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nissan leaf, chevy volt

 
 
chai2
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 03:42 pm
I started a thread about these 2 cars awhile back, but to me personally it's become more important.

In no particular order...

I would love to cut the umbilical cord with BP and the like.
Clean air is kinda important, don't you think?
At least on of the models, the Leaf, is actually going to be afforable.
While not exactly sporty looking, they don't look like clown cars.
The cost of ownership, gas vs electric, is compelling.

I've never paid that much attention to cars, but dammit, I really want to get a Nissan Leaf.

That's the one that will cost $25K after the $7500 tax credit (which you can spread over several years of taxes.
For an extra grand, you get some other really cool features, not least of which is the ability to turn on the car's air conditioner from your phone or computer, before you have to go get in it.
Believe me, where I live, that is major thing in the summer. It was actually the bit that pushed me over the edge.

The Leaf however, is completely electric, no tailpipe. The range of the vehicle is up to 100 miles, and you can charge it from a 220v outlet at your home.
I hated that idea of the 100 mile limit, because it's not like you can pull in anywhere (at this time) to recharge.
Then, I thought "when was the last time you drove 100 miles in a day?" Well, I couldn't even answer that one. I realized, what about when automobiles from came out? What about when cell phones started to become more popular? Someone had to make the move first, and in this, I'd like to be one of the people who do. Believe me, I'm no trendsetter, but this is important.
I'd feel good, not in a ego type way, to be asked "what is that?", "how does it drive?" "Are you happy with it", etc.

At first, I was leaning toward the Chevy Volt, with it's 40 mile range on a charge, then it flips over to the gas engine.
But, it appears after the tax credit, it's still going to cost in the 30's. In addition, you'll have to keep track of at least occassionally using the gas engine, as I know it's no good to have old gas sitting in the tank. Then, you're going to start running into the typical engine problems.

What do you think?

http://www.nissanusa.com/leaf-electric-car/index#/leaf-electric-car/index

http://www.chevrolet.com/pages/open/default/future/volt.do?seo=goo_|_2009_Chevy_Awareness_|_IMG_Chevy_Volt_Phase_2_Branded_|_Chevy_Volt_|_chevy_volt
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Type: Discussion • Score: 3 • Views: 8,272 • Replies: 47
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 03:46 pm
Yeah, I'm looking for a used Hummer.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 04:24 pm
@chai2,
I think plug-in is the way to go for sure (there is huge room for improvement in the existing energy grids and with relatively little additional capacity it could power all cars in America), but it sure is a tough choice. You may not often go more than 100 miles in a day, but it might eliminate your car as an option for travel and for some that can be a deal-killer.

Personally, I'd go with the Nissan. If I need to go more than 100 miles I'd rather not go by car anyway, or if I had to I could always rent a car for such an occasion.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 05:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I agree on the Nissan, and also about the car rental for the occasional long drive trip. I'd rather take a train or plane, and use public transportation where the destination is, if possible, or my feet, but I've rented cars at destinations too.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 05:44 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

I think plug-in is the way to go for sure (there is huge room for improvement in the existing energy grids and with relatively little additional capacity it could power all cars in America), but it sure is a tough choice. You may not often go more than 100 miles in a day, but it might eliminate your car as an option for travel and for some that can be a deal-killer.

Personally, I'd go with the Nissan. If I need to go more than 100 miles I'd rather not go by car anyway, or if I had to I could always rent a car for such an occasion.


Yeah, re the 100 miles.
My husband would by default get my present car, a corolla, which is in fine shape. It's only a 2008 model
He currently drives my old car, another corolla, which is a 2000 model.
We can donate that one to charity. It's still safe to drive and everything, air works, etc.

So, if we wanted to go somewhere, like Dallas or Houston, we'd have a car.
Beyond that, we would rent a car, or fly anyway.

Robert, what did you mean by "there is huge room for improvement in the existing energy grids and with relatively little additional capacity it could power all cars in America"

I know there's huge room for improvement, as we don't have anything like this yet (or do we?), but what would have to be done to create the additional capacity?

I'm a dunce when it comes to this engineering stuff. Would it be that gas stations would just add in electric gizmos for charging? Charging takes time, even on the fast charge mode. I could see that for emergencies, but not for regular use.
People who live in apartments need someplace to charge, would that be something that would automatically be put in the plans for new buildings, under amenities?
In the cities, could people park on the street and plug into energy meters as opposed to parking meters?

It seems very daunting to me.
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 05:55 pm
@chai2,
I've been away from the power plant scene since '88, but the plant I worked in pretty much made a circle from here through Utah, over to California, and back through the bottom of Arizona. We did all scheduled maintenance (plant overhauls) in the winter because all the plants were at capacity in the summer because of air conditioning. Consider the plants as part of the grid, and there just isn't enough of them for four months out of the year.

I still wonder how the fed and states are going to collect their highway use taxes when it's not collected at the pump. You will probably get a free ride for another year or so on the electrics before they figure how to put the squeeze on you.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 06:01 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
Robert, what did you mean by "there is huge room for improvement in the existing energy grids and with relatively little additional capacity it could power all cars in America"


For one, right now energy grids are "dumb", and basically take big energy sources and try to distribute it to everyone. If you have excess energy, from solar panels for example, you can't contribute it back to the grid. By making the electric grids more intelligent and able to route energy in a more distributed way there is a lot of additional capacity that can be taken advantage of. You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_grid

As for capacity what I was referring to is that our current energy grid is designed to meet peak loads, and that plugin charging would typically be at night (off peak where we have lots of unused capacity). Because of this studies have argued that a surprisingly large amount of the nation's small vehicles can already be powered by the current grid capacity. For more you can read this study (PDF):

IMPACTS ASSESSMENT OF PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES ON ELECTRIC UTILITIES AND REGIONAL U.S. POWER GRIDS
PART 1: TECHNICAL ANALYSIS


Quote:
This initial paper estimates the regional percentages of the energy requirements for the U.S. LDV stock
that could be supported by the existing infrastructure, based on the 12 modified North American Electric
Reliability Council (NERC) regions, as of 2002, and taking into account congestion in regional
transmission and distribution systems. For the United States as a whole, 84% of U.S. cars, pickup trucks
and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) could be supported by the existing infrastructure, although the local
percentages vary by region. Using the light duty vehicle fleet (LDV) classification, that includes cars,
pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans, the technical potential is 73%. This has a gasoline displacement
potential of 6.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, or 52% of the nation’s oil imports.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 08:21 pm
@chai2,
look carefully at the completely electric vehicles range WITH the AC running. My hybrid gets 32 to 34 mpg unless I use the AC, then I get like 27. The AC really hits the motors ability to run a car AND a compressor. I think the refrigerant unit should be run by propane gas not the engine (or motor). I think that you will be unpleasantly surprised that the range of the all electric in summer will be like 40 miles not 100
Pangloss
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 08:28 pm
Like said above, I'd be very wary of the 100 mile limit for everyday use. That 100 mile range is probably best case scenario; i.e., you're driving on a race track, with no wind, and accelerating very slowly, the AC is off and the windows are up, you aren't blasting the CD player, etc.

To be honest, there's no way in hell I'd buy an all-electric car for $25k. They're just not practical right now. The batteries need replacement after a few years also. I think a hybrid would be a much better option...or simply a regular gas-burning car with a smaller engine. You'd be surprised at the great gas mileage some old European cars get, like BMW, with the smaller engines.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 08:32 pm
@Pangloss,
And if the rated range is 100 miles, no way is an intelligent person going to drive it over about 80.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 08:43 pm
It might be nice to use as a second vehicle, for every day driving if you can justify it, but I wouldn't rely on it as my primary vehicle. Things can come up where you need a car that can drive on the highway and really go somewhere.

Also, good luck getting anyone but the overpriced Nissan dealer to service one of these, if any major repair comes up.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:02 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

look carefully at the completely electric vehicles range WITH the AC running. My hybrid gets 32 to 34 mpg unless I use the AC, then I get like 27. The AC really hits the motors ability to run a car AND a compressor. I think the refrigerant unit should be run by propane gas not the engine (or motor). I think that you will be unpleasantly surprised that the range of the all electric in summer will be like 40 miles not 100


Yeah, I was considering that, wondering how many less miles you'd go in the heat of summer.

The Leaf has a solar panel on it, which is supposed to help with car accessories, like the air.

Pangloss, I'm not written in blood committed to this vehicle, but I am seriously considering it, either the first year it comes out, or the 2nd. Definately while I could still get the $7500K tax credit.

40 miles?

Actually, that's why I was initially interested in the Volt, because 90% of the time, I drive between 25 and 30, maybe 35 miles a day. As an experiment, I reset my tripometer on Sunday before going anywhere, and here it is Tuesday evening, and it's at 68 miles driven, for 3 days.
Maybe once every couple of months I might drive more than that, like less than 50 miles in a day.
I never leave Austin. No reason to.

Also, as I said, we would have another reliable vechicle, a 2008 corolla.

I'm listening to your voicing of potential problems, and taking that into consideration.

Farmer/pangloss, did either of you go onto the 2 links I provided for both cars, and look at the specs?
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:05 pm
Then again, the Volt is supposed to go 40 miles electric before kicking over to gas.

Does it follow farmer, that if the Leaf's mileage goes from 100 to 40 with the AC on, the Volt's electric range would drop to 16 miles before it goes to gas?
Pangloss
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:13 pm
On the Volt's page, it does say:

Quote:
Like any electric vehicle, Volt's electric miles per charge will vary. Like all vehicles, electric vehicles are less efficient in extremely hot or cold temperatures. In addition to outside temperatures, use of features like air conditioning and heat, personal driving style, additional cargo in the vehicle and the age of the battery will affect the electric range.


I'd be interested to find out just how MUCH it varies. And I wouldn't trust a Chevy salesman or spokesman for this info either...really, I would wait for some consumer reports to come out on these cars, especially since the technology is so new, before deciding that they will be good to bet on for my next car purchase.

If my options were strictly limited to these two cars, I would definitely go with the volt (based on my limited knowledge from looking at the sites).

First, I think having the option of using gas is very important. If you really only drive 20 or so miles a day, then it seems like the Volt should cover you just fine. And if you need to go somewhere else, you've got the option to use gas. Until cars can be charged up to drive in a couple hours at the local gas stations, I think having the option to use gas is crucial.

Second, from a purely aesthetical viewpoint, I think the Volt looks much better than the Leaf. I also wouldn't want to drive something called a "Leaf" anyway. Just a somewhat unimportant opinion there, but if you're going to have to look at the car for a few years every day, it's something that matters.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 05:28 am
@Pangloss,
Yeah Pan, I am very much considering waiting until someone like Edmunds, and the other like sites review the actual working car that's being driven around.
The important cost factor is getting it while I can still get the full tax credit.

When the prius came out, and I looked into it, I wasn't impressed, and I'm still not.
The fact that you have to drive under a certain speed (what is it, like 35mph?) to get the electric benefit was a total turnoff right from the start, and still is.
Doing some quick figuring, it would seem I would never regain the initial cost of the Prius, as opposed to buying another corolla. (can you tell I'm a corolla fan? It's been the last 4 cars I've owned. The 1st one I had for well over 250,000 miles, when someone ran a red light and totaled it. It would have been good for another 50K if you ask me. The 2nd was a really used POS which was all I could afford to replace Old Paint, and only kept it a few months. The 3rd was the one I bought in 2000, which my husband now drives. The 4th, my current one, I bought on a quasi-whim since I got a good deal on a new one, and Wally and I both wanted to get rid of the gas guzzler work van he was still driving, but no longer needed. Thinking about it, these are the only 4 cars I've own since I think 1985. Paid cash for all of them, except Old Paint. If I buy a new car soon, I'll make sure I have it paid off within a year, by throwing a few lump sums of cash its way.)

In any event, the Prius doesn't impress me.

****, look at this complicated advice on how to get the best mileage, and this advice is from a Toyota dealership!
Driving like this, I'd probably get in an accident by not paying attention to the actual road I was driving on...

http://www.kbtoyota.com/priusmileage.html

Pan, I have a question for you, about something you wrote. You said you'd have to replace the batter in a just a few years. Why, if it is being charged up completely every day?

Oh!
In no particular order, thanks Robert for providing the smart grid link. I won't say I understood all of it, but my understanding of the big picture is much better now. It was interesting.

roger, you said it would take the fed/state a while to figure out how to squeeze the road taxes out of you.
Maybe through your yearly registration of tags? Via a fee collected through you insurance company?

As far as the appearance, yeah Volt is more attractive. But, as long as it doesn't look like a clown car, I'm fairly indifferent, meh, so to speak on turning heads when I'm driving. If anyone asks what I'm driving, it's more important to be able to tell them the environmental benefits.






Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 06:00 am
I'm up when I'm normally sleeping, so bear with me...

been debating electric cars for twenty years or so with other parts guys.

I want to start with Pan's statement "Until cars can be charged up to drive in a couple hours at the local gas stations, I think having the option to use gas is crucial."

who wants to hang out at QT for 3 hours? (i would be insane before I got back in my car to drive)

I really think that if the government is going to go as far as giving big tax breaks for buying these, that they should take the leap and design a grid.

the charging stations will have totally different design needs than "fuel" stations, and in theory will need bigger sites. (cars will have to be there much longer, and eventually lots of folks will need a charge at once)

and I can only hope that some enterprising individual (walmart) does not come up with a way to constantly advertise to me during my multi-hour stay at the charging station...

until there is a viable standardized recharge grid, electric will always be the bastard step-child of gas.

I'm off to find a cuppa.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 06:09 am
@chai2,
Dropping to a gas engine with the AC on is a definite maybe. Im not familiar enough with the switching mechanism on the volt, but on my hybrid it will switch over to gas almost immediately at a stop light. ALso, if I have mine on HIGH AC (like you do when you first get in on a hot day) The electric engine is just bypassed totally and Im in 4 cyl mode.

One thing I really love is to sit at a trffic light in a city and then when the light chnges you steal off like the fog, its so silent. I often turn all my fans and radio off in a city just to listen to the city noises . Its amazing how much you just deal with engine noise until you dont hear any at all. Your car will be as silent as a glider, in Philly , a couple months ago, I was driving around and I could hear pigeons cooing near the art museum.

You get over that but its still neat.


My only realadvice is wait for the Powers or Consumer reports retings on the allelectrics. (They did the hybrids a few years ago )
I think the "your battery life may vary" is a lifestyle choice. If you live in AUstin, (which I assume you do cause you say that you do) then I think that AC will be driving your power draw. Around here , stopping at a stoplight on a hot day will show my gas and voltage use meters going berserk cause your compressor for the AC is working its ass off. My fuel use meters show that my economy is at its lowest in that occasion. SO, either you find out how many stoplights you can avoid , or you recognize that each one will exact a toll of your "battery bank". Im not sure but I think that these short stops at lights are where youd really suck the power and these would determine your range .
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 06:17 am
@farmerman,
Or you could just temporarily turn off the A/C?

I don't have an electric car (yet anyway, reading with interest) but my old Saturn is temperamental and doesn't like to accelerate when the A/C is on. So on really hot days I just flip the A/C on and off according to what I'm trying to do. Usually having it off for a short time doesn't make a huge difference, temperature-wise. (And that includes the Texas-hot days, which we do get.)
0 Replies
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 06:21 am
I thought I read somewhere that they are thinking of changing the discharged exciting liquid in batteries at refueling depots, rather than charging the batteries in situ. I may be wrong but it would improve the turn around time you would spend waiting for your battery to recharge. Those with plenty of sunlight worrying about air con, should remember that the sun light should be capable of working the air con, through solar panels. Its the cold damp winters we get in the UK that worries me.
Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Jun, 2010 06:26 am
@xris,
smiling at the number of solar panels necessary to power A/C and where they would go...

we are all using a system designed for gas powered vehicles. HOV lanes would need to be improved to avoid the stop and go that kills the electric powered cars.
 

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