Nissan Leaf Range: How Much Does It Lose In The Cold?

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2012 Nissan Leaf winter test

2012 Nissan Leaf winter test

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Whatever car you drive, whether powered by fossil fuels or electricity, range will vary depending on weather conditions.

Typically, the average gasoline or diesel vehicle will be more economical in warmer weather, and less so when it's cold, where the dense air is matched by larger quantities of fuel.

Electric cars vary too, but a difference of ten miles is rather important when you only have 80-odd to play with anyway. That's what Nissan Leaf owners are finding in Arizona as their batteries struggle in the heat, and it's what owners in colder climates are finding too.

Fleetcarma has compiled data from more than 5,400 trips of Leaf owners throughout North America, to see what effect temperature has on range.

And as the graph shows, it's fairly conclusive--the colder it gets, the less range your Leaf will have.

From a daily range capability of around 65 miles at 86 Fahrenheit, range drops as low as 36-37 miles at extreme lows of -13 F--temperatures recently experienced in Canada and some of the U.S. north east. Beyond temperatures in the mid-80s, range begins to fall again.

Fleetcarma's analysis of Nissan Leaf driving range at different temperatures

Fleetcarma's analysis of Nissan Leaf driving range at different temperatures

Enlarge Photo

Temperatures recorded represent the average temperature during the trip, and distances represent the maximum daily range of each vehicle, calculated from measured watt-hours per mile.

As the blog's author points out, range variation depends on several factors, including driving style and the route of each vehicle. But one reason cold temperatures have such a significant effect is down to how much auxiliary load is required--heaters, lights and other accessories used particularly in winter months all siphon power away from driving range.

So, as if it needed proving, really cold weather certainly makes a large difference to range on cars like the Nissan Leaf, without thermally-managed battery packs.

What can you do to mitigate the effects? Check out our guide featuring six steps to maximize driving range in winter.

[Hat tip: Matthew Stevens]


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