Our Cars: Nissan Leaf Tekna

17 January 2019: What is the real world range of the Nissan Leaf?

The Details

Current mileage 8201
Claimed range 168
Actual range 110

When it comes to electric vehicles, there are two big questions that would-be owners want answering. The first is how quickly do they charge up? The second is how quickly do they run out of charge. The unspoken third is 'Can I charge them in the rain?' Obviously, we can’t speak for all drivers and cars, but we can give you a breakdown of our own personal experience.

First up, a little bit of background. Our daily commute is about 70 miles a day, with the first 15-minutes being stop-start traffic dropping the kids off at school, then 20 minutes of motorway driving, before a final five (sometimes 10 minutes) on A-roads with a bit of overtaking lorries up hill.

Why is this important? Simply because the answer to the two questions at the start will depend entirely on how you’re driving and how you're planning to charge.

While our daily commute is well within the Leaf’s official range of 168 miles, not all range miles are created equal.  For a start, that figure of 168 is more like 140 miles. So a 60-mile commute should see us return home with more than 50% battery, making it possible to go two days without charge.

Nissan _LEAF_044

Fast charging socket on the left, domestic socket on the right.

But this isn’t possible, for two reasons. The first is that we often return home with less than 50% battery (more like 45%). That’s because, as a rule of thumb, if you’re going over 60mph you’re going to use more than one range mile for every actual mile you cover.

Our personal worst was a 60-mile round trip, three up with luggage and running a touch late. We left home with 85% charge and returned with just 3% with Eco mode kicking in for the last 20% of the battery’s charge.

The second reason we have to charge every night is that it simply isn’t possible to refill the battery from almost empty ‘overnight’. Plug-in a near-empty Leaf to a domestic 3kw three-pin socket and realistically you’re looking at a charge time of more than 16 hours.

Use a 40kw fast charge at the services will give you about 70-80% charge in 45 minutes. Good on paper, but our local fast charger went through a period of being broken. Quite what you’re meant to do in those situations is beyond me – you can’t just nip to the next Shell garage down the road… our next nearest quick charger is 40 miles away.

Based on this evidence, we'd say it's more than possible to run an EV on a home charging point if you have a short commute or do around 6000 miles a year. Remember, driving in traffic around town is really where EVs are at home. Oh, and yes, you can charge them in the rain.

« Earlier: Nissan Leaf vs Rivals     Later: Five things no-one ever tells you about owning an electric car »

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