2013 Nissan Leaf Real-World Range: Is It Any Higher?

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2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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it might not have been the number people were hoping for, but at 75 miles, an extra two miles of EPA range for the 2013 Nissan Leaf still represents an improvement.

Even more so considering the EPA's electric car testing procedure for 2013 averages results from 100 percent and 80 percent charges, rather than just taking the 100 percent figure.

But, charged to the full 100 percent, will the 2013 Leaf match the 84 miles quoted in EPA testing? Apparently not.

A comparative test by Inside EVs reveals the 2013 Leaf actually lacks a little range compared to the pre-tweak 2012 model.

Testing in southern California saw the earlier car achieve 88.7 miles on a charge, while the 2013 car only managed 81.8 miles. Both these figures were error corrected for odometer inaccuracies, as well as corrections for small variations in battery capacity--the actual distances driven were a little less.

Both those figures are better than the mid-70s recorded in EPA testing of course, but for drivers expecting to match the 84 miles recorded by the EPA for 100 percent capacity, it may come as a surprise that the old 73-mile car is capable of going further on a charge.

There are some factors which may be influencing the results. One is that the test, conducted at a steady 62 mph as much as possible, may not be showing off the new car's improvements to the full.

Nissan's 2013 changes include lower weight and regenerative braking improvements--both of which would be more apparent in stop-start traffic and at lower speeds, rather than steady freeway pace. It suggests Nissan's aerodynamic improvements may be negligible, however.

The test was also conducted without the new Leaf's more efficient heater running. This would naturally  reduce its range, but the lower power draw in the 2013 car means on a cold day, with the heater running, the 2013 model would stand a better chance of driving further.

The next, as the 2013 car's owner points out in the article's comments, is his SL model's larger wheels and tires. They add weight to the car in perhaps the least ideal place--its spinning, rolling mass.

That either Leaf can do over 80 miles at modest highway speeds (albeit only just, in the 2013 car's case) isn't bad given the official EPA numbers--and it's likely both will be better at lower speeds.

We'll also have to wait and see just how much difference the more efficient heating makes for Leaf drivers in colder climates--not something SoCal drivers can really test. But it seems like the 2013 Leaf is best optimized for driving at lower speeds. And, if you're seeking real efficiency, avoid larger wheel and tire combos.

But the final conclusion is, as ever: Your mileage may vary.


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