2013 Nissan Leaf: 75-Mile Range 'Anticipated' In New Test By EPA

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2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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It's the last piece of information on the new and updated 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car that everyone's been waiting for: its range.

The projected number, Nissan says, is 75 miles--but that shouldn't be compared to the 73-mile range of the 2011 and 2012 Leaf models.

That's because the EPA changed the test procedures it uses to calculates range for electric cars for the 2013 model year.

Before this year, the range estimate assumed a battery pack that was charged to 100 percent of its capacity.

Many electric cars--the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S among them--offer owners the ability to limit charge to 80 percent of capacity.

While this reduces range, it also prolongs battery life and takes disproportionately less time, since the final 20 percent of a battery pack tops off at a slower rate.

The EPA's new testing procedure averages the ranges achieved from an 80-percent charge (known as Long-Life Mode charging) and a 100-percent charge (called Long-Distance Mode charging).

For the 2013 Nissan Leaf, the maker estimates those ranges to be 66 miles and 84 miles respectively.

So comparing last year's apples to this year's gives a range improvement of 15 percent, from 73 to 84 miles--even though that's not what will appear on the window sticker.

The improvement in apples-to-apples range is largely due, Nissan says, to improvements in the Leaf's regenerative braking, reduced aerodynamic drag, and a slightly lower vehicle weight.

So, the range of the 2013 Nissan Leaf is either 66 miles or 84 miles, or a number somewhere in between--depending on how you charge the car.

The default charging on new 2013 Nissan Leaf electric cars is set to Long-Distance Mode, though owners can easily reset that default to Long-Life Mode.

Nissan notes that regardless of charging mode, its battery capacity warranty--added in December after a few high-mileage Leafs in very hot Phoenix lost notable battery capacity--guarantees that at least 70 percent of battery capacity will remain after five years or 60,000 miles.

To give the battery its best shot at longest life, however, owners may elect to charge only to 80 percent when they don't expect to travel more than 60 miles in a day--especially in the temperate climates where there's no winter weather to reduce range below projections.

The official EPA range ratings should be released by early March, Nissan says.

2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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Meanwhile, it's permitted to put the projected range rating(s) on the window stickers of the 2013 Leafs now being built in Tennessee and shipped out to dealerships all over the U.S.

Prices for the 2013 Nissan Leaf start at $28,800 for the base Leaf S model, rising to $34,840 for the SL model, plus a mandatory $850 destination fee on all models.

The Nissan Leaf qualifies for a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit for the purchase of a plug-in car, as well as various other types of state, regional, local, and corporate incentives.

Nissan hopes the lower prices and improved range, performance, and equipment level will boost Leaf sales in 2013 from their previous levels between 9,000 and 10,000 a year in 2011 and 2012.

We've long said, "Your mileage may vary"--will we now begin saying, "Your range may vary"?

Most likely.

How do you feel about the 2013 Leaf's projected range of 84 miles (at 100 percent charging)? Was it the increase you expected?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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