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.
I occasionally choose to drive a few hundred miles to visit family or take a vacation. For me, a vehicle must be able to drive several hundred miles without stopping. And refueling should take 10 minutes, at most. An all electric vehicle just can't do that. So, clearly I wouldn't buy a Leaf.
Other than price, I have one concern regarding the Volt that I haven't been able to get answered. They say it will travel several hundred miles using battery and gasoline. But all the performance numbers were measured using battery only or battery/gasoline in combination. What's the max speed when the battery is depleated? Acceleration? Will it go 70-80 mph up a hill with a depleated battery? I would need to know these things before I would be willing to seriously look at the Volt.
Environmentally, battery power isn't any better, and may even be worse, than gasoline or diesel.
I drive a Silverado Hybrid. I only bought it because it was used. I would never have paid the full price when a gasoline only vehicle is so much less expensive.
>What's the max speed when the battery is depleated?
40 miles, if you don't go too fast
0-60, 8.5 secs
>Will it go 70-80 mph up a hill with a depleated battery?
Yes it will, and therein lies the tale. It's a hybrid so at 70 MPH the gas engine connects directly to the transmission and you get pulled by a 3 cylinder ICE. So your hill grade needs to be 3 cyl friendly.
>Environmentally, battery power isn't any better, and may even be worse, than >gasoline or diesel.
Source for this statement, please? The amount of "contaminants" in Lithium cells is minuscule. Further, cells are fully recyclable just like that 12V lead-acid battery in your car.
>What's the max speed when the battery is depleated?
100 miles per hour.
0-60, 8.5 secs
>Will it go 70-80 mph up a hill with a depleated battery?
Yes it will, and therein lies the tale. It's a hybrid so at 70 MPH the gas engine connects directly to the transmission and you get pulled by a 3 cylinder ICE. So your hill grade needs to be 3 cyl friendly.
Volt has a 4 cylinder ICE, not 3. It has a "mountain mode" to maintain normal speed during steep ascents, 40 mph is back-up if "mountain mode" is not engaged. See Motor Trend site for more details.
If forced to choose between a Volt or Leaf, I'd definitely take the Volt. Because I make many trips of 300 miles or more (I have kids in college), a Leaf wouldn't work. If I owned a Leaf, I would have to buy an extra car for the longer trips. In truth, though, both scenarios are too costly for me. Either I buy a Volt for approximtely $40K, or I buy a Leaf for $30K and then need to buy another car.
I completely agree with Charles Murray. The Volt would be a perfect fit for me. My daily commute is well within the Volt's electric range. And I can charge it at work all day, so it would reduce my fuel cost to zero. But I do occasionally make longer trips, and the gas backup is the best solution.
The ONLY thing stopping me from buying the Volt right now is the cost. And I don't think the cost is outrageously high, I simply can't afford to spend that much on a car.
re: Jeff Johnston - I think your assumption that a power plant is about as efficient as a gas engine is way off, I'm pretty sure the power plant is much more efficient than the thousands of small gas engines it would be replacing. Especially considering that the plant is always running at its optimum efficiency, whereas all of those gas engines are very rarely running at optimum efficiency. When you're sitting at a traffic light your engine is still burning gas; an electric motor is not consuming energy when it isn't moving.
Carbon impact, power plant efficiency and incremental vehicle cost are minor issues. If electric cars ever became common then our AC power distribution grid is going to be overwhelmed. The cost of upgrading our power distribution network to support electric cars is going to huge. Virtually every part of the system would need to be upgraded or replaced. Household wiring, pole transformers, substations, transmission lines, everything.
Todays electrical power distribution system counts on a big drop in demand at night to give the transformers a chance to cool off in the summer. If a significant percentage of households have electric cars charging at night then you can expect to see a big uptick in transformer failures (and power outages).
This problem already happens during heat waves due to increased use of air conditioners. Add 10's of millions of car chargers to the grid and this problem is only going to get worse.
Why are we spending effort and money on electric cars when magnesium injection cycle engines make so much more sense.
For now I believe, the cost of purchase, and the replacement cost of batteries makes them a more expensive option for the product features offered. The styling and performance doesn't interest me; unless, you look at a Tesla, and that moves even further out of my price range.
RE: Tim Jones:
Electrical Power Transmission is not my specialty; however, wouldn't the electricity transmission power losses be very significant? Additionally, I believe there would be a need to overhaul our power infrastructure if a large portion of the population opted for electric cars. I also believe that power companies are NOT always running at their peak efficiency, and power is transmitted and lost even when usage is way down. I suspect the electric batteries may have parasitic losses while parked for a time (particularly if plugged-in and trickle charging at maintenance levels) that are greater than the gasoline evaporation.
the edison institute claims the grid uses about 8 % of the electricity generated -not so much compared to loss in an ice. a power plant recently built nearby has a combined cycle with nat gas input with an eff. of about 55% . grid losses are porportional to the current squared so off peak charging will be even better grid wise. so there's places where the e v will kick ass !!
Thank you Tim! They always forget that point about how power stations work, don't they?.
Let's not forget how they always leave out the energy efficiencies and costs of drilling, pumping, transporting, piping, refining, more transporting and delivery of gasoline. Besides, there are zero-emission, nothing-to-burn forms of generating electricity but the same can't be said for gasoline. I've commented on this before but, a Volt? First of all, a Volt is a hybrid, not an electric car. Why not compare the Leaf to a Prius? I imagine the Volt started as a pure electric, like the EV-1. Then they realized they were going to lose their shirts since there aren't any wear or consumable parts or require "tune-ups" at the dealer. So they threw in a gasser engine, mated the two with a gearbox from hell (in terms of complexity) and called it "Volt". I think "Fume" would have been more appropriate.
Horsepower of gasoline engines, someone said. Obviously doesn't know that, pound for pound, an electric motor has several times the instant torque of an ICE and it does it at many times the efficiency. Slow EVs? Go to YouTube and search for "Black Current 9.5" It's an old VW bug with a DC motor and common lithium cells. It does 0-60 in 1.6 seconds.
EVs are not for everyone due to current battery technology limitation. But wait a couple of years. New cells are coming that will match gas ranges.
I'm NOT a fan of EVs; being involved in the auto industry (including EV design!), and as a SYSTEMS engineer, I look at the "big picture" of the entire system including infrastructure, life cycle costs, etc. However, to play "devil's advocate" I want to suggest another way of dealing with the "I occasionally take trips too far for an EV" issue. Just about EVERY poster thus far has said they would need to own another vehicle for that reason. How about RENTING an ICE vehicle for those occasions? I know a lot of big-city dwellers who do just that, while depending on mass transit for their normal travel. Just an "out-of-box" idea!!
I am the owner of two Toyota Prii, one of which has over 85,000 miles on it. Neither car has given me a minute of problems, and are probably the most reliable cars I have ever owned. The older one still gives me 48mpg, and the newer one well over 50mpg. Performance is never lacking either. Why on earth would I even consider a Leaf or a Volt?
The Chevy Volt seems to be the most logical choice. If I would exceed the electrical charge limit the gas motor keeps the car running until I could recharge the battery from an outlet. With the Leaf if I exceed the battery limit I walk or wait to recharge the batteries. Most of my daily driving is less than 50 miles so either would do for the majority of the time. There are numerous times a year I would exceed the Leaf's range. If I would buy an electric car the flexibility of the Volt would be a deciding factor. I am about 1-2 years away from making that decision.
Your article starts with the premise that range anxiety is the reason a participant in your survey might not want a Volt or Leaf, and then asks if that is not the case????? What kind of survey is that? Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife Yet? 56% say YES.
What if you learned that of people actually DRIVING Lithium powered electric cars, NONE of them have range anxiety AT ALL. Would it bend your world view just a wee bit too far to learn that availability of charging ports is absolutely a non-issue? I guess it would.
Then you'll find it curious that I would own neither a Volt nor a Leaf for an entirely different reason. They aren't a good value proposition. Their purchase price exceeds their utility.
A Nissan Vesa is $17K+ It is the same car as the Nissan Leaf, but in gasoline version. It already gets great mileage.
A Chevy Cruze is similiarly $17K. It is the same car as the Volt but with ICE engine only and it also gets very good mileage.
The OEMs are askign us to PAY DOUBLE for the same car. And both of them are ECONOMY cars at that?
Chevrolet goes further to announce an even MORE downscale full electric in the Spark.
You cannot hide the higher component costs of an electric vehicle in the BOTTOM end of the economy line. Show me an electric Cadillac and I might be tempted. Meanwhile, my Model S depositi is in, and I already have six electric cars I drive now.
I can afford any car I want. I don't want a Leaf or a Volt because I'm not 24 years old looking for an economical basic transportation car. I don't WANT those cars. I wouldn't buy a Cruze on a bet. And so one at twice the price is even less attractive.
But it's not because of "range anxiety" or long tailpipe pipe theories that make utterly no sense at all derived from uninformed luddites.
And my wife is happy, loved, and doing quite well really, thank you.
I recently took a Volt on a 750 mile 2 day trip. I only charged it one time and gassed up a couple times. This trip could not be made in a Leaf. The Leaf gets 60-100 miles on a full charge and can take as long as 20 hours to get a full charge. Other than as a novelty for local use, its not real useful. In my opinion, the decision is easy. In the Volt, you can drive all electric when it meets your driving needs or it seamlessly switches to gas when necessary.
According to Motor Trend, "This is a fully developed vehicle with seamlessly integrated systems and software, a real car that provides a unique driving experience. And commuters may never need to buy gas!" Without adding numerous options, the Volt is $31,645 after tax credit.
"Without adding numerous options, the Volt is $31,645 after tax credit."
There's no way to know how much of the cost of the Volt is subsidized before it hits the showroom; the GM EV1, which can reasonably be considered Volt's predecessor, is believed to have cost about $100,000 per vehicle to produce. Certainly not all of the billions we gave GM went to bonuses and political donations.
But even considering just the selling price quoted above, think how many of your neighbors will be forced, through their taxes, to pay for that juicy tax credit for the fortunate few who can take advantage of it. For every Volt owner who gets a credit, dozens, probably hundreds of other car owners (and non-car owners!) will pay a tax premium.
"If you have a sufficient set up at home of a wind turbine and solar panels ..."
"[A] sufficient setup" for charging the Volt has to supply 12 amps at 120V for ten hours (presumably the Leaf has similar requirements) which will require a pretty large solar panel even in a sunny location, or a rather substantial turbine and reliable wind currents, neither of which is likely for the typical buyer. We could consider the carbon footprint involved in building, installing and maintaining those devices but frankly it's probably a moot issue.
There's no time right now to think or debate about these things. We have to turn it around now. Wehave to all work to Together to overcome pollutin. If it means a wind turbine then we do it! If you have the sun you use it! They subsidise the Fat Pig Oil companies that have just made trillions in profits but they can;t subsidise the citizens of America whose money this really is. It'snot a Moot Point! And if you make enough of them the price comes down on everything involved. Oxygen levels have been greatly reduced over the past 50 years-Look it up on Google?
<If you have a sufficient set up at home of a wind turbine and solar panels-then how do you have a carbon footprint when plugging in your electric vehicle at home?>
The usage model for most EVs will involve overnight charging. In the interest of zero carbon footprint, I assume you will not go to work the next day if the night was windless?
Another mentioned the carbon footprint caused by extracting, refining, and transporting gasoline. True...and the bulk of electrical generation is from coal ! Most EVs are coal-fired...think about it as you gaze through the haze in the Grand Canyon area caused by coal plants in the region. Definitely a social trade-off that needs to be decided...switching from the pros and cons of gasoline engines to the massive change and new pros and cons of increasing national generation and grid capacity by approximatly 35%
Well, to make solar panel, wind turbine they will have carbon foot print since you need factories and resoureces to make things. There is no real carbon foot print free, when things are needed to be manufactured.
If I had to choose, the Volt would be the only one to support my work commute length. But for $40K I expect a lot more than a marginal performer that looks very uninspiring and would kill me in a wreck.
My current car cost me $40K (Dodge Charger R/T Daytona w/ 5.7L HEMI). While I only get 20mpg in town (up to 28mpg highway), I have performance that is more like the Tesla ($100K or so), looks that turn heads, size enough to carry family and friends, and could survive quite a wreck.
Not everyone wants to drive triple digit speeds,but some of us want the option. For others; feel free to drive your little cubes to the cube farm.
@Absalom: Finally I see a kindred spirit in this discussion. I thought I was the only one in the world who felt this way. It is a lifestyle choice that I am not willing to commit to. Just the same as growing all of your own food, making all of your own clothes and so many other "Save the Earth" lifestyle choices I am unwilling to make. God bless those who want it, but do not try and ram it down my throat.
My wife and I own and drive 3 ICE vehicles with a combined 400,000+ plus miles on them and I have not had a car payment in over 10 years. I like it that way.
Toolmaker I know what you mean. My daughter thinks the sky is falling and that recycling stuff and riding a bike is what she can do to fix it. I'm sure she hates it when I light up the rear tire on my motorcyle when leaving the driveway.
Sorry to bring this up, but Hybrids and more importantly electrics are'nt environmentally friendly. The problem is batteries. Not the replacement cost which a lot of anti-hybrid people automatically spout either. DISPOSAL, because later, even if it's much later that battery pack is going to need to be disposed of. The fact is that currently the better the battery the more toxic it is likely to be. When many of these cars are end-of-life we are going to have a real problem with battery disposal.
Second the comment of the staffer John Titus is also true. A pure electric is only getting it's energy from a remote location, not producing it. Total negitive. Poor energy use and battery disposal at end-of-life.
Lastly, almost evey company that makes a hybrid also makes a gas only car that post better all around fuel consumption. If you are a city dweller and do not drive long distances or in difficult terain you are OK for a hybrid and may do better than pure gas. If you do any long distance driving, or high speed freeway, or tough hills then the pure gas versions will usually return BETTER gas milage than the same companies hybrid, without the end-of-life problems.
There have been numerous studies trying to determine the real cost of gasoline. The numbers range from $5.28 to $15+ per gallon due to the many subsidies, social and environmental and also the cost of national security, wars and police actions. These are hidden costs to the tax payers.
That is just leftist drivel. Wars have nothing to do with oil and would have happened anyway. The so called 'subsidies' recieved by the oil companies are provided to help offset the obscene amount of regulatory overhead and tax burdens. In truth, the natural price of gasoline could be below $2 a gallon without government interferrence.
Without subsidies for 'green energy' there would not be green energy. no one disputes the desire for clean, low input cost power. Unfortunately, the technology just isn't feasable.
At some point in the future, I want a battery-electric vehicle with an ~200mile range, recharged from solar panels on my house.
Regarding shifting the problem from the car to the power plant, that's a reasonable concern to raise, and "well to wheel" considerations are indeed complex. For example, on the one hand, a very-large, stationary power plant can be made much more efficient than a very-small, light-weight, mobile one, but on the other hand, transmission line losses gobble up a lot of that advantage. In the final analysis, however, the simple reality is that battery EVs do have a considerably lower cost per mile than similar-sized gasoline vehicles.
I think the main benefit that battery EVs have is that they form an insulating layer between the energy-production means and the propulsion means. That is, a battery EV could ultimately be hydro-electric-powered, oil-powered, natural-gas powered, nuclear powered, or solar powered, or of all of the above simultaneously in various percentages. Separating the one big problem into two separate, independent problems makes both problems easier to solve.
I personally think that the Volt is a good short-term solution, but that it's ultimately going to prove too expensive. The reason is simple: It requires an electric system with enough power to drive the whole car, and also a gasoline engine with enough power to drive the whole car.
On contrast, the Prius is a "real" hybrid, in that it shoots for, very approximately speaking, half of its power profile on the electric side and the other half on the gasoline side. The result then is that it can't operate for very long entirely on one power source or on the other.
The Volt's goal is to provide a significant pure-electric range with gasoline backup. The Leaf's goal is to provide an even more significant pure-electric range with out any backup. The Prius makes no goal at all of pure-electric driving; its goal is just to make the most efficient second-by-second simultaneous use of both power sources, in combination with each other.
The way I see the volt is as a car that can operate only on a battery, to/from work or the store or the church. It is a reasonable run time car. The Gasoline is used when power fails (e.g. North East now) or when the owener needs to take a road trip for vacation or simply to friends / family. It extends the range while charging. The Volt is the type of car that is needed.
The leaf is more only a short distance sprinter. Once there, plug me in (oh no public plugs ? - charge my battery before I go home... Or with luck a short range to / from and not much more. Charge at home. Maybe charge at work - would you pay to charge your friends cars if they came over for dinner ? With a Electric Grid and home batteries - yes. Without - maybe not.
We, as example, have family thousand or more miles from here. Visiting them every few years would be ok in the Volt. It would be impossible in the Leaf. The Leaf was designed for society and lifestyle unlike our society. If we all lived in the same home town and worked there. (Utopia ?) We would be able to scoot about and be close to our lives. Since we are not like that we need a little more range.
The Leaf would be good for small towns and for those that don't go anywhere but Church and the store for food. It might be a good second car to a family to take kids to the school, home to charge, store, home to charge, back to school, home to charge and then whatever. Maybe excessive charging, but after schook some like to go shopping or buy a coke... more miles added.
I think of the Volt as an everyday car while another might be for trips. But that means I have to own and pay for two cars. The Volt helps keep me from buying that second car.
"We, as example, have family thousand or more miles from here. Visiting them every few years ..."
That's not your only point, of course, but it wouldn't make sense either to buy or to forego a particular model based on such an occasional need. Far better to buy what works best for everyday use and rent for the unusual trips -- it's not expensive, and lets you optimize your investment (and save some wear and tear on the personal vehicle). Of course mass transit may also be an option depending on your location.
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.
I'm trained as a nuclear engineer but have worked on disk drive technology for the past 25 years waiting for the FUD around nuclear energy to be corrected but that's another story. I bought a LEAF and have been driving one since May 2011 and have made all but 4 of my trips in the LEAF. Since there are 4 drivers in my family, an ICE car for longer trips is always available for those times when the LEAF was not suitable for the range (4% mileage and less than 1% of the trips). I think the economics of hanging onto an extra ICE car for range extension doesn't make much sense when you can rent an ICE for much less money.
I read all the comments and I'm saddened to see so much wrong information. In particular the toxic battery comments, the energy efficiency of powerplants vs ICE, and the range question. The primary reason I went with electric is the reliability of electric motors and wanting a first hand experience with how well the battery will last. Since I keep my ICE vehicles for 15+ years I am planning to keep the EV for a long time as well and expect to replace the battery. So what will become of the battery that's removed? The current LEAF battery is expected to have 70 to 80 percent of it's 24 KWHr capacity after 8yrs/100K miles and there is some interest in using the 20KWHr 'used' battery for energy storage. So instead of thinking of these batteries as needing to be disposed, they really have a secondary use for energy storage.
There are many ways to look at the economics of EV vehicles and while the thermodynamic efficiency of a LEAF is somewhere between 30 and 40 MPG the source of fuel is much more robust. I am no fan of transmission of electricity for hundreds of miles but the US national loss in transmission is only 7% and the source can be coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, geothermal or pick your favorite renewable. The infrastructure to charge EVs at night is sufficient to supply 70% of our transportation needs for cars and light trucks (Pacific Northwest DOE Report).
The main reason I went with an EV is for energy independence with a strong desire to make things simple and more reliable. I encourage you to study EV's and don't listen to all the fear. Finally, don't race an EV - the hole shot with full torque on an EV will set all ICE at a disadvantage. Google "White Zombie Electric" to see a street legal 1/4 mile -- 125MPH@10.4Sec vehicle.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.