Advertisement

Does the 2011 Nissan Leaf Deliver Its 100 Miles Of All-Electric Range?

Follow Nikki

Taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Pre-Production Test.

Taken in Lisbon, Portugal. Pre-Production Test.

Enlarge Photo
Your Mileage May Vary. One of the terms banded about time and time again by automakers as a justification for why your car doesn’t get the fuel economy it says your car should. The reason? Fuel economy is affected by many different variables, from the mood of the driver to the weather, tire condition and even the type of shoes the driver is wearing. 

The official EPA figures for the 2011 Nissan Leaf haven’t been released yet, and while Nissan has been open about the expected variances in range between optimal driving conditions and poor driving conditions after a series of computer simulations, we had one burning question. 

Does the 2011 Nissan Leaf get 100 miles to a charge, or is the list range something only elite hypermiling ninjas can achieve?

So when Nissan Europe invited us to Portugal to test-drive the closest example to a production version of the car we’ve seen, we jumped at the chance. 

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo
The car we drove, in a brilliant white, was made as part of the production test-run in Oppama, Japan. While these vehicles will never see life beyond the Nissan press corp, the vehicle we drove was as close to the cars which started rolling off the production line last week as we’ve seen so far. 

While the European 2011 Nissan Leaf is only offered in one trim level, the car we drove was comparable to the SL trim option for the U.S. market, with solar panel, fast-charge port, fog lights, rear-view camera and automatic headlights. 

Setting out on one of the three routes Nissan Europe had pre-programmed into our car, we soon discovered that even in Eco mode, the 2011 Nissan Leaf could easily keep up with traffic. Our goal: to drive as we would in an everyday situation to see if Nissan’s claim of a 100 mile range was realistic. 

While most of the trip would be in the car’s “Eco” mode, we vowed to keep up with traffic, not break the speed limit and to only use the car’s additional electrical systems when we needed to. 

Being a European car, the odometer and speedometer read in kilometres instead of miles so our target figure for range was 161km.  Throughout the trip we aimed to keep the odometer plus indicated remaining range as close to that figure as possible.

2011 Nissan Leaf European Test Routes

2011 Nissan Leaf European Test Routes

Enlarge Photo
Heading west out of Lisbon and into the country, our first demo route rose up into the hills north of the seaside town of Cascais before returning back to Lisbon with fast freeway driving.  While our trip west was on roads limited to no more than 50 mph, the return loop allowed us to push the Leaf at freeway speeds, with our co-driver keeping up with traffic at speeds exceeding 75 mph. 

Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (8)
  1. A very interesting read - I was hanging on every word!
    Including the details of your journalist counterparts in their cars was quite intriguing too, it gave an insight into the slightly unrealistic driving techniques of some media when determining everyday range. I think your varied but typical driving style is more realistic for the majority than the windows-down-aircon-up approach.
    You're still one of the few in the world to drive that machine too - are you in the top 100 of media do you think? I'd be quietly smiling if I were you. ;)
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. I want to see what Motor Trend does with this vehicle, this test seem much to lite. Even with optimal driving conditions, 100 miles wasn't achieved, albeit very close.
    Motor Trend floored the Volt for several days and got a combined 126.7 mpg, I'm certain the Leaf would have gotten drastically lower EV range in such a test.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. Congratulations Nikki for the great report.
    Just one very small remark if you dont mind, The quick chargers used aren't from NISSAN but from a portuguese company called MOBI-e that is responsible to cover Portugal with L2 and L3 chargers.
    I really hope you enjoyed my living area in Portugal.
    I hardly can't wait to receive my White LEAF ETA FEB-APR2011.
    Regards
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. To be clear, Motor Trend got gasoline mileage averaged in the 30's and electric range in the 30's. When they took total gasoline used in gasoline mode divided total miles traveled in both modes, it came up with that number. And they did a wide range of driving. Their "floored" was when MT "ran with the traffic -- 75-80 mph" roughly equivalent of the “75 mph+” in Niki’s test. And all of their trips fell within the range of the LEAF. Overall, Niki's LEAF test is much closer to manufacturer's claims than what MT got with the Volt... but only with side by side comparison testing under the same conditions will we really have a good judge of their performance.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. okay, it sounds like the leaf is not really gonna get 100 miles for most people.
    i was also told that it was not gonna be sold in certain areas, where there are temperature extremes. can anyone else confirm this ?
    it will still function fine for the majority of people. as i said before, nissan just needs to make sure that it doesnt sell to someone, for whom the car obviously will not perform for said person.
    the leaf does not need to meet the needs of everyone. at the moment, price is the biggest deterrent. so i am glad that nissan does not have a fancy thermal management system, and has a cheaper price because of it.
    coda has a tms. there will probably be some other models with a tms. it is not necessary for every ev to have a tms. i think it is likely that it will become an accessory, down the road. where you can buy a model with or without it. there are a lot of people who wont need it.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. Very interesting to hear a "real-world" test of this car. Basically, it sounds like the 100 mile per charge range is quite realistic if you're paying attention but you'll probably come up a bit short if you're driving too hard.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. We just drove the LEAF 30 miles @ 70mph. We got between 3.8 - 4.6 miles per kWh "average" on the LEAF's Energy Economy screen. That's two 200lb passengers; no ECO mode; AC on (fan on low). That's like 90+ miles to empty at freeway speeds, provided one could maintain at least 3.8 miles per kWh for the entire 24kWh!
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  8. We'll see what the EPA rate the Volt soon enough, I think?
    The best data we have so far is the 116.1 mile drive linked by Nikki: http://www.plugincars.com/nissan-leaf-116-mile-range.html
    So, that is ~5.1 miles / kWh or ~196Wh / mile. Much better than the EPA's 2.94 miles / kWh and 340Wh / mile.
    Some ecodriving might get this down to 160-175Wh / mile? This would put the range as high as 140 miles...
    Sincerely, Neil
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement

Find Green Cars

Go!
Advertisement

Advertisement

 
© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.