By on June 22, 2010

While GM has problems trying to get the Volt price point to a point where customers won’t suffer a coronary (even with help from the DC sugar daddies), Nissan has a few problems of their own. Nissan is still reeling from the news that a Nissan Leaf would save you the princely sum of $361. Now, Automotive News [sub] reports another black eye on Nissan’s “Prius Killer”. Automotive News says that Nissan’s “100 miles range” may be slightly off in real world conditions. How far off?

How do 38 percent grab you? 38 percent? That leafs something to be desired! (I’m here all week.) As Automotive News puts it, “consider the following scenarios outlined during a recent Leaf test drive:

  • If your Leaf is stuck in stop-and-go traffic, doing 15 mph on a cold winter day with the heater on, you can count on a range of around 62 miles, said the car’s chief engineer, Hidetoshi Kadota.
  • If it’s a hot day, in the 90s, and you’re cruising down the road at 48 mph, your full-charge range would be about 70 miles before having to plug in again to juice up the lithium ion batteries.
  • If the weather’s perfect with no need for air conditioning, you can get 105 miles in normal city-highway driving. And when touring the countryside at a steady 38 mph, the range climbs to 138 miles.” (Will Nissan give you free earplugs, so that you can ignore the honking cars behind you?)

Wow. Who’d have thunk it? Driving conditions and use of air conditioning may vary ones fuel economy figures? What next will they tell us? That electric cars are zero emission? Oh hang on, they DID try that one. After this revelation, Nissan sought to maintain the validity of the Leaf. “Depending on the way you use the air conditioning and the driving mode, the autonomy varies largely,” said the car’s chief engineer, Hidetoshi Kadota. “This is a physical characteristic of electric vehicles.”. Well, that and the tax subsidies.

I see it coming: “Shall we drive over to grandma?” “The weather is glorious. We might not make it back home.”

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35 Comments on “Weather Or Not: Nissan’s Leaf Range Influenced By Barometric Pressure...”

  • avatar

    What’s with all the EV hate?

    62 miles is nearly twice as far as the average American drives in a day.

    • 0 avatar

      And the “average American” has one boob and one testicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Some Guy

      The problem is that life isn’t predictable. Hit a closed bridge due to an accident, and you could be going on an extra 40-mile detour.

      Of all the questions that Nissan asked potential customers for their Leaf reservation list, was one of the questions: “Do you cross a bridge to get to work?”

    • 0 avatar

      Hit a closed bridge due to an accident, and you could be going on an extra 40-mile detour.

      Do you face a plauge a bridge closures that require 40 mile detours? I have been driving for 20 years, all over the US, and that has never happened.

    • 0 avatar

      @jmo: I don’t think Some Guy’s premise is ridiculous or nonsensical.

      There have been occasions (like a tornado or flash flood) where you can have a detour that takes you 20 miles or more out of your way, just to get around the hazard.

      If you’re low on juice already, what happens when you have to go the extra detour?

      Driving on battery alone will require different skills than we currently have developed.

    • 0 avatar

      I predict the rise of “Leaf Motels” and a new category of excuses to cover infidelities … “Sorry honey, due to a low battery, the 40-mile detour, and using the heater/ac, I had to stay in the Leaf Motel down the block last nite.”

    • 0 avatar

      What if your gas light is on and you are forced to take a 40 miles detour with no gas station in site?

      Unfortunate events like that can happen for both gas powered and electric powered vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      There have been occasions (like a tornado or flash flood) where you can have a detour that takes you 20 miles or more out of your way, just to get around the hazard.

      Then I should trade my GTI for a Hummer or G-Wagen – what happens if the road is blocked by fallen trees! Or floods! Please, tell me, should I get a snorkle for my Hummer in case I encouter deep water?

      Seriously, you’re grasping at straws. I’ve been driving for 20 years, all over the US, from Maine to California and none of the things you’ve mentioned have ever happened.

    • 0 avatar

      @jmo: Ah yes, the old “since it hasn’t happened to me, it doesn’t happen anywhere” logic.

      I wish I could say the same thing, but it *has* happened to me. In NE Ohio in 1985 I was caught out by several tornados that not only took out many trees (and blocked many roads), it wiped out the local electrical grid for miles around, including all of the nearby gas stations. I had the misfortune of having little fuel in my car when these tornados struck.

      The route we were forced to take took us way out in the country. Luckily, I did find a gas station that was open, actually had some fuel for sale, and wasn’t going to rape my wallet for said fuel.

      In a way it’s funny, because even if your car is *gasoline* fueled, you still can’t go anywhere without *electric* gas station pumps…

    • 0 avatar

      In NE Ohio in 1985

      You base your car buying decisions on things you needed once a quarter century ago?

    • 0 avatar

      @jbo: No, just my refueling decisions.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Wow as bad as you try to make it seem even the 62 mile range in cold weather is awesome. Good job Nissan! About 95% of the trips I make could be done with a Leaf. For all the 2 car families in suburbia US an EV makes a lot of sense as a second car. Sure the economics aren’t there yet but they will be and then lookout.

    Think that gasoline your pumping into your ICE vehicle didn’t cause any pollution getting to that tank in the ground your standing over?

    • 0 avatar

      The 62 mile range probably IS stellar, for an electric vehicle. I think there is some disconnect between what various marketing departments want to crow about and our real life expectations and experiences.

      Additionally, for the people who remain skeptics or are on the fence about electric vehicles of any stripe, the inclination is to believe the negative comments and disregard the positive ones.
      I would be one of those people, at least concerning a BEV only car.

      I like the concept of the Volt, for example, but the idiom of car that I am accustomed to does not really allow me to comprehend what these vehicles could do, whether REV or BEV.

      Even with the advances made in consumer grade cordless appliances, I still think I prefer corded ones (drills, saws, lawn mowers), as there seems to be many restrictions on how some of those things perform.

      While a BEV may be a whole different beast, I project my perception of restrictions (from other appliances) on to the BEV. Having no other reference, I can only understand them in this manner.

      And frankly I had no frame of reference for the first Prius; I really thought it was some kind of greenie oddity meant to punish motorheads. I think many motorheads still feel that way. Even after I had experienced the Prius firsthand, I still failed to get “it”, although after $4.00+/gallon gasoline, I think I get “it” now.

      Like the Prius, once we see a few in the wild and actually experience them and gain more knowledge about them, I think perceptions will change rapidly.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree even on the low point that is much more than what I expect to drive daily anyway. 62 miles x 7 x 4.3 x 12 = 22300 +/- which is way more than the average mileage put on a car in one year. Obviously there are those out there who claim 50k in one year but then this is not the car for them. I think this car will serve a majority of people very well.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point. Even 60 miles is a significant improvement from 40 (I’m looking at you, Volt) and would potentially make the difference for a lot of people.

      I used to not care of the EV car, but the more I think about it the better I like it. EV car for daily commutes, something like ZipCar for when you know you’re gonna take a trip further out and about. Financially impractical for most people (and thus, they shouldn’t get one, obviously), but the price won’t go down and infrastructure won’t improve without early adopters. The more people are buying these and using them on a regular basis, the more incentive companies have to further develop them and an infrastructure to support it. Perhaps eventually we’ll see a “battery swap” system evolve that would effectively eliminate the limited range.

      I don’t understand the seeming “threat” that a lot of people seem to perceive towards cars like these. EV cars aren’t going to replace gas cars overnight, it’s a slow transition that would take decades, plenty of time to adjust to “change”. On the other hand, we have seen the price of gas skyrocket seemingly overnight. If this is a step away from reliance on oil, then I’m for it. Even if it means going batshit crazy getting stuck behind their slow hyper-mile-happy hippy asses on the freeway.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      What Englishers like Cammy think is cold weather, and what Midwesterners think is cold weather are two entirely different things. I doubt that an ungaraged Leaf will run during cold snaps in my town. Being least available when most needed is hardly a reason to spend money on anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Why wouldn’t it run in really cold midwestern weather? Batteries generally perform better when cold than when hot — it’s the additional load of trying to turn over an ice-cold (and thick with syrupy oil) engine that kills lead-acid batteries in the cold.

    • 0 avatar

      According to the box for my Schumacher battery charger, a lead acid battery is down to 40% capacity at 0F, and 18% capacity at -20F.

      Lithium ion batteries may be better, but it appears they still lose capacity in cold weather. They’re down to about 70% capacity at 0F, and 60% capacity at -20F, according to this study:

      I extrapolated the plot in Figure 5 to get my results.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    How long will it be until dealers are throwing in a free backup generator for emergency recharges? Will AAA services include Emergency Roadside Recharging?

  • avatar

    The only EV hate I comprehend is related to terrible ROI. Due to the energy density of EVs, they may never be on par with ICE cars. However, the Leaf isn’t that bad.

    It’s no secret that an EV’s range will vary dramatically with conditions; that’s part of the risk of buying one.

    The win is that Nissan has produced an affordable ‘real’ electric car with meaningful range. 62-138 miles would last me 2-3 days.

    I still believe that initially, the Leaf’s primary competition will be other commuter cars, not other EVs. The Volt will appeal to a different market segment.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    The Leaf, and EVs in general, don’t have to appeal to everyone, or to all needs, in order to get a toehold in the marketplace. It’s all uphill from there.

  • avatar

    I have no doubt that a 60-70 mile range would be adequate for people with short commutes. What happens when you need to go further than 60-100 miles? You’d be faced with the inconvenience and expense of having to own a backup car, or rent a car for that trip. What if, like me, your round trip is 50-55 miles? Do I take the chance if my employer or other destination doesn’t have recharge facilities? Sure I may hop in a gas engine car when it’s on E if I’m running late, but I know I can fuel up on the return trip. Beyond all that would be battery life. How long will a EV’s batteries give their top rated range? How long are they guaranteed for? How many thousands of dollars will that cost you? I think the energy storage issue needs to be addressed before EV’s are ready for prime time.

  • avatar

    BEVs limited range limits their flexibility and usefulness.

    (1) Even if a BEV has enough range for city driving, it can’t reach other cities or states. For that, you need an additional car with an IC engine.

    (2) My usual round trip commute is 35 miles. However, from time to time, my wife and I drop off a car for service in the morning. She leaves me at my job and goes to her own. At the end of they day, we reverse the route. Total distance for the day is 85 miles. This is well beyond what a prudent person would try to get out of a Leaf without recharging for several hours.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Imagine – a two car family! Who’s ever heard of such a thing?”

    No ship! How many married couples do you know(kids or not it doesn’t matter) that only own one car? Obviously for the single person that leaves town on a fairly regular basis or needs something with the ability to tow an EV is not an option. That doesn’t mean it’s a BAD idea. Good grief!

  • avatar

    What bothers me most is the fact that I constantly have to pay attention to the way I’m driving…

    Let’s face it: There are days where I get my 120hp-BMW/MINI-engine powered Peugeot 207 down to the 39mpg that where promised to me by the manufacturer. It’s easy and possible (even in the hilly South of Germany) but you have to pay some attention to early up-shifting, observe traffic lights a little and you should turn off the A/C. Once, I even manged to squeeze 54mpg our of ‘er (over a distance of about 50 miles, sunny day in the mid 70s, windows closed, tire pressure up, radio, headlights and vents turned off).

    But again, there are (many) days where I jump into my car and just GO. Sometimes, I’m into something totally different in my mind than my fuel consumption, sometimes, I just love the way the car is driving (better than anyone would expect out of a French car…) and – well, we have the Autobahn where she does about 130mph and gets 24 mpg when you travel at 100mph on average.

    Over the last 2.500 miles I had an average of 32 mpg – still good and perfectly acceptable for “daily driving” – but not what the manufacturer told me. With my 500 mile range (or 600, depending on the way I drive), I don’t care – but when it comes down to 60 miles? NO WAY!

    I belong to those that try to get gas as soon as the “reserve” light turns on – I still have about 80 miles to go then…

    • 0 avatar

      I ran out of gas once. I piled a bunch of friends into my little VW Rabbit, and off we went to get downtown in Chicago rush-hour traffic. As the 90 and 94 merged, I was in the middle of things (several lanes from any shoulder, and going slightly uphill) when I ran out of gas — I’d just forgotten to look when I got in, and didn’t remember I was on empty. We all jumped out, pushed it to the side, and I had to walk over a mile to get gas because (it being rush-hour) I couldn’t get someone to tow me or pick me up.

      Paying attention to how you drive is something that, once you’ve gotten bit a few times, becomes automatic. Ever drive around for a few miles before you realize you’ve got a flat? I did, once — and ever since, I take a quick walk around to make sure my tires are up before I drive away, and have for years.

      Of course, you’re presumably charging up every night, and so you’re only worried about what happens over the course of the day. And, like the gas light we all have to remind us to pay attention on those days we’ve run low, the EVs will keep us reminded of the remaining juice — like the Leaf system, which (if you tell it where you’re going) will tell you if you can make it, and where to charge up if you won’t.

      I think there’s a lot of worry about nothing, frankly, because they’re new and scary to a lot of people. But we’ll adjust, just like we always do.

  • avatar

    This car will work well for people who know its limitations and can live with them. It will be up to the salesmen to make sure of their customers needs first.

  • avatar

    I have to plug in my phone each night these days where older phones i had lasted a couple days. It doesn’t bug me much. I expect the same going from a once a week fuel up to a nightly plug in.

  • avatar

    I can relate to range anxiety. We sometimes have traffic jams that last for hours. And in our heat, the AC NEVER gets turned off.

    But in reality, with the possibility of the widespread distribution of charging points (if the market becomes big enough), electric range anxiety won’t be such a problem for owners who actually match the Leaf customer profile.

    Just add an hour or two to your trip if you run out of juice at the wrong time and have to charge up. A hassle, but not the end of the world.

    Still… for the typical customer, who has to limit trips to less than 60 miles a day, pay-off takes an excruciatingly long time.

    • 0 avatar

      And, just how do you charge up? It takes 8 or 10 hours to charge the thing on house current. There will be fast charging options that can get you back on the road in 30 minutes, or so, but how many of them will be available, who knows?

  • avatar

    The problem is that, with my gasoline powered car, if I run out of gas, I can simply call someone and they’ll bring me a gallon.

    If I run out of electricity, what then?

    Do I get towed to the nearest available charging station?

    What about all those morons out there who don’t pay attention, who say to themselves, I only have to drive 20 miles, tomorrow, and ask themselves do I really have to charge it, tonight?

    What happens if you have a power outage at home and your car doesn’t get charged? What happens if you get home late, plug in your car, go to bed, then the power goes off and you wake up in the morning with an uncharged battery?

    What if some kid in the neighborhood thinks it’s funny to unplug your car?

    I could go on, but…

  • avatar

    I thought about the “what if I run out of juice” scenario. There are going to be recharge points all over cities with time. EVs usually charge quite a bit quickly and then taper off for a slower charge. Stop for a coffee or a meal and you’re back to 65% of charge perhaps on a fast charger. How much juice does that pull? Something like a 220V welder? No big deal. HVAC equipment uses similar circuit loads.

    We’ll likely find those charge points on GPS gadgets easily. Especially if somebody is trying to make a profit from them.

    We have a couple of 35 and 45 year old aircooled VWs. I also do all my own repairs. Never go to a shop. If one of my newer or older cars breaks down or especially if I lived in a large metropolitan area where cars get stolen often – I’d simply invest in a collapsible towbar. Break down? Run out of charge? Call my wife and we’ll tow it home.

    Fortunately my ownership of a towbar and towdolly has immunized me against breakdowns forever. (I hope) GRIN! Only my VW Cabrio has ever given me fits and that is only because it is sensitive to deep water. Once in 72K miles has it failed to start b/c of a wet distributor. I doesn’t tolerate ankle deep water or worse very well.

    I think Nissan’s range is pretty good. It would easily work for my family’s needs and I could commute for 2-3 days on a single charge. I hope they sell a million of those cars.

    I’d still rather have a NiMH battery which is more proven and mature but I suppose GM and Chevron have ensured that won’t happen until at least after 2015. On the flip side I suspect that the leaf could be upgraded to a NiMH after 2015 should the NiMH return to the consumer market.

    Am wondering if there would be a market for a EU2000i Honda style quiet ginny that clipped into a dedicated soundproofed compartment in the front or rear of the car with a proper exhaust hook up to charge a parked car in a pinch?

    Not sure how much juice the Leaf would consume rolling down the road and whether a small Honda style ginny would make any difference at all.

    I can imagine a few diehard people who really like their EVs buying additional battery modules that strapped to the floor of the luggage area to get an additional 100 miles of range so they didn’t need an ICE powered car once battery prices come down in a few years.

    Would like to see solar incorporated into the roof as an option. Would like to hear how much that could contribute to the battery parked in the sun during an eight hour work day. Even 4-5 miles of additional range would be useful if a person’s commute was only 15 miles each way.

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