• Oct 26th 2010 at 7:54PM
  • 64
2011 Nissan Leaf - Click above for high-res image gallery

Initially, Nissan quoted the Leaf's estimated range at an even 100 miles. From the get go, we knew that this single number was more or less an average of what the car could travel between charges and not a figure that was set in stone for all drivers on any given day. Recently, the automaker laid out some variable range estimates that took into account weather variations, speed, HVAC settings and more and showed that a Leaf's range could drop as low as 47 miles and top out at 138 miles under ideal circumstances.

Real-world results are usually a better indicator than some drawn up estimates written on paper, and, as luck would have it, Plugin Cars writer Nick Chambers was recently given the chance to conduct a total range test of the battery-powered Leaf. Chambers plotted a course from Nissan's North America Headquarters in Nashville, TN to the infamous Jack Daniel's distillery. The 116.1-mile drive took Chambers across country roads, through small towns flooded with stoplights and onto local byways. Chambers claims that he didn't drive aggressively and often stayed below posted speeds, but did not baby the Leaf "like an obsessed hypermiler" might have.

In the end, the Leaf made the trip. Yep, that's 116.1 miles traveled under real-world conditions. The range-testing run utilized around 22.76 kW of the Leaf's total 24 kWh battery, indicating that it was pushed to the limits. Surprisingly, Chambers claims to have called upon the cool air of the range-depleting A/C system for much of the journey. He also engaged the Leaf's range-boosting Eco-mode before starting his jaunt, giving us a decent prediction for what a green-footed driver can expect.


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Photos copyright ©2010 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

[Source: Plugin Cars]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      Noz
      • 4 Years Ago
      Regardless of what the Lead ends up doing mileage-wise, it is clear that for the majority of people, it'll service their needs 100% of the time. Getting groceries, going to eat out, going over to a friends house, Sitting in traffic for 40 miles each way.

      To me that's a fantastic start and it's only going to get better from this point on. This it's 100-120 miles. Two years from now it'll be 200 miles. Two years after that it'll be 250-300 miles.

      In 4 years, IC engine superiority mileage wise will be approached IMO or even surpassed if the efforts are maintained.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So, how long did it take him to recharge at the distillery in order to be able to drive back?

      As much as I might like to stay at the JD distillery forever, they've got to shut the doors to guests at some point.

      In the article, he makes it clear that he generally stayed 5 mph under the limit, even on 55mph marked roads.

      We all know that range will vary widely according to speed, and keeping it under 50mph isn't unusual for many urban commuters.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BTW, Jack Daniel's distillery is in a dry county. Perhaps the most famous whiskey in America is made in a place where you can't drink it.

        Also of consideration is all the elevation changes related to Appalachia.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No need to recharge. It's 54.96 miles from Smyrna to Lynchburg so he must have been talking about the round trip was 117 miles, door to door and back again.

        So the cool part is that he drove out that far and returned on one charge :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks for the clarification, Dave D. Seeing as how you drove all over TN this past weekend, you are likely more familiar with the geography than I.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Very impressive.

      Although I think he did "baby" it, IMHO, as this contradictory sentence indicates:
      "Chambers claims that he didn't drive aggressively and often stayed below posted speeds, but did not baby the Leaf "like an obsessed hypermiler" might have."

      Not driving aggressively and staying below posted speed limits is hypermileing.
        Noz
        • 4 Years Ago
        No it's not hypermiling...it's nowhere near hypermiling.

        Do you even know what hypermilers do to get the mileage they get?

        I drive my Focus casually and get 30 MPG....as soon as I drive aggressively, it drops rapidly to about 25MPG or less. If I hypermile, I get 35MPG. There's a vast difference between hypermiling and driving casually.

        And casually = not driving aggressively and driving slightly below the speed limit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That is the difference between highway - county roads, and city - residential roads.

        People tend to drive at or below the posted speed limit on city roads or smaller.

        When you start getting into 4 or 6 lane roads... the speed "limit" becomes a speed "minimum" for most people.

        ----------

        As a city runabout. I would expect the leaf to spend most of it's time "not being pushed aggressively".
        • 4 Years Ago
        @miles. It was 85F here in North Carolina today. Yes, I did use the AC in my car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe like mild hypermiling (although not driving aggressively and staying under posted limits seems like fairly standard everyday driving, assuming everyone else also stayed under the limit).

        Usually when people make the claim they are hypermiling (like the techniques used for long range demonstrations) they use a bunch of special techniques, not just simply those two.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This doesn't work as a valid test for california drivers. Here the speed limit is seen by many drivers as a minimum speed. I typically drive 65 mph in the slow lane and I get tailgaters on my butt every single day. I don't adjust my speed for them, but the level of harassment would rise considerably if I were to drive any slower.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The true hypermilers will drive the LEAF at 20mph, they will end up with over 200 miles of range.. Wayne Gedes was seeing about 165 miles driving at about 50mph with a passenger in the car.

        The AC in the LEAF uses 600w at the coldest setting, if you set it so it cycles 50% of the time then the battery could power it for 73 hours... Heating is what will consume power. Note the usual 5000btu window rattler consumes 500w, so its nothing new.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I drove all over the eastern half of the state (Tn) Friday through Sunday for my daughter's soccer tournament and yes, I had the air conditioner on the entire time. It was kind of warm...and I hate to be hot when I'm driving. :-)

        Now, I didn't have to blast it, but it was definitely on.

        But I am with you guys on the "below posted speed limits". He may not have been drafting behind trucks and pulsing on the interstate....but I don't know many people who drive below the posted limits. Most people seem to drive at them or 5mph over.

        So I would certainly not qualify that as aggressive driving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You beat me to it, Spec.
        I wonder exactly what "A/C on for much of the journey" means? Is AC remotely necessary in late October in TN? Color me skeptical.
      • 4 Years Ago
      And Then There Was No Gas.

      so they called a towing service still being proud of 116 EV miles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        actually, they still had range left...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am really tired of articles like this and think that Nissan ought to be straight with potential customers. The cars are either already coming off the assembly line or about to. Nissan has the cars. Let them run tests under specified conditions and release the information to the world. To say that the air conditoner was on, as in this article, provides little information. Here in Arizona the energy usage would be quite different when the temperature is 90 or 110.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about peoples that need to drive 117 miles or more at 70+ mph ? or drive 120 miles at high speed or slow speed or 500 miles in winter ? What is the cost to offer as an option a small, efficient, light-weight, adapted, exclusive, house compatible, compact, reliable, well made, cheap, efficient, compact, diesel small electric generator battery recharger booster and performance enhancer ? Thsi stuff already exist at the electric station where electricity come from, often hundreds of miles or more, coal or natural gas, so why not a small apperetus of the same kind but smaller. If they fit a steam boiler to this diesel engine and a second steam electric generator, then 100 mpg easy. Don't forget informatic management and data analysing via usb port and complete computer programming with didicated owners website for data collection and analysing. Don't forget to fit solar panels on top and hood.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well, 100kg 5L Pu-238 nuclear battery could give you around 20kW power for many years straight. Add in another 100kg high-power li-ion battery for accelerations and you have practically infinite range car at 60mph.

        Of course it wouldn't be cheap and there might be some other problems with that too... ;-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        What if I need to drive across a lake? What if I need my lawn mowed? What if I need to tow a giant sailboat?

        GET THE RIGHT VEHICLE FOR THE JOB.

        Not every vehicle is for every need. You don't say a Porsche 911 sucks because it can't carry your kids to soccer. You don't say your F-150 sucks because it doesn't get 50mpg.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So Gorr, you want a steam powered car with solar panels? That is a oxymoron in it's own right. That boiler would add much weight but god bless you anyway Gorr! What about a nuclear car with a jet pack and small out rigger training wheels so you don't roll it?
      • 4 Years Ago
      A real-world range test would be one travelled at the same speed as the flow of other traffic, or at the same speed someone would generally expect to go in any other car. This usually means going 5 mph over the speed limit. So, while it's nice to know I can go 116 miles with a bit of babying, I'm still waiting for a more realistic real-world range test. All indications are that the Leaf will achieve more than 100 miles if driven intelligently, and for those of us (myself included) who feared the real-world range might be significantly less, that's very good news.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The point of this seems to be that if you want to go ~116 miles in the Leaf (with a reasonably new battery), you can drive conservatively enough to make the trip. No need to employ serious hypermiling tricks to pull it off. Lots of variables still apply (hills, weather, etc.), but at least data is coming in that suggests that achieving 100 miles or more is not just a laboratory result!

      Man, am I looking forward to the Nissan drive event on Saturday...
        • 4 Years Ago
        I think that was the point too. That if you REALLY needed to go 100 miles, just driving 5mph slower than posted limits and not aggressively is enough.

        Serious hypermiling techniques are these and none of them were used:
        http://www.edmunds.com/advice/fueleconomy/articles/120880/article.html
        • 4 Years Ago
        Spec said. "It was a nice demonstration and I don't doubt it. But this is a pro-EV guy that limped the car along. He describes himself as "Nick is a tireless and passionate next generation car enthusiast." And it is a brand new car with a brand new battery. "

        Spec, this guy is no pro. He may be passionate about EV's like all of us but he had the same reaction that any thinking person has who wants to make it to their destination. The Leaf will help every one come closer to a pro with "range boosting, economy mode" Screw dumb ass Joe Sixpack he doesn't even know the Leaf exists.
        It is extremely unthoughtful for anyone that is attempting a trip that comes close to any EV's maximum range to not use caution when making a maximum range trip for the first time. Tell me this, do you think Nick would have any problems making the trip a second time? Do you think range anxiety would diminish considerably? Only a fool would run the car hard when taking a trip that comes close to maximum range. Believe me as you learn the cars capabilities the second time you make that same trip there are no worries and yes, he would go a bit faster next time as he said he had room to spare the first time.

        It is no different than a sign saying next petrol stop 200 miles and looking down at the fuel gage and seeing you have a half tank of fuel. You would be a fool to drive the vehicle hard if you continued into Death Valley or where ever. Yes, you might even turn the AC off and slow down so you make it. I am sure no one from this forum has ever driven their car slowly because they were low on gas and wanted to make sure they made it to the station. I know I never have. NOT!!!
        From Nick:
        "Okay, so maybe that last 15 miles—when it got a little tense—I did drive 10 miles under the posted speed limit and likely upset a few other drivers. (Sorry folks! It was all in the name of science.) But hell, I went 116.1 miles with room to spare."

        • 4 Years Ago
        I think it is being reasonable. A lot of people on here have been claiming that when Nissan says 100 miles that it really means 60 miles....

        If you really try to get the worst range possible, I'm sure you could hit 60-- just like you can get a lot of cars into single digit fuel economy if you try. However if you drive like a regular person, you should easily be able to hit 100 miles. If you really try, you can do better.

        When Nissan says 100 miles of range, they mean that you should typically expect 100 miles of range.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It was a nice demonstration and I don't doubt it. But this is a pro-EV guy that limped the car along. He describes himself as "Nick is a tireless and passionate next generation car enthusiast." And it is a brand new car with a brand new battery.

        http://www.plugincars.com/user/nick-chambers


        Keep the expectations reasonable or else EVs are going to get a big backlash when Joe Sixpack gets stranded because his EV ran out of juice on the way to grandmas house that was only 100 miles away.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And remember that since these batteries are expected to last 8 - 10 years (at above 70% Power capacity)..

        The battery will be "reasonably new" for several years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you've ever driven through Appalachia, it isn't flat and the roads aren't very straight. And he had the air conditioning on... If you were on flat ground and willing to turn off climate control, you could do better. 116 miles+ (he still had range left) could easily be beaten in many areas if you really tried...

        100 miles should be realistic even if you aren't trying.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Okay, so maybe that last 15 miles—when it got a little tense—I did drive 10 miles under the posted speed limit and likely upset a few other drivers."

      Ahh the future, when Sunday drivers have someone to look down upon.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Why is it that "real world driving" needs to be 65 to 75? These people drive me nuts. If you need to compensate by driving a SUV or German sports car like a bat out of hell this car is not for you.
      If you are sick of being dependent on foreign oil, tired of the fumes from exhaust pipes, and despondent over the sheen of oil on the roads after the first rain of the season this is your car. I drove in the slow lane on the way home from work today and rarely felt that going 60 was slow. And that feeling only lasted for maybe 2 miles. The rest of the time the slow lane was moving at brisk 55.

        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem with driving an EV is that you still have to deal with the exhaust fumes of other cars. Take it from one who knows :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        My real-world driving used to be at least 8 miles over the speed limit and up to the speed of everyone else in the fast lane (sometimes 80 mph). I'd get stressed out flashing and honking at slowpokes in the fast lane while someone else tailgated me or swerved around us, and my mpg suffered. Now I drive the speed limit in the slow or middle lane, it's less stressful and way better mpg. Everyone should try it, but I have no problem with most drivers as long as they SIGNAL, whether they be 85mph hustlers or hypermilers.
      • 4 Years Ago
      We just drove the LEAF 30 miles @ 70mph. We got between 3.8 - 4.6 miles per kWh (seemed to be dependent on terrain, more than anything else). That's two 200lb passengers; no ECO mode; AC on (fan on low). That's like 90 miles to empty at full freeway speeds!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hyper mile my gas car so wont be any different for my LEAF.
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