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.