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.
"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'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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.