2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone App

2011 Nissan LEAF iPhone App

Last week at one of the first 2011 Nissan Leaf deliveries we spoke briefly with Mark Perry, Nissan's director of product planning and strategy, about the Leaf's driving range, and whether the recently released EPA driving range of 73 miles—the range that will be printed on every U.S. window sticker—will have any impact on how the automaker promotes the all-electric car.

According to Perry, nothing will change in the automaker's 100-mile-range messaging. "The car still goes 100 miles in a single charge," he said.

Several tests, all with different numbers

But that might not be the end of the story. To make the matter confusing, there are five or six different driving cycles that people might use. For instance, the EPA uses one, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) uses another, and California's LA4 test is another.

Alongside the EPA's 73-mile (or 34 kW-hr/100 miles) test range, the FTC found the Leaf's range to be 96 to 110 miles.

And to make things even a little more confusing, he Leaf's EPA gasoline-equivalent ratings, of 106 mpg city, 92 highway (99 combined), are potentially confusing as it uses no liquid fuel whatsoever.

Perry says that the LA4 test, also more generous than the EPA cycle, was used throughout the Leaf's development and most closely mirrors the driving conditions U.S. Leafs will see.

"If you drive it in an aggressive manner, no, you're not going to see a hundred miles. But Perry says that most will do better than the EPA numbers. "It's biased toward freeway driving, and it's biased with all your air conditioning, climate control running all the time."

Your own range may vary

That's not an EV's primary mode of operation, he said, estimating that most Americans in will see 80 to 110 miles in real-world conditions.

But Nissan acknowledges that drivers will see a wide range of figures based on a number of variables—some within the driver's control, others not—like driving style; the use of accessories and climate control; and outside temperature.

"We've said 60 to 140 is what a consumer can do," said Perry. "So somewhere in there is what your experience will be."