Second Lap: A Single Nissan LEAF Goes Head-to-Head for Range and Economy
For our first range-vs-economy comparison, we ran two Nissan LEAFs up and down a mountain to see how they'd compare. One car was driven in the "D/Normal" mode, while the other was run in the "Eco" mode. Unfortunately we had a couple variables which may have skewed the results: the cars had different firmware versions, and both cars were driven by different people.
To correct the inequity, we decided to run just one LEAF, with one driver, over the same route twice—a round-trip distance of 27.4 miles, just short of the national commute-to-work average.
According to the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), the average number of vehicle miles traveled per day was 28.97. To simulate our "commute to work," we drove from Venice, Calif. to the California Science Center, south of downtown Los Angeles.
Unlike the trip to Mt. Wilson with steep grades, this trip would be relatively flat, with a starting elevation near sea level, and ending up at 185' elevation. Instead of freeways and two-lane highways, the second test was performed on stop-and-go city streets.
The car's tire pressure was checked prior to the tests. During both "commutes to work," the climate control was set to 72 degrees/Auto, the windows were rolled up, and the headlights were turned off. The only difference between the two trips were "Eco" mode and "D/Normal" mode.
Second Test Results
|Range remaining at CSC||85||85|
|Miles/kWh Used at CSC||4.1||4.1|
|Miles/kWh Used at End||4.5||4.2|
This time, the playing field was leveled by driving the same car twice (no conflicting firmware issues), and with the same driver. We discovered a slight improvement in economy when the LEAF was driven in the "Eco" mode. The faux-commute was fairly short in distance, but if the numbers were run for an entire year, the economy savings could really add up.
As one PluginCars community member states: "... all Eco does is encourage you to drive more like a hyper-miler than a jack rabbit. That is where the mileage gain comes from ... not anything magically different."
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