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Nissan Leaf gets 99 MPG with no gas tank
Giving a vehicle that uses no gas a MPG rating is less confusing?

EVs are big news today and there are two high-profile vehicles that use electricity coming to the market in the U.S. very soon. The Nissan Leaf is a pure EV with no emissions and no tail pipe. The Chevy Volt is a more confusing animal with a gasoline engine that charges the battery pack in the car when the electric motor can no longer run alone.

The Leaf has been granted its EPA fuel efficiency label and that's where things get confusing. The EPA was looking for a way to allow consumers to compare EVs to traditional vehicles that use the miles per gallon rating so they concocted a formula that applies a MPG rating to vehicles like the Leaf that use no gasoline.

The EPA figures that 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity is equal to a gallon of gasoline and bases their formula off that number. The official EPA number for the Leaf is 99 miles to a gallon. That number is reached by combining the 106 MPG rating in city driving with the 92 MPG on the highway rating. That is impressive and may be perfect for some drivers. However, many drivers will be concerned about the low driving range for the vehicle. Nissan has long touted that the Leaf will go for 100 miles on a single charge. The EPA put the Leaf through five different tests to simulate different driving situations to arrive at its driving range.

The EPA pegs the Leaf for 73 miles on a fully charged battery. Many factors could change that driving distance though from temperature to how much the AC and other accessories are used. To confuse things even more, on the window of the Leaf the FTC will have a sticker that displays the driving range of the car at 96 to 110 miles on a full charge. 

That means that the Leaf will wear stickers that show an EPA rating for 99 MPG despite the fact it has no fuel, an FTC sticker showing 96 to 110 miles per charge, Nissan's long-touted 100-mile driving range, and the EPA 73 miles per charge number. Oddly, all of these stickers claim the common goal of making it easier for EV shoppers to tell how they equate to other EVs and traditional vehicles as well as hybrids. The EPA figures the Leaf will cost about $561 in electricity yearly.

"We're pleased the label clearly demonstrates the Nissan LEAF to be a best-in-class option, reflecting that it's a pure electric vehicle, uses no gas, has no tailpipe and has zero emissions," said Scott Becker, senior vice president, Finance and Administration, Nissan Americas. "The label provides consumers with a tool to compare alternative-fuel vehicles to those with a traditional internal combustion engine and allows them to make an informed purchase decision."



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More rating nonsense
By torpor on 11/23/2010 10:37:04 AM , Rating: 1
And the Chevy Volt gets a 230MPG rating, even though it does burn gas?

Clearly, the US government's MPG rating has become a game. Although I'm not entirely convinced that this 99MPG rating doesn't have a political source. After all, who would trust Chrysler to issue a fair rating of a Toyota?




RE: More rating nonsense
By 91TTZ on 11/23/2010 11:38:49 AM , Rating: 2
The Volt doesn't get 230 mpg. That was complete BS marketing by GM. I think they were using some really bad math coupled with the idea that you can start the test with a fully charged battery, end the test with a dead battery, and not count the energy that would be required to charge it back up.


RE: More rating nonsense
By torpor on 11/23/2010 11:56:23 AM , Rating: 4
I would accept your "BS marketing" claim if GM ran the test.

It didn't.

GM's majority shareholder ran the tests, and set the ratings score, for both cars.


RE: More rating nonsense
By gregpet on 11/23/2010 11:57:32 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, we get it...you hate GOVT MOTORS, blah, blah, blah...Get over it!


RE: More rating nonsense
By torpor on 11/23/2010 12:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
My feelings on the matter of the US government owning a private manufacturer aren't important to this conversation, and I certainly didn't mention what I thought of the arrangement.

This is simply a clear and obvious conflict of interest.

And now you've gone from being obtuse to being a troll. Buh-bye.


RE: More rating nonsense
By FITCamaro on 11/23/2010 12:35:46 PM , Rating: 2
Well they claimed they based it on the Volts average driving situation in a back and forth to work environment. If you drove the average commute you'd use x amount of gas. Then factor in how long it'd take to actually use the tank. Then look at actual mileage driven.

But yes you're right.


RE: More rating nonsense
By gregpet on 11/23/2010 11:54:48 AM , Rating: 2
The 230 MPG was before the final release of the official rating formula. The Volt's rating will come down - as it should.


RE: More rating nonsense
By torpor on 11/23/2010 12:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
The rating would have to drop by more than 80% to get to what Popular Mechanics claims the Volt ran in their testing: 32 miles per gallon city, 36 miles per gallon highway.

I'll make you a promise - go ahead and hold me to it.

GM's majority shareholder will never allow the rating for their flagship eco car to go below the arbitrary number they assigned this direct competitor.


RE: More rating nonsense
By gregpet on 11/23/2010 12:17:53 PM , Rating: 2
Now your just being Intellectuality dishonest (maybe obtuse?). You can't put a MPG on an EV Leaf (99 MPG) and then compare it to the charge sustaining mode of the Volt (32-36 MPG). You have to blend the 40 mile pure EV range of the Volt with the 32-36 MPG charge sustaining.

This is a difficult problem to solve which is why the 230MPG was preliminary and will come down.


RE: More rating nonsense
By gregpet on 11/23/2010 12:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
And by the way...The Volt is not a direct competitor of the Leaf. The Leaf is a 100% pure EV vehicle. Some purist want this - they don't want to burn any gas. The downside of course is range anxiety (may get stuck on the side of the road). And long recharge cycles.

The Volt blends EV with a range extender - more of a hybrid but still different from the Prius since the Prius burns gas the second you go above (I think) 15 miles/hour. The Volt is PURE EV for 25-50 miles (depending on other factors) and the goes in to charge sustaining mode for another 400ish miles. No range anxiety.


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