Coffee Talk #634: 2014 Nissan Leaf vs. Ford Focus Electric

After getting smitten by the 2014 Nissan Leaf, but having a mostly lousy shopping experience, I’ve decided to take a look at the 2014 Ford Focus Electric. In some ways, the Ford Focus Electric is a much better car than the Nissan Leaf. In other ways, it’s lacking. Let’s do a binary breakdown of the 2014 Ford Focus Electric vs. 2014 Nissan Leaf. These opinions are fresh off a test drive of the Ford Focus Electric. Since I wrote about the Nissan Leaf last column, I’ll be thinking through this one with the Ford Focus Electric in mind.

Good: The Ford Focus Electric handles better than the Nissan Leaf. The suspension is a little bit better and the steering is much, much better. With the Leaf, you’re able to steer nimbly, but you don’t really feel anything; it’s like controlling a really powerful golf cart. The Ford Focus Electric lets you feel more of the road and has more responsive steering. While I wouldn’t call it sporty by any means, it’s certainly a more compelling drive than what the Leaf offers.

Bad: My biggest issue with the Ford Focus Electric is the lack of a quick-charge port. While its “level 2” charging is faster than most (3.6 hours to fill), it’s odd that the car doesn’t have a quick-charge port. The Nissan Leaf has the option for a CHAdeMO port, which allows you to charge the battery to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. There are several CHAdeMO chargers in my area, including a few that let you charge for free. This is a nice option to have. While I can certainly get by with the Ford Focus Electric’s relatively fast charging, a quick-charge option would offer more freedom and flexibility. In some ways, a quick-charge port is the EV equivalent of a condom — I rather have one and not need it than need one and not have it. (Oops, that analogy was supposed to stay in my inner monologue.)

Good: Another advantage for the Ford Focus Electric is that it has a liquid-cooled battery (active), as opposed to the Leaf’s air-cooled battery (passive). Extreme heat can lower a battery’s range (cold temperatures can too, but I don’t have to worry about that in Los Angeles). The Ford Focus Electric’s active cooling scheme will help the battery last longer, both in the short term (my concern, since I’m looking for a three-year lease) and the longterm.

Bad: Nissan created an original design for the Leaf, so its battery packs are smartly distributed. The Ford Focus Electric uses an existing design, so compromises were made to jam the battery into it. The end result is a slightly smaller backseat than the ICE Focus and a much smaller trunk. I knew that the trunk was going to be small based off of photos, but seeing it in real life surprised me. You can fit a couple of bags of groceries in there…and that’s about it. You can forget about picking up friends with lots of luggage from the airport (though, “Sorry, my trunk is too small,” can be a great excuse). The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, has more room in the backseats and much more usable trunk space.

Good: The Ford Focus Electric is available in one trim and the options are very, very nice. It beats the pants off of the Nissan Leaf’s S and SV trims, while being competitive or better than the top-of-the-line Leaf SL. While the initial price of the Ford Focus Electric is higher, adding options to the Nissan Leaf SL makes it a tougher choice. The interior components of Focus are nicer than most of what the Leaf offers.

Judgement Call: Some people prefer the Ford Focus Electric because it looks normal. There are some consumers that hate the atypical looks of the Nissan Leaf. I totally understand both sides. If you want a inconspicuous and unassuming EV that blends in then the Ford Focus Electric is your car. Personally, I dig the Leaf’s nerdy-as-hell aesthetics because it’s nerdy-as-hell.

Ford Focus Electric 2014

The good news is that I had a great test drive of the Ford Focus Electric at Airport Marina Ford. The bad news is that when it came time to get pricing, the fleet manager was coy and wouldn’t let the salesman give me a price unless I was ready to buy on the spot. I also pulled a quote off of the Ford website with the lease terms I wanted, but the salesman said that the website quotes are inaccurate because they factor in discounts that I’m not eligible for. I left the dealership knowing that the monthly payments they’d charge me were higher than what I found on the Ford website, but lower than $300. That wasn’t exactly helpful.

The better news is that while I really like the Ford Focus Electric and would gladly snatch one up at the lease price listed on the Ford website, it’s more of a compromise than the Nissan Leaf. Yes, it drives better and has a much nicer interior, but I would get more use out of the Leaf’s trunk space and larger backseats. While the liquid-cooled battery is a great feature, the lack of a quick-charge port limits the Ford Focus Electric for me, since I live in an apartment.

The (hopefully) best news is that the salesman I’ve been working with at Alhambra Nissan found the exact model and color of the Nissan Leaf SV that I want. In my last column, I mentioned that I enjoyed working with this gentleman because he gave me honest and straightforward info over email, without pressuring me to come to the dealership. Now that he has the car that I want and I know what his prices are for more expensive models, I’m happy to drop by the dealership and see him. Whether I end up in a Nissan Leaf SV through him or a Ford Focus Electric through another Ford dealership, hopefully I’ll be in an EV by next week.


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, your Fourth of July plans, NBA free agency madness, or your favorite fireworks, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Coffee Talk #633: Shopping For a Nissan Leaf…Sucks

As those of you in the RPadTV Google Hangout know, I’ve been shopping for a 2014 Nissan Leaf. Take away the last month and I haven’t driven regularly since college. With that in mind, looking for a car lease is a new experience for me…and that experience pretty much sucks.

My first stop was last friday at Nissan of Downtown LA. A nice salesman checked to see that I had the necessary information about the Nissan Leaf. As an Internet nerd, I was well informed and he seemed happy that he didn’t have to do any educating on the vehicle. Since the Nissan Leaf is all-electric, there are many things to…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the best pastrami, LeBron James’ The Decision II, or WWE Money in the Bank 2014, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

As those of you in the RPadTV Google Hangout know, I’ve been shopping for a 2014 Nissan Leaf. Take away the last month and I haven’t driven regularly since college. With that in mind, looking for a car lease is a new experience for me…and that experience pretty much sucks.

My first stop was last friday at Nissan of Downtown LA. A nice salesman checked to see that I had the necessary information about the Nissan Leaf. As an Internet nerd, I was well informed and he seemed happy that he didn’t have to do any educating on the vehicle. Since the Nissan Leaf is all-electric, there are many things to be mindful of and there are some consumers that are unaware of the pros/cons of driving an electric vehicle. Since the salesman didn’t have to worry about any of that, he let me test drive the car. It pretty much handled like I expected — nice initial torque, mushy suspension, golf-cart like steering, and eerily quiet. When it came time to get prices, the salesman gave me an initial list and was honest about being able to lower the price if/when I was ready to sign. I liked that he was up front about the pricing flexibility, but I didn’t like that I couldn’t walk away with the final pricing.

Next, I was set to meet a salesman at Glendale Nissan. This was a referral from my friend Tim, a 2013 Nissan Leaf owner and former owner of a 2011 Nissan Leaf. Before I get to that dealership visit, Tim pointed me to this interesting discussion on how Nissan Leaf sales work. As a longtime Internet writer that has had several love/hate relationships with my ad-sales counterparts, I was surprised that this discussion made me feel sorry for Nissan salespeople. According to the OP, a large chunk of Nissan sales reps’ bonus money depends on the post-sale customer survey. The salesperson only gets a bonus if he or she receives 10s across the board. That seems ridiculous to me. As a longtime critic, I rarely give perfect scores to anything. That professional habit extends to other parts of my life (Yelp reviews, Amazon reviews, etc.). I can’t imagine giving perfect scores down the line to any car salesperson, but knowing how the system works makes me want to if the experience is the least bit positive.

Anyway, I went to Glendale Nissan earlier today to meet the salesman that worked with Tim. Unfortunately, he has been promoted, so I was handed to one of his minions. He was a nice enough fellow, but we played a game of me waiting at a table and him running elsewhere numerous times to check on pricing and inventory. In the end, he was aggressive to get me to sign then and there, but the pricing was a little higher than what I was given at Nissan of Downtown LA.

Nissan Leaf 2014

The whole flexible pricing thing bothers me. I hate that I’m going to go to four different Nissan dealerships in order to find the best price. The business model is old, broken, and stupid. Thanks to numerous Internet resources, I know what other people are paying to lease a Nissan Leaf. Negotiating with four different salespeople is a waste of time and gas. The last part is funny since I want to lease a Nissan Leaf so I don’t have to buy gas; I’m burning a lot of fuel by driving to different Nissan dealerships in a (borrowed) Mercedes C250. My quest for an eco-friendly car hasn’t been good for the environment. But getting back to pricing…

…I love Tesla’s model for selling cars. It has a showroom where you can see different options, colors, etc. It also has one set of prices that you’re either fine with or not. There’s no haggling, bargaining, or any of the annoying stuff that comes with a traditional car dealership. You don’t have to sit at a table while the salesman runs back and forth to his/her boss as you whittle down the price. With Tesla, you know what the prices for the car and options are straight up. If I could afford a Tesla Model S, I’d get one in a heartbeat, mostly because it’s an outstanding electric vehicle, but also to support a progressive and hassle-free business model for selling cars.

Hopefully my upcoming experiences at Universal City Nissan and Alhambra Nissan are better. Currently, the Universal City Nissan rep has only been providing some information and is anxious to get me at the dealership. The Alhambra Nissan rep is actually answering my questions via email, which (as an Internet nerd) is something that I really appreciate. While my excellent friend Lawrence lives in Alhambra, I don’t want to go all the way out there for a fruitless meeting with a sales rep. I know the exact Nissan Leaf I want, in the color I want and with the options I want. It sucks that the traditional model for car sales is making this shopping experience an unpleasant one. Hopefully in the future, more car sales will follow the hassle-free and blessedly straightforward buying experience that Tesla offers…or I can win the lottery on Wednesday and just buy a Tesla Model S outright.

Anyway, my Nissan Leaf journey will be continued…I hope.

Coffee Talk #615: What’s Your Dungeons and Dragons Alignment?

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, getting ready for the glorious 2014 Derek Jeter retirement tour, Kate Upton showing how zero gravity can be, or Posh Spice getting her fake boobs removed, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Severely important questions today: Which Dungeons and Dragons alignment do you consider yourself to be and which one would you like to be? In case you need a refresher, check out the alignment chart above, the nerdy alignment charts below, and the Wikipedia page of Dungeons and Dragons alignments. Hopefully none of you RPadholics are evil (but if you are, this would be useful information for all of us to know). I’m curious to learn if you’re more neutral or good, as well as more chaotic or lawful. So give it some thought (please) and let’s have a go! As for me….

I’m probably more chaotic good than anything else. I try to be a good person in general. Occasionally I do something mildly evil, like throwing away soda cans instead of remembering to put them in the recycling bin. However, I do have a problem with authority — government, bosses, teachers, parents, etc. I’ve always had this issue. Sometimes it has served me well and other times…it wasn’t the smartest attitude to have.

What I’d like to be is neutral good. My authority issues can be immature. It would behoove me (professionally, not personally) to question authority less. I blame my constant questioning on being a philosophy major; I was trained to respond to everything with, “Why?” While this has often lead to superior and well-examined results at work, it has almost always driven my bosses crazy. “Because I said so,” isn’t a good enough reason for me, but I would to better in the workplace if I would just shut up and do my job. Ha!

In a perfect world, I’d be chaotic neutral, but I’m not cool enough or rich enough to pull that off. Damn that George Clooney and that Leonardo DiCaprio for being able to live the dream.

Now it’s your turn! Kindly use all the information in this post and let me know which Dungeons and Dragons alignment you are and which one you’d like to be.

Dungeons and Dragons Alignment Chart

Dungeons and Dragons Alignment Chart

Dungeons and Dragons Alignment Chart

Dungeons and Dragons Alignment Chart

Sailor Freddie Mercury Rules!

Sailor Freddie MercuryMy friend Justin knows that I adore Queen (the band, duh) and have enjoyed Sailor Moon anime. He thought that I would love this photo of a cosplayer dressed as Sailor Freddie Mercury…and he was right. This is such a nerdy-awesome mashup! It’s absolutely brilliant. Snapped at the Civic Center station of the San Francisco BART, the picture reveals an ingenious man that that looks (somewhat) like Queen frontman Freddie Mercury and is dressed like Sailor Mercury from the Sailor Scouts.

It got me thinking about other music-and-anime mashups. Unfortunately, all of mine suck. Dragon Ball Bob Marley? Definitely no. Lady Ranma? That’s terrible. Ugh.

Okay, I’m sure you guys and gals can do better. Please think of some anime-and-music mashups and kindly leave them in the comments section. If you whip up something really awesome, perhaps I’ll dress as your mashup character at E3 2014 (but don’t count on it)!

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FAA Removes Head From Ass: Electronics Use Allowed For Entire Flight

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally allowed the use of consumer electronics during the takeoff and landing of airplanes. Travelers will be free to use their smartphones, tablets, and portable videogame consoles for the entirety of a flight. “Implementation guidance” has been given to airlines and the current restrictions should be lifted by the end of the year. It certainly took the organization long enough to get rid of this stupid restriction, but…

…the FAA still found a way to look silly. It refers to consumer electronics as PEDs. The group says that the acronym stands for “portable electronic devices,” but many people know PEDs as performance-enhancing drugs. Taking a clip from the FAA press release out of context, I found it terribly amusing that FAA administrator Michael Huerta said, “Passengers can use PEDs on airplanes.” I bet Alex Rodriguez got all kinds of excited about flying after he read that (yes, I know he has his own Gulfstream, but just go with it).

Here’s a straight-up clip from the press release:

The FAA based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.    If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

If you want the full skinny, including all the FAA’s definitions and the group’s top-10 list of “Things Passengers Should Know about Expanded Use of PEDs on Airplanes” then be sure to hit up the source link below. For now, (please) tell me how you feel about the FAA finally getting rid of its stupid rules on consumer-electronics use during takeoff and landing). Are you excited about the prospect of playing games, watching movies, and listening to music for an entire when you visit your loved ones this holiday season?

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Coffee Talk #602: First-World Nerd Problems

I’ve read several stories about people that have dropped their mobile phones in the toilet. A few of my friends have suffered this calamity. As mobile phones have become more powerful and apps have become more compelling, this epidemic seems to be spreading. It’s very much a case of a first-world nerd problem. While I don’t use my phone in the bathroom, several of you RPadholic revealed that you do (remember this poll?). Still, it puzzles me. Is it really that difficult to…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, being baffled by politicians supporting A-Rod, excited by your first potential Internet vaping stalker (and hoping that she’s a vampire), or Amazon’s rumored Prime mobile phone by HTC, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’ve read several stories about people that have dropped their mobile phones in the toilet. A few of my friends have suffered this calamity. As mobile phones have become more powerful and apps have become more compelling, this epidemic seems to be spreading. It’s very much a case of a first-world nerd problem. While I don’t use my phone in the bathroom, several of you RPadholics revealed that you do (remember this poll?). Still, it puzzles me. Is it really that difficult to avoid dropping your Android phone or iPhone in the toilet?!?

Then again, I shouldn’t judge. I’m guilty of another first-world nerd problem — one that involves tablets. I’ve always enjoyed reading in bed. Until recently, it was a fairly safe thing for me to do. Dozing off with a comic book or paperback in my hands was easy to deal with. Even hardcover books were relatively manageable. Then, the iPad (and Comixology) arrived. That’s when reading in bed became hazardous to my head. Over the last few years, there have been dozens of instances when I wanted to keep reading, but my eyes and brain were telling me to go the hell to sleep. I’d doze off and — boom! — my iPad would smack me in the face.

This first-world nerd problem is certainly embarrassing — I’d briefly wake up, feel stupid, and quickly fall back asleep — but at least I can own up to it. How about you guys and gals? Have dropped your iPhone in the toilet or smacked yourself in the face with your iPad? Are you guilty of any first-world nerd problems? Please share your stories in the comments section.

Marina Shifrin Quits Like a Boss

This video by Marina Shifrin is one of the best, most creative, and smartest ways to quit your job. The clip is funny, tells a story, and generates a ton of sympathy. Good on her! Hopefully she can take advantage of her Internet fame and leverage the exposure into lucrative work that she loves.

I wish I thought of something similar after my beloved GameSpy was acquired by IGN. I loved the company when I started there and hated the post-acquisition changes. Quitting via interpretive dance would have been awesome, especially set to a song that uses “Brother Numpsay” in the lyrics.

Anyway, check out Marina Shifrin’s video below and dream up your own “I Quit” video. What song and dance style would you use to quit your job?

Star Wars Meets…Les Miserables?!?

Here’s an excellent video that mashes up Star Wars and Les Miserables. It features the confrontation between Valjean and Javert, but with lightsabers and Force powers. As a Star Wars nerd and a fan of Les Miserables (the musical, not the book…that I haven’t finished), I found the video utterly awesome. The actors sing well and the addition of lightsabers is hilarious! It makes you wonder though. How interesting would the Paris Uprising of 1832 have been if everyone had lightsabers?

As you know, most of the best fight scenes in cinema feature one of two things — music (see West Side Story) and lightsabers (Kenobi vs. Skywalker I). Combining the two is sheer genius. Check out the clip below and let me know what you think (please). What other musicals would benefit from lightsabers? How about Cats or A Chorus Line?

Taco Bell to Sell Waffle Taco (Why?!?)

Not content with selling you unhealthy foods for lunch and dinner, Taco Bell plans to annihilate breakfast with the Waffle Taco. The product was tested at five Taco Bell restaurants in California and apparently customers loved it. The Waffle Taco is now available at 100 Taco Bell locations, as of August 8, 2013. Here’s the description via Time:

The fast-food chain says the waffle taco, which includes scrambled eggs, sausage and a side of syrup.

While this sounds like typical fast-food breakfast dreck, at least it’s not as ridiculous as the KFC Double Down.

Are any of you intrigued by the Taco Bell Waffle Taco? Do you see it becoming a regular part of your diet?

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[Thanks to my pal Mike for the link!]

Elon Musk Posts 57 Pages of Hyperloop Magic (PDF)

Tesla Motors chairman, CEO, and product architect Elon Musk has posted a 57-page PDF detailing the company’s Hyperloop project. Touted as a groundbreaking form of public transportation, Hyperloop will (theoretically) be able to complete trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 30 minutes. It (allegedly) offers safe and comfortable travel at speeds higher than 700 miles per hour, using a system that’s described as a combination of a rail gun and an air-hockey table.

Other bonuses touted on the Tesla Motors site include Continue reading “Elon Musk Posts 57 Pages of Hyperloop Magic (PDF)”