From: Karina Grudnikov, Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published July 31, 2010 12:01 PM

Here Come the Electric Cars: "Leaf" and "Volt"

Here’s an article from Triple Pundit talking about the launch of two new electric cars: the Nissan "Leaf" (eco-friendly name, huh) and the GM "Volt." Read the article and let us know - would you buy either of these two vehicles?

The Plug-In 2010 Conference in San Jose was the site of major announcements by major auto manufacturers Nissan and General Motors. During their Tuesday morning speeches, both Nissan North America's executive vice president, Carlos Tavares, and General Motors vice president of U.S. marketing, Joel Ewanick, announced that their much-anticipated products would be available in only a limited number of cities, at first, and that both companies will begin delivering cars by the end of the year.

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Even though there are many similarities and differences, both Nissan and GM are betting that U.S. auto buyers will embrace the plug with open arms. The Leaf and the Volt are the first mass-market plug-in electric vehicles to be sold in the U.S. The LEAF is a "pure" battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, and has no gasoline motor whatsoever. Its range is approximately 100 miles.

The Volt, however, with an "all-electric" range of only 40 miles, augments its smaller battery pack with a gas motor that can recharge the battery while the vehicle is in motion. While this gives the Volt unlimited effective range, it means that the Volt is not truly "zero emissions".

This also means that the Volt is a more complex vehicle, and this has apparently been reflected in the price. While the LEAF has been priced at $32,780, the Volt comes in at a much more hefty $41,000. The $7,500 Federal tax credit, and the $2,500 state credit available in CA and some other states, drops these prices to $22,780 and $31,000, respectively, putting the vehicles in completely different buyer segments.

There are two things that consumers are concerned about: range and battery life. While range is not a concern with the Volt, Nissan is addressing the issue with a large consumer education campaign. (The range problem is actually a red herring, since, according to several studies, including one from Pike Research, most drivers travel less than 75 miles a day, and the weighted average is less than 30 miles per day.) Both companies are addressing the battery life issue by including 8 year/100,000 mile warranties on their batteries.

Both vehicles will only be available for purchase in a limited number of cities, at first. According to Nissan, the LEAF "first will be available to consumers in December, in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee. These areas are home to The EV Project — the largest electric vehicle and infrastructure deployment ever undertaken." GM will follow a somewhat similar pattern with the Volt, with California, New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and the Washington D.C being the first to have access to it.

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