Nissan's Leaf—the first mainstream, affordable all-electric car—just got the thumbs-up from the Environmental Protection Agency. Not only is it best in the midsize vehicle class for fuel efficiency, but the EPA gave the Leaf a whopping 106 miles per gallon for city driving and 92 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 99 mpg equivalent.
How does the EPA calculate the miles per gallon of a vehicle that doesn't contain any fuel? Green Car Reports explains that the energy content of 1 gallon of gasoline is 33.7 kilowatt-hours, and the Leaf uses approximately 80% of its 24-kWh battery pack. The EPA put the Leaf through five-cycle tests using a number of different driving conditions and climate controls.
Less impressive is the vehicle's driving range of 73 miles on a full charge. Combined with a charging time of seven hours on a 240V charge, that's enough to turn off potential customers who want to use the Leaf for long trips.
Want to put the Leaf through the wringer yourself? The vehicle will go on sale in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Tennessee in December. The rest of the country will have access to the Leaf beginning in 2011.