I would pick the Nissan Leaf due to a number of factors. Range is within my normal commute plus side trips on average. I would keep our other gasoline powered car for longer trips and errands. I would like to see a non-biased comprehensive comparison between all-electric vehicles and conventional petroleum powered vehicles. Are we also considering the environmental impact of the petroleum infrastructure that directly supports the production of fuel for transportation while we're pointing out that the environmental/economic impact of the generation of electricity? What about the folly of turning grain into ethanol for motor fuel purposes? That is a negative or near zero net energy process. Additionally, it has had an impact on food prices. So we should consider social impacts along with energy and economic impacts.
Florin Toader, a senior engineer in Pittsburgh:
The most important question here is: "What is your reason to go all electric?" People make their decisions based on advertising, guilt and fear, plus a little bit of altruism. Getting to know the real cost of something to you (and the planet, if that plays into your decision) is important in making the right choice... Electric vehicles are political vehicles. That said, I think they should be an option for people who want one. Now to answer the question: I would go Diesel. BMW's 1.9 diesel engine, in a BMW 1 Series hatchback has gas mileage comparable to the Toyota Prius Hybrid, with arguably less impact on the ozone layer due to its lack of batteries.
Peter T. (doesn't give a last name), an EE at NIST:
The economic model for all electric cars like Leaf or the semi all-electric like the Volt is not persuasive. If we are serious about wanting to reduce CO2 emissions, there needs to be a high carbon tax. Not cap and trade, because that will only make money for Wall Street types and generate loopholes. When price of gas was more than $4 per gallon, the trend for better gas mileage was much stronger than it is now. High gas prices happened in the '70's and again a few years ago. We still have not learned from those examples.
Would you buy an electric car, and if so, which one? Please let us know in the comment section below.
For a deeper look at the Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. In the trip sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
The question as I see it was incomplete. It should have read "Why would you buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt. Batteries are just not the answer, but we seem to be stuck in the battery mode. When something that makes sense, I'll look at it.
I hear that you have to drive a Volt 450k miles to amortize its cost. The leaf needs about 300k miles to amortize. Not me. I'm on my 4th Gen 1 Prius (2002) with a new factory battery. Battery life averages 150k miles, so for under $6000 I have another 6-8 years before it needs fixing. Nothing else seems to break. If gas prices keep going up, it will keep its value. When batteries have a breakthrough, or fuel cells become practical, I'll update - likely with Toyota for reliability.
Bought a Volt and it is really paying off for me. I drive 80 miles one way to work (as a Project Engineer) and my work lets me charge at work. No range anxiety here. The Volt is not for everyone and neither is the Corvette, Suburban, Prius, Civic/Civic Hybrid, F-150,......... If you spend the time to understand your driving needs and budget, then it's a personal choice. I tell people all of the time that it's perfect for me, but your needs may be different. Over 4 to 5 years I will recover the difference over a car that is $10k less than mine and gets 35mpg compared to the 70mpg I am getting (http://www.voltstats.net/#monthlyTab electra in Oklahoma). I am excited to own a car that is the direction we need to go. Some of you are fear mongering indivuals that fear change and that's to be expected of narrow minded indivuals.
Economic justification and convienence are the rules of the road, if you want a 2nd car that does a few miles a day and one to actually travel electric vehicles may have a place for the rich, but in the end, its just bad timing
Logically we could have oversized busses, which have the right of way on the lightless highwyas that connect our nation, traveing 24 hours a day, in a horizontal position from NYC to LA for 100 $ in 24 hours, a good rest, with music, or the movies of your choice. I spent a few nours modeling it out, Bus Trains---Not like the bkackhound who spends hours driving to the inner city, but an actual Bus-Train, that stops for fuel and does 100 + MPH. In mexico the buses recline into beds i went from Vearacruze to brownville in 17 hours, for 85 $ 960 miles
A lot of people argue for mass transit as the way to get around. I agree, for somewhere like San Francisco or New York. But around most of the country, there either is no mass transit option or a very poor bus-only system. Mass transit is a great option when it's there, but there will always be plenty of room for other alternatives elsewhere.
Regarding the Volt kicking on the engine under heavy load during the first 35 miles -- I believe this is untrue. I own a Volt, and have never had the engine come on during the EV range, regardless of how I have driven it. The electric drive motor provides about 150 HP, which is plenty, so there would be no need for it. And it would go against Chevy's intent of it being an EV with extended range.