Nissan LEAF Side by Side Range Comparison: 2012 vs 2013

4 years ago by Tony Williams 57

2013 Nissan LEAF And 2012 LEAF Have A Range Battle

2013 Nissan LEAF And 2012 LEAF Have A Range Battle

Today started with cool 50F degree (10C) temperatures with light rain and the forecast wasn’t promising for much of an improvement anytime soon. We had tentatively planned to get together yesterday, but technical difficulties with a Blink charging station threw a wrench in the plans. This morning, the technicians from Ecotality pronounced that Blink operational, and I got the troops ready for a 12 noon meeting at my house.

2013 vs 2012 Range Results Might Surprise You

2013 vs 2012 Range Results Might Surprise You

We did the range test today that I would have liked to have done on Feb 22, 2013; we tested the 2012 LEAF-SL side by side with the 2013 LEAF-SL on exactly the same course, at the same time, in precisely the same conditions (1). The course (2) was similar to the previous San Diego test, however I did shorten it by 5.8 miles by truncating the southern portion of the course at the Interstate 8 freeway instead of continuing south to the California 94 freeway. I did this because the previous test with a 2013 LEAF-S only scored a calculated range of 81 miles on an 85.8 miles course. Also, because the ambient temperatures were somewhat lower than the previous test and rain was forecast, I didn’t expect us to go further than 81 miles with today’s test.

First, a clarification of what these tests are not. They are not an assessment of a typical drive in a LEAF, unless you drive at one speed without any heat or air conditioning. Yes, there are many “hard core” LEAF and other electric vehicle drivers not running the heater in REALLY cold weather in an effort to extend range, or driving significantly slower than the normal flow of traffic, or rolling down hills. While those types of operations may seem perfectly normal to them, the “average” consumer of any car, whether fossil fuel burning, hybrid, or electric will want to drive at normal speeds, use the heater, and will likely spend at least some time in stop and go driving.

Blink Charging Stations Caused More Than A Few Issues On The Test

Blink Charging Stations Caused More Than A Few Issues On The Test

The current 2013 LEAF should offer a decrease in the amount of range loss associated with heater use over the 2012 LEAF (assuming 2013 model is equipped with the optional heat pump). This is an easy test to accomplish that I don’t have the weather conditions in San Diego to adequately test. Any LEAF with a resistance heater can be placed in the same cold weather conditions as a heat pump equipped LEAF. Charge both cars up to 100% (or the same capacity if lower than 100%) and run the heater for a few hours while the cars are stationary. Then observe how much battery energy each car consumed at the same ambient temperatures and same Auto climate control setting.

There are other efficiencies with a 2013 LEAF. It should cost slightly less for electricity due to efficiencies in the charging system, and there should be some efficiencies in regeneration. Today’s test has virtually no regeneration demonstrated by design.

Also, I’ll add a note about government range data for the LEAF. Depending where in the world you buy your LEAF, your country’s government will publish a distance that the car will go with their respective testing. In Japan, the previous two years of LEAF were published with a 124 miles (200km) range. Then, Nissan dropped some hints in the Japanese press that the 2013 car might go 155 miles (250km), which ultimately became 142 miles (228km) of official Japanese government range. For the USA market, the LEAF could exceed 100 miles (161km) when Nissan tested the car to the EPA “LA5” test cycle.

2013 LEAF SL Monroney Window Sticker

2013 LEAF SL Monroney Window Sticker

The only problem is that the EPA used a different protocol for those first two years of LEAF and awarded a 73 mile range for those 2011-2012 cars. Then, in 2013, EPA changed to a completely new 5 cycle test that offered an 84 mile EPA range, but further complicated it by then offering a 67 mile “80% charge” range, and averaged the two numbers (84 and 67) to finally arrive at a 75 mile (pending final certification) EPA range for 2013. The LEAF is currently one of only two cars that use this average technique (the 2012 Toyota Rav4 EV is the other) which further complicates comparisons with other EVs. In Europe, the LEAF has a 109 mile (175km) range. My point with offering all these wildly varying numbers is that every LEAF (when new) will get substantially the same 84 miles (135km) of range at 62mph (100kmh) ground speed over level ground with the climate control off in 70F (20C) degree temperatures.

So, is there some way to compare any improvements to the 2013 LEAF to previous LEAFs in average day to day driving? Sure. I recommend something just like the current USA EPA 5 cycle test to cars to be compared, with added components of a climate control test, a degraded battery test and a cold battery test (all of which are so important to EV’s). But, that’s not this test.

2013 Nissan LEAF SL Interior

2013 Nissan LEAF SL Interior

Let me also add a note about the dash displayed “Distance To Empty” (DTE), or predicted range display (more commonly referred to as the “Guess Oh Meter”, or GOM). This seems to be one of the hardest things for new owners of a LEAF to overcome. You’ll note that I didn’t even include that information in this test and the reason is simple; whatever that number was, whether 50 or 150 miles or anything in between, it would not have changed the outcome at all.

As with every constant speed range test I’ve conducted, speed was maintained as close to 100kmh (62mph) ground speed as possible, and checked with the GPS. In the 2013 car, this resulted in a speed between 63mph and 64mph indicated (102.4% of actual speed) on the speedometer. This is a significant increase in accuracy over the previously tested 2013 car which showed 65mph indicated (104.8% of actual speed). My best guess as to why today’s speedometer was significantly more accurate was the 2013 LEAF-SL’s larger 17 inch Michelin tires.

The other parameters of the test that were consistent with the previous Feb 22 test:

  • Heater and Air Conditioner off, which includes the fan off also in 2011-2012 LEAFs
  • Cruise control on at 100kmh (62mph) ground speed
  • Stock tires at 36 psi
  • Crew of two totaling 450 pounds (205kg) plus or minus 5%
2013 Nissan LEAF Models Now Also Show The EV's "State Of Charge" On The Heads-Up Dashboard

2013 Nissan LEAF Models Now Also Show The EV’s “State Of Charge” On The Heads-Up Dashboard

We were running slightly behind schedule, but after getting both cars completely charged up, we got underway at 12:45pm. The newer car showed a perfect 281 Gids (100% capacity) on our portable meter, however the dashboard State Of Charge (SOC) showed 98%. I have no idea why it didn’t show 100%. Of course, the 2012 car doesn’t have an SOC% dash meter and since the car’s July 2012 manufacture date was 8 months ago, some degradation of the battery is to be expected. We got several measurements between 268 and 270 Gid, so I’ll just average that to 269 (95.7% capacity). We will have to make a correction to the final data to account for the missing 4.3% of the capacity.

I rode right seat in the 2013 car while owner John performed the driving art with his shiny new metallic slate color car. Phillip joined Lynn in the right seat of Lynn’s car, and the trip began. We had some light rain for the first third of the course. I did my best to correlate the odometer range with the Google maps calculated range at each check point along the course. The 2013 was consistently showing 2% under the Google data, which was also consistent with the error between the speedometer’s indicated speed to actual GPS ground speed. The cars showed 5 temperature bars on the battery temperature gauge, and the dash ambient temperature gauge showed 52F (11C) to 54F (13C) during the drive. The second third of the course was dry.

We were not able to maintain a steady 100kmh on the course today, mostly due to Friday afternoon traffic. In addition to the exits and ramps between the freeways, there were two separate traffic slow downs on the freeway. The first was northbound on the Interstate 5 freeway about 5 to 10 miles south of Oceanside, and the second was 1 to 5 miles east of Escondido on the California 78 freeway eastbound. Of course, both cars experienced the same traffic at the same time.

The final results are as follows:

RAnge Results: 2013 LEAF SL vs 2012 LEAF SL

RAnge Results: 2013 LEAF SL vs 2012 LEAF SL

(*Note 1) – An additional 0.6 miles added to compensate for 2 Gid shy of VLBW at 75 usable wattHours per Gid is 150 wattHours / 250 wattHours per mile (at 65mph indicated on level ground at 70F)

(*Note 2) – Difference between 2012 LEAF starting Gid and 2013 LEAF was 4.3% favoring the newer car

Observations: The 2013 car did substantially the same range as the 2013 car tested on Feb 22, 2013. The 2012 car performed very similarly to the 2012 car used as an comparison example in the Feb 22, 2013 test.

Conclusion: Two separate 2013 LEAF’s have failed to exceed the range of either 2012 LEAF tested, and may actually have less range in these parameters.

 

—Additional Info & Credits—

I’d like to thank John for allowing us to punish his 2013 LEAF with only a few days of ownership and about 200 miles on the odometer (and new to EVs). Also, a big thank you to Lynn for slugging through the rain to volunteer one of the newest 2012 and lowest mileage LEAFs on the road (they also have a 2011 LEAF). Finally, a big shout out to Phillip for once again loaning us his Gidmeter, and riding shotgun in the 2012 to take notes and keep us honest. He owns both a 2011 LEAF and a new 2012 Rav4 EV. He had planned to also participate with his 2011 LEAF, and even went as far as swapping the wheels back to the originals, but a failed Blink DC charger (different than the one that foiled us yesterday) eliminated his chance to get his car charged up in time.

(1) Weather today between 12:53pm and 2:53pm at nearby Montgomery Airport (KMYF) in San Diego:
– Time — Temp. – DewPt-Pressure – Visibility-Wind Dir-Wind Speed – Gust Speed – Clouds

12:53 PM –50.0F –42.1F – 29.92 in –  5.0 mi – SW —  5.8 mph — N/A ——  Light Rain
1:53 PM — 53.1F –42.1F – 29.91 in – 10.0 mi – SW — 9.2 mph — N/A —–  Overcast
2:53 PM — 55.0F –41.0F – 29.91 in – 10.0 mi –  W  — 9.2 mph — N/A —Mostly Cloudy

Previous weather during Feb 22, 2013 Range Test at nearby Montgomery Airport (KMYF):

– Time — Temp. – DewPt-Pressure – Visibility-Wind Dir-Wind Speed – Gust Speed

1:53 PM — 66.9F — 9.0F – 30.06 in – 10.0 mi – NNE — 15.0 mph — 21.9 mph
2:53 PM — 66.9F –10.0F – 30.05 in – 10.0 mi – NE — 10.4 mph — 17.3 mph
3:53 PM — 64.9F –26.1F – 30.05 in – 10.0 mi – NW — 10.4 mph — N/A

Weather today between 12:53pm and 2:53pm at nearby Palomar Airport (KCRQ) in north San Diego county:

– Time — Temp. – DewPt-Pressure – Visibility-Wind Dir-Wind Speed – Gust Speed – Clouds

12:53 PM –55.0F –37.0F – 29.91 in – 10.0 mi -WSW —  10.4 mph — N/A ——  Overcast
1:53 PM — 55.0F –37.9F – 29.90 in – 10.0 mi –  W — 4.6 mph — N/A —–  Partly Cloudy
2:53 PM — 55.0F –37.0F – 29.91 in – 10.0 mi – WSW  — 9.2 mph — N/A — Partly Cloudy

Previous weather during Feb 22, 2013 Range Test at nearby Palomar Airport (KCRQ):

– Time — Temp. – DewPt-Pressure – Visibility-Wind Dir-Wind Speed – Gust Speed
1:53 PM — 64.0F –30.9F – 30.04 in – 10.0 mi – West —  8.1 mph — N/A
2:53 PM — 64.9F –26.1F – 30.04 in – 10.0 mi – NW — 6.9 mph — N/A
3:53 PM — 62.1F –30.9F – 30.05 in – 10.0 mi – WSW — 9.2 mph — N/A
(2) Today’s 80 mile course:

A – 13520 Evening Creek Drive North, San Diego, California, USA (starting point)
0.8 miles
B – Interstate 15 freeway south
13.5 miles
C – Interstate 8 freeway west
5.5 miles
D – Interstate 5 freeway north
31.1 miles
E – California 78 freeway east
16.4 miles
F – Interstate 15 freeway south
12.0 miles
G – California 56 freeway / Ted Williams Parkway
0.7 miles
H – Return to starting point

 

Postscript:  Tony previously headed up the largest independent test of LEAFs with battery capacity loss that (in-part) prompted Nissan to take corrective action for LEAFs that were  struggling in the extreme hot weather places in the US, like Phoenix.  Our thanks to Tony for this comprehensive 2013 LEAF range road test.

Also of interest:  Check out rough video footage of Tony’s first range test drive of a entry level 2013 S Model Nissan LEAF last month:

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57 responses to "Nissan LEAF Side by Side Range Comparison: 2012 vs 2013"

  1. David Murray says:

    Well, I’m disappointed, but not at all shocked by these results.

  2. go4it says:

    Hmmm…so the Nissan Leaf increased his EPA-Range only because the Test-Requirements changed (from 2-cycle to 5-cycle)? Is that what your comparison between 2012 and 2013 model learned us?!
    Or is there hidden new technology like the charging-unit, the tires and the aerodynamics?
    But if there are improvements, your test didn’t show them, right?

    Greetz and go4it

    1. Suprise Cat says:

      There would be a larger difference, if they would had enabled the heater in both models.

  3. Dave K. says:

    The difference is probably the 17″ wheels, after aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance is the dominant factor. If you care that much, swap the wheels and run the test again.

    1. Dave, we actually did test a 2013 LEAF-S just a few weeks ago, and that car has the same Ecopia tires as the 2011 and 2012 LEAF. It got predominately the same low 80 mile range as the 2013 LEAF-SL tested here, even though that car has the larger Michelin tires.

  4. Bloggin says:

    I guess Nissan never actually said there was much difference. Actually their website states the 2013 Leaf gets ‘up to (EPA)75 EV miles’, then on another page it says an ‘average range of 73 EV miles’.

    What I didn’t see what how long it actually takes to charge the 2013 Leaf SL that has the 6.6 charger, with a 240v charging station. Nissan talks about using a quick charger in under 30 minutes. But that’s away from home with most EV charging happens at home.

    1. Suprise Cat says:

      http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/charging-range/charging/

      > Charging your Nissan LEAF® at home is easy with a 240-volt home charging dock. All you have to do is plug it in. It takes about four hours [*] to go from empty to a full charge with the 6.6 kW onboard charger [*]—and you don’t have to wait for the battery to be completely drained to charge it.

  5. Elp says:

    Isn’t it time for Nissan to get serious and double the amount of batteries in the LEAF?!!!
    Prices of batteries are going down and the price cut could have been better used in more battery/range (real range).

    Thank you for the excellent test!

    1. Nissan is exploring an optional larger battery, much like Tesla does. By the way, Tesla sells the overwhelming majority of their Model S cars with the largest 85kWh battery!! I’m sure Nissan will offer both a larger underfloor pack for at least the USA market, and an option trunk area extra battery to further extend range. I suspect a whole bunch of future EV drivers will opt for those larger options.

      1. Randy says:

        Well that’s not accurate about Tesla- they only sold the largest battery pack for a long period of time. They didn’t build the smaller packs for a long while after exclusively selling the largest pack.

        1. Tesla doesn’t still produce the 40kWh version (nor does it yet have an EPA rating), yet about 10% have ordered it.

      2. leaf leasse says:

        Yes. I will buy the leaf after my current lease expires only if they offer the larger battery pack atleast as an option.

  6. Don Francis says:

    OK, let’s see, the energy storage capacity of the battery pack is the same between 2011, 2012 and the 2013 LEAFs. The aero shape is the same and since the heat was not used, no change there. I can not see why anyone would expect range to be greater in a highway speed test with the heat off. Actually, looks like the only thing that has changed is the test procedure used by DOE to estimate maximum range. What am I missing.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I think it is more of a clarification of sorts for people.

      The EPA sticker moved from 73 miles to 75 miles, but Nissan has said that new EPA system found 75 miles of range, as a result of a 100% charge that gets you 84 miles, and a 80% that gets you 66 miles, whereas the old system was just a straight 100% drain.

      In theory, a buyer could believe that if they charge a 2013 Nissan LEAF to 100% they will get 84 miles, which would be 11 miles more than the 2012 to 100%…which is not the case in normalized/temperate driving scenarios.

      The newer efficient systems (+ lower weight, torque, etc), as it applies to the powertrain itself, are net zero (if not net negative) at speed according to this test, your gains will all be in the optimization of things like the heating system on the SV/SL models in colder weather.

      …thats my take away anyway, thanks to Tony

      1. go4it says:

        But why then, the range in europe raised to 199 km (before 175 km)? The requirements were not changed 😉 and the heating system is not included in the testing procedure…

        I think there has to be an increase of efficency of the car itself. Maybe the aerodynamic (was worst) or the tires (now 17″ was 16 “) or the batterie has lower resistance by mximized SoC-window. But that in turn will not correlate with the aging-problems in Arizona…

        Anyone with more ideas?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          The NEDC system (and especially the Japanese JC-08) does not have the speed requirements of the EPA’s new 5 cycle.

          Mind you, this is only speculation on my part, but I think the new optimization is benefical at lower speeds (and other rating systems around the world), but is negated at higher speeds.

          1. surfingslovak says:

            I concur with Jay, and would like to add that much of the increase from 73 to 84 miles range on a full charge was likely due to the change from the old 2-cycle to the new 5-cycle EPA test. It’s also worth noting that the old test used a 30% correction factor to arrive at 73 miles of range. Not only was this test different, the correction factor was an estimate, which could have resulted in lower official range figure. Of course, we can’t be sure until someone submits a 2013 LEAF to the old EPA test.

          2. Jehannus says:

            I’ve found it a bit odd they didn’t do more to improve the drag factor.
            Maybe it would change the car too much.

            What i would have want to know from THIS TEST is if the gain in motor-braking is higher.

            PS:
            For city driving/real world the car will do more km’s.

        2. Thanks to Tony for his continued sharing of useful knowledge & insights.

          The raised ranges reported by standardized tests (EPA_, EU_, JP_) are mostly related to regenactive breaking improvements & cabin heating/cooling efficiency. The standardized tests have many speed changes, unlike Tony’s constant 100 kph battery range test without heat/cooling/fan.

          Best quote on 2013 regen improvements I’ve seen is “regenerative brakes can now recover a higher percentage of energy (94 percent compared to 88 percent before) and now also works all the way down to three kilometers an hour.” http://www.electricvehiclesresearch.com/articles/nissan-leaf-in-europe-gets-15-more-range-00005233.asp?sessionid=1

          In Tony’s defense, testing regen is hard as requires precise acceleration & deceleration profiles over changing speeds. Timing & degree of pressure on accelerator & brake petals would almost need a robot to be repeatahble (or complicated instrumention). Perhaps starting with a known partial charge on a long (not too steep) hill & comparing to GIb #’s from top to known distance down hill?

          1. Yes, I’ve already done a local hill with a 600 drop for aerodynamic testing. It will work well for regen testing, and yes, we can not only read the Gid value, but observe in real time the amps and kW going into the battery. It’s all on the EV-CAN bus.

  7. Herm says:

    Supposedly the motor was redesigned with slightly less torque and optimized for city speeds, this test was a 65mph. I’m not sure we got the new motor in the US, I think its still Japan production only.

  8. taser54 says:

    I think this was a very good write up. Nice Job.

    1. Thank you. It seems the “haters” haven’t yet found my article this morning !!!

      Tony

      1. Randy says:

        I was in that camp in the last article, but only because I didn’t see your conclusion matching your data. Every car is going to have a slightly different range just as ten identical ICE cars driven the same route will have different mpg.

        1. Yes, you will have variations, and it is those variations we try to limit to the maximum extent possible with controls on the test.

  9. BlindGuy says:

    I heard that 2011 & 2012 Leafs will (by default) charge to 100% if you precondition the car. I was wondering if the 2013 Leafs also (by default) charge to 100% when pre-conditioning or can you choose the preferred 80% charge when pre-conditioning?

  10. Randy says:

    I’m baffled by these results, honestly. The 2013 changes improved efficiency but your test shows a reduced range. What could possibly be the reason? Assuming these tests are accurate the next step is to find the cause. Is Nissan simply keeping the battery from using up all it’s charge (basically falsifying the data to show it’s got less charge than it actually has) to improve longevity? Are the tires so different that they could account for such a drastic change in range? Are there such loose manufacturing tolerances that the 2012 happens to run lean while the 2013 runs fat? Something is causing this. Nissan made a bunch of changes in an effort to increase range and you’re reporting that they ended up doing the opposite.

    1. Michael says:

      You are ignoring all of the caveats of the post. As another commenter mentioned, this type of test (mostly highway speeds with no climate control) is primarily testing how much energy is consumed by aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance. To no surprise, a similarly shaped car and similar tires result in similar amount of energy being used. Any real-world driving scenarios that have more stoping/starting, slower city speeds, and climate control will result in more real-world range for the 2013 model, but it still takes the same amount of energy to move that mass at constant speed on the freeway (they can’t change physics).

      -No heating/cooling was active. The the 2013 model has a more efficient heating system. I personally drive a 2012 leaf in Minnesota and have driven down to -20F. My real world range would increase with the 2013 model (there’s no way I would run without heat with 2 small kids in the car for most of a MN winter).

      -Constant Highway Speeds. At constant highway speeds the only thing you are measuring is the amount energy consumed by drag and rolling resistance. Any improvements in regeneration will not be seen here, and even a reduction in weight will not show up. Those effects would only be seen on non-highway speeds, or rush-hour traffic (more stop/start, changes in speed).

    2. Randy, certainly something is “causing” this. The single biggest cause, in my opinion, is a car specifically tuned to “game” the typically low speed test cycles. I don’t doubt that there is an increase in range, but it’s NOT at 100kmh. We could have run the test with both heaters set to 72F on Auto.

      Making an assumption that the two occupants in each car dissipate the exact same amount of heat and occupy the exact same volume in the car, then I predict that the with 50F-ish ambient temperature, the heat pump equipped 2013 LEAF-SL would might have consumed 2kWh during the test. The 2012 (and 2013 with the same resistance heater) might have easily consumed 50% more.

      At 4 miles per kWh, the heat pump car would have gone about 8 miles less, and the older car about 12 miles less. Since the 2012 car went about 7 miles further in our test, now the advantage might only be 2 miles. As the ambient temperatures lower further, the advantage to the heat pump decreases until around 10F-20F, the two different heaters are once again equal in power consumption, hence the 2012 retaining its larger range advantage.

      Here are things that we know Nissan did; they lowered torque and removed rare earths from the motor (dysprosium might be the best material available for high magnetism with low weight). Then, I believe they optimized the tuning for the very low speed Japan “EPA” test to get the published range improvements. In addition, they may have tweaked the electrolyte in the battery a bit to mitigate heat damage in places like Phoenix.

      High speed tuning suffered as a result.

      1. Randy says:

        Thanks for the reply. So basically you’re saying that in ‘the real world’, you would expect the 2013 to outperform the 2012 in terms of range, given that most driving is at lower speeds, with some sort of HVAC on, etc.

        1. I would hope that the 2013 would excel in those situations… heck, it should with the given improvements. I guess we’ll learn that soon enough.

  11. JohnL says:

    As the driver of the 2013 Leaf used in the test, I was disappointed in the results, too. That said, I thought Tony’s test and write up were excellent, thorough and transparent. Some thoughts:
    1. As Tony disclosed, he designed the test to remove the many variables of in-city driving, and, as a result, put us on the highway. This removed regeneration from the scenario. Nissan lists it’s improved regenerative systems as its primary range advancement in the 2013. We can’t tell, from Tony’s test, whether the Leaf’s regenerative systems are mich improved, or not. I used my brakes only a couple of brief moments during our 80 mile highway drive, and never coasted.
    2. Tire weight is a significant issue. My 2013 SL’s tires are bigger and heavier. As one member of our test team put it, every pound added at the tire is equivalent to 20 pounds added to the car. Multiply that by four). Wish I’d know that when I ordered the bigger tires?
    3. The “improved” heating system was removed from the scenario. (Personally, this was fine. Living in San Diego, I may never use the heating system.)
    4. Tony’s test, by design, would have included Nissan’s alledged improvements in weight reduction and wind resistance. Whatever their contributions to range are, the results are the results.

    Finally, I am disappointed by the test results, but (as you’d expect from a new car owner) love my new 2013 Leaf. The many improved options are great, the car handles wonderfully, and recharges quickly. I have only had it a week, but already am getting ranges pushing 90 miles driving around town. I suspect the regen improvements (I mostly drive in the “B” mode) may be a “real world” factor, and look forward to Tony devising a new test to measure it.

    1. Randy says:

      When you say “I ordered the bigger tires” do you mean opting for the SL model? Because I don’t see any tire options. The S has P205/55R16 with steel wheels, the SV has P205/55R16 with aluminum alloy-wheels, and the SL has P215/50R17 with aluminum-alloy wheels.

      Nissan lists the weight of the S at 3,291 lbs and both the SV and SL at 3,340 lbs. I assume the extra weight is the 6.6 charger. Perhaps the 16″ SV and 17″ SL wheel and tire packages are closer in weight than expected?

      1. JohnL says:

        Yes, by opting for the SL model I automatically received the larger tires. I love the look, but, in hindsight, might have opted for a model with smaller/lighter tires. How much heavier are they?

        1. Randy says:

          I’m getting a 2013 Leaf when they get in stock here locally. I’m planning on the SL but want to see the cloth in the SV before committing. I’m a Lexus/Audi guy so I assume I’ll like the SL a bit better. Homelink is one of the only thing I’ll miss but I can add that aftermarket.

          1. JohnL says:

            I think you will like the cloth, they did a nice job with. And you can order the leather as an option in an SV, right?

            1. Randy says:

              Nope. There are a handful of SL-only features:

              17″ wheels
              Solar panel
              Leather seating
              Cargo area cover
              HomeLink

              The Bose / Around-View-Monitor option is available on either the SV or SL.

  12. Chris Lynt says:

    Tony, I am curious what exactly your background is? Do you have any technical training? I don’t want to be labeled a “hater” but once again, you are presenting pseudo-engineering test data. For example, you are apparently using GPS to get what you consider an accurate speed reading, right? Give me a break! Unless you were using military grade missile guiding GPS, you are going to have pretty gross inaccuracies that wash out your detected differences. Just differences in atmospheric conditions will throw it off considerably. Look it up if you don’t believe me. If you want to play test engineer, try using something like recently calibrated Lidar or Radar to estimate speed. Without that, I would hazard a guess that the speedometers in the tested Leafs are probably MORE accurate than your GPS measurements. BTW, I am an engineer, with a Masters in Computers and Electrical Engineering, and work as a Patent Attorney. I drive a 2012 Leaf since December 2011, and trust the trained engineers at the EPA, and yes, even the engineers at Nissan. Why? Because their methods make engineering sense. No offense, but yours really don’t.. I’m sure you probably mean well, but the stuff you put out is mostly just what I’d call “noise.” Hope this doesn’t make me a “hater” – all I want is reliable information.

    1. JohnL says:

      As the owner/driver of the 2013 used in the test, please, don’t suggest Tony get a missile guided GPS, he just might do it. Regarding the speed and distance measurements, consider the obvious: both cars were traveling the exact speed as we were driving next to each other. Both simultaneously traveled the same distance. We started and stopped at the same point. Our on board speedometers closely reflected Tony’s GPS measurements. While you probably couldn’t target Al Qaeda with Tony’s systems, they appear more than capable of exploding a few myths.

    2. surfingslovak says:

      Chris, no, this post does not make you a hater, but the one from green.autoblog.com I quoted below does, I believe. It also says something about your approach to fellow EV drivers, such as Tony. Especially if they dare to question something, such as range increase claims from one model year to another, or loss of battery capacity in Arizona heat. Let me tell you: I have worked with Tony extensively in the past, and I respect both his methods and his insights. I believe that he provides important and valuable data to the LEAF community. We, as EV drivers, are lucky to have someone like him in our ranks.

      Christopher Lynt:

      “I am beginning to think those few Arizona gripers are working for Big Oil. What do they want, egg in their beer?”

      http://aol.it/ZoAMKb

      “Maybe it’s a $10 Hall-effect sensor that got damaged during a brown-out or power surge or just normal operation in high ambient temperatures, or some other minor electronic component glitch? I think the folks in AZ have jumped to the conclusion that it has to be heat damage to the battery pack, perhaps spurred on by comments by certain Nissan competitors?”

      http://bit.ly/XEJxkM

      1. Thanks for putting a little research in Chris’ posts. There is certainly a core group of folks who only want “smoke blown up their six” !!!

        For Chris, yes, I do have a wee bit of experience with GPS, and it is paramount in my day job. So, thanks for the pointers, but I am intimately familiar with the limitations of GPS, as are most folks who use it for surveying, and those who shoot instrument approaches in planes in really bad weather and really hope a runway pops out at the end (and not a mountain), and a whole lot of other uses.

        I’m sorry that I probably won’t be taking much of your advice, but I did get one heck of a chuckle with your suggestion to use radar for more accurate speed info. Thanks again for the laughs.

        Tony

        1. surfingslovak says:

          Oh, I remember Chris well from the discussions that ensued after the Phoenix range test. He posted on nearly every EV website in existence that the problem was likely caused by a $10 hall-sensor device, and everyone should therefore stop paying attention to the few Arizona gripers. Only after the new capacity warranty was announced we learned what Chris really thought of Phoenix LEAF owners. Sad, but true. Some EV advocates apparently can’t see the forest for the trees. Why is it so hard to take a more balanced view and approach fellow EVers more thoughtfully?

  13. Dave R says:

    A couple inaccuracies I noted:

    * There is no “la5″ EPA test, I believe that you meant the EPA LA4 cycle.
    * The temperature range for 5 bars has the same start/end temp – the end temp should be higher (around 72F IIRC?)

    Any idea what each car recorded for mi/kWh? I would not be surprised to see that the ’13 recorded significantly lower efficiency than the ’12.

    I think that with the ’13 LEAF will get a bit more range as it’s broken in. New tires are known to take a bit to break in, and old tires definitely get more efficient as the tread wears down. As Tony noted, the ’13 LEAF SL tested this time had 17″ wheels/tires which will definitely weigh more and present a bit more aero drag reducing efficiency.

    It would be interesting to try to quantify any improvements to city-cycle driving that Nissan has made as it’s apparent that any range improvement with the ’13 LEAF will show up there. Unfortunately city cycle driving efficiency will vary greatly depending on the driver, so I imagine that it would be very difficult to design such a test, especially out in the real world with other traffic and stop lights.

    It would be interesting to run an comparison test where the efficiency of the 17″ and 16” wheels are compared to see if it’s enough to show up in normal driving.

    I really wish that Nissan would put a bit more effort into improving the aerodynamic efficiency of the LEAF – while a 0.28 drag coefficient is decent, it’s pretty clear that it could be a lot better at highway speeds when range is more important. An aerodynamic wheel wheel option, perhaps some wheel skirts on the rear wheels (make these optional since many people hate the look), cleaning up the area around the back of the car around it’s “haunches” and lowering the roof a bit would all combine to improve freeway range a good amount.

    And yes – more battery capacity and a more durable battery as well!

    1. >>>> A couple inaccuracies I noted:
      * There is no “la5″ EPA test, I believe that you meant the EPA LA4 cycle.<<<<>>>>* The temperature range for 5 bars has the same start/end temp – the end temp should be higher (around 72F IIRC?)<<<>>> Any idea what each car recorded for mi/kWh? I would not be surprised to see that the ’13 recorded significantly lower efficiency than the ’12. <<<<>>> Unfortunately city cycle driving efficiency will vary greatly depending on the driver, so I imagine that it would be very difficult to design such a test, especially out in the real world with other traffic and stop lights.<<<<>>>It would be interesting to run an comparison test where the efficiency of the 17″ and 16″ wheels are compared to see if it’s enough to show up in normal driving.<<<<

      I already did this on my own LEAF last year. I put on the Nissan Juke 17 inch wheels with the Michelin MXM4 tires. The loss of range was minimal, but there was a break in period. In no way does it explain 8% difference between the two cars in this test.

    2. You wrote: **** A couple inaccuracies I noted: There is no “la5″ EPA test, I believe that you meant the EPA LA4 cycle. ****

      Yes, you are absolutely correct. I don’t have a proof reader or a fact checker!!! For more info on the LA4 cycle, check out:

      http://www.epa.gov/nvfel/testing/dynamometer.htm

      “The EPA Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule (UDDS) is commonly called the “LA4” or “the city test” and represents city driving conditions. It is used for light duty vehicle testing.”

      You wrote: **** The temperature range for 5 bars has the same start/end temp – the end temp should be higher (around 72F IIRC?) *****

      I didn’t specify the temperature range of the gauge (the 5th bar is about 50F to 74F), however I did specify that the dash mounted outside temperature gauge showed 52F to 54F during our drive, and this corresponds nicely with the official reported temperatures at KMYF and KCRQ airports that are also in the article.

      You wrote: **** Any idea what each car recorded for mi/kWh? I would not be surprised to see that the ’13 recorded significantly lower efficiency than the ’12. *****

      I recorded it on the previous test at 3.9 miles/kWh, and this is very close to what I expected at 4.0. I didn’t bother to record it this time, as both cars were driven together. After many, many tests, we’ve found that the economy gauge just isn’t always accurate.

      You wrote: ***Unfortunately city cycle driving efficiency will vary greatly depending on the driver, so I imagine that it would be very difficult to design such a test, especially out in the real world with other traffic and stop lights.******

      The EPA does it on a dynomometer for a reason!!

      You wrote: ****It would be interesting to run an comparison test where the efficiency of the 17″ and 16″ wheels are compared to see if it’s enough to show up in normal driving.*****

      I already did this on my own LEAF last year. I put on the Nissan Juke 17 inch wheels with the Michelin MXM4 tires. The loss of range was minimal, but there was a break in period. In no way does it explain 8% difference between the two cars in this test.

  14. Bill Howland says:

    Well hopefully if they offer 48 kwh and 96 kwh battery options, the bigger batteries will get better range than the 2012! But I’m all in favor of it. I’m curious as to if Nissan has gotten the manufacturing cost down, now that they make almost all the battery themselves. That is accurate, correct?

    1. Yes, they do make their own batteries in Japan and USA. I don’t know if Europe is also making batteries (I presume so for the Renault-Nissan Alliance). Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) was established in 2007 and is a joint venture between Nissan Motor (which owns 51%), NEC Corporation (42%) and NEC TOKIN (7%).

      “The track record of the combined companies includes the first commercialisation of Mn-type Li-ion batteries in 1996; the first large scale laminated Li-ion battery in 2000; commercialisation of the first Li-ion battery vehicles for HEVs, EVs and FCVs.”

      I sincerely doubt that the LEAF will be getting a significantly larger battery in the short term. The looming challenge in the USA market is when they make 200,000 units, the $7500 federal tax credit will expire. So, the goal must be to get the price down to a point to compete without a tax credit.

      Yes, I do believe there will be 2 or 3 battery sizes offered, as Tesla does with Model S/X. I do not, however, envision this to be in the sizes you suggest; probably 24kWh, 28kWh and 32kWh (or whatever size will get an EPA 100 mile range).

      1. Jorge D says:

        No they are not producing batteries at the moment in EU,and the batteries at the Leaf are Japanese at the moment, the France Flins batteries factory was cancelled( not the vehicle factory)… on the Nissan Leaf they are using Panasonic NEC doubt to agreements and for marketing strategies,but Renault biggest partner is the Korean LG CHEM, because they shared the technology and the Japanese not. This korean batteries support better an exhausted use than the Panasonic NEC,according to the tests…

  15. Ed Marek says:

    “JohnL

    March 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    As the driver of the 2013 Leaf used in the test, I was disappointed in the results, too. That said, I thought Tony’s test and write up were excellent, thorough and transparent…”

    Not exactly.

    In my opinion, this range test was far too poorly designed and reported to reach very accurate conclusions.

    However, JohnL, if you and the other LEAF driver who actually drove their LEAFs can report a few of the facts and results omitted from this article, we still should be able to recover some useful results from your time and effort.

    The three greatest errors in the design of this range test, IMO, were in the failure to test both cars to the same minimum charge level (VLBW), the failure to report driver (human and cruise control) efficiency, and the failure to normalize and report battery temperature when charging.

    The first error cannot be corrected now, but you could help us to eliminate some of the inaccuracy introduced by the two others, and allow us to still get some useful information from your work.

    As a few commentators have noted, the amount of regenerative braking almost surely varied between the two test cars. What they don’t seem to realize is that both of these LEAFs were capable of reporting the regenerative braking charging history through the CarWings telematics system.

    So, assuming both drivers were using CarWings, each should have a report of actual regen charging during this test. And of course, IF each driver received the same regen kWh, while driving identical speeds, while using the same kWh in total (also reported by CarWings) then driver efficiency was identical.

    If you both could please post those results, we can significantly reduce the inaccuracy of this report.

    Another large uncontrolled test variable was battery temperature.

    The report of five bars of temperature in the dash display only indicates the battery temperatures were within ~25 F of each other.

    The total charge accepted by the LEAF battery will vary by approximately 3% to 4% in this temperature range (less kWh of charge are accepted by a colder battery) and the range from a subsequent test will vary by about the same percentage.

    So the only way to accurately range test two LEAFs, is to have them exposed to close to identical ambient temperatures and same charging and discharging schedule (both of which cause battery heating) for several days before the test.

    Apparently, this was not done here.

    If you and the other driver could report the ambient temps and driving history, for the day or two previous, we could still get a better idea of your initial charge variations due to battery temperature, and reduce the inaccuracy of the test results even further.

    Of course, eventfully a competent party will have the opportunity to run a range test between the 2012 and 2013 LEAF, and do it right to begin with, giving far more accurate results than we can recover form this effort.

    1. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

      Just for all those who might read the above post by Ed Marek, let it be known that he follows my articles and postings like a moth to light, always with the same summation of “it’s poorly done”.

      I like to ask that the participants from our test not feed the troll. I like to refer to him as the “quintessential boil on my ass that needs to be popped”.

      Thank you,

      Tony

      1. Jorge D says:

        I believe in your test 100%, the Leaf 2013 has great improvements and its a more accessible vehicle for everybody,its a great car and very well equipped, but as the Japanese owners request to the president of the Renault Nissan alliance Mr.Carlos Goshn,last week , the vehicle needs more range battery to be more competitive they have to offer 300kms (186.41 ml) of real range at least… The big problem it’s the increase of the weight… Meanwhile Tesla as I said before its in the outer Space,but his technology it’s not for everybody…

  16. vps says:

    I really like this blog. You write about very interesting things. Thanks for all your tips and information

    1. Thank you very much,

      Tony

  17. steve says:

    I’d buy a longer range battery for my existing leaf, or a range extender battery that could be placed in the trunk where the cargo carriers plug in. Hopefully will come to be.

  18. Jorge D says:

    Thanks Tony for your excellent and honest article. The differences on the manufacturer tests between US ,EU and JP are due to the speed test and other “tricks”. Here in Spain, we use the European NEDC,according to them the new Leaf has 200 km(124ml) but they are simply manipulating the tests, at constant low speed in rolling road with low inertia at high altitude,over inflating the tyres,altering wheel alignment….etc the Japanese test is conducted at the legal high speed in Japan 80 kms/h (49.70ml/h)
    For me the most realistic test is the US EPA, and I’m not surprised with the results obtained with the 2013 Leaf only a 2.5% increased,but the actual test is different than the 2012, because now are using the media between the battery charged at 80% and 100%…
    According to Nissan, they have reduced the weight in about 80kg(176,36lb), and they have equipped the vehicle with the Renault ( the owner of Nissan) Camaleon charger who it’s able to charge from 3kw to 43kw( ultra fast charger), and the new heating pump and cooler system for the batteries,the regenerative breack…inheriting this new features from his brother the Renault Zoe http://www.renault.co.uk/cars/electric-vehicles/zoe/zoe/ the maximum competitor in EU…
    In the next 3 years the best performance in the range of this vehicles of the Nissan-Renault group will come from the recovery systems of the energy,but not from the batteries according on the agreements signed with the Korean LG CHEM,and Panasonic NEC, so Tesla will be in the outer space compared with his competitors.

  19. ricks says:

    since you were not able to maintain 62mph the entire time, is hard to determine exactly, to me is statically the same range. There is lots of variables that you probably you did not take into account. If they have the same capacity and the 2013 have aerodynamic enhancements and less weight, don’t understand why it should give less range…don’t you think. But if that makes you feel good , I am fine with it.

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