A Real-World Year-Round Range Comparison Of Nissan LEAF vs e-NV200

When you decide to base your daily commute on an EV, the word range becomes the most used in your vocabulary. And if you live in a part of the world where winter actually means frost and snow, you will definitely realize just how your EV’s range is affected when the cold kicks in.

But how much exactly does that cold affect the range of an EV? It takes a lot of measurements at different temperatures to get a clear impression. I was lucky enough to lease the Nissan e-NV200 for one year and then the Nissan LEAF the next year, in exactly the same conditions. Which was especially interesting due to the fact that they share the exact same battery and drivetrain. This meant that I could get answers to these two questions:

  1. How does the temperature affect the range?
  2. How does the build of a car affect the range?

Two Cars — Same Drivetrain

Nissan e-NV200 (2015):

Battery: 24 kWh
Motor: 80 kW (107 HP)
Weight: 1723kg
Wheels: Alloy rims with 185/65 R 15 tires
Range: 170 km (105 miles) NEDC


Nissan LEAF (2015):

Battery: 24 kWh
Motor: 80 kW (107 HP)
Weight: 1493kg
Wheels: Alloy rims with 205/55 R 16 tires
Range: 200 km (124 miles) NEDC


Test Conditions

My commute is 30 km (19 miles) in each direction in a mixture of roadways. One third is countryside road at stable speeds around 80 km/h (50 mph). Another third is highway at speeds around 110 km/h (70 mph). The last third is in dense stop & go traffic in the city. Same routine every day, year round. Each car traveled a total of 25,000 km (15,000 miles) including the occasional weekend or vacation trip. I always used air conditioning and did not bother much with ECO-mode since it did not make that much of a difference anyway.

Objective Results

When I started out with the e-NV200, I honestly thought something was wrong with it. I had not realized how optimistic the European NEDC standard was. But I certainly found out. A friend of mine had leased the exact same car at the same time, even doing the same commute, and he learned the hard way by running out of electrons on the highway 10 miles from home. So I knew I had to be careful. One of the first things I did with the e-NV200 though was to go on an insane long-distance trip with my family that claimed a total of eight charge stops. That trip gave me a very thorough feel of what this car could do. But after that it was just everyday use.

The summer I had the e-NV200 I never had the opportunity to measure the range in temperatures above 20°C so it might have been able to get more than 100 km (62 miles). Look at those curves: the LEAF had up to 50% longer range!

The LEAF was more sensitive to temperature change than the e-NV200, and that is probably due to it being a lot lighter and having better aerodynamics than the e-NV200, thus making the temperature account for more in total resistance. If you look closely you might wonder if the two cars will have equally poor range at -10°C and below.

This test shows very clearly how useless the NEDC norm is. The real world range is way lower than NEDC claims. The NEDC ratio between LEAF vs e-NV200 is 1 to 1.2, while the tested ratio is 1 to 1.4 at 20°C and 1.3 at 0°C.

The answers to the questions above:

  1. The temperatures impact on effective range is interesting due to that fact that it is not linear. The curve seems to flatten at high temperatures, but seems to decline steeper the colder it gets. The main reason is probably the energy needed to heat the battery combined with the electronics preserving the battery with larger offset from total discharge. The fact that colder air results in more aerodynamic drag might also play a role.
  2. The weight and aerodynamics of a vehicle has tremendous impact on efficiency. Up to 50% greater efficiency in the LEAF vs the e-NV200 is quite significant, and a bit surprising. The reason the difference is so obvious in an EV is that a “tank” storing 24 kWh worth of electrons is equivalent to a gas version of the car having a 1 gallon tank. If you drove an ICE with a 1 gallon tank, you would be very aware of your milage!

Subjective Results

So, enough with the numbers. Both are short range EVs, so that is a big challenge in any case. What about the daily use of the cars? Which is better? The answer is: both. These are both very nice cars with their own set of talents.

The e-NV200 is a very useful car for carrying out daily tasks. It is fairly comfortable, albeit in no way luxurious. Easy to get in and out. And the kids love it. Lots of room in the back seat, and drop down tables to put your stuff and place your beverage. The storage capacity is huge. Furniture. Bicycles. Strollers. All at once. Not a problem. And even though excess weight does nothing good in terms of range, the motor does not care. It is strong as an ox and hauls anything, and the balance of the car is totally unaffected due to the low center of gravity. A joy to drive in any condition.

The LEAF is completely different but equally addictive. Very comfortable, very smooth, very stable at all speeds, very quiet, and very solid. No wonder LEAF owners love their cars and don’t care one bit about the looks and the range. Most LEAF owners I know has an ICE too and never gives the poor range another thought. The LEAF is always first choice for the ranges it can muster. The LEAF was my only car for a year and we went on long vacation drives to Germany and Sweden and never had a problem with it.

The two cars are alike in terms of controls, buttons, and dials. Everything works. But not all buttons and readouts on the display are idiot-proof. You will need the manual to get the most of it. No surprise here. These are not futuristic cars. They are just normal cars for normal people. And that’s a recipe for success.

16 thoughts on “A Real-World Year-Round Range Comparison Of Nissan LEAF vs e-NV200

  1. You’re lucky to have such good range in the leaf. My 2012 leaf sl gets just 35 miles on a full charge with all small roads at slow speed (~30mph).

    The battery still “passes” the warranty test. My range was this bad when I had all capacity bars but now I’ve lost 2. It’s a junk car from an auto maker I’ll never trust again.

    1. Silly question, but are you driving in “ECO” + “B” modes for maximum range efficiency?

      I do in my 2014 Leaf (all year) and get 3.9 – 4.2 miles per kWh and a real world range of about 60-65 in summer and 50-55 in winter… although my battery dropped the first bar this summer and I am concerned about my potential winter range going forward.

      I also don’t use the heater unless the temperature is at or below freezing, The heated seats/steering wheel are a godsend and I wear extra layers and thermal lined boots/hat.

      1. My 2012 LEAF SL didn’t have a “b” mode, but yes I use eco mode. I haven’t found that it makes any difference for me though.

        The car computer claims similar economy to yours (~4mi/kwh) but fails to account for power that is lost in the battery itself (my battery has, and has had since I bought this car used in 2015, very high internal resistance).

        Real world range in the heat days of summer for me is closer to 50mi, but those days are rare enough I don’t bother taking about them. Most of Autumn, Winter, Spring, and most of Summer my range caps out around 35 miles (empirically determined by running out of power dozens of times in the side of the road, which plays a big role in my frustration of course).

        I don’t use the horribly designed heater either (damn heat pipes aren’t even insulated!!). If I’m going to drive more than 20 miles I also avoid the heated seats and steering wheel.

        Lucky for me my daily commute is about 20 miles so even in Winter I can use the heated seats and steering wheel most days and have enough power to get from home, daycare, work, and back home again (my wife picks the kids up). With that 20 mile round trip my battery will have roughly 1/3 left at the end of a normal day (no rain, sleet, or snow)

        I can’t wait to douse this POC with all the gas I haven’t burned in the past few years, strike a match, and shove it off a cliff.

        Nissan has lost me as a customer, permanently. I’m 40 years old, an engineer (so I make good money), and my family is getting old enough that I’ll have extra cash to burn soon. I like to think I’m representative of Nissan’s most profitable demographic and that by disappointing me so badly with this car (repeatedly dismissing my issues as “not a warrantable failure”) at the very least I’ll hard them in return by taking my business elsewhere. Sadly that’s the only recourse I’ve got: they are right, they don’t explicitly warranty the battery for my type of failure. They SHOULD replace it anyway, but they don’t HAVE to so I’m told to sod off.

          1. The issue was first documented (35mi range without using heat, Max speed 35mph) while I had all 12 bars.

            Since then I’ve lost 2 bars and don’t see any dramatic difference in range as a result. Most likely it was close to losing the first bar when I originally documented the issue, so I’ve lost little more than 1 bar since.

    2. It seems most likely that the particular instance of the Leaf you are driving has a fault somewhere, as no-one else, I have heard from, has the kind of low range you are talking about. It might be considered irrational to judge the quality of an entire manufacturer based on your experience with one instance of one model. I should get it checked out if I were you.

      1. You’re right that it’s this particular instance of this model: I don’t know if anyone else with this issue.

        Of course I’ve had it checked out many times by several different Nissan dealerships. If Nissan opened up to this defective battery I would have taken it as a positive, but instead I’ve been dragged through sleazy dealership process, sleazy corporate process, and massive imposition on my time all yeilding a singular result: Nissan doesn’t stand behind this product.

        That’s what I judge Nissan for. Anyone can screw up and be forgiven, but repeatedly failing to own up to this faulty car and leaving me with a worthless pile of crap as a result? That’s grounds for permanent distrust in my book. And so I don’t trust Nissan, period. They’ve had over 2 years and many opportunities to respond with something better than “screw off” and they’ve failed miserable.

        1. In that case, you would have every right to be mad with them. Corporations seem to be entirely antisocial these days, with their sights focused entirely on profits, and providing goods and services to customers begrudgingly only as a means to that end.

  2. Jesper, thanks for sharing your experience in this article. I was surprised by the impact on range between the e-NV200 and the Leaf, due to the extra weight and co-efficient of drag.

    Extrapolating your figures to the new 40kWh packs would make the e-NV200 a 100 mile (160km) range van.

    To my knowledge the e-NV200 like the Leaf doesn’t have any means of heating the battery pack, just simple air cooling (which struggles on hot days).

    1. No battery heater? I did not know that. That will certainly explain the steep drop in performance at sub-zero. I see the same thing with my electric bicycles.

      1. Cheap design to keep costs low and the Leaf profitable.

        I expect the 2019 Leaf will use LG chem batteries and pack heating/cooling beyond the simple air flow currently found on Leafs!

      2. It does have a battery heater, but I think it’s only turned on to prevent damage to the battery and not to improve range.

  3. Very useful data. The NV200 is my preferred body type as it so much more versatile than a saloon or hatchback, but having read what you say, I shall probably move my ownership ambitions towards a Leaf.

    1. You could consider the new 40 kWh version of the e-NV200. It has a NEDC rating of 280 km, which corresponds to Martins extrapolating of my measurements to 100 real-life miles. Still not a lot, but in my commute it would be more than enough.

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