaf — and the detailed maintenance records they have kept — offer a preview of how electric vehicles will affect dealership service once they sell in high volume.
Nguyen, 57, is a software engineer who works in the fashion industry in Austin, Texas. In the six years she has driven nearly 61,000 miles in her Leaf, she has averaged one service visit a year to the dealership.
During the life of the car, Nguyen says, she has spent about $650 at the dealership on maintenance and updates to the operating system.
"With my previous car, a Volkswagen GTI, I did the oil changes and minor maintenance, like brake pads and rotors," Nguyen told Fixed Ops Journal. "Of course, I have not had to do any of that on the Leaf."
Although her Leaf has not been trouble-free, the repairs it has needed have been covered by the factory warranty. Nissan replaced the car's battery pack in 2015 and retorqued wheel nuts in 2014.
The services Nguyen has paid for — a brake fluid flush and new cabin air filters — were part of Nissan's schedule of recommended maintenance, which she entrusts to the dealership. Nguyen does light upkeep, such as putting air in the tires and changing the wiper blades.
"I am going to drive it until it dies," she said. "The way the battery is holding up, it should last until at least 120,000 miles."
O'Neil, 49, is a wildlife conservation teacher in Brevard, N.C. He has logged nearly 58,000 miles in his Leaf.
The factory warranty has covered most of its maintenance costs, including $2,000 for a new integrated brake control module. His out-of-pocket repair costs have totaled $610 to replace worn parts and for diagnostic work.
O'Neil's previous vehicle, a Nissan 4Runner, cost him about $2,000 in maintenance costs for 30,000 miles of driving. Like Nguyen, he says he'll drive his Leaf until it wears out.
"For computer work and anything that is above my tech level, I will be taking the car to Nissan," he says. "That is specialized, and so far, there is no one in my area other than the Leaf service techs who I'd trust to work on it."