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2013 Nissan Leaf to see up to a 25-mile range boost in cold weather

Since the Chevrolet Volt has been getting the bulk of the attention -- and criticism -- in recent months, it's rather easy to overlook the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf, unlike the Volt, is a pure electric vehicle and doesn't have a gasoline engine/generator to fall back on once its battery pack is depleted.
The Leaf currently has an EPA rating of 99 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) and an EPA driving range of 73 miles, although Nissan still says that the Leaf can travel up to 100 miles depending on the driving conditions. The company is now reporting that the observed range of the 2013 Leaf will increase in at least one environmental condition that traditionally saps power from electric vehicles: cold weather.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan says that 2013 model year Leafs will have a more efficient heating system that will reduce energy consumption. As a result, drivers will see cold-weather driving range increase by 20 to 25 miles according to The Detroit News.  Mark Perry, Nissans' director of product and advanced planning, says that it's currently unclear if the EPA ratings for the Leaf will change as a result, but the mileage boost drivers would see will be there nonetheless.
Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs for all of 2011 compared to just 7,671 for the Chevrolet Volt. However, Toyota recently kicked sand in both GM and Nissan's face. Toyota reported that it sold more of its fresh Prius C hybrids (1,201 units) in three days than the number of Volts or Leafs sold for the entire month of February.
The Nissan Leaf will face some more “pure electric” competition this fall from the Ford Focus Electric.

Sources: The Detroit News, Toyota

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Can we get an explanation?
By Varun on 3/20/2012 4:38:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think it is all well and good that they have a newly designed heater. What is it though? Electric heat is already close to 100% efficient now, so are they harvesting heat from the air or something? A heat pump?

RE: Can we get an explanation?
By chris2618 on 3/20/2012 5:10:42 PM , Rating: 1
If i was to heat up your room from the street using a heater it would need a larger heater that would use more power than if you just had a heating in your room which would use less power.

RE: Can we get an explanation?
By Guspaz on 3/20/2012 5:13:54 PM , Rating: 2
Battery efficiency drops substantially if the battery gets too cold, so the 2012 Leaf included a battery warmer. It's likely that they improved the efficiency of transferring the heat from the warmer to the batteries in the 2013 model (you don't want to lose any heat to the environment), perhaps improving the insulation. They may also have improved the car's insulation to reduce heat-loss for the cabin heater.

RE: Can we get an explanation?
By lennylim on 3/20/2012 5:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
In the current design, the heater works by first heating up a coolant reservoir, and is horribly inefficient. First, it takes time to heat up the reservoir (minutes), and it draws as much as 1.5 kW.

The new heater is (I read) heat pump above 40 degrees F, and resistive heating below that. I'm not sure how accurate this is.

RE: Can we get an explanation?
By Jedi2155 on 3/20/2012 11:39:13 PM , Rating: 2
I'm hearing my Volt draws as much as 7 kW power (anecdotal, I hope someone has the real numbers) to heat up the coolant reservoir which is insane, but once it is heated up you probably only need to provide a very little extra energy.

I've been hearing from many that the most efficient heating system is the heat pump which is probably what Nissan is going to switch to. The original RAV4 EV also used a heat pump. It could provide heating or cooling as you just run it in reverse.

RE: Can we get an explanation?
By Varun on 3/21/2012 9:40:00 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks Lennylim. I looked at the original source article and it also said nothing, so they must be doing a heat pump then.

Wintertime blues
By drycrust3 on 3/20/2012 4:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
Nissan says that 2013 model year Leafs will have a more efficient heating system that will reduce energy consumption.

Many people want the air temperature in their car (or house) in the winter time to be something akin to summertime, i.e. above 20 deg C.
My current belief is this is unnecessary if you wear proper winter clothing, but there are two essential factors that you need to consider.
The first is that you try and keep the air temperature above the temperature that the nasal passages can get damaged by cold air. My best guess is this damage occurs when the air temperature drops below about 12 deg C, i.e. if you dress warm and as long as the air temperature in the vehicle is above the temperature where your nose is affected by the cold, then your health is also unaffected.
The other essential factor when driving in the winter time (or when it is raining and people with wet raincoats or umbrellas get into the vehicle) is condensation on the windscreen and windows, and in some ways this is the more important aspect of keeping the interior of a vehicle warm: to control the humidity so as to keep the windscreen and windows clear.
I think to get an extra 25 miles from the car is quite a feat, but I also think drivers of current electric cars should be able to get close to this by choosing the right dress attire and air ventilation settings, or that Nissan's extra 25 miles could be wasted by using the wrong attire and ventilation settings.
The point being that in an electric vehicle the air ventilation controls aren't just something to play with, every choice of setting has a greater impact on a vehicles' range than it does in an equivalent internal combustion engine vehicle, so they have to be used wisely.

RE: Wintertime blues
By Busboy2 on 3/20/2012 7:47:32 PM , Rating: 2
My best guess is this damage occurs when the air temperature drops below about 12 deg C

Umm I live in Canada and I don't even put on a hat unless its below -10 deg C... Don't think I'm getting any nasal damage either.

RE: Wintertime blues
By drycrust3 on 3/20/2012 9:22:12 PM , Rating: 2
My thanks for the advice.
The 12 degrees C was more of a starting point. Things like how fast a person inhales obviously affects the chances of damage to the nose. Obviously I need to do more work.

RE: Wintertime blues
By mindless1 on 3/20/2012 10:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
Regardless, there have been plenty of cases of Frostbite around that temperature level so it's not just about nasal passages, people aren't going to cover up their nose, ears, and always wear gloves just to eek out a few more miles, unless they're nuts or it's an emergency situation.

It's a bit crazy, yeah let's sacrifice everything for the sake of driving further. Heck, let's just not put heaters in homes either, we can wear more clothing and cuddle together in a small tin foil lined box.

No. I won't. be. cold. I'd build a friggin' wood stove where the passenger seat usually is before I'd dress for even 12C weather just to drive somewhere (though I do keep winter attire in the vehicle in case of a breakdown or other reason to leave the vehicle for any extended length of time).

RE: Wintertime blues
By Manch on 3/21/2012 10:41:54 AM , Rating: 2
Thre is no equivalent ICE vehicle. They're all better than these battery powered rip offs. 12c = 53.6f If this is the danger threshold then mainland europe needs to watch out! The Vikings will be fleeing there lands shortly to escpe the terror of nose bleeds....

"fall back on"?
By CharonPDX on 3/20/2012 3:29:31 PM , Rating: 2
The Leaf, unlike the Volt, is a pure electric vehicle and doesn't have a gasoline engine/generator to fallback on once its battery pack is depleted.

Also: "The Model T, unlike the Elkhart 619 Carriage, is a pure gasoline vehicle, and doesn't have a horse to fallback on once it runs out of gasoline."

RE: "fall back on"?
By Dorkyman on 3/21/2012 11:55:50 AM , Rating: 2
So what's your point?

Range is the Achilles Heel of this car, so the quote makes sense.

The Volt DOES have an engine to fall back on, making it a much more useful and practical transportation device.

Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By kjboughton on 3/20/12, Rating: -1
By ianweck on 3/20/2012 2:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
So sad. You got the first post and this is what you come up with?

By mephit13 on 3/20/2012 3:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, who is forcing you to buy this? Or drive with the heater off? Or whatever else you're outraged about? I thought this was just information about a company improving one of their products. Do I need to buy one too? I hope I can use the heater, because I get cold in the winter time... now I'm scared. Confused and scared. What if someone finds out that I use the heater in my car, or that I don't want to buy one of these? Now there are wolves after me...

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By Dr of crap on 3/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By mephit13 on 3/20/2012 3:11:54 PM , Rating: 2
It's not about heating the battery, it about heating the passenger cabin. On a cold day, you can now be warmer with less cost to the battery.

WHAT article is this guy reading?!

By Dr of crap on 3/21/2012 10:16:23 AM , Rating: 2
OK smart guy.
I drive to work and the BATTERY HEATS the "cabin" while I'm at work, using up battery power. ( remember it's zero outside )

Now I get in at 5 to drive home and it has NOT been plugged in. NO WAY I'm making it home.

Now give me an explaination of why this is even posted as news?

Again these cars are not made for the cold climate areas.
We need heat and lots of it when it gets "real" cold.

By jnemesh on 3/20/2012 4:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
What are these guys smoking!

SCIENCE! Try a hit man, it's informative and fun!

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By wordsworm on 3/20/2012 4:43:46 PM , Rating: 1
What pisses me off is having to pay for the wars required to wage in order to secure enough oil to feed all the hungry gas engines around the world. Folks who rail against electric and tax breaks always forget about the cost of going to war in Iraq to take control over their oil.

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By jimbojimbo on 3/20/2012 5:44:45 PM , Rating: 2
Let's go to war over rare earth metals instead. Except we'll lose that one.

By lennylim on 3/20/2012 6:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
Except we don't need to. We have supplies of raw rare earth metals, it's just cheaper buying them from China up to now.

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By Keeir on 3/20/2012 6:06:26 PM , Rating: 2
You do release that very little rare earth metals have to be used in a Lithium based battery right? Electric Car Motors don't have to use rare earth either...

Maybe you mean Lithium? Which is not a rare earth metal and primarily comes from Chile currently.

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By bobsmith1492 on 3/20/2012 7:47:34 PM , Rating: 2
What alternatives are there to neodymium for high-performance electric motors?

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By Keeir on 3/20/2012 8:44:21 PM , Rating: 2
Tesla Model S AC induction motor

By Keeir on 3/20/2012 11:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry I was in a hurry

Tesla claims thier AC motors and Battery use little/no rare earth

Rare earth Materials are needed in NiMH batteries (Prius, Civic, etc) and some powerful/compact motors.

Volt for instances uses ~4 lbs of neodymium I believe. (I haven't taken it apart or see a supply sheet, but its a permanent magnet type AC motor)

Now, Neodymium is hardly rare. There are large deposits all over the world.

Currently know reserves of Neodymium exist in the billions of lbs.

Let China play "hardball" with "rare" earth minerals. It will hopefully give all the other nations a kick in the pants to start thier own operations. I know there are a few canadian companies out there just a year or two from market (Like Avalon) on some Rare Earth products.

By topkill on 3/20/2012 11:32:43 PM , Rating: 2
Switch Reluctance Motors (SMR) are also becoming popular because of their power and efficiency potential....and they use no fancy metals of any type. Instead they use steel, aluminium and copper which are all available in good old America.

RE: Heat? We don't need no stinking heat!
By Manch on 3/21/2012 11:18:31 AM , Rating: 1
What pisses me off is folks who rail against oil, and are blindly pushing these electric vehicles as the answer to reduce oil consumption dont realize that a lot of the oil is used by powerplants to create the electricity. about 44% of the power produced in the USA is from oil, and the need would only grow if we went wholesale to these electric vehicles. Then theres the issue of rare earth materials on top of that

And then theres the tried arguement of Iraq War is for oil. Iraq supplies less than 5% of our oil so enough with this BS arguement already.

Also, the reason people rail against these tax breaks is becasue they only help a few people for the amount of money they flush down the drain. This isnt a tax break for nuclear power, its a tax break for a few people that want to "feel godd" about helping the environment. I dont want my taxes to subsidize peoples f#ckin feelings.

By MoFW on 3/22/2012 5:32:50 AM , Rating: 2
Sources of U.S. Electricity Generation 2011:
Coal 42%
Natural Gas 25%
Nuclear 19%
Renewable 13%
Petroleum <1%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration:

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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