Chevy Volt Pricing Announced at Plug-in 2010 in San Jose

This morning GM announced the pricing and packaging for the Chevy Volt. The base model costs 41,000 (before incentive) and includes a navigation system with 7″ LCD screen and other features. They also are offering it as a $350/lease with a minimal amount down. The Nissan Leaf is just $20,000 after financial incentives (in California, $25,000 elsewhere), and includes a larger battery (but no backup generator)

Would you choose the Volt over the Nissan Leaf? That may depend on whether you use it for a commuting car or regularly plan to use the car to take longer trips. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

See the video here

Plug-In 2010 Opens in San Jose – Announcements Await!

Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric Car

The Chevy Volt Series Electric Hybrid Car on Display at Plug-in 2010

I arrived at Plug-in 2010 minutes before the doors were swung open revealing a large exhibition space with large representation of electric vehicles charging equipment and firms like BetterPlace and Evatran who promise to do it all better and differently from the rest.

My request to pop the hood of the Volt to see the magic were firmly denied. I did get a description of the components and there location. Remember, that unlike in the Prius the engine is elecric only and uses a gas generator to power the vehicle when the charge is depleted. That gas generator DOES NOT charge the battery. So, whenever you are driving more than 40 miles range you need  to fire up the ICG (internal combustion generator).

If I purchased a Leaf, at a very reasonable price post tax incentives, it would work great for commutes and short hops, but what happens when I want to drive 110 miles? Do I try to go gentle on the accelerator and hope for the best, meanwhile counting on AAA to tow me to the nearest outlet, providing I found on in the case that drive a few one steeper hills than I anticipated and don’t make it the whole way back?

If, instead I purchase the Chevy Volt, I’ve taken care of my biggest fear — range anxiety, such what would come from the fear that  Can you imagine being on a hot date in your snazzy new Nissan Leaf and so worry about having enough power to make it that you forget to ask for your date’s phone number!

Ok, seriously, let’s say that you have to drive 82 miles round trip each day. Well we can’t even make it one way without burning fossil fuel. High tech and all but it doesn’t even have the combined range to go from SF to LA in one fueling. Couldn’t they have found a vehicle that gets better range than a traditional car even if it fell short of a hybrid?

So what do I recommend? Frankly if you are mostly commuting on local streets, I don’t see a need for either. Just ride your far less expensive, way more fun, and cheaper in every way electric scooter. You can even carry oodles of stuff on it. But if you are set on a electric car, either buy a smaller local rated vehicle, or go for the Leaf — it’s real, available and pure electric plus a great incentive program. And for the long drives use your other car, the Hybrid or even rent a car for the day or weekend.