Nissan Leaf: Four Stops to Go 180 miles?

“I’m finding the range is not 100 percent accurate.”

Paul Chesser writes at

Consumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.

Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leaf’s impracticality – this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants – equipped with so-called “fast” vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more “fast”) along the route – would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leaf’s charge diminished.

Only problem was, the Leaf’s charge dropped more rapidly than promised. In what has to be a public relations disaster for Nissan, Smith’s EV was unable to travel no farther than 55 miles on any leg of the trip – and for the most part, much less. The company, and its government backers, proclaimed the Leaf was “built to go 100 miles on a charge” (large print), with a footnoted disclaimer (small print) that it travels shorter distances (like, 70 miles) if the air conditioning or the heater is used. Turns out even that was an exaggeration…

Read Chesser’s entire commentary.

18 thoughts on “Nissan Leaf: Four Stops to Go 180 miles?”

  1. come on… i drive my leaf 65+ miles a day, & get home with 20+ miles DTG usually. yes if i use the heater I get less mileage: a known and advertised fact. anyone who owns a Leaf will need to drive the other car in their household on a 180 mile one way trip! that’s why you have another car and should not buy a Leaf as your ONLY household car. but it’s fantastic for it’s purpose and in 4 months I have put more than 4000 miles on mine and can project much better than my onboard computer how any miles I can get on trips i take… The DTG is an ESTIMATE, not an EXACT indicator and is only based on RECENT driving situations. Don’t knock a car because you want it to do something it’s not designed to do! do research and if it fits your need buy one — and learn to ignore gas stations and oil change shops 🙂

  2. These are all early days, batteries will get better and extend range and more people will buy electric cars as time goes by, some by choice but others because ultimately they will have to. Before long there will be as many charging stations as filling stations.
    Remember range was an issue with aviation for half a century, its sorted now.

  3. The electrification of transport is an inevitable outcome, how fast it will happen is anyone’s guess.
    We are are in a technology race with China and Japan.
    If we sit back and let things happen naturally, then we will be buying foreign technology rather exporting our own.
    EV’s should not be a political subject, but unfortunately that’s the way it’s turned out. While we fight over what’s right and what’s wrong, other countries will march past us,

  4. If people want to drive electric vehicles with all their inconveniences, they should be allowed to. But they shouldn’t expect the rest of us to subsidize it. But there’s an even greater concern. Liberals are never satisfied to only inconvenience themselves. They always impose their morality on the rest of us. Soon they will require that we all drive around in cars that need a recharge every 55 miles. This is how they always work. They force their stupid light bulbs on us. Here in California they tell us we can’t use our fireplaces. In San Jose, they tell us we can’t use plastic bags. There’s no reason to think that they won’t force us to use these rotten cars as well.

  5. The best thing about EV’s is that as the source of power generation is cleaned up, the EV becomes cleaner as it ages.

    By comparison gas cars on the other hand lose efficiency as they get old and cannot clean their act up without an engine modification/replacement.

    One of the oft heard criticism of EV’s is that the tailpipe emissions have simply moved to the smokestack. While partly true we now have the ability to clean up the car fleet by cleaning up or outright replacing the smokestack 🙂

  6. While reading Chesslers’ fragmented re-write of someone else’s report (does he get paid to do that?), I was amazed. The person that drove the LEAF the 180 miles, Steven Smith, was not displeased with his trip. His experience is available for reading. An electric car takes experience to drive, the main issue is limited charging points. The Nissan LEAF mileage indicator is real-time and after a few hundred miles, I learned that the state of charge bars are what to pay attention to. On my normal commutes, I don’t even look at the miles or bars, I already know what to expect. Then, I plug in and in the morning I’m at 100%. I drive and have my charging spots and it works for me and I put 2,000 miles a month on my LEAF. The bottom line is, an EV is much, much less expensive to operate, fuels-up at home and is fun to drive. The downside is fueling stations

  7. I have to disagree with you due to my energy usage at home. I have found that the higher the voltage, the more loss there is, but at 240V, it’s about a 5% loss, maybe. I don’t know what you are comparing the mechanical efficiency to, but I know that an ICE is obscenely inefficient – 1 gallon of gas contains 36 kw of energy, a Nissan LEAF has a 24 kw battery and I have gone over 80 miles with charge to spare, so how far could I go with a 36 kw battery? How far can the most fuel efficient ICE go with that 36kw?

  8. Nissan does tell us about the affect temperature has on the car. I haven’t seen any reports about cold driving yet, maybe due to the warm winter we are having, but folk in AZ had nothing to report during the summer except tha they the A/C works really well.

  9. My community gets it’s power from natural gas, not solar or coal. It is possible to get electricity from other sources, as I’m sure you know. So why did you write that only coal and nuclear work? I drive a fantasy dream every day and it’s fantastic.

  10. The grid can support EV’s even if 85% of the 250 million personal vehicles converted to electric. Refining oil consumes as much electric as EV’s do. There’s almost a direct one-for-one trade off. No extra generating capacity is required.

    Where the problem will crop up is hot-spots of high EV adoption in communities that are well suited to EV’s and have the financial resources to afford them. Local transformers may be taxed at those hot spots.

    Encouraging EV owners to charge at night will actually benefit the utilities. Currently excess generating capacity ‘goes to the ground’ in the wee hours of the night, EV’s would absorb some of that excess and create extra revenue for the utility. Money it can use to bolster hot=spots of EV electric demand.

    Plans to create a ‘smart grid’ could improve rather than destabilize the grid. EV’s could act as electric storage devices the utilities could tap into during periods of peak demand therefore forestalling a blackout that would otherwise have occurred.. The Smart grid is pipe dream currently, but in time a practical version of it should evolve.

  11. It’s because the energy from solar panels is just a fraction needed to run a car. You would need panels larger than the car to charge just one car battery not to mention the battery packs in electric cars. The big hidden fact is converting electricity to power a car is very inefficient. The charging stations loose about 20-40% power in charging a car then converting electrical power to mechanical power looses much more than that.

  12. Electric cars are NOT just a fantasy dream. Haven’t you heard of the Nissan Leaf? I hear it gets 100 miles to the charge….. oh, wait, I get it…… Seriously, what I don’t understand is why we don’t develop electric cars that charge by solar as they drive. At least this would improve the distance during daylight hours.

  13. One thing Nissan and any other EV manufacturer doesn’t tell the prospective buyer is that batteries drain faster in cold winter weather than warm summer weather. Don’t expect 100 miles in 35 degree weather.

  14. The only energy sources that could possibly supply the electricity needs of electric cars is coal or nuclear. And we know where the EPA and environmentalists stand on these two energy sources, although electric cars are just a fantasy dream.

  15. I shudder to think of what will happen to the electric grid if large numbers of these things are adopted in the US. It would be as unreliable as some third world countries. After decades of cutting back on spinning reserves, we simply don’t the capacity to absorb millions of electric vehicles being constantly recharged.

  16. I wonder if they publish the estimated distance per charge for a Leaf stuck in traffic in a snowstorm in DC or Chicago. I think it could reasonably approach zero. This is gonna be great for TowMater and his friends.

  17. Electric cars are NOT ready for prime time…Not even environmentalists will buy them without major Govt. subsidy.

  18. 2 hours to charge (if everything had worked right at Cracker Barrell) along the way (after charging to full before even heading out) compared to three hours of driving. Increase time of every road trip by 66% – minimum / maybe double / maybe more. Good thing it wasn’t really cold. Good they won’t want air conditioning in Tennesse in the summer. Good there aren’t any hills in Tennessee. All good – for Cracker Barrell and the TVA.

    On to Wyoming, where there are no hills and Cracker Barrells exist at every exit and are only 25 miles apart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.