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2011 Nissan Leaf: GreenCarReports Best Car To Buy 2011 Page 2

 
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2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

We set up the award rules this way: GreenCarReports’ “Best Green Car to Buy Award” is chosen from a field of the most significant new vehicles with advanced fuel-saving technology, including stand-alone nameplates and single models alike. Editors judge the award using the same system sister site TheCarConnection employs to rate mainstream passenger cars and trucks, with environmental impact being the deciding factor in favor of the winner.

To be honest, we sweated over the choice this year. The 2011 Volt is, in some ways, a more appealing vehicle. And it’s truly a daring departure for the usually staid GM.

But in our reviews on TheCarConnection, the 2011 Leaf scored 8.2 out of 10 while the Volt scored 8.0. A close matchup, especially since those two were the only cars of any on sale in the country to achieve a perfect 10 in our new Green Rating score.

We like the Volt’s handling better, its high-line models are undeniably more luxurious inside, and the performance of its more powerful 111-kilowatt electric drive motor is better.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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Volt: great capabilities, for some

But to provide the ability to exceed 100 miles, which qualifies it to be a household’s sole car—if you’re in a household where a four-seat compact costing $41,000 is a practical only car—the Volt uses gasoline.

True, it may use almost none, if you recharge a Volt every night and drive it only 40 miles a day. But we think the difference between 70-odd and 90-odd percent of your travels on grid power alone is a significant dividing line between gasoline and no-gasoline.

If it’s any consolation, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt was a very close second. We applaud the Volt team for their efforts, and they have absolutely nothing at all to be ashamed of.

After all: Would you have expected General Motors, just five years ago, to offer a car like the 2011 Volt for sale? Of course not.

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

Enlarge Photo

We continue to think the Volt is an excellent choice for that subset of households that have only one car, have less predictable duty cycles, or whose members can’t get past their range anxiety.

Chevy Volt, we salute you. And we award you and your creators an honorable silver medal. But for the gold, this year, it’s the Leaf.

The 2011 Nissan Leaf is the sole vehicle from a major automaker that lets its buyers dispense with gasoline, entirely and fully. That’s a radical concept, but it’s one we think will appeal to more buyers over time than the naysayers can imagine.

Green? Energy hawk? Or just cheap bastard?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter why you want to dispense with gasoline. Maybe you’re concerned about climate change and your carbon footprint. That makes you “green.”

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Enlarge Photo

Or maybe you want to fight back against the continuing U.S. dependence on petroleum imported from nations—to put it bluntly—whose values are antithetical to ours. If so, you’re the “energy security” folks.

Maybe you like the lifetime cost savings of fueling your car at just one-third to one-fifth the per-mile cost of gasoline. You’ll see your payback over several years, even for this first generation of electric car. We fondly call you the “cheap bastard” buyers.

You might even be one of the folks who just likes electric cars for how they drive: lots of torque off the mark, no engine or transmission noises rising and falling, just smooth, continuous electric power.

And that’s not even to mention the folks who will hot-rod their Leafs, trading off range for power. That’ll come too.

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

2011 Nissan Leaf, Nashville, October 2010

Enlarge Photo

First practical electric car

For all of you—and the millions more conventional, suburban American car buyers who aren’t even aware that electric cars have arrived—the 2011 Nissan Leaf will be the first car you can practically use in real life without pumping a single ounce of gasoline into it.

And that’s why the new Nissan Leaf is our GreenCarReports 2011 Best Car To Buy.

Congratulations, Nissan!

Now … what’s next?




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Comments (24)
  1. Between the two Volt or Leaf. I (being single and would have only one car unless I win the lottery would go with the Volt) However, I agree with your decision. Most household in the US have multiple cars and anyone with a feasible charging location should seriously consider getting the car.
     
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  2. Between the two Volt or Leaf. I (being single and would have only one car unless I win the lottery would go with the Volt) However, I agree with your decision. Most household in the US have multiple cars and anyone with a feasible charging location should seriously consider getting the car.
     
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  3. Had my Leaf test drive a few weeks ago, and think the car is a winner. I've been driving a Prius for years and before that a Porsche. The Leaf is a fun car and I will enjoy charging it up with my solar array at home.
     
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  4. "After all: Would you have expected General Motors, just five years ago, to offer a car like the 2011 Volt for sale? Of course not."
    5 years ago not, but 10 years ago, maybe... I mean after EV1 that would be logical.
    So GM now deserves not to be in Fist place.
     
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  5. The Volt team has nothing to be ashamed of? Were shall I start? The Volt Dance? the 230 MPG claim, using 10.8 KWH of the battery pack rather than the 8 KWH they claimed, the overweight 3800 lbs car, the fact that motor connects directly to the wheels unlike what they have been telling us for years, the low MPG is CS mode. Shall I go on?
     
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  6. On the facts alone, this is in error. The natural gas powered Civic GX has been doing daily duty in the hands of regular customers for six years now!! And the LEAF's "well to wheel" coal-powered carbon footprint is not superior to a high-mileage (40mpg or more) hybrid car that costs thousands less, has a 200-mile plus driving range and can be refueled in minutes not hours. And that's why EVs won't capture even 1% of the market in the next five years.
     
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  7. @Dandybydo: I suppose the Civic GX is a minor footnote to the "no-gasoline" claim. However, Honda has sold about 2,000 per year for the last decade, so if even half the projected 20,000 Leafs are sold in Year One, that equals all the Civic GXes.
    And according to data from the EPRI-NRDC report and the U.S. DoE on the carbon footprint of different states, you are in error on the carbon footprint of a 40-MPG hybrid. In only one or two edge-case states (the very dirtiest), does that even come close to parity with a plug-in. In all other states, a mile driven on grid power is clearly lower-carbon. Not that people will buy electric cars because of carbon footprint, IMHO.
     
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  8. ..You Morons! The Chevy VOLT is a REAL CAR--FOR real People! Wait to you 2-car owners forget to buy YOUR Chinese "organic" Veggies and have to 'run' out again!!??OOPPSS!! 40 miles-MAYBE! MAYBE 37. 38, 39...42 MAYBE 34, if Cold and ICY?? Always a 0 Footprint, heh!? The ultimate game of Organic-Chicken?
     
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  9. First of all John V, it is a LEAF, not leaf...it's an acronym. Secondly, for whatever reason, you left out AZ (Phoenix Area) as one of the first five roll out states.
    Dave Bailey, you're the only one on here sounding like a moron. ROFLMAO...the Volt is a real car? It's JUST another hybrid, and a complicated,expensive one too! Let's get REAL here: LEAF= 100 miles or more,Zero emissions/footprint when charged with renewable sources like many people do with PVs. Volt = BIG OIL,Monies to foreign countries, and Terrorist support.
     
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  10. Jeesh, Bill3 and the others - we should applaud any electric car, plug-in hybrid, or heck, any vehicle that is getting better than 45 MPG! If we can get any measurable amount of market penetration by any of these vehicles, it is a start to reducing dependence on foreign oil and slowing global change.
     
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  11. @Used Equipments The LEAF is $33,000 -$7,500 federal tax credit (assuming you can get it).
    @John Voelcker So is the real problem with the Civic GX the fact that it did not sell? Should there have been $7500 federal tax credit? Or did that lack of infrastructure doom natural gas vehicles. This always seemed like such a great solution.
     
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  12. Personally, the Leaf would not work for me since I drive at least 40 miles every day (20 miles to work and back) and if I run errands on the way home it will be more than that. A car which needs to be charged at around every 100 miles would be extremely unpractical for me.
    I am single person and only need one car. I think 41k for the Volt is reasonable; my current Benz cost more (23 mpg on the fwy I think but hey, it's a Benz!). I wouldn't want to be one of the Volt's first customers though, I'd rather wait until they iron their kinks/growing pains out.
     
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  13. VOLT - practical. LEAF - not. End of story.
     
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  14. Here's a thought: LEAF and Volt have both stirred up a great deal of excitement in the marketplace. They both reduce the carbon footprint, help reduce the dependence on foreign oil, look great, drive well, and are right for some people in some situations. LEAF won Green Car Journal Best Car to Buy 2011, but they're both winners.
     
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  15. Oops, my bad. I meant to credit Green Car Reports in my previous post.
     
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  16. Calling the LEAF 'practical' is a stretch, considering it requires much more owner attention than a standard car or even a Volt, and faces inadequate support from public infrastructure. Sorry, but in five years, the LEAF will be little more than a footnote in automotive history while the Volt will be going strong, credited with being the first PRACTICAL electric powered car, and serving as the cornerstone for an enduring market segment of vehicles powered by electricity. The Volt may not be perfect, but because of its combination of green capabilities with extended range, it will be the Volt which will impact America's car culture to the extent that people will more and more be looking forward to a greener future.
     
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  17. I think the electric drive platform has allot going for it. Compared to fuel cells, there is no comparison, elect infrastructure is here now! As far as how much coal it takes, that is a worst case supply scenario. I could say how many lives, how many wars, how many gallons in the gulf of Mexico, or Alaskan waters, not to mention oil drips on every inch of road that migrate to streams and lakes with the rains. Internal Combustion Engines are complicated, messy, difficult to clean up the emissions, and they get worse over time. My nose runs when I get behind a diesel bus or pick up. There are many fuels that can make electricity. We are even turning Russian Nukes into fuel rods, over 15,000 warheads so far. Now is the time for change.
    https://www.drivenissanleaf.com/Win/Vote.aspx?b=uz36tcrthsk2
     
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  18. Adn what do you do when your trup is more than 100 miles roundtrip, or the temp was 110 and the AC was on all the time? You just went by that BP battery swap station, and you could not swap your battery because its hard-wired into the car, something you would not tolerate in a cell-phone or a camera, or a rechargeable drill. It makes no sense to buy a car where half of the price is tied to a component whose future is inevitable deterioration
     
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  19. The Chevrolet Volt creates jobs for Americans. I know it's old-fashioned to care about American jobs but I can dream that it might catch on some day.
     
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  20. Please look at the facts about the LEAF
    http://www.plugincars.com/no-active-thermal-management-did-nissan-make-right-call.html
    http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2010/09/ford-liquid-coolingheating-is-key-to-electric-vehicle-battery-thermal-management/
    If you want a quality EV you need to buy American.
     
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  21. John, you stated: "...its overall “wells-to-wheels” carbon footprint is significantly lower than any 25-mpg car in the market."
    Do you have any numbers to back your statement? Exactly how much is considered significant?
    Thanks,
     
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  22. @Bob: Yes, the gold standard in my view is the two-volume 2007 analysis jointly issued by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). It looks at total wells-to-wheels carbon impact, and if you use their data and combine it with the DoE's summmaries of the carbon emissions per kilowatt-hour of electric power in each of the 50 states, you find that even on the very dirtiest grid (N Dakota, maybe?), a mile driven electrically has a lower carbon impact than one driven in a 25-mpg car. When you compare to 50 mpg (e.g. 2011 Toyota Prius), that electric mile from the dirtiest grid is now slightly worse. But California, where the bulk of plug-ins will be sold and which has a fairly low-carbon grid, requires you to get to something like 80 or 100 mpg before there's parity.
     
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  23. Now this is WWW.GREENAGENEWS.com Its about time... AIR WATER !!!!!!!!!!!
    Ray
     
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  24. I so love this car. I got mine from Midway Nissan last year and I'm enjoying driving it. It is so economical for me.
     
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