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.