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Feds Rate Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG

But new rating system could confuse, rather than clarify for battery-car customers.

by on Nov.22, 2010

The Nissan Leaf recently paced the NY Marathon. Now, says the EPA, it is setting the pace for the rest of the midsize auto segment.

The Nissan Leaf gets 99 miles to the gallon and can go for at least 102 miles per charge, according to new government fuel economy ratings.  Or is that 100 miles before having to plug in again?  Or 120?

While the EPA’s long-awaited calculation, which will appear on the window sticker of the Japanese battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, should please many green-minded motorists, it’s likely to confuse plenty of others.

The government’s challenge has been to come up with ways to measure the efficiency of a battery car in a manner comparable to the current fuel economy calculations used for conventional gas-powered automobiles.  But skeptics question whether the new numbers  are any better than a controversial earlier proposal that would have shown Leaf’s fuel economy at something close to 400 mpg.

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As it stands, the pure battery-powered Nissan Leaf is the most fuel-efficient car in the midsize segment, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged by law with determining the mileage of new cars, trucks and crossover.  The agency’s finalized testing process gives Leaf a Combined 99 MPGe figure, or miles per gallon equivalent, which is a measure of what an alternative fuel vehicle actually would get if it were powered by gasoline.