What is the True Range of an Electric Car? The Mini E Experience Leaves Many Questions

· · 10 years ago

One of the biggest barriers to consumers becoming comfortable with the idea of buying EVs in droves is the general notion that they have a somewhat limited range. Even though the vast majority of Americans don't drive more than 40 miles in a day, and we could easily replace one of the two or three cars we have in our garages with a plug-in vehicle and never know the difference, there's still that time-honored American Boy Scout mentality that we should always be prepared for the worst case scenario... I mean, what if the survival of humanity depended on you being able to drive more than 100 miles on a moment's notice and you didn't have time to switch cars?

So you can see why being able to squeeze the most range as possible out of the coming first wave of modern electric cars — and them not underperforming compared to manufacturer claims — is going to be very important to their long term success.

All along Nissan has said that the LEAF will have a range of 100 miles with its 24 kilowatt hour battery pack. Yet those estimates are based on an EPA driving cycle that doesn't truly reflect the real-world. Based on the same EPA standards, the Mini E was supposed to get 156 miles of range with its 35 kilowatt hour battery pack. Over the last year and a half, none of the 300 or so Mini E lease customers in the U.S. have achieved much more than 100-110 miles on a charge — roughly 33% less than what the EPA test suggested.

Does this mean that the LEAF will actually have a range of 65-70 miles? Perhaps, but as recently as last week's LEAF battery plant groundbreaking in Tennessee, Mark Perry, Nissan's Director for Product Planning in North America, was vigorously touting the LEAF's 100 mile range even though it is based on the EPA test. According to Perry, LEAF owners will see some variance in their range depending on such things as driving style and how much hot or cold air conditioning they are using, but they will still get "around 100 miles."

This may be a question that we just can't answer until people have a chance to drive the LEAF over an extended period of time. One thing's for sure though, if one of these first crop of plug-in vehicle manufacturers doesn't deliver on a major promise such as range, the entire lot of them could be harmed.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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