By on November 26, 2010

The official MPG(e) ratings for Chevy’s Volt and Nissan’ Leaf have been out for a few days. Finally, The Nikkei [sub] noticed something: Nissan’s “all-electric Leaf has gained bragging rights in the U.S. market after garnering a higher fuel economy rating than the Chevrolet Volt.” Bragging rights bestowed courtesy of the U.S. government.

After a lot of head scratching, and extensive testing, no doubt, the EPA determined that the Leaf has a fuel economy rating equivalent to 99 miles per gallon. They give the Volt only 93 miles per gallon – while it remains in its short-lived electric mode. Once the range extender kicks in, the Volt gets a combined rate of 60mpg. On gas only: 37mpg.

Nissan claims a 100-mile range. The EPA says that the Leaf is good for 73 miles on a full charge. Another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, says the Leaf gets anywhere between 96 to 110 miles on a full charge, as the New York Times points out with glee.  Are we confused yet? Wait for this:

There is a possibility that the Leaf will get two stickers. One by the EPA (73 miles), one by the FTC (96 – 110 miles). The 1985 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, requires the FTC to label all alternative-fuel vehicles, including the all-electric Leaf. And being sticklers for stickers …

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!


24 Comments on “Sticker Wars: Leaf Beats Volt. FTC Trumps EPA...”

  • avatar

    What I don’t understand is how EV mpg is calculated.  On the EPA sticker it says 36 kwh per 100 miles driven.
    The Leaf gets 99mpg from a car that travels 73 miles on a 24kwh battery.
    The Volt gets 93 mpg from a car that travels 35 miles on a 16kwh battery.
    On a full-charge the Leaf travels more then twice the distance of the Volt with only 50% more power.   Yet there is only EV 6 mpg in mileage discrepancy even though the Leaf uses significantly less electricity per mile driven.
    Something smells fishy…

  • avatar

    So the Volt gets slightly less MPGe while lugging around an ICE and (albeit small) gas tank? Pretty good, I’d say (unless the numbers are ‘fudged’ in the Volt’s favor, which may be the case).

    Either way, cue the ensuing anti-government rants…

  • avatar

    I know calculating the fuel economy for the Volt has been the source of much rancor, but why does there need to be an MPG rating (or MPG-E rating) for pure electrics? Does the comparison have to be that dumbed down? How about an EPA estimated range and the KwH per 100 miles or KwH to estimated range? Something like that.

    • 0 avatar

      Coulda been worse.  They could have just showed the combined figures and left it at that.  And even worse than that, it could have been just a letter grade…
      There’s actually a fair bit of info on this label.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Gray

      Yes, it does have to be that dumbed down. The average car buyer doesn’t want to know technical details. Everything has to be boiled down to a number for comparison, or the cumsumer will just get so frustrated at having to think that they’ll walk out of the dealership, and no one will buy an EV.

      Most people probably don’t even know what MPG stands for, let alone KwH, and they don’t want to know. All consumers want to see when choosing a car is that Car A has a bigger number than Car B, and that Car A costs less than Car B.

  • avatar

    I am also confused as to the COST per gallon of electric power.

    According to the EPA. the cost is, according to Straightline, EPA’s calculation formula for EV-style mpg assumes 33.7 kW-hrs is equivalent to one gallon of gasoline energy.

    So, IF the cost per KwH is .21 as in los Angles, that comes out to $7.00 per gallon.

    Look, I have figured out the meaning(less) of life and that the egg came before the chicken,
    But I cannot calculte.
    Or spell.
    Or type.
    Somebody please help me!!!!

    • 0 avatar

      TT – The ENERGY equivalent of gasoline is 33.7 kWh. You can’t directly calculate the cost of a ‘gallon of electricity’ by multiplying the numbers (33.7 * .11 = $3.71) because the efficiencies of an ICE and electric drivetrain would need to be taken into account.

      The EPA tells us these efficiency ratings by stating that the Volt can go 100 miles using 36 kWh (ie. 36 * .11 = $3.96) and can go 100 miles using 2.7 gallons (2.7 *$3.20 = $8.64).

      So the EPA says that using electricity is roughly 1/2 the cost of gasoline (at $.11 per kWh & $3.20 per gallon). YMMV of course.

    • 0 avatar

      I “thought” they stated the cost is 33.7 KwH equals one gallon gasoline.
      Not mine, theirs.
      So does this or not hold true?
      This is how they are showing cost per mile/driven.

      PLus, the example I showed was the cost of a KwH in Los Angeles was double (21 cents) their example.
      Cities, where these cars will run, have the highest electrical rates.
      So, it is my opinion they are slanting the news in favor of the electric car by giving national averages.
      The national average included LameDuck Idaho, where the kWh cost is 3 cents…if you can get it.

    • 0 avatar

      According to the EPA, using your energy costs ($.21/kWh & $3.50/gallon for premium), the cost to drive 100 miles on electric power with a Volt is: 36 * .21 = $7.56 and the cost for gasoline to travel the same distance is 2.7 * $3.54 =  $9.56 (gasbuddy shows premium between 3.09 and 3.99). So using electricity in your instance is still 75% the cost of using gasoline.

      BTW – the Leaf’s cost to travel 100 miles would be 34*.21 = $7.14 ($.52 cheaper than the Volt).

      33.7 kWh is not used to calculate your cost – it is just used to create the MPGe number.

    • 0 avatar


      No, I am sure you are mistaken.
      They are already showing the electric only charges at over $500 for the Leaf.
      And that’s at 11 cents.
      Imagine it then at the LA cost of 21 cents.
      I am trying to explain the cost analysis is wrong and biased.
      And also that the cost for the Volt with both is not even practical when compared to its own sibling.

    • 0 avatar

      I have more questions. LA is known to get a little on the warm side, so how will the Volt’s thermal management factor into these numbers? If it kicks in when the car is charging, more electricity will be consumed while charging. If it’s needed while driving, how is the range impacted?

  • avatar

    Here in Pittsburgh, PA, we pay around 8 cents/kWhr – but it’s rather chilly here for 4 months out of the year, so gasoline operation of the Volt would be tough to avoid entirely.

  • avatar

    So, to continue showing my extremely low calculation abilities…
    The cost for a 10,000 (at their lower eletrical cost) mile year in the Volt is a little more than $1900.
    The Leaf $561
    The cost for a regular Cruz is $1,598 w/turbo! and UNLIMITED DISTANCE.
    My cost per KwH is .21 in Los Angeles, where most of these will sell, and there it shows MUCH higher per gallon electrical cost.
    Double, in fact, and making neither of these cars worth the cost.

    Help me outI.  am so stuffed from yesterday all my blood has left my brain and still at work in the belly.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I suppose that the Leaf’s “gas mileage” after the battery is depleted all depends upon which tow truck it is hoisted by :).

  • avatar

    It’s beyond pointless and borderline asinine to assign a MPG equivalent to an EV. But that’s big govt at work – [try to] dumb it down for the lowest common denominator

  • avatar

    Very easy to sell Volt vs. Leaf. Simply take out a map and mark the home location of the Leaf. Draw an area around that location of approx 36.5 miles. The Leaf owner will get to know that area very well cuz he can’t travel any further than that!

    • 0 avatar

      The car already does that (continuously adjusted) on its Nav screen. Nissan is well aware of range issues, and it would be a black-eye on the Leaf if enough are seen on the side of the road being hooked to tow trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      Your right, and it continually adjusts.  So if it now decides you can only go 5 more miles when earlier it said you could get 7 miles, you might be in a bind.  It would be tough to own an EV outside of a large city where you don’t go far for anything.

  • avatar

    The numbers on these stickers matter little because, from the government’s CAFE perspective, the Leaf EV and the Volt plug-in are equal:

    Next, let’s be aware that the CAFE calculation of average fleet efficiency takes into account the number of vehicles produced of each model. Washington is certainly well-aware of this — and as we know via Edward Niedermeyer, the feds have a documented inclination to buy fuel-efficient vehicles from Detroit:

    Naturally, Washington’s friends share the same inclination, and General Electric will be buying a whole heap of Volts. Of course, General Electric expects a little something in return…

    So, in short, GM has nothing to worry about from any aspect of existing ratings or legislation. The Volt will do just fine, for lots of reasons, even if you and I never buy one.

  • avatar

    Title is misleading.  The FTC isn’t trumping the EPA.  Both stickers might appear.  To be sold in the US, I believe it must have an EPA sticker.  It would be interesting to see what the FTC does or does not do with the Volt, but it really doesn’t matter.
    Reading the NY Times article, it was interesting.
    “The Federal Trade Commission does not do its own tests; it relies on a standard set by the S.A.E., a technical group formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. Automakers report their results to the commission. The commission is not terribly concerned over not being able to check for itself, according to the associate director for enforcement, James A. Kohm. Manufacturers like Nissan, for the Leaf, or General Motors, for the plug-in hybrid Volt, he said, “are big legitimate companies that are generally trying to do these right.” And besides, he added, “they have competitors looking over their shoulders.”
    It is interesting that the FTC doesn’t really do anything here at all.  I know the EPA doesn’t test every car and when it doesn’t goes off the results of the manufacture as well.
    But, I think that the FTC numbers are garbage.  I am pretty sure on this very site numbers have been posted that make 100 miles in a Leaf a pipe dream, unless you are under 45 mph on a 72 degree day.

  • avatar

    Well, the early adopters will do us all a service by wringing out the early “Leaves” while Nissan scrambles to improve the battery for cars to be sold later in the hotter and colder climes. Expect a “2.0” battery inside of 2 years.

  • avatar

    Different cars, different markets.

    I’m a Leaf fan, not a Volt fan, but the comparison is meaningless.

    You’ll never drive 200 miles on 1 Leaf charge.  You’ll never drive 80 miles on 1 Volt charge.

    The EPA did a good job with both stickers given the transitional period of car history we are in.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Lie2me: Oh, for Christ’s sake, thelaine, go to f*cking work if you want and stop by a crowded airport on your...
  • thelaine: If you believe that we should commit economic suicide in order to try to prevent the healthy population...
  • Master Baiter: Go ahead and flame me if you wish, but in my opinion, we’re plunging the economy into what will...
  • bunkie: I miss Howard Johnson’s Tendersweet (TM) fried clams. And tail fins. Okay, only sometimes…
  • jrhmobile: I’m afraid that the NAIAS may well be dead. Like Graveyard Dead. It’s been a year and a half...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Timothy Cain
  • Matthew Guy
  • Ronnie Schreiber
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth