• Jun 14th 2010 at 11:47AM
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Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

What's the true range of electric cars? This is a topic that we've touched on before and again recently. We think that Nissan might have been listening this time around because it almost immediately came forward with some extremely detailed range information that lays out exactly what type of mileage you should expect to get out of your Leaf. At a Leaf preview event in Japan, Nissan provided some of the most detailed range numbers we've ever seen and, dependent upon your driving habits, you may either be thrilled to hear the true range or disgusted enough to grudgingly take your $99 deposit back and look elsewhere.

Applying the EPA's LA4 test cycle, also less commonly referred to as the Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS), Nissan came up with some real-world range numbers for the Leaf. Here's an overview of the range variations we can expect from the Leaf:
  • Cruising at 38 miles per hour with ambient temps of 68 degrees, you could squeeze 138 miles out of the Leaf.
  • Averaging 24 mph in city traffic drops range to 105 miles, assuming air conditioning (A/C) is not in use on a 77-degree day.
  • In heavy stop-and-go traffic, averaging just 6 mph with temps of 86 degrees and A/C on, range drops to 47 miles.
  • At 55 mph on the highway in 95 degree temps and A/C on, expect range to be 70 miles.
  • Winter temps of 14 degrees with the heater on, will drop range to 62 miles in stop-and-go traffic, assuming an average speed of 15 mph.
There are an infinite numbers of variables which will effect your actual range, but these numbers give you a good idea of what to expect based on your own personal driving habits. Nissan insists that accessories such as windshield wipers, heated seats and the car's stereo will all have only a negligible effect on range. While we're certainly thrilled to see 138 miles in ideal conditions, it's a bit discouraging to see just 47 miles at the low end. Avoid traffic jams, cruise at steady speeds and keep the HVAC set to off and you should easily eclipse that 100-mile mark. The sad truth is, though, that there aren't many places in the U.S. where driving like that is regularly possible, especially not in the Leaf's initial target markets.



Photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2009 Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Forbes]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 97 Comments
      • 7 Months Ago
      "At 55 mph on the highway in 95 degree temps and A/C on, expect range to be 70 miles."

      ^ That right there is my typical drive :)
        • 7 Months Ago
        Right - plus, no need to ever stop at a gas station - it gets an automatic "fillup" every night :D
        • 7 Months Ago
        Me too...

        and with a 35 mile round trip commute each day. The Leaf is perfect for me. Only 50% DOD each day... and plenty to run errands afterwards.
      • 7 Months Ago
      We should air-condition car parks... at least they are somewhat honest.
        • 7 Months Ago
        I have no idea what point you are attempting to make.
      • 7 Months Ago
      When reality hurts ...
      • 7 Months Ago
      Before everyone jumps all over the 47 mile range figure, just remember that at 6 mph, you've just been sitting in the car just shy of *8 hours*. This isn't normal stop and go on the way to work, it's LA meets Mexico City traffic-apocalypse.
        • 7 Months Ago
        It's weird that every time I see a demonstration of the Leaf, that it seems that it suits me more and more, no matter how bad the numbers are.

        To me, 30C (that's that oddball 86 degrees you see there) isn't that hot. I probably wouldn't even bother with the AC at that temperature, and I certainly wouldn't bring it down to 21C (that's 72 to you Americans) for the comfort of anyone else in the car. 25 maybe.

        As an added bonus, I think we get about 10 days a year when it's that hot or more in Vancouver. Maybe 20 days if we're really really lucky. It's not like we spend all of July and August at 35 and 100% humidity like a lot of you guys get. Even so, that's that huge target market in the states that turns things around for an automaker, so it is important.

        Either way, this is indeed a very-worst-case-scenario when it comes to traffic. I found it particularly revealing that even frigid Canadian winter temperatures (well, okay, most of us would consider 14F a high temperature on a warm day in winter) only dropped the range to 62 miles. Most Canadian commutes outside of Toronto are considerably shorter than that. People living in say, Prince George (at 55 degrees North latitude!) would be able to easily get all the way across town and back three or four times with that kind of range, and easily make it to the next town outside the city limits in any direction. Coincidentally, the heater probably wouldn't be draining the battery that much at this temperature, it's the actual temperature of the battery that's the problem.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Exactly! And who here hasn't been stuck in bad traffic (perhaps due to an accident ahead of you) where you may have had the A/C running, etc., and seen your gas gauge seem to fall like a rock...relative to your distance to the next gas station. "Range anxiety" comes in many forms...
      • 7 Months Ago
      About matches what I was thinking for both this and the Volt - basically halve the specified range and live with that, obviously it's not so bad with the Volt but I really want to do my daily commute on all EV all the time. Since my commute is 20 miles round trip it would be fine.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Could they make this any more confusing?

      What I'd like to see is a grid: ambient temperature on one axis (0 to 120 in 15 degree increments), driving condition on the other axis (stop-and-go at a couple average speeds, city with minimal traffic, highway at 55mph, highway at 70mph).
        • 7 Months Ago
        "Could they make this any more confusing?"

        Yes.

        On top of all this, the battery range will decrease as the batteries age.
        • 7 Months Ago
        You just made it more complicated. LOL

        Individual results may vary. I am able to get 55 mpg out of my 2009 Jetta TDi...I'm not even certain if that number is listed on the high side of the EPA estimates located on the monroney...
      • 7 Months Ago
      Some of these numbers don't make sense to me. For instance, I thought EVs were super-effecient at low speeds, and way better than ICEs in stop-and-go conditions.
        • 7 Months Ago
        EV's are efficient at low speed. Air Conditioning running for 8 hours isn't an efficient use of transportation energy. Turn off the AC and range shoots back up.

        Without the AC on, 100 miles per charge seems like a pretty easily attainable number.
        • 7 Months Ago
        I'm glad to hear these numbers.

        Even the 47 miles "worst case" range is enough for my needs! I love the Leaf!

        One thing that another poster linked to yesterday is aPDF that shows the Leaf's display: it shows you how many more miles of range you could get if you turned off the a/c or the heater.
        • 7 Months Ago
        A little perspective for a commuter:

        *****************
        Since the people who live in places congested enough for this kind of traffic... commute a maximum of 1-hour drive away from work (including traffic).
        *****************

        - In heavy stop-and-go traffic, averaging just 6 mph with temps of 86 degrees and A/C on, range drops to 47 miles.

        That is only 12 miles per day round trip (still spending 2 hours /day driving). So there is enough energy in one charge to last 4 commuter days. Nice!

        - Winter temps of 14 degrees with the heater on, will drop range to 62 miles in stop-and-go traffic, assuming an average speed of 15 mph.

        So this commuter has a daily round trip commute of about 30 miles total. So that is 2 days the driver can go on 1 charge.

        ------------------------------

        There is always spin in these stories. The author (Joann Muller is Forbes Detroit bureau chief)... would like you to equate these estimates with a long distance drive.

        But if you have to deal with heavy congestion, you wouldn't have to deal with long range at the same time (unless going to the beach on Labor Day).

        She would have everyone believe that these are realistic scenarios. But they are not.

        - Stuck in traffic THE WHOLE WAY to work is realistic for many.

        - Having to turn on the A/C or Heater seems realistic too.

        - And taking a 47 mile trip is also realistic.

        But all 3 true at the same time?? Unrealistic.

        Being stuck in 15 mph or 6 mph traffic does happen. But usually only for a few miles.

        Because if your commute was over 30 miles long and ALL of it was "stop and go" traffic. Then you would need several hours each morning just to make it on time.

        ------------------

        They are manipulating your emotions, be on guard.
        • 7 Months Ago
        In general, it is more efficient at slow speeds (mainly due to aerodynamics), but at slow speeds, the accessories such as AC play a huge role.

        You are essentially getting 0 mi/kWh stopped and running the AC. If you are moving slowly, a majority of your consumption will be from the AC (you are spending a much longer time with the AC on and traveling very little distance in that time), which results in very, very low range.

        Once again, Tesla's graphs are very instructive:
        http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/?p=70

        It seems Nissan is emulating Tesla in posting range in various scenarios; Tesla did something similar for their roadster:
        http://www.teslamotors.com/blog4/?p=60
      • 7 Months Ago
      Assuming those estimates are accurate (which I have serious doubts of), those are better than I thought.

      I'm surprised that the stop & go with A/C was so bad. They need a more efficient AC . . . a heat pump.

      Gimme a range for 65 mph!
        • 7 Months Ago
        "They need a more efficient AC . . . a heat pump."

        What other kind of AC is there?
        Where heat pumps are unusual are as heaters, because if you're turning 80% of your fuel into heat you don't need them.
      • 7 Months Ago
      A little perspective for a commuter:

      ****************
      Since the people who live in places congested enough for this kind of traffic... commute a maximum of 1-hour drive away from work (including traffic).
      ****************

      - In heavy stop-and-go traffic, averaging just 6 mph with temps of 86 degrees and A/C on, range drops to 47 miles.

      That is only 12 miles per day round trip (still spending 2 hours /day driving). So there is enough energy in one charge to last 4 commuter days. Nice!

      - Winter temps of 14 degrees with the heater on, will drop range to 62 miles in stop-and-go traffic, assuming an average speed of 15 mph.

      So this commuter has a daily round trip commute of about 30 miles total. So that is 2 days the driver can go on 1 charge.

      -----------------------------

      There is always spin in these stories. The author (Joann Muller is Forbes Detroit bureau chief)... would like you to equate these estimates with a long distance drive.

      But if you have to deal with heavy congestion, you wouldn't have to deal with long range at the same time (unless going to the beach on Labor Day).

      She would have everyone believe that these are realistic scenarios. But they are not.

      - Stuck in traffic THE WHOLE WAY to work is realistic for many.

      - Having to turn on the A/C or Heater seems realistic too.

      - And taking a 47 mile trip is also realistic.

      But all 3 true at the same time?? Unrealistic.

      Being stuck in 15 mph or 6 mph traffic does happen. But usually only for a few miles.

      Because if your commute was over 30 miles long and ALL of it was "stop and go" traffic. Then you would need several hours each morning just to make it on time.

      -----------------

      They are manipulating your emotions, be on guard.
      • 7 Months Ago
      I've observed that most drivers use the AC even if they could just roll the window down or use fan only.

      I'd like to see the Lead with a roof solar panel that drives a fan to keep the interior mild.
        • 7 Months Ago
        ECO mode limits the A/C use as well. It probably won't let you Blast the A/C in this mode. Just enough to maintain a set temp

        These mileage estimates were done in "Normal Mode" with A/C blasting for 4 - 8 hours.

        http://www.nissan-newsroom.com/JPN/en/PRODUCTS/ZEROEMISSION/images/01/NNR/100611/leaf_presen_100611-06.pdf

        Page 16
        It shows how the driver has 120 km (75 miles) total rangeBut can gain 40 km (25 miles) range by turning off the A/C or heater.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Thanks for posting this.

        It's incredible how much energy the AC uses........gain 25 miles just by turning it off !
        • 7 Months Ago
        Most ICEV drivers hop into a cold car in the morning... and blast the heater on full to get warm as quick as possible. Then maybe turn it down before pulling into the parking lot at work.

        And/or, in the afternoon. Getting into a hot car and blasting the A/C on full until cool enough, then maybe turning it down some.

        ----------------

        An EV that has preset timers for cabin pre-conditioning has an advantage.

        One not shown in these mileage "estimates"

        If plugged in at home. The cabin is pre-warmed on grid power. And we all should know the old adage:

        "It is easier to STAY warm, than it is to GET warm."

        So the cabin heating for the morning commute should not be set at 100%. But at a very low setting just to "maintain" a comfortable level.

        --------------

        IF you have a plug at work, this could work for the afternoon drive home as well. It takes far less energy to "maintain" a cool car than it does to cool down a hot one.
      • 7 Months Ago
      Also note that if you drove 6mph for 47 miles with the A/C on in a gas car that normally gets 25 mpg you will probably get somewhere between 5 and 12 mpg over that trip and burn somewhere between 4 and 10 gallons of gas.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Tell me something I don't know David Martin... That is why I'm such a big supporter of any technology that gets tailpipe emissions to zero.

        At the very least, those sitting in traffic a breathing in the same nano-particles. I might breathe them in deeper, but they breathe them in for a longer period of time.

        I suppose sacrificing my own mortal lifespan is a small overall price to pay for a fatter wallet and a cleaner Earth, gonna die one day anyway!
        • 7 Months Ago
        @letstakeawalk

        My Subaru burns 0.3 gallons/hour idling. When the air conditioner compressor runs, it jumps to 0.6 gallons/hour. Most 4cyl cars are similar.

        So at 6mph for 8 hours (48 miles), I will burn at least 2.4 gallons just sitting still. Now add in air conditioning use (let's call it 0.15 gallons/hour 50% duty cycle) and add 1.2 gallons to that total. Fairly reasonable in slow traffic in hot weather.

        So now I've burned 3.6 gallons and still haven't moved an inch. But let's pretend that I did, so now I've traveled 48 miles and burned 3.6 gallons of gas. That's 13.3 mpg. Add in additional fuel to actually move those 48 miles, and you'll probably add another 2 gallons at least - now you're sitting at 8-9mpg.

        In a 4cyl that normally gets 19mpg city, 26mpg highway.

        Your typical 6-8cyl will do much worse.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Thanks.

        Now I feel even better about zipping past people stuck in traffic while I'm on my bicycle!
        • 7 Months Ago
        Citation needed.

        I'd love to see this comment justified.
        • 7 Months Ago
        If you are cycling past queues of traffic idling their engines in hot weather you are most generous, as the membranes in your lungs are doing a wonderful job filtering out the particulates from the air you breathe in, at around 5 times the rate of pedestrians.
        See recent studies on the health 'benefits' of urban cycling!
      • 7 Months Ago
      Right now we're comparing a car that has an equivalent of 2-3 gallons in the tank to what is the norm for most with a car having 10-15 gallons in the tank. It's not a fair comparison.

      It will take a few iterations for EV's to mature to the stupidly excess standards of what cars today. The problem is we're applying old school mentality to a new technology. The rate of failure for this approach is high...not because it can't be done...but due to the limited mentality of people in general.

        • 7 Months Ago
        "But if I buy it expecting 100 and get 70, there will be hell to pay."

        So if you buy a car expecting 35 Mpg and only get 20 one day, there will be hell to pay too? To say "your mileage may vary" is an understatement here, as this case study OBVIOUSLY SHOWS that under certain circumstances your range will be reduced. As is the case with *any* car.

        It's also worth noting that the car's computer, keeping track of how you're driving (or more accurately, how the entire car is consuming power) at any particular time, and where you intend to go, it *will* warn you that something will have to change. ie: turn off your AC (rolling down the windows works great under 55MPH by the way), or drive a little faster or a little slower or take a different route.

        Unless every single day that you drive, you're white-knuckling it, worried that you will only just squeak under the line, in which case this is a big blinking neon sign right in front of you that this is not the car for you. Kind of like how trying to stuff camping gear and a baby seat into a Porsche 911 should *also* be a warning sign.
        • 7 Months Ago
        LS2:

        It's a good thing you weren't born a 100 years ago....you'd be whining about so many inconveniences that you'd probably hang yourself after a few weeks.

        Stop whining dude...instead of whining so much, why don't you embrace this stuff a little more so these companies get a sense from customers that they really want change? Instead, all you're showing is contempt and want the status quo.

        With any new technology comes a learning curve and testing period. If you can't deal with it, don't waste time here posting...there are plenty of others who care about the environment enough to make some small sacrifices to help out. Obviously, you simply do not care enough.
        • 7 Months Ago
        car company: "Why are you not buying this car?"
        customer: "Because it doesn't do what I need."
        car company: "Stop whining about what you need and fork over your money."

        You have to satisfy the customer. They are not forced to buy your product, even if "it's the right thing to do".

        And I'm not against EVs, as I said, even 70 miles is good for something. But I don't want a company lying to me about the useful range of the vehicle. If they say it's 70 miles and I consider it and decide 70 miles is enough and so buy it that's one thing. If they say it's 100 miles but it only goes 70, I'm instantly going to be angry since I did my evaluation based upon faulty information. I'll feel burned and you don't want to burn the customer.
        • 7 Months Ago
        The Leaf has about 2/3rds of a gallon of gas worth of energy in its tank (33kWh/gallon of gas).

        I don't care what's a fair comparison. It isn't about fair. It's about what I need a car to do for me. To be honest, 70 miles is still good for a lot of things. But if I buy it expecting 100 and get 70, there will be hell to pay.
        • 7 Months Ago
        If I buy the car when my commute is 65 miles and it says it has 100 mile range then I'm not expecting to be white-knuckling it. Then if the range is 70 miles and I am white-knuckling it, I will be angry.

        Is this difficult to understand?

        As to mpgs on gas cars it isn't the same because I can buy gas anywhere and gas cars have long enough range it isn't usually a problem anyway. My range is not reduced by YMMV, only my operating costs. This is not the case with EVs.

        As I've mentioned before, you can drive a gas car 1,000 miles in a day simply by stopping for 5 minutes periodically. The tank size is not a huge factor of the usable range of a gas car.
        • 7 Months Ago
        If you don't like it, don't buy...no one cars if it's good for you or not.

        There will be a change in the way people think and drive and if you don't want to be part of it, then don't. Sometimes you need to be a little less selfish and more able to think about the bigger cause...perhaps if more people in this world did that, we'd not be in the state we're in.

        You can't compare EV's directly to regular cars anyway..there's a learning curve to what is and isn't real life performance and will take a while to figure out. If you can't be open-minded enough to deal with that, then steer clear and stop whining about what you need.
        • 7 Months Ago
        That is why many have been saying to double your daily commute and add 20%. This is why Nissan chose 100 miles in the first place. Because the Average daily driving amount was 40 miles.

        If you commute is 65 miles... then you need to wait for something with at least 160 mile range EPA rated.

        That will relieve your "white-knuckles".

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