So, Can You Drive the 2011 Nissan Leaf Cross-Country?

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If you're studying the notion of going on the grid for your automotive "fuel," you're probably curious just how you'll integrate an electric car like the 2011 Nissan Leaf into your life. You think you'll be able to handle the estimated 100-mile range just fine--but what about longer trips?

While General Motors is making much about its 2011 Chevrolet Volt's range extender--which it believes means never having to say "I'm sorry I can't make it"--Nissan's taking exactly the opposite tack, explaining to customers they'll need to match the Leaf to their daily driving needs. And when it comes to big trips like a cross-country drive, you'll be better off keeping a second car around, says Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan.

"You're not going to drive the Leaf cross-country," he told AllCarsElectric during the recent Plug-In 2010 conference in San Jose, Calif.

By Perry's reckoning, few Leaf buyers will be inconvenienced by the EV's everyday driving range.

"Every morning you wake up with 100 [miles of range]," he says.

"We are fortunate as a society to have multiple cars in a household, or at least to have access," he says. With the substantial incentives available on the Leaf of up to $12,500 off its $32,780 base price, "you could buy a used car" with the savings, he suggests.

And while the Leaf will travel about 100 miles on its daily charge versus about 300 miles minimum for the average passenger car, Perry says plug-ins for recharges are coming fast, and quick. By the end of 2011, he says Nissan will have identified 10,000 charging points capable of 240-volt connections, which will recharge the Leaf to full battery capacity in about eight hours.

Those charging points will be concentrated in the areas where the Leaf will be sold first--along the I-5 corridor, in Arizona, and eastern Tennessee. And primarily through funding and grants from the Department of Energy, those charging points will be supplemented by 250 points where quick-charge, 440-volt connections will amp up the Leaf to 80 percent of full charge in about 30 minutes.

"Guess what the average stay at a fast-food joint is?" he asks. "About 20 minutes."

It's a huge educational task for Nissan, he agrees, but drivers compelled by the Leaf's all-electric proposition are ready.

"People are going to do their homework," Perry says--and for those who haven't but remain interested, he suggests they "track [their] driving habits for a week.

"I think most people are going to be surprised," he says.

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Comments (6)
  1. i think it makes even better sense to rent a car when you want to go cross-country. one needs to ask himself the question of how often does he do such a thing ?
    most hubbys and wifes will do better with 2 bevs as the cars that they own. that 100 mile charge will be upped several times over the next 10 years.

  2. as usual, gm has it wrong. the foreign car companies have it right. no wonder they overtook the american market !!!!

  3. I think Nissan has it right.
    I can count on one hand the number of trips I do in a year that are beyond my normal daily commute of 60 miles. And for those trips we will retain at least one of the ICE cars currently in our household.
    But even if we didn't have that luxury, a mid-size car is, what, maybe $50 a day? Understand your lifestyle first, then you can make an educated decision as to whether or not the Leaf is the right car for you!

  4. GM : "So, Can You Drive the 2011 Nissan Leaf Cross-Country?"
    Nissan : "So, Can You Drive the 2011 GM Volt 100 miles without spewing dangerous gases and contributing to the House of Saud ?"

  5. They make it seem like people plan to drive cross country every year or every couple months... that's crazy... When I go on vacation I usually travel 100-300 miles away from home... I go to a cottage around a lake in Knox Indiana and I go to see some friends in Wisconsin which is about 250 miles, if I had the leaf and planed these trips right I can make it in 1-2 days tops (: Cross country? why not take a plane LoL...

  6. GM has it right. Nobody in their right mind will have one car that can only go 100 miles before pausing forever to recharge.

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