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2011 Nissan Leaf – Click above for high-res image gallery

What is the best tool for commuting: a Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius, Ford Focus or a commuter train? The team at Cars.com decided to put all five to the test in a recent comparison. Starting out at the Cars.com Chicago headquarters, the team embarked on a 64.5-mile loop to see what mode of transportation could be crowned Abe Froman.

The results are not that surprising, but they do demonstrate the power of a pure electric vehicle driven in an urban setting. We won't give away all of the results, but the picture above should tell you which automobile was the cheapest to operate. The Cars.com crew makes a few interesting points, and provides great analysis into their commuting competition. Head on over and give their story a read.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      krona2k
      • 4 Years Ago
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-13338754 What a surprise in the mainstream press, yet another article that doesn't even mention the possibility that maybe, just maybe, oil is expensive in part because there is no increase in cheap oil supply to be had, nope it's nothing to do with supply at all, no way and never will be. I wonder if in five years time the mainstream press will still be denying that there's a problem with conventional oil supply? The figures speak for themselves and have done for the last 5 years! Sorry it's off topic BTW - just had to have a little rant ;-)
      Nick
      • 4 Years Ago
      As much as I love EVs, they should not replace public transportation. Also, streets will remain congested...they're no solution to that.
      Smooth Motor
      • 4 Years Ago
      The government subsidies should be factored out of the calculation. It just makes the operating costs of EV's artificially low and does not provide an accurate comparison.
        Dave D
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        "You can squawk all you want about the costs of "military" and "oil subsidies" and they come NOWHERE CLOSE to $7500 PER VEHICLE, not to mention state subsidies." HOLD ON A MINUTE....you need to think about what you're saying. The US spent 1.03TRILLION DOLLARS on it's military last year. Let's just pretend only 1/4 of that is related to oil in some way (bases and fighting in the middle east, protecting pipelines and shipping, etc etc etc), that is $250Billion. There were about 10 million cars sold in the us last year so that comes out to about $25,000 per car to keep supplying oil. And that is the best apples to apples your going to get because it is a one time charge against the new gas burners last year. The $7,500 is a one time charge against the EVs sold last year. If you want to do it over the long term, then you have to keep spending that money EVERY YEAR to keep supplying those cars. When was the last time we had to send in troops to West Virgina to keep the coal mining going or to Texas or Pennsylvania & New York to keep the natural gas flowing or to California/Ariz for the solar.... for the electricity the EVs need? Sorry Car Guy, but that is a bad argument.
        Smooth Motor
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        You can squawk all you want about the costs of "military" and "oil subsidies" and they come NOWHERE CLOSE to $7500 PER VEHICLE, not to mention state subsidies.
          JakeY
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Smooth Motor
          Another thing I forgot to point out. These plug-in subsidies will end as soon as each manufacturer sells 200k of them (like with the hybrid subsidies). If you add up the amount: $7.5k * 200k = $1.5 billion per manufacturer. Just military costs in a single year in the Persian gulf will be able to cover more than 10 manufacturers.
          EJ
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Smooth Motor
          Direct subsidies and indirect tax subsidies to the oil industry over the last ten years have averaged out to around 12 Billion a year. The money spent protecting our oil interests can make that 12 Billion look like a rounding error. You're beyond delusional.
          Dave D
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Smooth Motor
          Exactly Jake, and frankly, we should all stop pretending that it's "only" $20-50 Billion per year in the Persian Gulf. Let's be honest with ourselves here for a minute about cause and effect. We are in a war in Afghanistan because and also Iraq because of Bin Laden and the whole Islamic fundamentalist notion that the US should not be in the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia. I'm CLEARLY not saying they are right or wrong, simply stating the facts of why they did what they did according to them. Why are we heavily in Saudi Arabia and not Chad or the Sudan or etc etc etc? Because there is oil in Saudi Arabia. Look, we can point fingers as to whos right and whos wrong all day long and I am so happy that bin laden is finally burning in hell that I can't even express how happy I am about it. I hope he is the "virgin" for 72 pigs himself every day for eternity. But the facts are this: if there was no oil in Saudi Arabia, we wouldn't be there and the TRILLIONS we spent on the wars just in the last decade alone would not have happened. It would just be another desert like the Sahara and we wouldn't do anything more than send some archeologist to dig up interesting things.
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Smooth Motor
          Really? Care to show us your calculations?
          JakeY
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Smooth Motor
          Don't be so sure. Over the lifetime of a vehicle (~5000 gallons of gas burned given average 150k mile life and 30mpg). It gets worse for less efficient vehicles, better for more efficient vehicles. Roughly $4 billion a year subsidizes oil. Military costs to protect shipping lane I've seen about $20-50 billion per year (Persian gulf alone). We consume 378 million gallons/day, so that works out to $0.17-0.39 per gallon of subsidy. So that means roughly $850-1950 right there.
        samagon0
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        disagree, should we factor out the tax cost on gasoline because it makes the operating costs artificially high?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        It provides an accurate comparison from the POV of the customer, which is what Glass's is concerned about. The costs are hopefully dropping rapidly for electric, so a comparison ex-subsidy can only be regarded as a flash photo, but you need to add around £0.14 per mile to arrive at that figure to the electric vehicle, leased and unleased, and for the ER. The Renault Zoe's figure when it arrives should be about £0.25 per mile with subsidy, £0.39 ex-subsidy. The comparison would be with a smaller, cheaper diesel car though.
        Gabriel Nepenthe
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        I'd disagree, simply because operational cost isn't the same as purchase price. Although at this stage it might be better to simply convert your existing car to alcohol, as long as the heat coefficient of your vehicles' engine isn't such that the engine block is warped.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        Or maybe we should factor in the oil industry's subsidies. How about military costs to protect oil transportation? A cost that does not show in the price of gas but we all pay in taxes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For the UK the Glass guide has worked out the following costs, which include depreciation and fuel, but not things like maintenance by the look of the figures: 'The values show that the Nissan Leaf, the purchase cost of which includes the battery, retains 35 percent of its value after three years and 36,000 miles. In comparison, an electric vehicle similar in size, but with a leased battery, should retain 54 percent of its original value over the same period.' And: 'A range-extender electric vehicle, which drives only using electric power - but in which additional electric power is supplied by a petrol engine - will retain 43 percent of its value. For comparison, Glass's also included an average residual value for the equivalent diesel vehicle, which will be 44 percent after three years and 36,000 miles. 'The overall depreciation costs over three years for these electric vehicles are calculated to be £16,765 for the Nissan Leaf, £16,570 for the range-extender and £8,275 for the electric vehicle with a leased battery. A similar diesel model will depreciate by £9,750 over three years. In terms of cost per mile over three years, the Nissan Leaf works out at £0.49 per mile, the range-extender at £0.52 per mile, the diesel at £0.39 per mile, whilst the clear winner is the electric vehicle with a leased battery at just £0.33 per mile.' http://www.glassguide.co.uk/News/GlassGuideNews/?News=1469 The Leaf costs considerably more in the UK than in the US, but then so does petrol and electricity. I suspect that figures for the US would show that you are best off leasing the whole car , as you have not got a Renault Fluence where you can buy the car but lease the battery on offer.
        Ernie Dunbar
        • 4 Years Ago
        "The Leaf costs considerably more in the UK than in the US, but then so does petrol and electricity." When I was in the UK last (some 20 years ago, mind you), *everything* was about twice as expensive than it was in Canada. Even moreso versus the US, where everything was cheaper still. I hear that the price of gas in the UK is pretty brutal right now though - enough to make the cost difference between gas and electric cars pretty much moot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Couldn't they all have driven from home to the Naperville Train station, taken the train, and then walked from Union Station to the Elevated Train and then walk from the nearest L stop to their destination?
      • 4 Years Ago
      As Matt commented in the cars.com forum, in the states where the leaf gets additional tax breaks, PLUS much cheaper overnight charging power, the Leaf is a no-brainer. In his case (California), he is getting an additional $5K off, and a free charger. The car is costing him $21K. Then, he gets power at 4.5c/kwh. He can drive about 80-100 miles for $1.20 or about 250-300 miles for less than the rest of us can buy a gallon of gas. At this point EVs are for families with 2 cars, true. But when was the last time you drove over 100 miles (or even 80 miles) in a day? OK, how many times do you drive over 80 miles a day in a year? 4-6 times? OK, Enterprise can rent you a car for $15/day for those days of the year. You drive over 80 miles in your daily commute? Then, EVs are not for you (yet). And by the way, do yourself and the country a favor, move closer to your workplace. Still not on the EV camp? Then, EVs might never be for you. But they can serve over 80% of commuters in the US. So chill.
        Ernie Dunbar
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's also highly dependant on your location. I live in Vancouver, where not only can I get practically *everywhere* and back on one charge in a Leaf, I can do crazy stuff like go camping (where RV hookups exist), and skiing (some of the smaller slopes around here are *transit* accessible). Even going to Whistler is a possibility with a stop for juice in Squamish. On top of it all, there's our cheap electricity that comes from hydro, versus our expensive gas which comes from somewhere else.
      Ziv
      • 4 Years Ago
      LOL! And they chose the 64.5 mile commute, how? Average is around 35 miles, so they didn't find it there... They couldn't find 35 mile round trip train router? Maybe, it is simply the route long enough that the Leaf looks its best without running out of juice. But even there, and they admit this, that commuting pattern probably wouldn't work in the winter due to the Leaf's reduced range, and it might not work in the summer if you want to use AC on normal settings.
        JakeY
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Ziv
        They chose that Route because that is the most prevalent commute in their area. They went from Union station (near their headquarters) to Naperville, which is the closest large suburb in the area reachable by train.
      harlanx6
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would like the production cost of the vehicle, (not including taxpayer subsidies) to be averaged and added to the fuel cost to give a real cost per mile. Otherwise it's really apples and oranges.
        Ernie Dunbar
        • 4 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Not to the consumer it's not. To the consumer, they only see the end-cost - namely the car and its fuel. Which is exactly what this test measures. I would have preferred to see a longer-term test, myself. Over the course of a week or a month, to *really* demonstrate the costs you see with each mode. It doesn't hurt that the train works out best on a monthly basis as well.
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