Analysts have been worried that Nissan’s first all-electric car, the 2011 Nissan Leaf, would average a lot less than the 100 miles per charge the automaker claimed. After testing from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it turns out that Nissan was spot on..
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved its fuel-economy label for the 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF, rating the vehicle to be “best” in the midsize vehicle class for fuel efficiency and “best” for the environment,” Nissan Motor Corporation reports in a press release. “The new label shows a best-in-class 99 miles-per-gallon (MPG) equivalent (combined city/highway).” That means the Leaf will net 106 miles in the city and 92 on the highway.
While these numbers meet expectations, it’s important to keep in mind that the range will vary. The Boston Globe explains. “Mark Perry, Nissan North America’s director of product planning and strategy, said the vehicle’s range would vary based on driving conditions. Tests conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates advertising claims, had estimated a range of 96 to 110 miles per full charge and the company’s internal tests had found a broader range of 64 to 138 miles, Perry said.”
Most drivers will get average a lot less. The New York Times says the “Leaf’s official range [will] be 73 miles on a fully charged battery,” and “[b]ecause drivers cannot simply stop at a gas station and refuel, the Leaf’s range is expected to weigh heavily on shoppers’ minds.”
Nissan explains this further. “This calculation is based on the EPA’s formula of 33.7kW-hrs being equivalent to one gallon gasoline energy. In addition, the label displays a charging time of seven hours on a 240V charge and a driving range of 73 miles, based on the five-cycle tests using varying driving conditions and climate controls.”
Although the Leaf’s range isn’t ideal, shoppers who get the Leaf will save a lot of money because they can use electricity, which is a lot cheaper than gasoline. The EPA estimates that it will cost $561 a year to “fuel” the Leaf, which about half of what it costs to fill up some midsize and small cars annually.
Still, the Nissan Leaf is a lot to digest — its range is short and it must be charged, which becomes difficult once owners leave their homes. What’s the best bet for now? Wait. See how the Leaf does on the market for the first year. Gauge consumer reactions. Do they like it? Is it practical for drivers who just need to get to work? If your answer is yes, and you can swallow the Leaf’s $25,280 price (after tax reductions), go for it. Just make sure you sign up for a Leaf during the second wave of reservations, because the first 22,000 have already been claimed.
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