2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test


2011 Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt: April "Fuel" Economy Update

May 06, 2011

2011_Volt_1600_killawatt_plug_pse.jpg

Once again it's time to update the fuel and electricity consumption logs for our 2011 Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. At the shop, our Coulomb level II charger records the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed during each battery recharge.

What you see above is a Kill-A-Watt EZ, the home unit we use to measure the number of kWh needed to recharge away from the office. Each car carries one.

Here's what it all means with April added in...

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Best

Worst

Average

Electricity (kwh/100 mi)

26.2

52.0

34.8

Electric Range (miles)

47.0

25.8

37.5

Gasoline (mpg)

39.0

27.9

32.7

2011 Nissan Leaf

Best

Worst

Average

Electricity (kwh/100 mi)

24.2

53.8

31.5

Projected Range (miles)

104.0

65.8

85.6

Observed Range (miles)

76.7

Lower is better for consumption figures in kWh per 100 miles.

You may notice that the Leaf's 132.0 mile performance (at just 19.8 kWh/100 miles) has been excluded. That's because that was a "what if?" special test on a proving ground, not real driving on real roads. I think it's telling that the next-best observed range is 76.7 miles.

As before, the Projected Range is the sum of the trip odometer and DTE gauge readings when the car is plugged in. Our "Drive to the Bitter End" did indeed confirm that this is a pretty accurate estimate of ultimate range, but we also learned that you don't mess with the blinking "- - -" reading and you must fear the tortoise.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

26.2

52.0

34.8

36

Electric Range (miles)

47.0

25.8

37.5

35

Gasoline (mpg)

39.0

29.8

32.7

37

2011 Nissan Leaf

Best

Worst

Average

EPA

Electricity (kWh/100 mi)

24.2

53.8

31.5

34

Projected Range (miles)

104.0

65.8

85.6

73

Observed Range (miles)

76.7

We're still beating the electricity consumption rates for both cars, but the Volt's efficiency on gasoline still fars short of the EPA's mpg prediction.

All in all, the Best, Worst and Average numbers for both cars didn't change much with the inclusion of the April data but, in the case of the Volt, at least, that's not the entire story.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Feb

Mar

Apr

Overall

Utility Factor (% EV miles)

60%

58%

20%

40%

Apparent MPG (ignore electricity)

82.0

80.2

39.1

54.5

Cost per mile (US average prices)

7.0¢

7.0¢

11.7¢

8.6¢

(Cal. average prices)

8.2¢

8.0¢

12.6¢

9.6¢

(at my house)

11.8¢

11.0¢

13.7¢

11.8¢

In April, the Volt's cost-per-mile shot through the roof, leaping from 7 cents to 11.7 cents using US national average prices for gasoline and electricity. Why? Check out the Utility Factor; it dropped to 20%. This happened because Oldham drove it to San Francisco and back. Only the first 30 miles of his 800-mile round trip used electriciy. The rest was all gasoline.

That's what the Volt is all about, right? If you want to drive to San Francisco or Vegas, you can. No problem. Just go.

But you'll pay for it. That one trip blew out the Volt's average for the entire month.

2011 Nissan Leaf

Feb

Mar

Apr

Overall

Utility Factor (% EV miles)

100%

Apparent MPG

Infinity (zero gas used)

Cost per mile (US average prices)

3.5¢

3.2¢

3.4¢

(Cal. average prices)

4.5¢

4.6¢

4.6¢

(at my house)

9.8¢

9.0¢

9.6¢

No such issue exists with the Leaf, of course. Gasoline will never blow out a month's average, but you'll need to take your second car on that trip to San Fran.

Popular hybrids, for reference

Feb

Mar

Apr

Overall

2011 Toyota Prius (US avg prices)

6.8¢

7.4¢

8.0¢

7.1¢

(Cal. avg prices)

7.6¢

8.2¢

8.5¢

7.7¢

2011 Fusion Hybrid (US avg prices)

8.7¢

9.5¢

10.2¢

9.0¢

(Cal. avg prices)

9.7¢

10.5¢

11.0¢

9.9¢

Rising gas prices hurt the traditional hybrids this month, but a Prius is STILL cheaper than the Volt and Leaf on a per-mile basis for those of us in Southern California Edison (SCE) territory paying top tier for their electric car juice. But that's not true for California residents on a statewide average basis.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Leave a Comment

Research Models

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

TCO® insurance data for this vehicle coming soon...

For an accurate quote, contact our trusted partner below.

* Explanation
ADVERTISEMENT