Print 106 comment(s) - last by Ichinisan.. on Dec 12 at 7:46 PM

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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RE: And...
By serkol on 11/23/2010 1:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
A battery replacement station is impossible with the current technology. Current batteries are too large and too heavy. Car manufacturers put them under seats and in other locations, to spread the weight. You just cannot swap them.

Could super-capacitors be used here? I envision something like this:
- a car has lots of batteries in unaccessible places (like now), but it also has an easily accessible compartment for a swappable super-capacitor
- a charging station swaps the super-capacitor
- the super-capacitor immediately starts charging the batteries, and the car can leave the station right away
- it takes the same 3 hours or so to fully transfer the charge from the super-capacitor to the batteries, but who cares now, the car is moving

This is just my uneducated guess...

RE: And...
By YerMomma on 11/23/2010 4:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely not true, in California the gov already bought a fleet of cars with "swappable" batteries.

The car simply drives up to the "pump" and a machine simply pulls out the current battery pack from underneath and pops in a new one. The driver never even gets out of the car. Similar to an automated car wash.

Takes about the same amount of time as filling your tank with fuel, now imagine for a second that the gov subsidized these battery swapping stations and they were everywhere gas stations are... what would you ever need a gasoline car for again? Overnight electric cars would be the norm.

Altho I think I'd rather see Hydrogen stations for cars like the Honda FXC subsidized everywhere, that way we wouldn't have all these harmful chemicals from batteries polluting our environment in 10 years when they get thrown out.

RE: And...
By 91TTZ on 11/23/2010 5:19:00 PM , Rating: 3
You speak a lot of subsidies as if it's a good thing. Really that's just another way of saying that the government needs to artificially pump money into that system to make it competitive.

It's the same thing with the Chevy Volt. It's a $40,000 car that's competing with a $23,000 car (Prius), so it needs government subsidies to remain competitive. While some people may think that's a good thing, why should I pay more taxes so that someone can buy a non-competitive car?

RE: And...
By Etsp on 11/23/2010 7:39:09 PM , Rating: 2
In this case its more like the government needs to pump money into it to get it off the ground, to combat the chicken/egg scenario.

Perhaps something to be considered 5-10 years from now, but not at the present time. Everything is too bleeding edge at the moment.

RE: And...
By Kurz on 11/24/2010 12:04:56 AM , Rating: 3
So what happened when we had the same situation all those years ago with Gasoline cars?

It managed and out competed the horse.
If Electric cars can't beat in either cost or utility its not worth it!!!

RE: And...
By SunTzu on 11/24/2010 5:05:04 AM , Rating: 2
You really dont think the US government has subsidized cars? Who do you think built all those nice, paved roads you drive on? Changing batteries is just another cost, just like bridges, roads and tunnels are. Theres an inherent value in reducing the need for importing vast amounts of oil, that of national safety. If you government can subsidize farming (and LOTS of it, which the republicans love) so that the country cant be cut off from the foodsupply, why cant they make sure that the country can run without (as much) oil?

RE: And...
By 91TTZ on 11/24/2010 9:22:15 AM , Rating: 2
No, changing batteries would be like subsidizing the cost of gasoline so consumers can get it for $1 a gallon. And the bridges, roads, and tunnels are not subsidized for gasoline cars since diesel vehicles, electric vehicles, and other vehicles are able to use those same bridges, roads, and tunnels. Subsidizing batteries would be yet another subsidy that's not needed.

RE: And...
By Ichinisan on 12/12/2010 7:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I accidentally downrated this post so I'm replying to have it automatically removed. :)

RE: And...
By lolmuly on 11/23/2010 11:58:12 PM , Rating: 2
people have rehashed this argument a thousand times, gas stations were subsidized too.... should we assume that all forms of infrastructure need no help at all? How about we just stop subsidizing roads too... how about electricity and water? infrastructure is infrastructure plain and simple. Nobody says you have to buy water, or internet, but the rest of us like it so we are going to continue subsidizing it. Try thinking like a utilitarian for once and get with the program.

RE: And...
By 91TTZ on 11/24/2010 9:23:57 AM , Rating: 1
Try thinking like a socialist for once and get with the program.


RE: And...
By mindless1 on 11/23/2010 11:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
It's not current tech that is the limitation, it is design philosophy. Battery packs could indeed be on rails under the car, a bit like a cassette tape arrangement but they are not designed that way because there is no infrastructure to make it worthwhile to build.

It need not be smaller or lighter, it would be a trivial thing to build a hydraulic lift-'n-swap machine that could do it.

Super capacitors do not have the energy density per volume to accomplish this and they are very costly per storage capacity compared even to the high expense of EV battery packs.

Even if the idea would work to recharge the batteries from a supercap that is beyond our capability there would be no point to transfer the energy to the battery pack, the car could just run from the supercapacitor.

What we really need is simpler. Electric rails in roads as the new power grid. Not every road, just the larger ones where pedestrians aren't allowed (for safety factors) so we can greatly reduce the size of the battery pack and have it recharging instead of powering the car most of the time the car is being driven.

That wouldn't handle all possible scenarios but neither do EVs right now.

RE: And...
By lolmuly on 11/23/2010 11:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
We might as well dump all of the money an electrified highway would cost into researching wireless energy transfer and achieve the same goal plus added benefits.

RE: And...
By mindless1 on 11/24/2010 4:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
Ridiculous, electrified highways we can have now using existing tech while wireless energy transfer enough to drive all vehicles on the road is NOT SOMETHING YOU COULD EVER HOPE TO SEE IN YOUR LIFETIME IF IT IS EVEN PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE.

Remember the difference between scientists showing some demo and what is possible at any meaningful scale.

For example, I could demonstrate that I can thread macaroni on a string, but that is no evidence I could do so at a rate or quantity to build a space ship out of macaroni that would transport you to the magical land where what you imagine is possible, really is.

RE: And...
By monkeyman1140 on 11/24/2010 10:42:24 AM , Rating: 2
Its just cheaper for private industry to wire up a charging station in the parking lot. They don't WANT you to leave, they want you to stay and shop, have coffee, eat, hang out in there store.

A charging station just makes better economic sense. Give it a few years, those things will sprout up like weeds everywhere, and will be as ubiquitous as cellphone towers.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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