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Nissan says the Leaf EV beats the Chevrolet Volt with 367 mpg

Wed, 12 Aug 2009

The green car mileage race is now under way, and Nissan Motor Co. isn't impressed by the Chevrolet Volt's 230-mpg claim.

The Japanese automaker says its new Leaf electric vehicle gets 367 mpg, or about 60 percent better fuel efficiency.

"Nissan Leaf = 367 mpg, no tailpipe, and no gas required," Nissan wrote on its NissanEVs Twitter page after General Motors Co. announced Tuesday that the Volt would score 230 mpg.

"Oh yeah, and it'll be affordable too," Nissan added, in a dig at the Volt's estimated $40,000 sticker price. Nissan is promising that the five-passenger Leaf, unveiled Aug. 2, will be priced to compete with $25,000-$33,000 mass-market cars in the United States.

Still unclear is how the Japanese automaker derived its lofty mileage rating.

GM CEO Fritz Henderson said Aug. 11 that the EPA is developing a rating methodology for plug-in hybrids such as the Volt. Under those tentative rules, the Volt will be the first mass-produced car with a triple-digit fuel economy rating, he said.

The Volt is a gasoline-electric hybrid that runs up to 40 miles on electric power before the gasoline engine must be started to recharge the battery while it operates. The Leaf, by contrast, is powered solely by a battery that has a range of 100 miles before it needs to be recharged.

Electric vehicle mileage is typically measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. But that metric is unfamiliar to most drivers, so there are ways of deriving a miles per gallon equivalent.

Nissan officials in Japan could not immediately be reached for comment.

But an article posted July 6 on the Society of Automotive Engineers' Web site tackled the problem of calculating fuel economy numbers for electric vehicles.

Its author, Paul Weissler, estimated that the Leaf would get 367 mpg based on the Department of Energy's method of deriving petroleum-equivalent fuel economy for electric vehicles.

In a statement responding to GM's claims for the Volt, the EPA said Tuesday it has not yet tested a Volt and "therefore cannot confirm the fuel economy values claimed by GM."

But the agency said it "does applaud GM's commitment to designing and building the car of the future -- an American-made car that will save families money, significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create good-paying American jobs."

Neil Roland contributed to this report

By Hans Greimel- Automotive News