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Would You Buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt?

We asked members of Design News's Systems & Product Design Engineering group on LinkedIn whether they're ready to embrace electric vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Alexander Wolfe

November 2, 2011

2 Min Read
Would You Buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt?

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. With nary a charging station in view of most domestic roadways, we wondered whether members of our Systems & Product Design Engineering group on LinkedIn were similarly concerned or whether they're ready to embrace vehicles like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Bruce Hewes, a software controls engineer, is blunt: "Nope, I prefer the horsepower of a gas engine."

Contributing technical editor Jon Titus is also demurring, but for a more environmentally friendly reason. "Definitely no," he says. "We forget to take into account the energy used to produce the electricity that recharges batteries. Electric vehicles look clean, but they simply move the energy source out to an electric power plant in someone else's backyard. Also, if we look at the entire thermodynamic equation, from the materials used in batteries to the end devices, an electric vehicle just doesn't make sense in terms of overall energy use."

The all-electric Nissan Leaf.

However, other group denizens are ready to take the plunge. "I would go with Nissan Leaf," says Ohio-based sales engineer Tom Medsker. "The range, price, and design are all good. There are fewer moving parts because there is no gasoline engine. I believe that if I make the 'all electric' commitment, some smart entrepreneur will put a recharging station at a place where they want me to go, like a shopping mall or hotel."

Engineer William Ketel II says he would probably opt for the Volt, with one big caveat: "I am not really ready to do it until I figure out the replacement cost for the battery pack."

About the Author(s)

Alexander Wolfe

Alex is Content Director of Design News. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of InformationWeek.com. In his more than two decades in the electronics and mechanical engineering sectors, he has served as Managing Editor of Mechanical Engineering magazine and written for Byte.com, McGraw-Hill's Electronics magazine, and IEEE Spectrum. He spent the 1990s at UBM's Electronic Engineering Times, where he broke the nationally known story of Intel's Pentium floating-point division bug in 1994. Alex has appeared as an industry analyst on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and MSNBC. He's a frequent panelist and moderator at industry conferences and holds a degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union. He can be reached at [email protected].

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