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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 goku on 11/24/2010 3:02:52 AM , Rating: 3
Basically all studies have shown that an EV, even if 100% of the electricity used to charge it comes from coal, is still cleaner per mile (in terms of both CO2 output and soot pollutants) than even a hybrid.

Prove it.. Most data I've seen actually states that a Prius is cleaner than most electric vehicles if the electric vehicle is charged primarily by coal. Otherwise they're in dead heat for most of the time due to the mix of coal and other power sources, and then doing better than the Prius when charged with renewables and or natural gas. This 99mpg of the leaf is useless when it comes to figuring out CO2 emissions. You can't just take the aggregate power production of the U.S and figure out your emission from there, you really have to figure out where you're getting your power from in order to have any sort of realistic comparison.

If you're charging your car in northern california, Washington or in Texas, the electric car is for you if you care about CO2 emissions, otherwise in other states like Ohio, you'd be better off with a Prius.

RE: And...
By Keeir on 11/24/2010 5:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hello goku,

The problem with most studies is that the tend to make questionable assumptions.

For example, some will argue "99 MPG" is not acceptable for comparison to a Prius like hybrid because we don't know the efficiency/type of the power supply, while ignoring that the Prius's "50 MPG" claim ignores the real cost of refining and transporting the gasoline!

There are many ways to look at the situation. But looking forward into the future, the Leaf is a first swing at an electric car, whereas the Prius is the 4th generation Hybrid. If we see similar improvements in technology in successive car generations, it won't be long until the Electric is the better choice everywhere. (It is already the clearly better choice if your local power mix is more than 30% Nuclear/Hydro/Renewable or less than 60% Coal)

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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