What is the fuel efficiency of the Nissan Leaf compared to gas-powered cars? How many “miles per gallon”or “liters per 100 Km” does it make? Regardless of the published EPA metrics, the real answer for me depends on a few local variables:
- How many kilometers you can drive with 1 KWh of electricity (K)
- What the electricity costs are in your area (E)
- What the current price of gas is in your area (G)
The first one really depends on your driving habits and weather conditions. Since I don’t have a Leaf yet, I’m’ going to use the estimated average range from Nissan: 160 Km per full charge. That’s 160/24 = 6.7 Km/KWh.
Second, check your hydro bill. If you’re paying flat rate, get your total after delivery and taxes and divide by the number of KWh consumed in that period. For example, if you paid $161 for 1,242 Kwh, you’re paying 13 cents/KWh. If your area has TOU (time of use) rates, then you have to consider that you’ll mostly be charging your car overnight, when electricity is off-peak and much cheaper (in my case, 5.9 cents/KWh compared to 10.7 cents/KWh during peak hours). You have to break down your bill and figure out what the after-taxes off-peak cost of electricity is. In my bill, I figured it’s 11.8 cents/KWh.
Finally, the average gas price in your area. Average because with all the speculation from the oil industry, gas prices keep changing all the time, even during the same day (and particularly the day before long weekends, which kills me). Where I live, the current average is $1.25 per liter.
So now we have everything we need: K = 6.7, E = 11.8 and G = 1.25
So let’s have some fun with these numbers.
How much does it cost to fully charge the Leaf?
Easy: 24 KWh * E = $2.83 — Notice this is the cost to charge a car that is *completely* discharged. That will be very unlikely to happen. Assuming you’ll charge every night, you will only be charging the amount you drove the previous day. For example, if you drove 53 Km, you used about 1/3 of your charge. Topping that off will cost you 95 cents.
What’s the “mileage” of the Leaf?
So you can drive 160 Km with $2.83. With this money, I can buy 2.26 liters of gas. So the Leaf can drive 160/2.26 = 70.8 Km with one liter, or 1.4 L/100 Km, or 166 MPG. That’s quite impressive!
How much cheap would gas have to be for my current car to drive at the same cost?
Good question! Depends on the car. Our Corolla can drive about 14Km with a liter of gas in the city. To drive 160 Km, it would need 11.4 liters. If we were to pay only $2.83 to drive those 160 Km, one liter of gas would have to cost 24.7 cents! Or 93 cents a gallon, south of the border. In the case of our minivan (9 Km/l) — not a very fair comparison, but still, that’s the car I drive to work today, it would be like paying 16 cents a liter (60 cents/gallon).
How much money will I be saving per year?
Depends on how much you drive and what car you drive. I expect to drive 20,000 Km per year with the Leaf. The cost of driving this much will be $2.83/160 * 20,000 = $354. To drive the same distance with our Corolla, we would pay $1.25/14 * 20,000 = $1,785. The Corolla would also need an oil change every 6,000 Km ($50/change), which brings the total to $1952. Therefore the Leaf will save us 1,952 – 354 = $1,598 per year.
Compared to our minivan, the savings are even more dramatic: $2,590 per year!
Yes, the Leaf is more expensive than a regular car, but when you factor in the driving costs, the picture changes completely. You can put it this way: The Leaf without the batteries costs roughly the same as a well-equipped car. The money you will save in fuel costs will pay for the batteries after several years. How many years? It depends on which car you’re comparing with. That will be the subject of a future article. Stay tuned.