Photo: Flickr, CC
How Far Will the Nissan LEAF Go?
Official estimates tend to be optimistic, whether it's a government estimate of how fast the deficit will be halved or a carmaker's estimate of how good its own products are. That's why it's so important to also look at real-world testing to figure out if the theory matches the facts at least some of the time. Nick Chambers of PluginCars has gotten ahold of a Nissan LEAF and decided to see if the official range rating of 100 miles was realistic; he pushed the electric car as far as it would go, and the results are rather encouraging.
Nick writes: "After today, I can tell you with unwavering certainty that the LEAF can obtain at least 100 miles of range in the real world--because Nissan let me loose in their baby to be the first automotive reporter on the planet to conduct a total range test, from a fully topped off battery to almost completely empty."
He drove from Nissan's HQ in Nashville to the Jack Daniel's distillery and back, for a total distance of 116.1 miles.
The drive covered varied terrain and speeds, from gently rolling topography on roads that went through towns with stoplights and 30 miles per hour zones, to byways with 55 miles per hour top speeds. I didn't drive aggressively and I did spend most of the time going five miles per hour under the posted speed limits, but we had the A/C on for much of the trip. It wasn't like I was driving like an obsessed hypermiler. [...]
I averaged about 5.1 miles driven per kWh (see first dash photo above). If you do the back calculations, that means the LEAF let me use about 22.76 kW of its total 24 kWh battery, a utilization rate of about 94.9 percent. (source)
Of course, one test-drive isn't enough, but it's certainly a good sign for the LEAF's real-world all-electric range. It looks like Nissan's number might not be over-optimistic after all (though of course, as with gasoline cars, the range will always depend on road conditions and driving style).
More on the Nissan LEAF
Nissan Begins Production of LEAF Electric Car in Oppama, Japan
Lance Armstrong Tweets About His New Nissan LEAF
Nissan Offers Roadside Assistance to LEAF Owners in Japan
Nissan Stops Taking LEAF Reservations, Reaches 20k Target 3 Months Ahead of Schedule