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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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RE: And...
By MrTeal on 11/23/2010 2:36:54 PM , Rating: 4
That's basically what this is trying to do. Since 1 gallon of gasoline contains 115,400BTU (121MJ, 33.7kWh), they're saying that 1 gallon of gas can be used interchangeably with 33.7kWh of electricity. You can convert to get the miles per kWh if you'd like.

I agree with you though, it's a silly way to do it. They should just say it gets 3 mi/kWh. I was unable to find if the number they use for electricity consumed is the energy from the batteries, or the energy entering the charger and taking into account charging losses.

RE: And...
By Sharpie on 11/23/2010 4:30:27 PM , Rating: 5
They should just say it gets 3 mi/kWh

Problem is most people are not smart enough to understand what that means and to compare it to what they are familiar with.

RE: And...
By wavetrex on 11/24/2010 2:13:17 AM , Rating: 1
They should just say it gets 3 mi/kWh

My electric scooter gets about 45 mi/kWh. Cars are horribly inefficient.
If I stuff it with good-enough quality LiFePO4 batteries it could easily go 200 miles/charge. There is a downside however, it doesn't go very fast...

And it's air conditioning is free! :)

RE: And...
By Rasterman on 11/24/2010 12:17:16 PM , Rating: 3
I'm surprised they used this conversion as it doesn't really tell you the true MPG. ICE are only 30-40% efficient, where power plant to wheels in an all electric are 80-90% efficient, meaning even though 1 gallon of gas has 121MJ, an ICE car will only be able to use 40-60MJ of it, where an electric car will be able to use 100MJ of it. So the 99MPG number should be multiplied by 2 at least making it 180MPG.

Another metric is cost, use the average national price per KWH, calculate how much it costs to drive 1 mile in energy, use the 5 year average cost of gas to determine your MPG, this actually make the most sense to me since that is what consumers should care about. How much they are giving to Saudi Arabia every year in fuel dollars.

24kWh battery * $0.10/kWh = $2.40 to fill up the car to drive 100 miles, works out to 2.4 cents per mile

a 20MPG car would take $9 in gas to go 100 miles, or 9/cents per mile, 3.75X the cost

so the yearly cost in fuel at 12,000 miles
20MPG car $1080
leaf $288

over 10 years

That is $8,000 that is going directly into your pocket instead of sending it to OPEC and mainly Saudi Arabia, multiply that by a million people or so and suddenly it is easy to see why the government helping us to drive more fuel efficient cards is such a good idea for not only the environment, but the also economy.

RE: And...
By Mint on 11/27/2010 9:37:35 AM , Rating: 2
Efficiency of energy use is not very useful for the consumer. Actual cost is.

Assuming that Mr Teal is right about how they calculated the 33.7 kWh = 1 gal gas figure, we have ourselves a nice coincidence: 33.7 kWh @ $0.10/kWh = $3.37, or roughly the cost of one gallon of gasoline.

So the EPA rating makes sense for the consumer.

If 3 miles per kWh was equated to 180 MPG, then that would mean you could get 60 kWh of electricity for the cost of 1 gallon of gas. That is not the case for the vast majority of Americans.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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