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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.

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