Nissan Says Leaf’s Range Varies Widely Depending on Numerous Factors

For months, Nissan Motor Company has been claiming that its new Leaf battery electric car will have a range of 100 miles under typical driving conditions. Now the automaker says the Leaf’s actual range may be only half that under certain driving conditions which most consumers would consider typical.

During a recent test drive, Leaf chief engineer, Hidetoshi Kadota, said a number of circumstances can dramatically reduce the vehicle’s operational range and he outlined a few.

If you drive your Leaf on a cold winter day in stop-and-go traffic, averaging about 15 mph with your heater on, your actual range could be as little as 62 miles.

If the outdoor temperature is in the 90s and you’re traveling at a fairly consistent speed of about 48 mph with your air conditioning on, you can expect to drive your Leaf for about 62 miles before having to recharge its lithium-ion battery pack.

If you’re not using your heater or air conditioning and driving at normal city and highway speeds, you can expect your Leaf to travel 105 miles before needing to recharge. If you’re driving through the countryside at a steady speed of 38 mph with no heater or air conditioning, your Leaf will have a rage of up to 138 miles.

The Leaf will have a range of only 47 miles when driven in heavy stop-and-go traffic at an average speed of 6 mph with an ambient temperature of 86 degrees and the air conditioning on. The fact that the Leaf was designed to be driven primarily under those exact conditions makes Nissan’s claim of a 100-mile range a little suspect.

Kadota said, “Depending on the way you use the air conditioning and the driving mode, the autonomy varies largely. This is a physical characteristic of electric vehicles.”

Although the variations in range may be common sense to some, they may also come as something of a surprise to the thousands of enthusiastic consumers who have already reserved their Leafs. Late last month, Nissan announced that it had received more than 14,000 online reservations for the Leaf, with approximately 90% of the reservations coming from non-Nissan owners.

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