One of the major concerns most people have with electric vehicles is how their range and functionality is greatly decreased in cold weather. Nissan set out to prove that cold weather doesn’t affect the Leaf. Nissan invited a few dozen journalists to a test course in North Japan to take a drive in the snow in a Nissan Leaf.
Nissan conducted interviews with engineers and journalists with Nissan Leafs driving in the snow in the background. The Leaf with the cold weather package, can maintain the operating temperature of the battery pack even while outside temperatures were -9 C (16 F). Nissan is also working on a more efficient heating system for the passenger cabin. Heating the passengers is one of the impacts on cold weather driving range.
The journalists interviewed seemed impressed with how the Nissan Leaf handled in the slippery conditions. The Nissan Leaf has a low center of gravity thanks to the heavy batteries being below the car’s floor. The Nissan Leaf also has even weight distribution and traction control which made handling it in the snow much more comfortable.
According to Wikipedia, the Nissan Leaf will have a 62 mile range in 15mph stop and go traffic in -10C. The total drive time is about 4 hours which means the heater would be running for 4 hours straight and still only lost about 15% of total capacity. Without traffic, driving an average of 40mph, the Nissan Leaf should have a range of about 70 miles – similar to the EPA combined cycle estimate.
Some Nissan Leaf owners complain that the stock tires are not good in snow and ice, but that’s been the only real cold-weather complaint from owners so far.