Does range matter?
One of the questions that we get most often is how far will our LEAF go. The answer for us is that its maximum range is irrelevant, because we never drive it that far. But what about everyone else? That’s what we’re going to look at today.
Nissan has uploaded a bunch of videos to YouTube and they can be found in the Nissan Channel, which we have referenced before. Specific LEAF videos can be found here. We have been reviewing some of these videos and found some useful information regarding how current LEAF owners are using their cars, which we will pass along here.
In this video, which talks about the Smyrna, Tennessee plant, Mark Perry, Director of Product Planning also talks about LEAF usage on an aggregate basis with information provided by over 8,000 owners so far (video uploaded in February 2012). This is what they’ve discovered:
- Average LEAF owners drive 37 miles per day
- Each trip averages seven miles
- Time of the average charge – two to three hours overnight
That last bullet point really tells the story. If a full charge takes eight hours, but the average charge is only two or three hours, then most LEAF drivers are not driving their cars anywhere close to the maximum range of the vehicle. We have found this to be the case for us as well. But that is just looking at LEAF drivers. What about non-LEAF owners.
We’ve discussed the Bureau of Transportation Statistics numbers before. Most drivers in the United States travel less than 40 miles per day. So let’s look specifically at Chevrolet Volt owners. We just discovered that the Chevrolet Volt also has a statistical database available to the public. While this database does not provide trip information, it does provide one bit of extremely useful comparative information – what percentage of Volt owners are driving under just electric power the majority of the time? As of today, there are 768 Volt owners registered on the site. And of those, 692 are driving on electric power 50 percent of the time or more. One must remember that the electric range of the Volt is significantly less than it is for a Nissan LEAF. Even given that, the vast majority of Volt owners (assuming that this is a relatively representative sample) are engaging the gasoline engine less than half the time. It would seem that the argument of needing greater range truly is a psychological need rather than an actual one – at least for many.
If you would like to hear Mark Perry addressing the bullet points above, watch the embedded video below starting at about the 2:10 mark.