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Wolfe's Den
Would You Buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt?
11/2/2011

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The all-electric Nissan Leaf.
The all-electric Nissan Leaf.

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PHEV_BEV_PNNL
User Rank
Iron
I bought the Nissan Leaf. I am glad I made the right choice!
PHEV_BEV_PNNL   11/30/2011 4:40:19 PM
NO RATINGS

I purchased a Nissan Leaf Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), zero emission cars in May of 2011. Besides the $7,500 federal EV rebate, the state of Washington offers $0.00 sales tax for EV purchases. After the Federal rebate the true purchase price for the leaf will be $25,500.00. I drive the vehicle to work and home and various trips to the store or to family events after work. I am logging 40 to 80 miles a day with 116 miles as the highest miles on a single charge. I pay 6.3 cents a kilowatt hour rate and I am paying $ .83 cents on the average per charge a day to drive the vehicle. Nissan Leaf is a 5 person vehicle with maintenance that includes tires, brakes and a change of brake fluid. Nissan requires a yearly check of the Li-ion battery pack that has an 8 year, 100K mile warranty.

I test drove the Chevy Volt last weekend. This is what I learned; 4 passenger seating capacity, 35 miles on one charge. If you drive the car on the freeway or need to accelerate fast, the gasoline motor will start up to provide the extra power needed during the first 35 miles.  The motor does not charge the battery, the only way the battery can be charge while on the road is through regenerative braking that dumps energy back into the battery or thru mechanical generation due to deceleration or coasting on downward inclines. Maintenance for the Volt will include the engine, cooling, exhaust as well as the batteries.

If you buy the Volt you can hyper-mile the vehicle and it will provide you the 25 to 50 miles per charge as a purely EV car. If you are looking for a Plug-In Electrical car (PHEV) capable vehicle that can travel long distances and make use of a battery around town, the volt is the ticket. When it comes to price and luxury, I do not believe the plastic interiors of the Chevy vehicles are very luxurious. The leather seats are nice. I do not believe the price point on this car is very attractive to most buyers and really who will pay $ 45K for this car? If I am going to take a family vacation or trip most people would drive their vans of SUVs for comfort and cargo capacity.

At this snapshot in time, I know the Nissan Leaf was my best choice in the BEV today.  The Nissan Leaf has a $25,500 price point that is almost $ 10,000 less than the Volt. As the electrical car charger become more common place around town (malls, theatres, Restaurants, etc.) more miles can be logged in a day without going home to charge.  I also look forward to the new BEV cars that will be hitting the market place and welcome the release of the 300 mile range Nissan dense packed battery upgrades.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Neither
Alexander Wolfe   11/22/2011 12:46:41 PM
NO RATINGS
Jack's comment regarding recycling and the earlier comment re solar panels are indications that the electric car perhaps hasn't reached its final form yet. I still believe the Chevy Volt will be the paradigm for commercial electric vehicles, notwithstanding the fact that it's not a true plug-in electric. I know that point can be argued, but the analogy is more to a diesel electric train. Moreover, it's precisely because the Volt took a slightly out-of-box approach to electric implementation that I think it'll succeed. Still, replacement costs are going to be the ultimate gating factor/stumbling block to market success.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Neither
Jack Rupert, PE   11/14/2011 2:55:23 PM
NO RATINGS
I am not an early adopter and this technology is not proven yet over time.  I like keeping my cars forever and I need a little bit of assurance that they will last.  As one person said in the article, he wants to see what the replacement battery costs.  The second piece of that is what additional charges are the environmentalists going to tack on for "recycling" and whatnot.  Finally, as a resident of the northern climes, I would like to see the long term effect of extreme temperatures and road salt.

tfcsd
User Rank
Iron
Re: Where are the solar panels?
tfcsd   11/14/2011 12:03:57 AM
NO RATINGS
I would buy neither because they are both too expensive. When I can buy one used for a couple of thousand, I may get one.

fredsay
User Rank
Gold
Where are the solar panels?
fredsay   11/7/2011 3:43:05 PM
NO RATINGS
I'll be waiting until GM and/or Nissan puts solar panels on the roof, hood and trunk before I buy one. Seems like a no-brainer. I wouldn't need to plug it in while at work as the sun will replenish at least some of the battery charge. 

Also, I think it's interesting that GM, with all of it's considerable resources builds an electric car with a 40 mile range while little teeny tiny startup Tesla builds an EV with a range of 213 miles (and zero to sixty! Giddy Up!). Sure I know there is a difference in cost, but come on, GM is a giant by comparison. Or is it a dinosaur? I guess that would make Tesla either David or an asteroid bearing down on the Gulf.

dkatrms
User Rank
Bronze
Electric cars in general - not the right approach.
dkatrms   11/7/2011 10:29:05 AM
NO RATINGS
Electric cars have limited use.  The energy and raw materials used to make them is not an environmentally sound option.

For inter-city transporation a better approach is workable mass transit.  This would also eleviate the traffic on the road.  Electric powered light rail, subways, trolly type vehicles make more sense in high density populated metropolitan areas.

Electric cars are another way the auto companies can take your money.  They did it before when they helped kill working mass transit systems in many cities by replacing them with diesel buses.  So Cal had the Pacific Electric rail system that GM helped kill off.  History seems to be repeating itself.  Corporate profits over common sense.

I'd walk or ride a bike before wasting my money and earth's resources on a bad idea like electric cars.  More mass transit is the answer.

Keule
User Rank
Iron
Re: Getting around the Hype - Positive and Negative
Keule   11/3/2011 7:58:08 PM
NO RATINGS
Congratulations DISKGUY. You hit the nail on the head. In college in the 70's, we did a team systems study on dealing with peak power demands and were surprised at the excess capacity available at night. The electric vehicle under charge at night would reassure continued power plant operation at high efficiency. Locally two of three nuclear generators nearby presently pump water into huge higher altitude lakes for later use or hydro storage, and even then exes capacity is available at night. The third generator is rotated for maintenance. Zero incidence since construction.

EV/ICE combination powered by nuclear is definitely the way to go.

buzz
User Rank
Iron
Gee, we can't do anything I guess
buzz   11/3/2011 7:19:04 PM
NO RATINGS
"Of all the forms of worry -- career, project, or personal -- surely the most vexing must be the range anxiety suffered by drivers of electric cars."

Really? So just start in with the straw man argument and... Volt wins!

Others here have discussed the misinformation in the comments and the regressive tone of the article. I find it disconcerting that many commenters who I would guess are technically inclined, seem to possess a talk-radio level of technical sophistication about electricity in general and EVs specifically. EVs aren't perfect and don't magically fill every personal driving profile. The Volt and LEAF are both good first steps in the process. I have about 10K mi on my LEAF. I didn't expect anything transformational but I thought it could be a good design fit for my solar roofed house and my 35 mi/day commute.

But it really has transformed my attitude about what I want in a car. Buckets of sunshine land on my roof and that sunshine is silently and cleanly pushed into my car where it can push my butt all over town.

It's fun to drive, love the torque off the line. It's super quiet. So much so that a trip in my late model turbo-charged ICE vehicle seems like a stagecoach ride; noise, vibration, odor.

I'm so smitten with the thing I don't believe I'll ever buy another car that doesn't plug-in. I don't miss swiping my credit card every week at the gas station and contributing to the ~ 1/2 Trillion $ we send out of the country for oil. I've saved almost $2k so far on gas alone.

No my solar panels weren't free nor carbon neutral. $ payback is about 7 yrs, carbon-based energy payback to make the panels in Oregon is about 18 months.

Overall, for my needs; my house + solarPV + LEAF is a better design than anything else I've used.

cheers.

GMStoffa
User Rank
Silver
Re: Volt = Short Term
GMStoffa   11/3/2011 4:55:03 PM
I know the question was posted in survey form, would you or wouldn't you/ Volt of Leaf, but why is there such an atttitude of right vs wrong?  Thank goodness there was no internet blog when the automobile was first developed or the horse and buggy folks would comparing cost of oats, and reliability of horse in weather and terrain vs. automobiles.  Electric (Leaf or Volt) is not for everybody: city apartment dwellers can't run electric cords across the sidewalks, people with 85 mile commutes (even if you could recharge at work) would not fair well with a Leaf....  I am an owner of a Volt.  I like the pure quietness of the drive, I love the instant excelleration from a dead stop. I have driven both the Leaf and Volt - and my 6'3 " frame fits much better in the Volt.  I have driven over 3,300 miles and have only used 14 gallons of gas for the times I visted family outside of my normal work commute range (someting I cold do with a Leaf).  Averaging 1,000 miles per month, my electric bill has gone up $19 per month - which confirms usage/cost caluculation using a "kill-a-watt" device that I've used while charging every day or two.  As far as renewable electric, has anyone driven through west Texas latley and passed the MILES of turbine electric generation fields? I like the idea of reducing the amount of oil we will have to import.  As one of the other folks noted, the more people get on board with Electirc (Leaf or Volt), the more charging stations will pop up (who wouldn't want to cash in on new technology?) and the price of vehicles will come down.  

astrobuf
User Rank
Iron
Leaf, Volt or get out of the way
astrobuf   11/3/2011 4:53:37 PM
NO RATINGS
No, I would not invest in either car at this time.  Electical cars may some day be viable, the cost/mile to operate, at least in the early years is attractive, but the life cycle costs and lack of utility is a show stopper today.

I do not have the luxury of having a "commuter car", a kid hauling car, a stuff hauling truck etc.  I have a city home with limited space and limited capital available.  I have to buy what one thing there is that meets most of my requirements.  Today, for my wife and I that typically is a sedan and a mini-van.

While the e-vehicle technology is interesting, I happen to live in the snow belt midwest.  The e-vehicles seems to have fewer downsides in temperate climates such as California.  We need heat, and lots of it here in the winter (-40 degF) and A/C and lots of it in the summer (105 degF)  The e-cars, against these real requirements are non-starters. Even if they were rock solid reliable (which they are not yet), they just don't meet most of the real needs of real people.

 

Astrobuf

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