First Full Range Test of Nissan LEAF Yields 116.1 Miles

By · October 21, 2010

Nick Chambers with Nissan LEAF at the Jack Daniels distillery

Most regular readers know that Nissan's quoted range for the LEAF is about 100 miles. But as Nissan has said—and as many regular EV drivers know—the total range of an electric vehicle can vary quite dramatically based on how the car is driven.

For instance, if you drove a Nissan LEAF uphill at 80 miles an hour with the A/C cranking full blast and five large adults in the car, you might only get 45 miles of range out of its battery. Alternatively, if you drove a steady 45 miles an hour over a completely flat route on a 60 degree day with no climate control, you might see as many as 135 miles of range. But still, none of that truly tells you what you could see during real world driving.

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.

Nissan LEAF dash showing 116.1 miles on a single charge

The numbers tell the story: 116.1 miles on a single charge. I averaged 5.1 miles per kWh.

The chosen course took me from Nissan's North American headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., to the famous Jack Daniel's distillery and back—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.

Okay, so maybe that last 15 miles—when it got a little tense—I did drive 10 miles under the posted speed limit and likely upset a few other drivers. (Sorry folks! It was all in the name of science.) But in the end, I went 116.1 miles with room to spare.

Driving Notes

Unless you are completely disengaged from the driving experience, it's very unlikely that you'll fail to notice all the warnings the LEAF sends out as your battery is getting low. From warning lights in two different places, to flashing numbers on the main screen, to the navigation system audibly speaking to you and asking you if you want to be routed to the nearest charging station, there's no way you'd be caught surprised. Also, although I didn't cause it to activate myself, the LEAF will go into what's called "Turtle" mode if you really get down to your last bit of usable juice and start progressively limiting your top speed and acceleration rate to try and get you to that charge station.

Nissan LEAF low battery warning message
Nissan LEAF low battery warning message

The Nissan LEAF doesn't allow you to get surprised by a low battery.

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. In the past, Nissan has told me that they allow 95% utilization, so I really did push the car to its limits.

As the first person to really push the LEAF to its limits in the real world for all to see. It'll be interesting to see what others can do with it and what real world situations over a variety of conditions do to the range. But for now, it's satisfying to know that even without being crazy about hypermiling, the LEAF can pull it off.


· · 7 years ago

Congratulations Nick! That's a great job to get to be the first journalist to do a total range test. Early on when the LEAF was first announced I didn't think they would be able to really achieve 100 miles or so on a charge with a 24kWH pack on in a car of that size & weight, but the more I read about it I started to think is was possible. Now, you have confirmed it.

I was really worried that Nissan was over selling the range and were running the risk of having a lot of angry customers when they found out the car could only get 80 miles per charge after promising 100. Looks like that won't be a problem. Good Job!

· · 7 years ago

One of the most remarkable things is how much of the battery is utilized. A whopping 95 percent. I think it's amazing how much confidence that Nissan has to push things that far. Compare it to Volt which uses something like 8.8 kWh out of 16 kWh. The net result is range, like Nick's 116.1 miles. Great job, Nick.

Only one question remains: Did you recharge your personal batteries at the distillery?

· · 7 years ago

I do not condone drinking and driving.


· Steve F. (not verified) · 7 years ago

Great job! A very nice report and it is nice to see the results were good as well.

· evnow (not verified) · 7 years ago

Brad, at our forum we guess - based on various conversations with Nissan folks and documents from AESC, that Nissan's "usable" capacity is 24 kwh. The nominal capacity is likely around over 30 kwh to give about 80% DOD.

· · 7 years ago

Awesome job Nick!
It's good to set the bar.
I hope the next driver sets the cruise control at 65 mph and lets us know what that gives us. Following that, I'd love to see a 75 mph range but, while many drive that kind of speed (not me of course o;-) ), few can admit it in print.
For reference, I can get similar performance (5 m/kWhr) in a Tesla Roadster at similar speeds. I actually have done so :-)

· Andy (not verified) · 7 years ago

How many miles did the car said that you had left in the "tank" when you got back?

· KeiJidosha (not verified) · 7 years ago

Very encouraging! Were you in ECO mode the whole trip? Also did the miles remaining number recover (increase from Blank) once you stopped?

· · 7 years ago

Andy and Kei,

The LEAF stopped telling me an exact "range remaining" calculation after I dipped below 10 miles (the point at which the dashed line appeared in place of a number). When it said I had 10 miles left I had traveled 110 miles, so it would be reasonable to assume I had about 4-5 miles of actual range left when I stopped driving at 116.1 miles. However, if I had pushed it much further I would have entered "Turtle" mode and would have been limping along at slow speeds. Also, yes I was in ECO mode the whole time.

· Th. (not verified) · 7 years ago

Great job Nick, nice reading your article!

· Puerto Rico (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nick a quick one that will be good to know...

How long does it take to charge the LEAF in full... and how long would the charge last for approximately (2 hours)?

· Suneel (not verified) · 7 years ago

gr8 write up for a gr8 car. i really proud that i sell NISSAN vehicles. the dash board with all the tell tale lamps and indicators look awesome. cheers

· · 7 years ago

Suneel. Great to have you on Are you selling LEAFs? We would love to hear about the buying experience from the perspective of a salesperson, and then follow the early experiences of drivers. Sign up for a user account on the site, or drop me a line via the "Feedback" form in the footer of the site. Cheers.

· Buck Bell (not verified) · 7 years ago

What caught my eye in particular is that you had the A/C running much of the time and were able to achieve those numbers. Living in Florida, I've been expecting to take an enormous hit to range based on the cooling requirements, but seeing what you were able to achieve and given the flat terrain here, perhaps I can get more than I thought. Great review -- thanks.

· kevin (not verified) · 7 years ago

Was there any change in the battery temp during your trip?

· Steve D (not verified) · 7 years ago

I am more concerned of heat in the winter (being in New England). Do you know what the heating solution is for this car? Direct elements or maybe a heat pump? And the expected impact on mileage?

· · 7 years ago

Hey Guys - I'm pretty sure Nick is traveling back home today, so there might be a short delay in some of the technical questions regarding the LEAF. But maybe some of the experienced EV drivers on the site can talk about the impact of temperature on range. Looks like Tom saw a 25% drop in range when temperatures fell below 40 degrees in his MINI E.

Here's his recent write-up about LEAF and their decision about thermal management:

Other experienced EV owners want to chime in?

· Mike (not verified) · 7 years ago

Great Stuff... So your trip was 116.1 miles and consumed 22.76 kWh. Lets assume roughly $.10 per KWh so the trip cost you $2.28 to go 116 miles. In a Prius getting 48 MPG you would consume 2.42 gallons of gas at today's price of $2.83 per gallon it would have cost you $6.84 in a Prius. Or in a Nissan Altima getting 28 MPG it would have cost you $11.72

· Mike (not verified) · 7 years ago

How long are the batteries expected to last before requiring replacement?

· Mike (not verified) · 7 years ago

How long are the batteries expected to last before requiring replacement?

· Rich Civil (not verified) · 7 years ago

I wonder how much of a range difference there would be driving the speeds most people do (at least in my part of the country) 5-10mph above the posted speed limit.

· James (not verified) · 7 years ago

How many people traveled on the trip? In one of the photos I see what appears to be a reflection of someone in the passenger seat.

· · 7 years ago

I know they are two different vehicles, with different battery compositions, but as I have stated before, the MINI-E's range is effected much more by the cold temperatures and heater use than hot temperatures with air conditioning use.

Another thing to consider is that the MINI-E is a prototype test vehicle, not a production car like the LEAF so BMW really didn't spend much time designing a proper temperature management system. I'm even inclined to think they purposefully designed it so that the deficiencies would be exposed and studied.

I would have definitely preferred if the LEAF had an active thermal management system, but having the ability to condition the battery while it's plugged in will be a big benefit, one that the MINI-E doesn't have.

A LEAF owner can set the car to warm up an hour or so before they leave each morning. This will let you leave your house on a cold morning with a warm cabin and warm batteries. I use a good deal of energy warming up the car and batteries in the winter with the MINI-E. The first 10 miles or so of my morning drive I use about 20% of my SOC when it's below 40 degrees outside When it's warm outside I only use about 8% for the same distance. The LEAF should allow you to use only a little more energy than normal to maintain cabin heat if you pre-condition before you unplug.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

This wasn't a real world test if you were driving below the speed limit. Real world driving is 10-15mph over the limit, as much as I hate to say it. Let the hypermilers go slow and annoy other drivers. Now people who read this article will just be strengthening their argument for why EVs are still not competitive, because you are not driving like the norm. I can get 40mpg in a 30mpg car if I drive conservatively too. Real world driving for the majority of the population is 72mph on the highway and lots of 0-45mph hard accelerations in the suburbs. I want to see the range of the Leaf while it's at 70mph, not 55 which is vastly more energy efficient. Driving 55 on the freeways will get you killed.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Also, draining the battery to 95% will greatly reduce it's lifespan. Stick to 80% discharge max, and it 'should' see it's 100,000 mile claim.

· Gregg (not verified) · 7 years ago

I want to see what happens when they take it to International Falls for cold weather testing. I am still waiting for a real car that runs on batteries that can go 300+ miles and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

· · 7 years ago

Hey folks,

I'm on a layover in Seattle and let me try to address some of the questions in my short time.

Puerto Rico, battery charge time depends on two things: 1) what kind of charging station you're using and 2) how fast of an on-board charger the car has. You can check out my full review of the LEAF for more details (under "How Do You Fill it Up?").

Buck, initially I left the A/C on "Auto" for about the first 20 miles, then I changed my strategy and manually turned the A/C on when the cabin temp was above my comfort zone then turned it off again when it was comfortable. I had the windows up the whole time. During the last 40-50 miles of the trip I didn't turn the A/C on at all and just had the fan running. Keep in mind it is fall in Tennessee and the temperature was around 76 degrees F, so the climate control demands were low. Even so, I don't think range will be affected by more than 10% due to just running the A/C.

Kevin, the battery stayed almost the same temp the whole trip according to the battery temp gauge.

Steve D, the vehicle I drove only had a circulating air climate control system (no heat pump). When the LEAF is introduced to markets with colder winters early next year, Nissan will also add the option for heated seats and steering wheel. When you warm things with electric resistance like that it's much more efficient than blowing hot air around the cabin and losing much the heat through the windows. With a heated seat and steering wheel, you may not even need to warm the cabin with forced air.

Mike, Nissan has said that they expect the batteries to last up to 10 years and have included an 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty. They have the ability to change out any one of the cells in the battery if a particular cell goes bad, so you wouldn't need to change the whole battery, just the parts that went bad.

James, there were two people in the car, myself and a Nissan employee.

Rich, certainly it'll be interesting to see what other people come up with over a range of conditions. I wanted to set a bar for myself in the alloted time. Next time I'll run it more aggressively and see what I can do.

Anonymous #1, it certainly wasn't a fake world test. Yes most people drive more than the speed limit, but that's not what this test was about and I was candid about that. If I had more time I would have done it in lots of different conditions. If we all have a little bit of patience that will come. I don't think this one article will give the naysayers any more or less reason to change their minds about electric cars. That, too, will come with time. There's a mentality out there that in order for electric cars to be successful they have to satisfy 100% of every possible driving need. When you say that my article will convince people that EV's aren't competitive, you indicate that you have believe the above. No vehicle satisfies 100% of every driving need. But the electric car can satisfy almost every driving need out there. If you're a farmer and you need a work truck, you're not going to buy a Camaro.

Anonymous #2, according to Nissan, they aren't worried about this based on internal testing with their particular battery chemistry. Certainly it will reduce the lifespan, but Nissan doesn't think it's a huge concern. Besides, you'll have an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.

Gregg, they will come eventually, but see my response to Anonymous #1. EV's won't fill that demand for quite some time, but even so they don't need to to be successful.

· · 7 years ago

Thank you for the writeup, Nick!

Did you have many hills on the route? Hillclimbing performance and power draw is of particular interest to mountain dwellers like me. :-)

· Paul (not verified) · 7 years ago


Thanks for an informative piece -- and all your responses to the various comments.

I look forward to more of your analysis of the LEAF under other driving conditions -- and styles. (I agree with others that 5 to 10 MPH below speed limits is hardly the "normal" driving for many!)

One point I will disagree with in your last comment, however: Heated air in the winter.

As a Mini-E pioneer (I drove #239) in NYC, last winter was brutal on my electric Mini and me. The "heated air" barely kept me warm in the car last winter! And while I'm sure heated seats and steering wheels might keep a Northeast driver warm in a LEAF...

How would a driver prevent water vapor from hot breaths (and heated bodies) from condensing on the cold front windshield in the winter? Blow cold air? Run the A/C -- which even conventional gas cars do to remove "humidity" in the winter? (And what impact will running both heated seats/steering wheel and defrost A/C features have on driving range/battery life then??)

Having driven a Mini-E, I've become a big fan of EVs in general. But I'm just really concerned that this first gen LEAF isn't going to fare well in the Northeast. (And maybe that's why they're not going to offer it to us Northerners until the end of 2011! In which Nissan shouldn't have taken my $100 deposit so readily, eh?? Grrrrrrr....)

Just my 2-cents. :-)

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Excellent write-up. An electric vehicle certainly isn't for everyone, and if living in the NE, wouldn't be my first choice. However, a 100 mile range is more than adequate for most, particularly in an urban environment where there is a lot of stop-and-go traffic. An urban environment is where the benefits of electric cars are greatest, but even many surburbanites could use an EV to / from work on a daily basis with this range.

· Tim H. (not verified) · 7 years ago


The way I'm imagining this in my head -- first, when you topped the 100-mile mark and then 15 minutes later when you cleared 110 miles and the LEAF started to "turtle" -- is something like that classic Seinfeld episode when Kramer and a car salesman took a car for a test drive to see how far below the "E" on the fuel gauge they could actually go.

Of course, unlike Kramer, you apparently got off at at the right exit and guided the vehicle back to safety, rather than taking it on a doomed joyride.

· Kevin (not verified) · 7 years ago

NIck , at what point (range in miles remaining) does the low charge light illuminate , or the car start warning you?


· Kevin (not verified) · 7 years ago

NIck , at what point (range in miles remaining) does the low charge light illuminate , or the car start warning you?


· · 7 years ago

Nice work Nick! In my barn-door-shaped Rav4EV, I have a 26 kWh pack. The car has let us use about 25 of those 26. I'm not at all surprised at the range of the Leaf. From the specs alone, I've always assumed that 100 miles was a valid number. It doesn't weigh much less than the Rav, but it is way the heck more aero.

As far as "55 mph will get you killed" - I really want to respond.... but can't bring myself to do so.

· Paul Scott (not verified) · 7 years ago


I'm jealous, but happy you got to do it. I was planning on conducting my own test when I got my car.

Hypermiling will get 120 miles, no doubt.

I'll respond to the "55 mph will get you killed" comment. No it won't! I drive around 60 on LA freeways all the time in the RAV, and people just go around. There's always room. If someone gets on my back, I just stay the course. I figure I'm saving their gas/pollution, too, thereby compounding my effort. If they try to intimidate me, I respond my controlling them. It's fun when you take that attitude. The result is that I get to drive with great efficiency, and it clears out the traffic in front making it extra safe for me.

· · 7 years ago

Driving 55mph won't get anyone killed, that's a ridiculous claim. If you are in the right lane than nobody should even be bothered by you. If you drive 55 in the left lane, then that's another story because you are basically expected to keep up with the flow or move over if you venture over there.

Since I've been driving an electric car I have noticed that I'm driving a bit slower (probably 55-65 instead of 70-75) and I rarely ever "hold up" anybody. In fact, there are many driving slower then me that I need to pass.

Claims that this wasn't a "real world" test because Nick didn't speed are not on point. Maybe it's not a real world test for how you drive, but everybody drives differently and that's why different people will get different ranges just like everybody gets different mpg. Nick achieved 116 miles by driving less aggressively than let's say the "average person by your standard" so even if you want to knock off 10% the car still outperformed the 100 mile estimated range. I think this is great news for the LEAF.

· Anonymous · 7 years ago

Sad, really.
You have to worry all the time that there is no place to fill up. We have more than 100,000 stations all over the country for cars to stop in and get their needed dino-juice. If the car had a REAL engine you could have even topped off with some Jack. Now that is a true machine.

· · 7 years ago

@ GASOLINE (Anonymous)
It’s not that he had to worry. It was just a test. There are a billion places he could have plugged in and some of them may even not use anything dug up from the ground and burned. That Jack Distillery has electric pumps to move the product so if it’s good enough to move Jack then it’s good enough for moving the rest of us.

· · 7 years ago

@Electric - Amen on that! Electricity is ubiquitous.

I see that you have a new account on Welcome to the community! We're just getting started and have a great new features coming soon. Hit the "watcher" link above the comments on any post to get an email when a new comment is added to an interesting thread, and please chime in with your views. Cheers.

· · 7 years ago

In the past, I often told myself that I should obey posted speed limits because it's the law of the land and I want to be pleasing to God. But it never worked in the long run. I always went back to driving 80+ mph in the far left lane, both rationalizing and staying alert for CHP officers.

This year has been different. Ever since reserving a LEAF, I've been mostly driving *under* the speed limit for the sake of efficiency. It's actually been liberating. Assuming we follow through with the LEAF purchase (the alternative would be to settle for a Prius until EV range gets better), I have no reason to believe I'll have any trouble driving more slowly to extend the range.

· · 7 years ago

OK... now that we've moved a bit to the speed part of the story... I live in the same place where I *used* to drive 80 mph with the pathetic rationalization that I was just "keeping up with traffic." And that's true as long as I was in the left lane with the other speeders. But guess what? We were passing thousands of cars going slower than we were while "keeping up with traffic." All I was doing was keeping up with the other speeders. I now drive the speed limit, or slower. And I still pass people. The law around here is that trucks and cars pulling trailers have a top speed of 55mph. Yes, som break that law. Others don't The end result is that there are *always* some folks going 55 mph in the right lane. And at 60 mph, I'm passing plenty of other cars, while the 80 mph folks are blowing by me on the left "keeping up with traffic."

And when people say that driving 55 mph is a dangerous prospect - I repond, "show me that statistics that prove your point." Every relevant study I've ever seen has come to the conclusion that slower is safer. And we aren't even getting into the extra pollution caused by driving faster in a gasoline car. People aren't just less safe with a speeding multi-ton vehicle... they're less safe with the resulting pollution.

I rarely exceed the posted speed limit these days. And amazingly, I never hold anybody else up. Even the speeders. I often wonder when speeder's rights began to trump the rights of the law-abiding drivers.

· · 7 years ago

Hey all, going to respond to everybody's questions/comments in one reply...

Abasile, it was probably half flat and the rest was rolling hills with some steep ups and downs in there.

Paul (not Paul Scott), you're absolutely right that heated forced air is a necessity... I wasn't trying to say that it wasn't, just that by heating steering wheels and seats, the demands on the forced air heating system are much less, resulting in an overall system efficiency gain.

Tim H., yeah that's a good mental image of it :) Although I didn't actually enter "Turtle" mode. I likely had about another 4-5 miles of range left.

Kevin, I got my first warnings at about 20 miles of range left. At about 10 miles of range left, the car stopped displaying calculations of how much range was left and instead displayed "---" in the remaining range display. My Nissan companion told me that the point at which you are first warned is not based on mileage left, but a combination of driving style and remaining battery charge so that if you were driving very fast the warning might come on sooner.

Paul (Scott), not to worry my friend, there will be plenty more tests to be conducted :) I wish I could have had all my plug-in compatriots on this drive with me, but alas it was a last minute thing that Nissan agreed to and I feel honored to have been the one to do it first.

· · 7 years ago

Nick, you didn't say if you enjoyed yourself ;-)
I'm very glad to read that Nissan chose you for this drive, after the flak GM handed out last month.

I for one am glad that Nissan allows 24sh kwh discharge, but it did make me think that battery longevity is going to vary quite a bit by owner habits. Someone who routinely discharges down to close to zero will have a different battery life than an owner who does so rarely. I wonder if Nissan will have a way to test battery health when these cars hit the secondary market.

· · 7 years ago


Thanks! I didn't want to cloud the post with my own thoughts about how much I enjoyed the LEAF, as I've already kind of done that in the review. But, this drive was the longest I think any one person outside of Nissan has sat in the LEAF and I have to tell you it was pure bliss to me—a kind of zen driving. It really is amazing how much effort Nissan put into making the LEAF quiet. If I was a regular commuter that alone would be one of the strongest selling points.

From the lack of road noise and external sound, to the effortless driving, the LEAF is one of the most unique and pleasurable driving experiences you can have.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

For electric cars to succeed in the marketplace, they must outperform gasoline-powered cars in some meaningful way. Like faster, cheaper, more reliable, more comfortable, etc. So if you want to prove that the Leaf is even a viable alternative to a gasoline-powered car, you have to drive it at 10-15 mph over the posted limit with the A/C blasting because that's how people use their cars today! Anything less than that proves nothing worth proving. All your test does is convince people that the Leaf is a pathetic excuse for an automobile, suitable only for those are willing to waste more of their lives driving around 15-20 mph slower than they would if they were driving a gasoline-powered car, while causing a massive traffic jam behind them, and all the while worrying that they're going to be stranded when the battery runs out.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

It should state:

"Battery Low. Would you like to search for a charging station next to a strip club where you can party with naked girls for the next 4 hours whilst your battery charges?"

· donee (not verified) · 7 years ago

Hi All,

Yea, what we need in these cars is a heated windshield (just like a rear glass). I do not see the need for heated seats, as I really do not see the Leaf appropriate for sub-zero weather - when heated seats are nice. Above 0, heated seats are really a luxuruy, as your in your winter clothes anyway. The heated steering wheel is really really needed for weather below 15 F though.

A better solution is to burn diesel in a heater. This can be done at over twice the efficiency we burn diesel in engines. And below 15 F the batteries will need to be warmed up after a day long cold soak in the work-place parking lot.

So, I do not see the Leaf as ready for prime-time in Chicagoland (or the rest of the upper midwest), east of the Rockies upper west and non-coastal Canada.

But hey, the market outside those areas is HUGE, and the car should do well and sell all of the production.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Interesting, but mostly useless. You should have driven the speed limit. Most people drive over the speed limit, including most hybrid owners IME, making this a poor measure to gauge a prospective purchase (certainly for "normal" people). At least you had the A/C on, though.

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous -

Do you have statistics for "most people" driving over the speed limit? I used to think that EVERYBODY drove over the speed limit when I was doing it. Now that I don't speed... guess what? It appears that only about half of the drivers are speeders. Does your experience span most of the country (or world)? How folks drive where you drive can be an interesting data point - but shouldn't be translated into relevancy to the point where you can call Nick's drive "useless. Here in the most populous state, with the largest number of cars, there are huge areas in which people can't even hope to drive the limit because of congestion. Ask people who live in/near LA what the speed of their commute is like. Driving 50-55 would be a blistering pace for these folks.

It turns out that most people think that "most people" drive like they do. That their situation is "normal" or "average." But I have yet to meeet that average person!

· Dennis (not verified) · 7 years ago

We have a Nissan Xterra which gets an ugly 18 MPG, and am considering a Leaf, but the casino is 136 Miles away and so that last 20 Miles of distance would really scare me since there are only cows in fields -- and the casino does not have a recharging station only ATM machines.
Go Pass with full odds for now, and come later with odds of it being a 200 Mile battery arrangement. Will wait for more distance on one charge.

· Ren (not verified) · 7 years ago

The electricity is 3 cents per kwh there ? Well, that's not exactly representative for the rest of the US where most are above 10 and off peak usually is at least double of the 3kwh.
For the rest, I am impressed that it goes that far on a charge. That's pretty good for a commuter car. Now I am curious what the range would be in very cold weather and in very hot weather. I volunteer for hot weather testing in Phoenix, AZ :-)
We have way to many months with 100+ weather, 110+ even.

· · 7 years ago

Dennis - How often do you go to the casino? If it's more than a few times a year, then a pure EV is probably not for you. Depending on how much you drive on a more regular basis, a plug-in hybrid (like a Chevy Volt or even a Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid) might be a better match. If you drive a ton all the time, you might consider a regular ol' hybrid or even, dare I say, an efficient ICE. As good as the LEAF or other EV range is, it doesn't hurt this movement to point people to a non-EV that is efficient and meets a driver's needs. Right?

· · 7 years ago

Brad, good explanation, but I think Dennis is just using the casino as a metaphor to express how he feels about driving the LEAF ("it's a gamble") ;)

· Vinnie (not verified) · 7 years ago

Awesome discussion. Couple of things:

I agree that Heated Seats and a Heated steering wheel will help reduce the need for cabin (air) heat. Gloves (passive) will help too. It completely depends on the climate you live in. Preheating, using electricity from your charging source - not the batteries, would likely provide the greatest benefit. During winter flights (different vehicle, but still...), I would preheat the cabin of the old bird with a hair dryer. The difference in grabbing a frozen aluminum control yoke versus a toasty 70 degree yoke, even with gloves, is phenomenal.

Range and Driving Habits:
If you buy an electric car, you're buying it for a reason. I seriously doubt that this "reason" is to drag race other people on the freeway. Because my income has taken a hit over the past few years, my interest in conserving energy has risen dramatically. My driving habits have changed as well. Instead of zipping back and forth across town when my phone rings, I'll schedule service calls that will provide me with a more circuitous route. Unless it's a true emergency. I've also put my right foot on a diet. Slower acceleration and sticking to the speed limits are far more common for me these days. The reason for the slower acceleration should be obvious to anyone reading this forum. The reason for adhering to the speed limit is primarily to limit unnecessary acceleration/deceleration. Traffic for me these days on my is far too stop-and-go in nature. Less energy is wasted on accelerating to a speed that I know i will very soon have to decelerate from.

Long range driving is different. I'll typically set the cruise to 9 mph over the speed limit. This is the type of driving I don't expect to use an electric car for any time soon - round trips over 150 miles. It's reserved for the gas machines.

The reverse is true in a plane. First of all, there is no speed limit that my old bird will exceed, unless it's a structurally rated limit. I made a flight to key west from the Atlanta Area once. Non Stop. I didn't cruise at max cruise speed, rather I placed the power on a setting that would give me 2 hours of fuel remaining at my destination. Why? Safety, first, and secondly, sometimes going slower will get you there faster. Avoiding one fuel stop by setting your power appropriately can get you there an hour faster. Going slower can actually be... "faster."

I like the Leaf. Heck, I like the thought of anything electric with a range over 40 miles. It's currently out of my budget right now. And right now, It looks like to own an EV, most will be using it for their local commute, and will reserve a gas vehicle for the longer range trips. Currently, Strictly driving an EV would save me about $1200.00 annually. So, it looks like only a home brew EV is in my near future.


· · 7 years ago

D'oh. I'm a little metaphor-challenged this morning. Whatever the destination, at this point, 136 for the first leg of a two-way trip, unless you know there's a charge on the other side, is not a smart bet. :) And if you make that trip all the time, better have an ICE ready to roll.

· · 7 years ago

"If you buy an electric car, you're buying it for a reason."

Well said Vinnie. There are many reasons to consider going electric. If driving 75 mph for 100 miles at a clip is important to you than a BEV like the LEAF isn't going to work for you so don't try to put a square peg in a round hole. However as Darell pointed out, everybody seems to think that they are the average driver. There are millions of people in the US that could live perfectly fine with a 100 mile BEV like the LEAF. There are probably a lot more that couldn't, but that really doesn't matter. No car is perfect for everyone, that's why there are dozens of manufacturers and hundreds of different models.

It seems to me that many people want to point out why the car won't work for them, and that's fine, but that doesn't mean it won't work for a lot of other folks. Note to everyone: You are not the "average" US driver.

I really didn't think I could live with a 100mpc BEV, but after driving one for 16 months, I've realized it fits perfectly into my lifestyle.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

The Leaf looks good to me. I need a range of 30 miles for my work commute which it does just fine. My driving is mostly in town so top speed isn't an issue and when I do get on the highway I drive the speed limit cause of the illegal stuff in my trunk. I can't wait till Nissan sells the Leaf in Texas.

· Henrik (not verified) · 7 years ago

Great review Nick
…and also refreshing to see a blog where the authors actually participate in the debate as you obviously know a lot more about the topics than you are able to write about in one story.

I find it most important that the Leaf is a great car to drive with great handling and good acceleration. I read (see link below) that the Leaf can do some 7.x seconds to 60mph which is better than the Volt and much better than the Prius. It would be great to get a confirmation of that figure. The range issue should not be a problem for those 100+ million families globally that have 2 cars or more as long as they keep one ordinary gas car for the long trips. So there is plenty of market opportunity for EVs with sub 100 miles range especially when you consider that the annual global production capacity for such EVs in all likelihood will not exceed 1 million units per year before 2014.

A humble wish is also to see a review of the Leaf’s cold weather capability. In particular, it would be good to know how well it handles defrosting the windows in freezing weather. I fear the Leaf’s heating system may not be sufficient in all cases. It may not be a problem when you are parked in a place where you can plug it in but your employer may not give you that opportunity and in that case a speedy defrosting system is a very nice thing to have. I read Volvo (or Saab) is planning to use an ethanol heater in their forthcoming EV and I wonder if this would be a future option also for the Leaf.

Another review that would be great to read would be a comparison of the luggage spaces in the Leaf and the Volt and also something about the cars towing capability.

Anyway, thank you for a very interesting thread.

Link to 7 sec to 62mph in the Leaf

· · 7 years ago

Henrik -

I can all but guarantee that niether the Volt nor the Leaf will have any official towing capacity. Same as my Rav4EV and my Prius - both of which I tow with.

· Paul (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nick (and all):

Good discussions all around!

Just for the record, I'm not saying that driving the speed limit or below is not a "real world" test. Or that it would get you killed in NYC. ("Maimed," maybe... And flipped the bird? Definitely! But not "killed." ;-))

It's just that I (personally) believe that as an Anonymous poster said above, that driving above the speed limit (with A/C or heat blasting) is the "accepted" way of driving for a lot of folks. It may not be "right" (legally, morally or environmentally), but it is (I think) the mindset of many.

Having said that, when I had the Mini-E, there were times I did drive 55 MPH (or slower) but always in the right lane. (I am a firm believer that the left-most lane is always for faster moving traffic -- even if that means for drivers that believe it's "ok" to go even faster than the 70 or 75 MPH that I'm doing!)

And having done that, I, personally have learned that "speeding" at 70 MPH gets me to my destination only a few minutes earlier than if I "cruise" at the limit (or below) and just "enjoy the ride" in a nearly silent electric vehicle. (And trust me, it really was cool and calming to "cruise" in a near-silent car... A very Zen-like experience!)

Wouldn't it be great if everyone had that kind of experience and drove like that? Sure.

But is it realistic? Hardly.

In any case, I'm still a big believer in the LEAF. I think it's fine for me and my daily commuting needs. And I can learn to live with it's "limitations." And I believe that for most (50%? 60%? 80%?) drivers in the U.S., the LEAF will more than likely meet their daily driving needs.

But as Tom, my fellow Mini-E pioneer, and I can probably tell anyone who asks, you really don't know that a 100-mile battery-powered EV is capable of meeting your needs -- until you actually try living with one (like we did) on a daily basis.

So, for those of you LEAF "pioneers," I salute you!! And, I am jealous that you'll get yours sooner than I will. :-(

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm not saying that the Leaf wouldn't work for most people. I'm saying that if you baby the car on your test ride, people will look at that and say, "I don't think I can make a purchase decision based on someone driving 5 to 15 mph below the posted limit." If you want to convince people, you should pound the car as hard as you can and then say, "We pounded the heck out of this car, we drove at an average speed of 80mph, sometimes up to 100mph, which is much more than you ever would, and here's how it did." Then the consumer can make an informed decision. Let's say the Leaf only goes 60 miles when you drive it like Michael Schumacher. Then someone who only commutes 40 miles a day could be very comfortable driving the car because they have at least a 20 miles cushion, plus they don't drive like Schumie so they probably have another 20 miles of cushion. All your test shows is that if even if you're willing to drive at unsafe slow speeds, way below the speed limit, with a huge traffic jam behind you, you might be lucky to get 110 miles out of it, if the weather is right and the batteries are new.

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous (again), patience grasshopper, those tests will come... put yourself in my shoes. If you were the first person to be given a chance to do the long distance test and you could only choose one way to do it, which one would you do? Which one would be most informative for the audience that cares about the first generation of this car? The tests you want me to do are more important for the people that are thinking about buying an electric vehicle in 3 years' time.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

*sigh* Unfortunately, even though I commute less that 10-15 miles per day, I doubt that I'll get to even see a BEV in the near future. Why? Cause I live in Fairbanks Alaska. Even my (2004) Prius has a really hard time keeping up with heat when it gets to about -20F or colder. Gas milage goes from ~49 in the summer to ~36 in the winter. Even so, I would dearly love to have a Nissan Leaf. Ah, well. I guess I can dream (unless Nissan wants a volunteer to do cold weather testing? :-)

· SBE (not verified) · 7 years ago

You wrote...

Nissan has said that they expect the batteries to last up to 10 years and have included an 8 year/100,000 mile battery warranty

News to me. I just ordered my Leaf and the dealer quoted 6 year. Plus they refused to say what quoted a battery failure. In fact the disclosure specifically stated that a battery that was at less than 80% of rated capacity would NOT be considered defective.

Hopefully the issue of what does constitute a failure will be resolved prior to delivery but if you could confirm the 8 year/100,000 mile warranty I'd love to know if it is really true.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I think that's a self-fulfilling prophecy, Nick. You wrote the review for people who are going to buy the car anyway because they prefer an electric car to a gasoline-powered car regardless of range, performance, cost, comfort, and other widely-used measures of transportation effectiveness. Your readers just want to know, "If I did everything carefully as possible, and drove as slow as I could without getting a ticket, how far could I possibly go?" Well that philosophy is going to doom the all-electric car because when someone outside that group buys one of these cars because they heard it could go 116.1 miles per charge, and they discover that it doesn't come anywhere near that in normal, there's going to be a big publicity backlash that will hurt the Leaf and everything associated with it, including Nissan, electric cars, and electric car advocates. Much better to underpromise and overdeliver at this stage where you're trying to create a market.

· Don (not verified) · 7 years ago

Very interesting article. It is refreshing to hear some real honest opinions about ev's.
It is also refreshing that Nissan has been able to answer most of them with very encouraging responses.

· · 7 years ago

SBE, Nissan confirmed the 8 year battery warranty 12 weeks ago at the Plug-in 2010 conference in San Jose:

It has also been reconfirmed many times in many different arenas, the most recent of which I heard personally with my own ears just a couple of days ago at the Nissan HQ in Nashville, TN.

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous (you should really register so that I can stop calling you that, it feels silly), your comments make it seem that you assume this one drive test is the only test I'll ever conduct with the LEAF. If this was the only test that myself—or anyone else for that matter—will ever do then your argument would be more sound. But the LEAF doesn't live in a vacuum, of course. So, as I said, patience and those tests will eventually be done and the world will have all the numbers it needs to criticize, praise, hate, yawn, wink, etc.

In terms of marketing, that's not my job. I'm a reporter reporting on what I think MY audience wants to hear. Nissan is the marketer and for the better part of a year now they've said the LEAF's range will vary from 45-138 miles depending on how the car is driven and under what conditions... specifically with the purpose of not setting false expectations.

· SBE (not verified) · 7 years ago

Well if Nissan is telling the world 8 years and the purchase paperwork I just agreed to says 6 years then somebody has it wrong.

In addition as I mentioned the paperwork is clearly states (twice even) that the measure of a failed battery is NOT that it fails to hold at least 80% of its rated capacity. It goes on to say that this is to be expected and is normal.

If nothing else this conflicting information should be resolved. Nissan should make available a copy of the final warranty paperwork for all to see. Until then I suggest that anyone wishing to understand how long the warranty is and what will be considered a failure (which is pretty important stuff) assume the information out there is at best incomplete and almost certain to lead one to incorrect conclusions about what the coverage really is.

· JJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

Hi Nick,

I know I'm not on the right page for my comment but I wanted to let you know (in case you didn't know already) I came across an article in a newspaper this weekend about plugless charging.

I don't work for them, I just thought it might be of use to your web site to shut up the cynics who say they won't buy an EV because they might forget to plug it in.

Here is the web site link:

· · 7 years ago

Hi JJ, Thanks! I know about PluglessPower/Evatran. Magnetic induction charging is something that a lot of folks have been working on for a while. I think it's pretty interesting tech and have been thinking about writing a post about the 4 companies that are working on it. The biggest problem it has is that a lot of electricity is wasted in the transference via magnetic waves so that you are decreasing the overall efficiency of the whole package.

· JJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

Glad to be of help in my small way for the EV cause.
Thanks for the info about the waste of electricity in the transfer.
I didn't know that.
Keep up the good work (you and the gang at plugincars).

(I live in Canada and I hope the EV cars will keep us warm in the winter. Gas cars take a long time to warm up so maybe electric cars can warm us up faster. I wondered the other night, while cold in my car, why even gas cars don't have an electric preheater while we wait for the engine to warm up). Gotta go...

· · 7 years ago

JJ -

All "production" (full-featured) EVs to day have had a pre-heat/pre-cooling capability. This means you set a time (like when you usually leave for work) when you want the car to be toasty. While it is plugged in, it pre-heats the cabin from "shore power" so you start with a toasty car AND a full battery pack when you head into the cold. Works really well! And every car that's being introduced in this next wave of cars will have this same feature.

· JJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

That sounds great Darell.

(My Dad used to have to keep a plug in AC heater on the floor of the car to prewarm the car in winter. I don't why it wasn't built in the gas car like the EV cars now have).

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous said "Your readers just want to know, "If I did everything carefully as possible, and drove as slow as I could without getting a ticket, how far could I possibly go?"

How can you possible know what I want to know, let alone every other reader ? I know you didn't ask me. In the future speak for yourself only, ok ?

Taking my own advice, I appreciate knowing low energy consumption/distance data points. Not only does it let me calculate maximum distance as you wrote; more importantly it tells me when I have to transition my driving habit to maximum conservation mode, or plan for an in-trip partial recharge.

Moreover though, I suspect that complaints like yours are mostly an inability to extrapolate data points to your personal driving cycle, so you want Nick to "drive like you." Get in line, or wait patiently for extreme cold weather experiences of others.

Just quit the humbug.

· · 7 years ago

JJ -

Yes, what makes me smile is how many people have been "plugging in" their cars for so long (engine heaters, cabin heaters, etc). Yet we introduce a car that is charged by being plugged in, and so many people are scared of it!

So easy for electrics to pre-condition since no engine has to run. The car sits there in the "off" state, but can turn on any of the electric appliances it wishes. Of course these features can be accessed from smart phones incase your schedule changes and you head to your car earlier or later than planned.

· CT (not verified) · 7 years ago

I have been testing out what it will be like to drive 60 mph to prepare for when I get my Leaf and it is not that bad. There are only a couple of stretches on 101 through Marin that going 60 in the slow lane is actually slow. I was stressing about what the range would be at 65. Nick and some others suggested going 5 miles an hour slower and leaving 5 min. earlier. The best part about driving slower is my Prius is getting 6% better mileage just by driving a little slower.
On another note: we got our first real rain of the season and the oil slicks on the road have only strengthened my resolve to get an electric car.
No plug No sale!

· · 7 years ago

Good news, CT!

Please remember that in CA, the max speed for trucks or any cars pulling a trailer is 55 mph. Doing 60 in the right lane of a multi-lane highway is not holding anybody up by any stretch of the imagination. I spent 20 years driving hwy 101 in Marin every day, and still do it several times per month. 60 mph is often fast for me... regardless of the type of car I'm driving.

Driving slower saves precious resources. Lowers pollution. Increases health. Strengthens our economy. Makes the tires and the whole car last longer. Makes everybody safer.

Be the change you want to see in others!

- Darell

· · 7 years ago

Ok, Enough of the slow drivers support group. I've got to add a little balance here:
I drive because I have somewhere that I have to be. Even in a Tesla Roadster, I'd rather not be on the road. There's no benefit to my spending any more time on the road than I have to.
I drive as fast as I can (safely and without too much risk of too many tickets) >:-)
If you're buying a Leaf and you have a lead foot, assume about a 60 mile range per charge and probably closer to 3.5 miles/kWhr consumption. You won't be disappointed.
I support electrification of the automobile so I don't have to slow down just to save on gas. Let's keep moving forward people. The 1800s weren't so great that we need to go back there (slavery, sweat shops, coal soot , epidemics, industrial fatalities, food poisoning, great fires, horse manure in the streets, . . . ).
I definitely support your right to drive slowly. Please, however, follow the rules and stick to the right unless you are passing. And please stay out of the carpool lane if traffic is moving the speed you want to drive in the main lanes.

· · 7 years ago

EV1, best post of the day, even if I don't agree with you. I do however drive in the right sided lane.

· · 7 years ago

Also, if you're buying a LEAF and you have a lead foot, assume the batteries will deteriorate more quickly. Nissan has warned that aggressive or fast driving will reduce the LEAF's range over time. On a day to day basis, I'd be inclined to drive a LEAF more slowly and gently primarily to maximize battery life, especially since it now appears Nissan's battery warranty won't really cover range deterioration. However, if your range demands are modest or you're willing to pay for a new battery pack sooner, then fast driving should not be a problem.

· · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 -

I'm going to take on some of these comments, just because I feel a bit spunky today!

>>I drive because I have somewhere that I have to be. Even in a Tesla Roadster, I'd rather not be on the road. There's no benefit to my spending any more time on the road than I have to. <<

The problem you've discovered here is that driving sucks. It is a pretty rediculous way of getting places - especially when everybody else decides that they need to get to the same place at the same time. How bad does congestion have to get before we (collectively) realize how silly the private automobile is? And while I agree that we don't want to go back to the 1800's - I ride a bicycle for the vast majority of my transportation. A modern bike for sure... but still a human-powered one. Today I rode 25 miles to have lunch with my wife. And that's after riding six miles to drop off my daughter at school, and before another six ot pick her up, and another seven to get her to gymnastics practice.

Except for around town where I spend LESS time because I'm on a bicycle - I typically spend more time for transportation than somebody in a car. Yet I still save time every day. Cycling is my transportation... and doubles up as my exercise, my hobby and my entertainment. Some days it is even my psycologist. I stay in shape without wasting time at a gym, I hardly watch TV, and by some loose standards I'm somewhat sane. I enjoy getting places, and look forward to hopping on my bike several times a day. Yeah... WAY OT for a forum dedicated to powered transportation, but there you go. :)

>> I definitely support your right to drive slowly. <<

Interesting to me is that driving the legal speed limit is considered "driving slowly" by many people.

>> Please, however, follow the rules and stick to the right unless you are passing. <<

And interesting to me again is that speeders wish for non-speeders to "follow the rules" by staying to the right (which I fully agree with!) so that speeders aren't hindered in their breaking of the rules. Think about that for a moment please!

>> And please stay out of the carpool lane if traffic is moving the speed you want to drive in the main lanes. <<

Full agreement on staying as far right as makes sense for the speed. And thank you for not assuming or implying that folk who drive the speed limit or under - those who actually obey the law - always get in the way of the speeders. Some do, for sure. Many, many of us do not. I go out of my way not to slow speeders down - if I do, they just more more energy to get back up to speed later.

- Darell

· Michael Walsh (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nick, we drove the LEAF @ 70mph; no ECO mode; AC on the entire time (fan on low), and we still made between 3.8 and 4.6 miles per kWh. Now we only did that for 30 miles (mostly due to time constraints), but even if we could only average 3.8 miles per for the entire pack, that's still over 90 miles without any consideration for fuel economy.

· · 7 years ago

Michael, great extra info! I'm guessing that was on the interstate, were there many hills?

· Michael Walsh (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nick, it was south on the 65 out of Nissan's Franklin HQ. So I'd say not so much hilly, but the sort of normal rises and dips you find on the interstate.

· Alan (not verified) · 7 years ago

Hyper milage aside, this is very impressive. I have a 10 mile commute, 20 in total - If I can get 60 miles range driving like I normally do, the the Leaf will be perfect for me. I think the naysayers don't get it, yes 110+ miles in conservative mode is not 'real world'! but it does give you a very good idea of how far you can go in eco mode. I am now checking my local map seeing how far the 50 mile radius is around my town - great for a Sunday tootle.

My only concern with a new gen vehicle like this is if it fails and I'm at that 50 mile point - there is no way the AAA is going to be able to help me. What kind of roadside assistance is Nissan offering?

I look forward to the real world tests.

· · 7 years ago

@ Alan,
What do you mean "if it fails" and "no way the AAA is going to be able to help" you?. If by failure you mean you are 50 miles away from electricity and you're only looking at 90 miles of range, you simply slow down to the driving speeds that Nick drove and you'll easily make it 50 miles back.
If you mean a break-down, AAA will tow an EV just as they would an ICE vehicle.

· Alan (not verified) · 7 years ago

I was meaning total failure ... and just where to are they going to tow me!! who will fix this puppy.

Also if you don't have AAA, which I choose not to as todays cars are so very reliable. I'm just sitting here thinking 'What would I do if I'm sitting in my Leaf, and the car just stops!' - maybe not something that will really happen as these EV's should be reliable. I just have this image of 'Falling Leaf's' - pardon the pun - lots of poor little leaf's parked by the roadside!!

· · 7 years ago

back @U Darell,
I'll start with my case to contrast it with yours. Please note that I figure that you life and mine are both equally good and are equally of value to our society. Its, just that there are differences so a single set of narrowly defined laws isn't likely to work for both of us:
My wife and I work 45 miles apart. There's going to be a total of at least 90 miles of travel done every day unless one of us quits or changes our work. Both of us do unique things that are done in very few places and require collaboration with a lot of other folks so we can't get everyone at either place to agree to move the work to the same place as the other. Since I believe both of us contribute to society in our jobs (plus we pay an obscene amount of taxes), we'd have to find some other way to contribute or else one of us quitting would be a net loss to society. Driving 90 miles per day by bike just isn't feasible and the only way I could take mass transit would be a 25 minute drive to the train station, followed by a 55 minute train ride , followed by a 15 minute drive for a total of 190 minutes each day (or else about 6 hours on buses). She could take a bus (or she often rides her bike) but that takes about 30 minutes. I'm also not convinced that buses are more ecological than EVs since they must travel around empty most of the time in order to even approach the usefulness of a private automobile. Compare this with me driving (spiritedly) my 80 miles, taking slightly less than 80 minutes out of my day. I can do a lot of other useful things with that extra nearly 2 hours per day such as educate myself or support this forum. Sure, experts could wax eloquent with their brilliant ideas about how we should set up our lives and sell them to a totalitarian government that would force them at gunpoint.
We could force all businesses to be co-located and all residences to be stacked, high density housing tenures with rapid transit screaming between the two (or more likely crawling since rapid transit systems are generally inefficiently run by apathetic bureaucrats who don't understand productivity).
We could force everyone to live within a 5 mile bicycle ride of where they worked and if that didn't work out, either they quit working or find different employment
We could be the 'geniuses' that originally planned the LA basin in the '50's and '60's to live in suburban residential areas with cheap houses in the desert and lawns that emulate the English countryside with a hint of Spanish architecture. People can commute vast distances to cities of Industry and Commerce (real city names) to work in personal automobiles via a network of freeways.
We could let people have free choice. We could look at all of these and realize that all or many of them can be sustainably accomplished and focus on that aspect instead of haughtily judging those with which we don't agree. There are many socially driven folks who feel more comfortable living close to each other, the neighborhood watering hole and grocery, while others prefer a little space and independence. We could enable those who chose to live close to each other to do so by not charging them road tax and less real-estate tax and encouraging mass transit to move them around a bit. We could encourage those who want the space to take advantage of it to live sustainably as well like putting PV on their large houses to charge their EVs that they need to get around. They could also be encouraged to recycle their water, plant trees and gardens, and upgrade their home's insulation on the land they want to occupy. This would help all but none of it is done, in fact, in general it is discouraged.
Regarding speeding. I didn't say I exceeded the speed limit ;-) I didn't deny it either though >:-) You folks are definitely talking about going at or below the speed limit. I have a little problem with not being able to drive the speed that the road was designed (by engineers who put a lot of thought into it) to be safe at (~75 mph) because a bunch of bureaucrats thought it would be better in order to save gas. The same bureaucrats allow me to fly in an airplane at 350 mph using a whole lot more gas per mile but I guess that's how the bureaucrats want to traveln (remember when much of Gerald Ford's White House staff flew to Vail, CO so Ford could write and sign the 55 mph speed limit bill). In my case, I don't even use gas when I'm driving 75 mph. Let's attack the problem not just pass a bunch of arbitrary laws that are convenient to some politically powerful group and look like they're accomplishing something.
Note also that I specifically said "follow the rules" not "follow the law" where the law is a set of written rules but (IMHO) is not and should not be expected to be all-encompassing.
If we all drive the speed we want to but keep to the right without judging, irregardless of whether we want to drive 15 miles below the speed limit (as Nick was) or 15 mph above it, everyone gets where they want to be faster, safer, and wastes less energy if they follow the very simple 'keep to the right unless passing" rule.

· · 7 years ago

ex, good discussion! ...I hate to point this out because it's almost inconsequential, but just one point of clarification: I drove about 5 miles below the speed limit most of the time (not 15), but only went to 10 miles below the speed limit at the very end of the trip. I only went so low as 15 miles below the speed limit for about 5 miles of the trip at the absolute end—just to be sure I could make it.

· curt (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nick, I enjoyed your articles concerning the Leaf immensely. You sure are getting me stoked for when I get mine (hopefully January). In my case, I usually run things till they die. This will be my 3rd car (and hopefully final) car I've owned. I have mostly put my miles on with motorcycles (for time benefit for my commute). My commute is 52 miles each way and (when it rains) I plan on using the Leaf to commute to work. I have no range anxiety because I know where I can trickle charge the car at work and 104 mile round trip should not be a big deal. Mostly the car will be used on the weekends for the errand runs.

Some comments for people planning on getting the Leaf.
1) If you are like me in which you will mainly be using the car on weekends (errand run train) it is best to have the car sit with the battery SOC at around 50-60% during those multi-day rest periods. Keeping the batteries topped off near 100% is bad for their lifetime. Try to only charge up the night before you need it. Thermal does play a role, but if you follow this guideline your batteries will last longer. Also, the Leaf's batteries SOC presented to you is actually the 10-90% actual SOC range to help extend their lifetime. The Volt is even more extreme in that it only allows the driver use of 50% of its storage capacity. So, even if you push the batteries the degradation should not be worst than what Nissan has warranted for.
2) Battery technology will improve fast. Already a recent Audi A2 BEV did a 600km run on a single charge makes me think this might be sooner rather than later (115KWH with 320KG worth of Lithion Iron polymer battery - almost same weight as Leaf battery pack)
3) Leaf's telematic system is upgradeable, so I'm sure there will be future upgrades. Remember this car is practically all running on software. I'm looking forward to hacks that people will come up with for this car (like the Prius).
4) This car's maintenance should really be low, so enjoy it :-)

· Alan (not verified) · 7 years ago

@ Ex-EV1 Driver - LOL, 'The man doth protest'

I grew up in a country where one could drive 90-100mph. A universal 'speed limit' in the good old USA of 80mph would be great! (That is because I now just set my cruise to 78mph when travelling long distance). My daily commute averages 74mph. If I get an EV, I don't think I will be going any slower.

What I would really like is a vehicle, be it electric or hydrogen powered, which is charged by a renewable clean source and does 100mph. Not only that, roads which can handle 100mph vehicles, especially toll roads - should have no speed limit at all - ok, make it 100mph, I can live with that ...

Darell, I am probably more like ex-ev1 driver. I can cycle but do not really like it - but I do love to drive ...

I'm guessing ex-ev1 driver low flies in 'stealth mode' ala cannonball run :)

Yeah the 55mph was brought in to 'conserve fuel' - the current 75/70/75mph limit is for 'public safety' !!! - which may be true as the roads this side of the pond are nowhere near as good/safe as those high mph roads elsewhere on the planet!

· · 7 years ago

you took I65, it would have been 20 mph under >:-)

· · 7 years ago


Ahhhh, but I didn't take I-65. Here's what I wrote:

"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 guess I could've taken I-65, but since I wasn't planning on driving at 70 mph I didn't want to bother the freeway drivers with my speed. On the 55 mph parts I was driving 50 mph at the beginning and at the end (on the return) I drove some of those same sections at 45 mph. At the very end I drove for just a little bit at the end of the 55 mph zone at 40 mph.

· · 7 years ago

On a philosophical note, I'd just like to say that I generally agree with ex-EV1. Don't judge people on account of their way of life. Support freedom of choice. But encourage everyone to do whatever they do as efficiently as possible. That's where EVs come into the equation.

· · 7 years ago

>> Darell, I am probably more like ex-ev1 driver. I can cycle but do not really like it - but I do love to drive ...

Interestingly enough, this does NOT sound like you are more like ex-EV1. First, I have no idea if he cycles or likes it. And second... it doesn't sound like he likes to drive (the bit about even if he were in a roadster, he'd like to be done with the driving as soon as possible). What we know is that he would rather spend as little time driving as possible. And in that, ex-EV1 and I agree completely!

I used to enjoy driving. And the EVs brought a little bit of that joy back for me. Certainly the EV1 die! But in general, I feel silly sitting in my little cacoon, immune to everything the environment has to offer - except for traffic congestion.

· · 7 years ago

"Interestingly enough, this does NOT sound like you are more like ex-EV1"
I think you're right. Alan and I probably aren't exactly alike and you and I probably aren't exactly alike and I'll bet there are lots of differing likes and dislikes as far as love of driving and automobiles and bicycles go among the folks around here.
But surprisingly enough, there seems to be something about EVs that works for all of us! I think we're really onto something here!

· · 7 years ago

Right on.

It really is all about choice. For ten years I've been working toward having the CHOICE available to everybody to purchase and drive an EV. Many folks assume that all I want to do is take away their trucks and SUVs... but in fact what I truly want is for those folks who wish to drive without using fossil fuels a chance at it!

Viva la difference.

· · 7 years ago

"Many folks assume that all I want to do is take away their trucks and SUVs... but in fact what I truly want is for those folks who wish to drive without using fossil fuels a chance at it!"

Darell, I agree with that sentiment entirely and I would also add that for those who view the electrification of the automobile as a "threat" to their love of gasoline-fueled, loud, fast and generally adrenaline-pumping performance cars, the EV actually has the potential to help them. If EVs take of as we all hope and expect, unnecessary use of gasoline would be lessened therefore making the future of gasoline-powered performance cars more secure.

· · 7 years ago

>> If EVs take of as we all hope and expect, unnecessary use of gasoline would be lessened therefore making the future of gasoline-powered performance cars more secure.

An interesting take on it, Nick! I usually tell folks that the less gasoline demand we create (due to driving electric instead of gasoline) the cheaper the gasoline will have to be. Assuming my economics professor knew anything. ;)

Not that I'm happy about cheap gasoline, but really - we (meaning all consumers of gasoline) are the ones who could control this. We've just chosen not to.

But mostly people think that I just want to take away their SUVs...

· Tsvieps (not verified) · 7 years ago

I live in the Portland OR hills. Near home I get around 32 mpg in my Gen 2 Prius, where as in the flatter part of town, it is closer to 44 mpg in similar weather. The regenerative braking is just not equal to a steep hill because the battery cannot accept the current. The Leaf has more than 10 times the storage capacity and I assume many batteries in parallel. Seems like an opportunity for its regenerative braking to work on steep grades. Does anyone know how much power its batteries can suck up?

I have a deposit on a Leaf. I likely can tolerate the range because I have a small SUV 2nd car for road trips. But I am highly fearful of the 8 year warranty. I would likely have only about 60k miles by then because of needing to drive the SUV more than now. What will a replacement battery from Nissan cost? That should be public by now. $15k to $25k is certainly a show stopper for me. My Prius should have a lot of life left in 8 years. Why give it up for a huge dollar drain that requires me to think about its range?

· · 7 years ago

You can probably assume that the Leaf's battery can 'suck up' at least as much as they can put out, assuming Nissan hasn't been stupid again (as with their wimpy charger). Since the battery can propel your car up the hill, it should be able to slow it down coming down without too much problem. The only problem will be if you fully charge the battery overnight, there may not be any room left to dump the regenerative charge. With the Tesla, I can choose to not charge 100% so there is headroom to descend the 700 ft hill I go down every morning. I haven't been too successful getting the flatlanders from Michigan or Tokyo to comprehend this issue though so we may not see it solved for a while. It should be simple software.
Regarding replacement battery costs: Why do you think we'd know now? There's zero demand now so market forces haven't started. This is still true with Prius and HCH batteries. The only source is the dealer and we know they traditionally charge healthy amounts for anything.

· Tsvieps (not verified) · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 driver,

Sounds reasonable...hope you are correct on the regenerative braking power. Someone at Nissan certainly knows...hopefully they monitor this site and will respond.

On Batt costs, cars that go on sale next month should already have a replacement part cost list. For a long time Nissan will be the only source, so their list price now is what matters. After 10 years of Prius production, many have over 150k mi of use. No noise that I have heard about high batt wear out costs...if they do go, it is usually only a few cells out of the bunch. But we are speaking of only 1.5 KWH? and NiMetalHydride, not 24 KWH of Li-ION. If Nissan has confidence, they could make the replacement cost on the Leaf low--at the cost they anticipate in 10 years...the volume of replacements should be low until then...a small part of their investment cost for this program. What they should do not to scare away folks like budget enthusiasts. But common sense is not common. I expect a call in a few months to come buy my Leaf; I hope they have well trained sales people who can honestly relieve my anxiety.

· Tsvieps (not verified) · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 driver,

Sound like you have a Tesla. Do you work there or have any contacts there in the engineering area? I have a small investment in a company that makes an electric motor that is perfect for an EV or Hybrid drive application and am friends with some of the technical people piloting the company. Of course, Nissan should also be interested, but Tesla is Silicon Valley and small enough to be open minded and responsive. Detroit and Tokyo is quite difficult to penetrate. I would love to arrange a tech conference call between this motor company and Tesla. Brad Berman, the owner of this site, has my email if you are in a position to bite on this and are willing.

· CT (not verified) · 7 years ago

I don't know if anyone has posted this info yet but it is a good assessment the range of the LEAF under of normal driving conditions:

"Speaking of the devil, to accurately assess operating range, we departed Nissan's Franklin, Tennessee, US headquarters with a fully charged battery and merged into morning traffic. After an hour or so of freeway driving, we continued with a low-speed excursion of the local suburban hills and valleys. At eighteen miles remaining, the range digits began flashing and a 'battery level is low' warning appeared. We drove on to an eight-mile reading at which point the digits changed to three horizontal dashes and a 'very low battery advisory appeared.' Suffering no apparent loss of performance (or terminal range anxiety), we rolled home to a charging station having logged a total of 81 miles: 60 on the highway averaging 65 mph plus another 21 miles at 25 mph."

· Questions (not verified) · 7 years ago

When the car crashes how protected are the batteries from damage? What is the foot print of the manufacturing facility that produces the batteries? How long is the life cycle of the batteries? How much do they cost to replace? what is the footprint of the battery plant that recycles the batteries? Will they be recycled?

· Questions (not verified) · 7 years ago

When the car crashes how protected are the batteries from damage? What is the foot print of the manufacturing facility that produces the batteries? How long is the life cycle of the batteries? How much do they cost to replace? what is the footprint of the battery plant that recycles the batteries? Will they be recycled?

· · 7 years ago

While I can't easily answer the questions - and they are all relevant questions (though not necessarily for this thread?) I wonder if you've asked those same questions about the car you are driving today?

When the car crashes, how protected is the engine and the gas tank? What is the footprint of the mfg facility that produces the engine? How long is the live cycle of the engine? How much does it cost to replace? And on and on... do we ask these questions of the vehicles currently on the road? If not, why not?

· · 7 years ago

"Questions", you might want to check out the Nissan Leaf website. It has answers to some of your questions. For example:

*When the car crashes how protected are the batteries from damage?* According to the Leaf website: "The battery is ... located under the seats and is fully integrated into the body structure. It has been tested for impact safety and will meet or exceed all regulatory standards - same as any Nissan." However, the electric motor is in the front under the hood so a head on collision will cause serious damage to the vehicle.

*What is the foot print of the manufacturing facility that produces the batteries?* I'm not aware of any calculations done on this yet.

*How long is the life cycle of the batteries?* That will depend on how the car is used and in what environments. However, the Nissan Leaf will have an eight year 100,000 mile warranty on the battery pack. The warranty details are presently unclear.

*How much do they cost to replace?* Nissan hasn't announced a price yet. Most of us expect that the price of battery packs will drop over time as manufacturing scale increases.

*what is the footprint of the battery plant that recycles the batteries? Will they be recycled?* Short answer: yes, it is expected that battery packs will be recycled and some 98% of lithium reused in new battery packs. (Be aware that lithium is not toxic like the lead in current lead-acid batteries.) Longer answer: Nissan is looking into re-using used battery packs for electric power storage applications. Even after they have ceased to be useful for car use they will still have considerable electricity storage life left. Only after they can no longer hold a useful charge will the battery packs be recycled. That's the plan anyway; it remains to be seen how it all shakes out.

Your questions imply that you think the batteries will be highly toxic, like lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries, or that battery manufacture will have some enormous carbon footprint. This is not the case so far as I have been able to determine. Also, reports I've read suggest that the chemistry of these new lithium ion batteries has been changed from that of those laptop batteries that used to catch fire. This was an obvious problem these car and battery manufacturers had to fix before coming to market with BEVs. We shall see how the battery packs hold up once significant numbers of these vehicles get on the road.

· · 7 years ago


Here are some hard answers:

1) How much does the production of batteries affect the environmental score of an EV?

2) How safe are electric car batteries in a crash?

3) How long is the lifecycle of a battery?
Both the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt have an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty for starters—so the question is almost moot. Some of the original RAV4 EVs have gone 10 years and 100,000+ miles without needing new batteries. Granted those are NiMH batteries, but still, many predicted they wouldn't last more than 5-6 years under normal use.

4) How much do batteries cost to be replaced? That question cannot be answered in today's dollars because you are looking out at least 8 years before you need to pay out of pocket yourself and by then prices will have dropped significantly unless nobody buys electric cars. Prices being quoted for EV manufacturers for the 2012 model year are already 40% lower than the prices they paid for the first batch of 2010 vehicles. If the trend continues we may see prices that are 70-80% lower than today's prices by 2018. Also, you will never be replacing an entire battery as cells only go bad one at a time. You may only need to replace a handful of the hundreds of cells to make your battery perform reasonably well again. The battery packs in these cars are designed to be removed easily, minimizing the amount of labor required to do so.

See this link for more info:

5) What is the environmental impact of recycling a battery? Considering that the stored energy you use to power your current combustion-engined vehicle gets burned up every time you fill your tank at an incredible combustion inefficiency, it seems that the ability to even recycle the battery as a durable good should be looked at favorably in the first place: no matter what kind of efficiency a battery recycling plant has it will be a better option that continuing to burn fossil fuels from a constantly refilled gas tank. In any event, in order for battery recycling to be viable, the businesses doing it have to make it at least as efficient as building the battery in the first place (otherwise why not just buy new material? After all there is lots of it to go around for the next 100 years minimum). Also, the materials in a lithium-ion battery are considered non-toxic by the US EPA—technically you could just throw them out in the garbage. Not that you should, mind you, just that you could.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Going 10 miles under the speed limit? My, you're a good driver...
Unfortunately, the rest of the world isn't so much. I'd like to see how the LEAF holds out under real-life stresses such as speeding and traffic jams.
Also concerned about battery life. It's a known fact that rechargable batteries slowly lose their charge and capacity with each charge. Don't really want to buy new batteries every year after paying $20~$30 grand.

· · 7 years ago

Anonymous -

Traffic jams are the most polite thing you can do to an EV. And there are some places in the world (like the city with the most cars in the US) where a HUGE number of the drivers cannot even get up to the speed limit if they wanted to. Not everybody speeds.

And finally - as far as buying batteries "every year." - first there is the eight year warranty that prevents the worry. And second is experience from past EV drivers. Yes, different chemistry... but it still says something about what was possible even in 1996. My Rav4EV turned eight years old this month. Same battery pack that it was delivered with. I can still drive it 100 miles on a charge. It has been driven twice a day, every day (on average) since new. And often to the edge of its range.

· Smidge204 (not verified) · 7 years ago

Is there any estimate on how much power the A/C actually uses? There was a discussion on another site some months ago regarding getting stuck in traffic with the A/C on and the impact that has on range. I ballparked some numbers and came up with about 2 miles of lost range per hour of A/C operation as a worst case... just wondering if anyone has better data. Or preferably, is there anything resembling *actual* specs on the A/C system the LEAF uses?

· · 7 years ago

Sorry I don't have specs on the Leaf. I can tell you about my experience in owning three EVs from the 90's however. In all three (wildly different) vehicles, I could maintain range with full AC usage (meaning 110 degrees ambient, and trying to stay alive in the cabin) by driving no more than 2 mph slower on the freeway. Now, this info doesn't help if you're driving around town, or can manage an efficient 35 mph. But at freeway speeds, about 2 mph slower gives you back all the energy the AC can use.

I would say that your two miles of lost range per hours is in the ball park. I'd probably give you a worst-case scenario of 10 miles of lost range per hour. But there are so many variables here! Even if you know the max draw of the Leaf's system, you won't know how often the system will cycle, or if you are going to use the fresh air or recycle setting. How cold you really want that cabin to be... what your humidity is. But really, if you want worst case numbers, I'd go with 10. Easy math too. ;)

· · 7 years ago

A quick comment on the going below the speed limit discussion.

On a 4-lane highway it's all well and good, there's usually no problem passing. However, it's the 2 lane roads where this becomes a problem and it's not so much a safety problem as an image problem. If you have a dozen cars backed up, waiting for their turn to pass the slow car ahead and they all notice that it's a certain type of car that car starts to get the image as a slow or underpowered car. So you start reinforcing a stereotype that electric cars are slow and can't really keep up with traffic.

I know I dread it when I see a Prius pull out in front of me because I've had so many of them drive 5-10mph below the speed limit in front of me. I know that they could go faster but that their gas mileage curve would start to suffer. However, I know several people who think that the Prius is really that slow of a car and dismiss hybrids in general because of that. The same thing may happen to BEVs.

· · 7 years ago

Yes, I have a Tesla but don't work for them. They also aren't very open to ideas as they probably get over a hundred per day and most have fundamental flaws. It's the innovator's dilemma but you'd need to get something that you can demonstrate and then market it around to find someone willing to go further.

· · 7 years ago

@ Schanie - These days I worry far more about the health of the planet, the health of my family, the future I'm leaving to my daughter, the financial stability of my country, the quality of the air and water I consume... than I worry about my image. If somebody is ignorant enough to think a particular type of vehicle is slow just because he's seen one being driven slowly, then I have no desire to go out of my way to prove anything to him. What benefit would it be to have an idiot realize that EVs can be faster than gas cars?

Waste energy, pollute more and make everybody less safe just to impress the ignorant? No thanks.

· · 7 years ago

Drivers should also be aware that most states have slow vehicle laws. It's usually worded in some format such that if you are driving a vehicle below the posted speed limit on a two-lane road with five or more vehicles backed up behind you, you need to pull over and allow them to pass at your first safe opportunity to do so. A long line of cars is considered a traffic hazard because people will start to try passing in unsafe situations.

Some states also allow passing of slower-than-posted-limits vehicles in no-passing zones.

· · 7 years ago

Yes... in fact a bicycle is typically considered a slow moving vehicle as well. There are tractors, classic cars with wooden wheels, trucks lumbering up hill, horse-drawn carts, little old ladies.... There are all kinds of slow-moving vehicles out there. We all need to get along somehow.

· roger (not verified) · 7 years ago

Thanks so much for both your review and reply to the many comments. Having just read ALL of them, some really good Q and A that you have responded to with patience and humour. My contact with EVs is Judy Bishop, who has been in 'the business' for some time and drove the old smartcar EV that Ford would only lease, and then recalled and curnched. She is a great contact and is involved with the San Diego coalition regarding hybrids and EVs. Please continue to provide info on the Leaf as well as the upcoming RAV-4 that is forecast for release in the late fall. (2012 year) Up here in Washington state having an awd vehicle is almost a necessity... but could use the EV for about 7 months of the year. What is your opinion of the hybrids that are larger, the Lexus 450h?
And looking forward to your review of the Leaf when operating on the higher end of the use cycle. thanks again...

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

@Brad "Only one question remains: Did you recharge your personal batteries at the distillery?"

I don't know if it still is, but when I visited the distillery back in 1980, you could't even buy the stuff there, it was a dry county!

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver, its too bad to hear that "you would rather not be on the road" driving you super-fast Tesla Roadster. I guess we will just have to listen to you complain until some genius figures out how to make teleportation work.
Beam-me-up Scottie!!

· Michaels40 (not verified) · 7 years ago

I know this is not the right answer but what if you carried a 2k watt honda generator in the vehicle and somehow were able to vent and sound proof a small area in the back of the vehicle. Those very quiet generators produce pure cine energy. Again, I know it's not the right answer, but I would think that if you could do something like that you would extend the driving range substantially. One gallon of gas will run that generator for about 4 hours. The generator costs about $1200. Maybe if you get in a situation where there is no power you could fire it up? I am just throwing the question out there. I know it still relies on fossil fuels, but very little. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks for a great right up!

· · 7 years ago

This has been done several times for several different cars in different ways. In general, at highway speeds, you're looking at about 30 mpg in an efficient EV. But a 2k generator won't keep up with highway draw. This, of course, is the promise of the Chevy Volt that does it a bit more elegantly than duct-tape and bailing wire. ;)

· · 7 years ago

@ Brad Berman,
"Compare it to Volt which uses something like 8.8 kWh out of 16 kWh."

That's not true. It's 10.4 kWh.

· · 7 years ago

"I know I dread it when I see a Prius pull out in front of me because I've had so many of them drive 5-10mph below the speed limit in front of me. I know that they could go faster but that their gas mileage curve would start to suffer. "

I think some of this is just ignorance on the driver's part. How much mileage do you need? I rented a Prius one time, and thought I would see what the mileage would be like. I drove it like I stole it, and still managed 41 mpg. My lowest mileage was 14 mpg up a winding road in Malibu, but once I started back downhill and onto the level, it came back up.

· · 7 years ago

I'm very curious what range people are getting with the Leaf under high speed freeway conditions (75+) with the A/C on during 100 degree temps..

· D.Smithee (not verified) · 6 years ago

I'm a very calm and patient driver--if I could manage 100 miles out of one charge, I might consider a Leaf.

· · 6 years ago

@D.Smithee, Don't be misled. That 100 miles is under ideal conditions. Throw in hills, cold weather, wet roads, wind, heater use, freeway speeds, or the gradual loss of battery capacity as it ages, and getting 100 miles on a charge consistently is unrealistic for the current LEAF except under unusual circumstances.

Nevertheless, if you have the ability to charge during the day you might be able to work around those limitations. Otherwise it would be best to wait for EVs with larger battery packs and greater range. They're coming.

· Richard Emery (not verified) · 6 years ago

I live on the island of Maui. the maximum speed limit is 55 in only 15 miles on the island,. all other speed limits are between 20 and 45. no one drives those speeds but they drive fairly close. the cities are close together so you can go quite a few in 50 miles. you might be able to go to the northern part of the island 45 miles max. but because of our former governor they are putting in charging stations in all parking lots that are open to the public of 100 spaces or more will have a least one charge station. but when it comes to going to upcountry 6000 feet then you might have a problem. but keep in mind to you can charge up the battery on your way down. gas should be around 5 dollars per gallon for premium by the end of next year. so switching to a battery car even though our car gets 28 miles per gallon. it will still be cheaper to drive a electric car. most of the time during the daytime temperature is between 82 to 85. so the air-conditioning is used constantly. by the end of next year some electrical power will be supplied by wind or sun probably about 20%. but still are electric rate is the highest in the United States.

· · 6 years ago

@Richard Emery, I would think that a LEAF probably wouldn't be able to make it to the top of Haleakala — it would be an interesting experiment, since one could always turn back if charge ran low and use regen on the way down. But otherwise the car is a good match for any of the islands in Hawai'i, given high gas prices and the relatively slow speeds on most roads. And Hawai'i is a good place for solar panels to help power an EV.

· Tony Williams (not verified) · 6 years ago

What was the ambient air temperature during this run ? Because it was driven by a pre-production car, I suspect that the cell voltages were at 4.2v per cell, and not the 4.1v of the production car.

There are references in some of the documents to a 403v battery (96 cell pairs * 4.2v), but the current production car has about 21kWh available at 70F/20C temperature, and has 393.5v with 4.1v per cell. That capacity decreases about 1% per 4F/2C temperature decrease.

Your calculated battery capacity of 22.7kWh (8% above 21kWh) is significantly above that standard, and could be explained either by higher cell voltage, or extreme battery temperature of over 100F/40C.

Check out the LEAF range chart at

· · 6 years ago

Exceeding the speed limit is a habit that can be overcome. If you primarily use pedal power for your daily transportation your timetable automatically adjusts rather quickly. Now, when I get behind the wheel of our Honda Fit ( twice a month or so ) I find I am very satisfied with 30 mph in town and 55 mph on cruise on the highway. I stay in the right lane and obviously don't need to pass others very often. Other drivers are free to use the left lane to travel at 70 mph+. Like the motto of the Green Turtle alternative bus : I arrive at my destination inspired not dog tired. Plus... I get more than 40 mpg out of the Fit.

When I obtain my EV ( or EREV ) I will drive it the same way. This review sure helps in my assessment process.

· · 6 years ago

I request that you please do NOT drive your EV or PHEV 10 mph slower than the speed limit. You'll do more damage to our planet that way than you would by driving with the flow of traffic. We've already seen that most people assume hybrids and EVs can drive very fast (most people drive because they have some where to be and can't spend their days on the road getting there). Slowly driving your EV or PHEV will only perpetuate these perceptions and convince the majority of the population to avoid EVs and PHEVs. By driving with the flow, everyone will realize that EVs will enable them to continue their life but using sustainable energy sources. This way we'll get more people off of non-sustainable, polluting gasoline and save millions of gallons of oil per year instead of the 10 or 20 gallons (or pounds of coal) you'll save by reducing your speed.
A good example of this was that when Steve Wozniak (Apple founder) got a ticket for driving his Prius 104 mph, it made front line news because the news world was surprised a Prius could go so fast ( This probably saved more gas because of the people who ditched their pure ICE cars for hybrids than all of the Priuses saving a fraction of a gallon on their daily commutes by slowing down the carpool lane at 55 mph.

· · 6 years ago

Never mind Mr. Speedy up there, Nub. Responsible driving makes him grumpy. Thanks for doing your part!

ex-EV1... I have to share this story with you since it totally caught me by surprise the other day. There I was at the dog park talking to a guy who asked me why Prius drivers were so crazy. "Crazy because they are doing the speed limit?" I asked, since that's the one I hear every day...

No! Crazy for driving so damn fast. I see Prius drives in the left lane going 85+ mph every day on my commute! What idiot buys a fuel efficient car, then throw it all away by speeding like that?

I almost laughed out loud. So yeah...that perception thing cuts both ways I guess.

I actually pointed out that the Prius driver going 85 was still doing way better than over 99% of any other car going 85, but still...

· · 6 years ago

I think it is of the utmost importance for people to realize that EVs and Hybrids are for ALL people, not just people who really don't have any where they have to go.
My wife and I both have what I consider to be fairly demanding jobs that I believe are beneficial to society but are spaced over 40 miles apart. We are going to account for over 80 miles of driving every day. In my case, I've got the long drive and she often rides her bike.
Now here's some math that shows that conventional wisdom (among some) is wrong about slow driving:
If I take my daily commute of 74 miles and drive at 65 mph instead of 55 mph, I'll save about 12 minutes per day.
If I assume the average salary in the US of $23/hour, this means I could work an extra 12 minutes a day and make an extra save $4.76 per day or assuming 20 days per month worked, $1,142 per year.
Now, if you assume PV (PhotoVoltaic solar cells) cost about $5 per watt installed, using the extra money made by driving 10 mph faster, I could install ~417 kW of PV each year.
Assuming I can get about 5 kWh/kWpv/day, with an EV that gets $3 mi/kWhr (Leaf at 65 mph), I can add about 1251 more free miles every year. In 10 years, I'll have enough PV to handle the average person's annual driving of 12,000 miles per year but I'll still be producing and adding power generating capacity at 1251 more free miles per year. Then, maybe I can slow down and retire.
This is sustainability with growth and it is not done by driving slowly and wasting your life.
Or I could spend those additional 12 minutes per day replying to postings :-)
ex-EV1 driver (aka "Mr. Speedy")

· · 6 years ago

I have some math for you too, but far more complicated, as it involves the extra time to ride my bike for transportation (which I do more of than driving any car), balanced against the value of my physical fitness, mental health (debatable, for sure) and not needing to pay or spend extra time for gym membership.

I always find it amusing that you consider anybody who drives less than you drive to "not have anywhere to go." I ride my bike about 8,000 miles a year for transportation. I have plenty of places to go. But I only drive about 5,000 miles per year.

- Mr. Pokey

· · 6 years ago

"I always find it amusing that you consider anybody who drives less than you drive to "not have anywhere to go."
Let me clarify: folks who drive long distances on the freeway at slow speeds clearly aren't really trying very hard to get there. I must assume that for some reason, they feel it better for them to be spending their time on the freeway than at their destination.
Whenever I've lived less than 10 flat miles from work, I always walked or biked in as often as possible, even before it was cool. I agree, its a time-free workout. 37 miles over 2 mountain passes just isn't feasible by bike on a regular basis.
I drive nearly 20,000 miles per year. I'd rather not spend any more of it on the road than I absolutely have to.
The beauty of EVs is that they enable me and others in similar situations to do what we need to in a sustainable manner without completely trashing our planet.
- Mr. Speedy

· · 6 years ago

While I contend that nobody who drives a motor vehicle is "trying very hard" no matter how fast they're going, I at least understand your point a bit better now. Please note that some people find that saving money/energy and being safer IS more important than the few minutes saved per trip. Maybe they don't earn as much as you do. They might not be able to install solar to offset their high energy consumption. Maybe they've seen the statistics that link speed with the quantity and severity of traffic accidents. Maybe they can't afford a ticket. Maybe they like lowering their stress. There are many valid reasons to not speed on the freeway beyond "not trying hard to get there" or "wanting to spend their time on the freeway."

In my younger years I used to make the same arguments you are making now, so I completely understand the rationalization for speed. I rode motorcycles, owned a power boat and drove turbo-charged cars. Today I ride bicycles, own two kayaks and drive an EV. My outlook today is world's different from what it used to be. We all have our priorities, and we all have to decide the best action to take.

Oh, and it has ALWAYS been cool to walk or ride to work. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Mr. Pokey

· · 6 years ago

Sorry to beat this dead horse even more but you seem to be implying that my math would have one speeding above the speed limit. I said 55 mph -vs- 65 mph. Around here, most of the freeway speed limits are 65 mph. You aren't likely to be getting any tickets for driving that speed and the highways were designed for 75 mph travel so I think the safety concerns are being a bit over-blown.
I also used the $23/hour average US wage and showed how the time saved could allow a $23/hour person to afford that solar PV and showed how that extra 10 mph actually saves you money.
I'll grant that not everyone's job allows them to get paid to work an extra 12 minutes per day and not everyone can install solar PV (apartment, bad roof facing, HOA Nazis, Seattle weather, etc).
I just want to point out that slow driving is not always the best approach, something that seems to be taken as axiomatic by many environmentally concerned people.

· · 6 years ago

Mr Speedy,
"I think it is of the utmost importance for people to realize that EVs and Hybrids are for ALL"

I believe hybrids (including plug in HEVs) are at the point that they can be considered "for ALL" but EVs aren't. Not even close. Right now EVs are for:
- Anyone with annual income over at least $100,000. This rules out over 84% of the households in the US and leaves less than 20,000 households with incomes over $100k. Note that the average income of a Leaf owner is $140,000.
- Anyone that drives less than 180 miles per day and has access to charging during the day.
- Anyone that drives less than 80 miles per day and does not have reliable charging during the day. This number is even less in the northern (cold) states or the hilly areas
- Anyone that drives more than 200 miles per day and has an income of > $200k (i.e. can afford a $110k, 300 mile Tesla).
- Anyone that is a true believer and doesn't quite meet the above criteria but is willing to potentially make some $ or range sacrifices.

When you include all these criteria (some of them overlap), the number of people that an EV is an option for is a lot lower than most think. I am not including anyone that doesn't want an EV because they want to occasionally make long trips. There are lots of ways to get around this like trade cars with a friend/relative, rent a car, etc.

I know these are generalizations and there are exceptions. I also know and hope that the price will go down as the range goes up but right now, there is no way that you can say EVs are for ALL.

· · 6 years ago

@ regman -

Are you saying that there are fewer than 20,000 households in the USA with incomes over $100k? There must be a slipped decimal point in there somewhere.

· · 6 years ago

Sorry, missed some 000. About 16% or 20,000,000 housholds are above 100k.

· · 6 years ago

Yes, sadly, you're right. Finance is still an issue preventing EVs from being usable by all
Speed, and performance, however, aren't.

· IamSamJackson (not verified) · 6 years ago

What a sad alternative these vehicles are!
131 miles. I live in Texas. A really big state and I drive alot.
I know some folks say "well I wouldn't use an electric car for long trips." Yeah that is nice but why pay 10,000 more than the same size car so I can only use it in town.

A leaf is 32,000. I can get a Honda Civic for 19,000.
A Volt is 38,000. I can get a Kia for 19,000.

Folks say they save money, but the extra cost of the car in the long run does not add up to the gas savings and then we are not even talking about battery degradation. 5 years and you have to replace and there goes any thing you started to even save on the Electric car.

EVs are definately not for most folks. And even the folks they are for they are stuck driving 100 miles tops per day....80...if you want to keep your battery working longer.

Are you other folks kidding about driving slower for efficiency? I am not a speeder by any means but you folks need to get out of other peoples way. People have places to go and it is inconsiderate of others time. Drive the speed limit, period.

Fossil fuel is the only viable option we have now. I could not buy a Volt due to expense plus I am not going to spend so much money on something that has such limited use. Borrowing other peoples cars to go on vacation, that is not a viable option either. A vehicle is to get you where you need to go. Period.

And why do the cars look so unattractive. 120 years of car design and innovation and all you can come up with is an ugly little hatchback?

I hope these cars fail from their shear stupidity in design. Go back to the drawing board.

Here is my solution. Make cars run on fry grease. It is possible and has been done. You can stop at any McDonald's and fill up.

Seriously though 100+ years of the motor vehicle history and you cannot make a car run efficiently enough to do 100 miles a gallon? Or create an additive to enhance that process?

· · 6 years ago

Dean IamSam -

Judging by the comical ignorance and factual errors in your post, I'm all but certain that you're looking for the EV haters thread. This is a thread about the Leaf's range.

· · 6 years ago

If you are so dependent on the oil that somebody else owns, I would think you would be very happy if a whole lot of others start driving electric cars so they aren't competing for the gasoline that you seem to believe is your only option.

· · 6 years ago

I forgot to remind you that if there is enough oil at the country's McDonalds restaurants to handle our driving needs, they'd need to have supertankers and huge tank trucks to deliver it to the McDonalds restaurants.
I think you're underestimating how much oil we consume.

· · 6 years ago

@IamSam: What is so wrong about driving slower than the speed limit? If I am in the far right lane of the freeway in order to maximize the range of my EV, you should have no trouble passing me. If I'm climbing a big mountain (as I regularly do), I always use turnouts to let faster traffic by.

So, you might ask, why would I bother with the trouble and expense of making the LEAF's limited range work for me, a mountain dweller? Because I am sick and tired of oil having a virtual monopoly over our transportation. (I also looked into buying a natural gas vehicle, but there is no fueling infrastructure close enough to where I live, whereas the electric grid is everywhere.) If I want transportation to have a cleaner, domestically powered future, I have to start with my own family. And it doesn't hurt that owning a LEAF is a lot of fun.

· Peter (not verified) · 6 years ago

Well I read most of the posts and am trying to get a feel for the car I just purchased. I take delivery in a couple of days.
I was a little worried about recharging and find that my weekly drive between The Washington Coast and Seattle has more than 110 charging stations along the way.
A half hour or so stop along the way for my Latte and to catch up on my e mail while my car charges for free really appeals to me.
I'm not going to run out and sell my other cars any time soon but I have a feeling I'll be driving this allot.
For those who don't like the range, style or size, I have an idea.
Don't buy one.
Like my One ton, extended bed, crew cab, diesel Silverado, I'm sure that
it's not for everyone either but does a great job doing what I got it for.

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