Simulated: Nissan LEAF's Range In Variety Of Traffic, Weather Conditions

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Nissan has released official range estimates, based on computer simulation of a brand-new LEAF (meaning with a brand-new battery), in a variety of weather and driving conditions. Whether the aim of the estimates is to reduce so-called range anxiety or not (even though early-adopters aren't likely to have such concerns at all), they do shed some light on just how capable the LEAF is.

If you're at all familiar with EV technology, you know that temperature can drastically affect real-world range through a variety of factors, as can driving conditions. But precisely how much impact these will have on a given car/battery combo isn't easy to deduce. Thanks to Nissan's simulations--provided they're reasonably comparable to real-world results--you don't have to.

The oft-quoted 100-mile range for the LEAF is achieved under the conditions of the EPA LA4 test cycle: city driving, a top speed of 56.7 mph and average speed of 19.59 mph, ambient temperature varying from 68-86 degrees, the LEAF's climate control off. In other words, right in the LEAF's sweet spot, right? It turns out there are more ideal conditions.

Maximum range of 138 miles is obtained in the simulation by driving on a flat road at a constant 38 mph in 68-degree weather. This obviates the need for climate control, and air resistance is minimized at this speed.

Minimum range comes in winter. Driving in the city, assuming stop-and-go traffic, averaging 15 mph on a 14-degree day with the heater running, the LEAF will still net you 62 miles of range, again according to Nissan's computer-simulated variables.

Hot weather isn't much better for the LEAF's range: on a 110-degree day at 49 mph average (imagine a rural drive in the Southwest U.S. during summer) the LEAF will get you 68 miles from your starting point. Using the air conditioning takes a big chunk out of the battery's capacity.

Even in the worst of these scenarios, however, the LEAF provides a very usable range. The variance of about 40 percent above and below the EPA-rated simulation of 100 miles covers the vast majority of the situations one is likely to find behind the wheel.

It's food for thought for the range-anxious, and Nissan goes on to give some tips for maximizing range and long-term battery life in addition to a few more driving-range scenarios on its U.S. consumer site at the link below.

[Nissan USA]

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Comments (5)
  1. "Hot weather isn't much better for the LEAF's range: on a 110-degree day at 49 mph average (imagine a rural drive in the Southwest U.S. during summer) the LEAF will get you 68 miles from your starting point"
    This scenario is unrealistic in Phoenix. Typical speeds on main commuter routes, e.g. 101 and 202, are near the posted limit of 65mph. Going much slower would impede traffic and be dangerous. Round trip commutes of 40 miles or more are common. The average buyer of a Nissan Leaf would probably have an income that puts his home in a nicer area which usually means a longer commute to work.
    As a test, I googled the distance from Phoenix airport (which is closer than downtown Phoenix) to the Mayo Clinic, a common trip for their patients. The distance is 24.1 mi using a freeway and 28.5 mi avoiding the freeway. Could a patient who rents a Leaf at the airport make the round trip on a hot day?
    This seems to raise the question of why Phoenix is a roll-out city for the Leaf. Comments would be welcome.

  2. @Desertstraw: The 49 mph was an average speed, which is about what you'd attain if you made a typical trip on the freeway at 65 mph. The average speed takes into account all the stops and starts required even in a high-speed commute.

  3. gslippy. I must have some sort of magic carpet, even at rush hour I can get on the HOV lane of 101 and set my cruise control at 65 and be passed by others who swing around me.

  4. The Leaf is a great option for me.... My commute everyday is 45-50 miles round trip, flat roads(central Florida), average temp below 90 and above 60 and commuter traffic speed average thru town around 35 mph... man ! if i just stop driving my truck to work and only use it to haul my boat and major trips I could save at least $60 $70 per week in gas! Does anyone know what they will be leasing them for? If its under $300 per month it make total sense just on a savings standpoint, not to mention my satisfaction of taking part in the solution and the problem ! O and lets not forget the priceless moment of GIVING THE FINGER TO THE GREEDY OIL COMPANIES!

  5. Ryan: $349

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