Today on Planet 100: Test Driving the Nissan LEAF (Video)

The Nissan LEAF is being touted as the first affordable all electric vehicle for the mass market. Released just last month, some 20,000 eager EV drivers have already ordered a one through a unique online reservations program. Planet 100 hops in the driver's seat to see if the hype matches the reality.The beauty of the LEAF is that it has zero tailpipe emissions, because it has no tailpipe. That's the right, the LEAF uses no gasoline whatsoever, instead drawing energy from the grid.

The LEAF has top speeds of over 93 mph, an unofficial 0 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds and has a fuel economy equivalent of 99 mpg

The interior comes with navigation, Carwings (for remote monitoring of charging status), Bluetooth, cruise control and push button ignition as well as few cool touches like seats made from recycled PVC bottles.

READ MORE: Nissan Unveils the All-Electric LEAF to the World (Exclusive Photos)

But the big question is: how far can it travel? And is it far enough for consumers to get over "range anxiety"? While Nissan says the LEAF can travel 100 miles on a single charge, the EPA recently downgraded this to 73 miles.

But it's a little more complicated than that. Testing by the EPA under real world conditions reveals that the LEAF can get anywhere 47 to 138 miles depending on the driving style, traffic conditions, weather and whether the air or heater is being used.

Charging can take place at home or at more than 12,000 public charging stations that are being installed across the country this year.

SLIDESHOW: Detroit Auto Show Exclusive: What's New and Green For 2011

The Nissan LEAF is priced at $32,780—before the sales tax and charger installation cost - but a federal tax credit of $7500 state rebates like California's $5000 CARB rebate can make considerable dent to the total.

EVs also cost less to operate about 2 cents per mile, compared with about 6 cents per mile for a hybrid, and 13 cents per mile for an average gasoline-powered car.

VIDEO: Nissan LEAF Road Test: Fully Charged Goes for a Spin

The Nissan LEAF is by no means the first EV on the market but with its competitive price point and low operating costs, and enough range to handle majority of daily commutes, it promises to popularize this new, clean technology.

Read more about the Nissan LEAF:
Nissan LEAF Gets 99 MPG-e Rating from EPA
Nissan LEAF Gets 116.1 Miles in Real-World Range Test
Lance Armstrong Tweets About His New Nissan LEAF

Tags: Planet Green

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