Skip to main content

Nissan answering questions about Nissan Leaf on Facebook

Nissan's new series of videos, over the next three weeks, covers the basic questions about the Nissan Leaf coming from the little experience most have with electric cars.

It's the modern era social networking websites like Facebook, and on the Nissan LEAF Facebook fan page is the first in a series of video's answering questions about the Nissan LEAF. The video features Mark Perry, Nissan's Director of Product Planning, whose responsibilities include the Nissan LEAF, answering questions about that car.

if the modern measure of popularity is how many fans your Facebook page has, the Nissan LEAF, with its 165,932 fans, is in good company. For comparison, the official Nissan Versa page has only 68,959 fans, and the official Chevy Cruze page has only 111,262 fans.

As a first video in a series, the questions are pretty basic, so let's go over and evaluate their questions and answers:

How does the Nissan Leaf differ from a regular internal combustion engine car: Perry explains that the Leaf is "all about zero emissions", the car is "pure battery electricity, no gasoline, no oil on board, not even a tailpipe." The LEAF runs "purely on battery power" and "you get about 100 miles of range on a single charge." However, this is asterisked with the statement that the 100 mile range is based on the US EPA LA4 Test Cycle, which has a duration of 11 miles and an average speed of 20 miles/hr.

In any case, Nissan's answer talks about lower tailpipe emissions due to the lack of a tailpipe on the car. There is clearly no exhaust from running electrons through an electric motor, causing magnetic fields to form, spin the wheels of a car. However some are passing around an idea that, because the electricity often comes from a coal-fired power plant, that means electric cars are coal-powered. While there's some truth to this idea, so too is your refrigerator coal-powered, and all the other electrical gizmos in ones life. It makes one wonder why all of a sudden this idea about coal and electricity popped up now that effective electric cars are available? The other thing one can wonder is why the negative side effects of oil extraction and refinement are being ignored when the side effects to electricity generation get scrutinized when that electricity is used to power a car?

How does the Nissan LEAF differ from other vehicles with electric capability on the market: Perry explains the LEAF is the "only vehicle that is pure battery electricity, and is available (almost) nationwide" for the "mass market" under "mass production", and that is affordable.

To tease this apart a little, the range of competing vehicles in the U.S. are the various hybrid vehicles from various manufacturers, the Prius Plug-In, the Chevy Volt, the Mitsubishi i-Miev, the Ford Focus Electric, the Coda Sedan, and the Tesla Model S. Among those cars, the LEAF is the only one with the attributes named by Mark Perry. The hybrids all burn gasoline, and have no opportunity to drive any distance on electricity from the electrical grid. Both the Prius Plug-in and Chevy Volt are plug-in hybrid cars, and while they represent a pragmatic choice between powering the car on electricity from the grid, and a using gasoline to extend the range, both are a compromise to those of us who desire a pure battery electric car. All the battery electric cars are in some form of limited distribution at this time, being sold in selected markets or have limited production runs. The Nissan LEAF is the closest among them to being in full scale mass production, and in full scale delivery across the U.S.

What do prospective owners need to know when considering the purchase of a Nissan Leaf: Perry suggests you ask yourself "Does the car fit your daily driving needs." As he goes on to note, transportation studies have shown over the years that typical daily driving range is under 40 miles. For example the Chevy Volt 35-40 mile electric-only range was chosen specifically because the average driver travels 40 miles or less per day. But every time we point out this fact, someone pops up to say his or her daily commute is, say, 60 miles each way, meaning the 70-100 miles range of the LEAF is inadequate. We have two responses to a person like this. First, we are sorry that you are spending 2 hours or more in your car every day, that must be hard. Second, if the car does not suit your needs, then do not buy it.

When Mark Perry says "you typically drive 40 miles a day" and that "a car that gets 100 miles range is more than enough for your typical daily driving habits," is he sure to irritate those people whose honest daily driving habits are much more than 40 miles a day. Clearly some commute long distances every day, and there are roving salesman or service technicians clocking 200 miles a day or more, every day. Research shows that the average is 40 miles a day, but clearly some exceed those averages.

The facebook page for this video garnered a few interesting questions from the community:

Does Nissan have any pickups that are EV yet? Actually, does any automaker have an electric pickup truck yet? The answer is no. The closest is Via Motors who is remanufacturing some Chevy pickup trucks with a plug-in hybrid drive train. Nissan has shown the e-NV200, an electric van that is planned to be used in New York City as an electrically powered taxicab.

How can Tesla, a small company, come out with a 300 mile range sedan and SUV (Model's S and X)? It will be interesting to hear Nissan's answer on this. The practical consideration here is the price for battery packs. The 300 mile range Model S carries an 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack, and that large battery pack is a large part of the reason the cost for the Model S is well above $70,000. Cars that pricey simply are not affordable to the mass market, and even cars with a $35,200 (MSRP U.S.) are a bit more than most can afford. Nissan clearly wants to do their best to make an affordable battery electric car, and at this juncture it meant scrimping on the battery pack. Perhaps in a few years new battery technology will enable affordable 300 mile range electric cars, but that simply is not the case today. As Nissan answered: "We have definitely taken into consideration the feedback from our current and prospective Nissan LEAF Owners that a Nissan LEAF with extended range would be greatly appreciated. At this time, adding additional miles would dramatically increase the price of the Nissan LEAF and potentially put it out of reach of many prospective buyers."

Nissan is taking questions now for future videos, so let them know your questions on Facebook at and on Twitter using the #LearnAboutLEAF hashtag.