Leaf EV Gets 367 MPG, Says Nissan

By Brendan Moore

08.12.2009

nissan-leaf

Nissan, not to be outdone by GM’s claim of 230 mpg for it’s new Volt, has stated online that it’s new Leaf EV will get 367 mpg. That is approximately 60% better fuel efficiency than the Volt’s stated fuel mileage.

There does, however, seem to be an obvious problem with Nissan’s claim of fuel mileage for the Leaf. Since the Leaf is an EV, it uses only electric current to move itself, with a range of 100 miles available with the battery pack. The Volt is an EV with a supplemental gasoline-powered engine; in other words, a hybrid that uses both electricity and gasoline to power the car.

There is a U.S. Department of Energy methodology for translating petroleum-equivalent fuel economy for electric vehicles, and that is believed to be what Nissan is basing its fuel mileage estimates on. It should be noted that neither the Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan Leaf has been tested by the any U.S. federal agency at this point.

Nissan made the statement on its Twitter page yesterday after GM’s announcement of the Volt’s fuel mileage. “Nissan Leaf = 367 mpg, no tailpipe, and no gas required,” was the message Nissan Media Relations sent out on Twitter yesterday, adding, “Oh yeah, and it’ll be affordable too,” for good measure. The last comment is obviously Nissan’s commentary on the Volt’s $40,000 USD price tag. Nissan plans to sell the Leaf EV for around $30,000 USD.

So, the battle has been joined.

GM’s announcement yesterday about fuel mileage seemed to be kind of a stretch to many, considering that many daily uses of the Volt would never require the gasoline engine to kick in at all. For those people, Nissan’s statement about fuel consumption for an EV that cannot use gasoline/diesel must seem sublimely ridiculous.

But this is marketing and public relations spat, not an engineering discussion. What’s important is this struggle are the conclusions the buying public reaches regarding fuel economy of the vehicles involved and the “green” credentials of the company that offers those vehicles, not what engineers think.

GM, lambasted for decades as a poor corporate citizen for producing so many gas-guzzlers, wants the high ideological ground that the Volt is parked on. Nissan, while not suffering from the same negative environmental public perception legacy that GM battles on a daily basis, wants the same thing GM wants – to be perceived as the automaker doing the most to combat the environmental damage automobiles do to the world, whilst saving their customers a great deal of money in energy costs. There is also the concurrent sidebar issue of presenting yourself as a leader in technology for the car companies.

GM fired the first shot in this skirmish yesterday; Nissan responded today, and there will be more responses from other auto manufacturers in the future.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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7 Comments

  1. Both claims seem dubious, but Nissan’s claim seems to be impossible from a mechanical viewpoint. Shouldn’t these types of vehicles be measured in operational hours per charge units?

    It is funny if nothing else.

  2. I can see it with Volt – if you go 200 miles in the Volt, and you run out of battery power at 100 miles and have to switch over to gas, then your mpg for that trip would be the cost of the gasoline it took to go 200 miles.

    Your mpg figure would double because half the miles were done on the battery. It’s not “free” miles because the electricity isn’t free, but it does factor into how many miles you can go in a Volt on a gallon of gasoline.

    But the Nissan Leaf goes 100 miles on it’s battery and that’s it. There is no gasoline engine available and so there’s no mpg available.

  3. How can it make any sense to use MPG to measure electrical energy consumption in a plug-in vehicle? MPG is an arbitrary measure of vehicle distance which can be traveled on LIQUID petroleum based fuel. After all outside the US km/l is the accepted arbitrary measurement of distance obtainable per unit of liquid fuel in motor vehicles. Yet the the Plug-in EV will use no liquid fuel.

    Is it then possible that MPG, as a standard of comparing vehicle fuel consumption, is so ingrained in the mind of American motor vehicle owners that it should be used?

    How is the measurement of electrical energy drawn from a battery in Kilowatt-hours/ distance going to be any more meaningful to consumers? How many consumers even know how much electricity that their home AC units consume on a hot summer day??

    As others have validly observed an assessment of consumption in terms of estimated cost of fuel per mile may be the simplest way to compare the future field of competing alternate fuel vehicles.

    $0.02-$0.04 per mile (electric consumption) sure sounds better than $0.15 per mile (gasoline consumption).

  4. How will the EPA rate an EV in the future? What will it say on the window sticker? Will it be this half-assed mpg conversion Nissan and GM are using from the DOE?

    I mean, these electric vehicles will be on a dealer’s lot soon.

  5. sounds like the stiker wil read the epa convershion

  6. This seems a bit crazy IMO.

  7. Should be cost per mile because the conversion to mpg is completely bogus and meaningless.

    The problem will be the different cost of gasoline or electricity in different parts of the country as well as the price fluctuations that wil invariably happen over time.

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