By on January 17, 2013

 

Now that the Nissan Leaf is being made in Tennessee, Nissan has decided that a big price drop is in order. While the 2012 car retailed for $35,200, the 2013 Leaf starts at $28,800, thanks to a new base model. Anyone who bought a 2012 must be pretty ticked off at the resale-ruining price cut. Higher-end SV and SL trim levels will retail for $31,820 and $37,250 respectively.

The domestic production of the Leaf and its battery components undoubtedly help make the car cheaper, but one has to wonder how much of this is related to the Leaf’s slow sales and the general downward trend of EV enthusiasm. Past auto shows have featured a bounty of EVs in both concept and production form. This year’s NAIAS featured the Tesla Model X, which received far less fanfare than one would expect, and the Leaf was largely overshadowed by well, everything else, including Nissan’s own Versa Note subcompact.

One canard of the industry is that electric cars are still a decade out – and they always will be. Personally, I find it ironic that electric vehicles, derided as boring, appliance-like transportation for eco-weenies, deliver a very rewarding driving experience. They are fast, brilliantly packaged (look at the flat floor of a Nissan Leaf if you don’t believe me) and the ability to place the battery pack nearly anywhere can lead to excellent handling characteristics.

But issues like diminished performance in cold weather to a lack of charging infrastructure have confined EVs to playthings for affluent coastal dwellers. The question now is whether they will remain in this niche or not.

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95 Comments on “QOTD: Is The EV Honeymoon Over?...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    A lower price is always welcome, but I’m not sure price is what is keeping people from buying these things.

    The simple fact is that there are way too many downsides to owning an electrical vehicle that have nothing to do with cost.

    You have to be in _JUST_ the right living circumstances in order for the car to be practical.

    • 0 avatar
      ItsNotAboutTheMoney

      People who have driven electric vehicles like how they drive. So that leaves look, price and utility. Given the large number of 2+ car households and sales of bland vehicles it’s pretty obvious that price is the big issue.

      That’s not to say there aren’t utility barriers to ubiquity, but BEV sales are way less than the market size matching the current level of utility.

      “… way too many downsides …”? I can only think of two: range and outages. Neither would be a problem for me. On the upside: better ride, lower cost of operation, less servicing required, no tailpipe pollution, synergy with the electric grid.

      “_JUST_” Uh, 2+ car household with off-street parking with at least one person, preferably 2 commuting within range. That would be how many million households?

    • 0 avatar
      magicboy2

      For a lot of people, I’m pretty sure it’s price. An EV has inherently lower operating costs, which are going to be attractive so long as the front-end price isn’t so high that it eliminates any benefit.

      For most people though, an EV would serve perfectly fine as family’s second vehicle, for commuting and grocery-getting.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I’d love an EV as a 3rd vehicle…..it is pretty useless for commuting until all workplaces come standard with parking lots/chargers. Not enough highway range in a variety of conditions for many people to go to/from work without charging.

        I’ve heard people say this is an urban vehicle, but growing up in Chicago, VERY few people drive to work. They jump on the train. Or the bus. I imagine many large urban areas are the same. Other people who DO have a car, only have street parking.

        As a grocery getter, sure, maybe. But you don’t really need what an EV gives you just to drive once a week to get groceries. It’s not going to save you all that much if that is all you use it for.

        So I haven’t really figured out who EV’s are supposed to be perfect for except for a VERY SMALL niche.

        Now as a toy, if I could get it for $20′ish k + TTL (maybe after EV tax credit?) I’d love one. I love the idea & playing with new tech, but with current limitations I’d treat at like my motorcycle — as a toy. The exception with the motorcycle is I can actually use it to get to work.

        I do like to take Sunday drives on some empty, curvy roads that have speed limits of 40-50mph & almost no traffic. This would be perfect, as my total driving distance on these drives is typically sub 60 miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        magicboy2 nailed it. It’s all about price for me.

        When the LEAF came out, I kept telling people it would have to come down to the price of a well-appointed Versa hatch, upon which its body is based, before a lot of people would consider it. Otherwise, it just didn’t make any financial sense. Nissan has addressed my concern on two fronts:

        1. The cheaper LEAF S is now available under $19,000 after tax incentives in my state, bringing it to about the same price as a top-spec Versa hatch MSRP.

        2. Nissan enacted the cheap $199/month lease for 36 months. This is the only time I can say a lease almost makes sense for my financial situation. I spend roughly $125 per month in fuel just commuting ~35 miles a day. The LEAF $199 lease, even when you take the $1,999 initial payment into account, comes out to just a hair over $250 a month. That’d be like insulating myself from gas price volatility and getting a nice new car with a $125 payment to boot, and I could park my Ranger pickup so it could be saved for actually hauling things, as trucks are designed to do. If Nissan can bring down that lease payment a few more dollars because of the cheaper S model, all the better. A $179 or $159 LEAF S lease would be hard to beat for someone like me, who drives rural two-lanes to and from work every day and would seldom have occasion to use the navigation and cruise control systems on the SV or SL models.

        That said, I’d still have to install a quick-charger at my home and pony up some extra cash for the quick-charger port if I actually bought (rather than leased) a LEAF S, as there are a lot of nights I’m not home the full 12 hours necessary to trickle charge on the standard plug that comes on the LEAF S. Either that or get my employer to agree to let me trickle charge while the car’s parked at work, which I don’t think he’d be particularly averse to.

      • 0 avatar
        protomech

        @Robstar EVs are ideally suited for people who commute approximately 1/2 of the car’s range per day, with few unplanned large deviations, and who either own a secondary gas vehicle for long trips or infrequently take long car trips. Double the commuting miles if a full charge is available at the workplace, but workplace charge points are few and far between.

        If you buy much more range than that, then you probably don’t drive enough for gas savings to catch up.

        For a Nissan Leaf, this means a commuting roundtrip distance around 35 miles per day, or around 700 miles per work week. If you assume 200-300 additional miles per week for errands and other trips, this puts the Leaf at around 900-1000 miles/month or 11-12k miles per year (roughly $1000 saved/year vs 30 mpg gas car).

        Over 5 years this would allow the Leaf S to break-even vs a base compact car.

        The real question is, for that group of people, do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

        Pro:
        * ease of operation, both driving and fueling (full tank every morning)
        * little maintenance requirements
        * subjectively more pleasant to drive (less NVH, lower CoG)
        * insulates against gas price volatility

        Con:
        * exceeding the range while on the go carries a sharp penalty (either a slow charge or a tow)
        * most drivers will require J1772 installed at home ($500-1500)
        * battery durability concerns
        * questionable resale due to rapid advancements (ask a ’12 Leaf owner..)

        Leasing does remove the last two items on the cons list.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      @Robstar

      +1

      The closest I could ever come to buying an EV would be a setup like the Volt (and I’m not paying $40,000 for a compact car with some luxury touches) – if I wanted to go from Green Bay to Minneapolis, I’d have to make a minimum of 3 stops, for several hours each, to recharge my Nissan Leaf. Not only is this not practical, but in some cases isn’t even possible. I can see it now: a 2 hour drive to Milwaukee doubled in time to top off my EV.

      • 0 avatar
        James Courteau

        The fact is, most people have multiple cars. Between the two of us, we have three in our household. That said, I’m always a little surprised when I get the mail in the morning and see that my boyfriend’s Volkswagen hasn’t burned to the ground. He’s been literally saving up his change (You have no idea how much a five gallon bucket of quarters weighs!) to buy out my car when the day comes that his auto decides to auto-combust, and I will most likely replace my current whip with an electric car. I have driven my gas car beyond the range of a Nissan Leaf exactly once, and the next time I need to, I’ll simply trade cars with the man :)

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The biggest hurdle to wider EV adoption is the idea that any given vehicle has to be able to go anywhere at any time for any distance. A lot more people can use an EV in their average daily driving cycle than are willing to use one, because they are convinced that they might need to drive 3 states away at the drop of a hat one day.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      But a lot of people do need that capability. So lets say this thing gets me to work at highway speeds but the battery is say half depleted.

      I’m at work an hour when we have an issue that needs on-site attention that is 20 miles away and my car isn’t charged…? Maybe I can make it there but then I have no way to get home.

      Or my kid gets sick @ school (next to the house, 35′ish miles away) and I have to go pick him up. Do I sitll have enough electricity to get the last few miles home or am I walking/stuck?

      Or my parents (6 miles from work, opposite direction from home) need help after work to do some stuff & they only have street parking and my car isn’t being charged at work and can’t be charged there. Can I get home?

      Having to work around all these limitations is going to drive me crazy (& I imagine other people have the same issues).

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        If I suddenly need to be 3 states away, I can swap the EV for the PHEV or the plain vanilla hybrid or even the regular gasser.

        Of course, if one’s roundtrip commute is at the unrecharged limit of the vehicle, then you can easily think up situations where it’s dicey.

        Of course, a bigger issue is, there’s nothing worse for the kid than being sick and having to wait forever for Mom or Dad to show up. That’s a long 45 minutes when you’re sick.

        I know plenty of people with kids who cheerfully move further out into the exurbs so they can have a 3 acre lot with trophy house and then get their knickers in a twist when school or daycare calls and it’s a long run out to deal with the situation.

        My friends who work in the schools tell me it’s not uncommon to take 30 minutes of phone calling to track down a parent (often due to thin/incorrect information on the emergency contact cards) and then wait over an hour for someone to show up.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Back in my day you would lay down on the cot in the nurse’s office, then throw up on the school bus just before it reached your house.

        A good rule of thumb for EVs is that the stated range should be twice what your daily usage is, to account for odd trips, cold weather, and battery degradation over time.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Kix is completely right about the childcare/school situations. I have faced exactly those issues with unannounced illnesses (any other kind) etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Robstar, you summed up the problem with EV’s perfectly. They make sense, on paper, for average people on average days. But that does not take into account the many non-average days that all of us have, especially as parents, kids, pets, after work activities, etc enter into the mix.

        Your average daily driving cycle is irrelevant when you have to pick your sick kid up at school and you EV runs out of juice midway home. Or you forget to plug it in overnight (it will happen) and can’t get ANYWHERE the next day.

        Suddenly the EV does not look so great. All the hassle and range anxiety to save less than a $1k per year vs. a Prius?

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        For torque’s sake, no one is trying to sell EVs to people who can’t live with one. No one’s that stupid.

        The matter at hand is the low EV take rate among people whose needs would all be met by one. There are a LOT of people in that category. Like my wife and I. (In our case, we just don’t need a new car yet, and have more important expenses… but there’s a good chance that in the future one of our two cars will be a Leaf.)

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    If I had been in the market for a Nissan Leaf, I would have rethought my position when the Ford C-MAX or Fusion Energi models came out. For a similar price, the Energi has 21 miles of electric range, which would satisfy my needs on an average day, and is a full hybrid with no range restrictions. The biggest compromise is luggage space, and the Leaf is no great shakes in that department either.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    I once made a list of 15-16 different problems with EV’s, twice posted here on TTAC. There are just TOO many issues; it’s not a matter of 2 or 3. But the big “killers” for EV’s are:
    1) Our petroleum fuel prices are still very low, and will remain that way for a decade, compared to world prices;
    2) The huge surge in ICE efficiency and hybridization has pulled the rug out from under EV’s. When BMW and Ford are planning turbo 3-cylinder, 1.5 liter engines that can get 50 mpg (or 60 mpg diesel), who needs an EV? And if you couple a 3-cylinder turbo-diesel with a hybrid system, what will THAT real mileage be? 100 mpg?
    3) Serious range limitations and poor infrastructure support.

    ————–

    • 0 avatar
      protomech

      1. A couple years ago $3/gal fuel wouldn’t be considered “low”, but now that we’ve gotten acclimated to it we discover that it’s quite tolerable. I expect gas to go up in the future – maybe averaging $4/gal in 2012 dollars over the next 4-5 years – but we can continue to extract oil from tar sands for a little while now that $3/gal is the new price floor.

      2. 50 mpg highway, perhaps. I could see 40 mpg combined in a conventional car before too long, but cost will go up as EV cost goes down. Hybridization could boost fuel economy by 20-30% .. but again, at a cost.

      Subsidy expiration will be an interesting hurdle for EV manufacturers to overcome, but they have to get to the point where they’re selling 200k units first.

      3. Infrastructure will improve over time, but quick charging is still in flux. J1772 is becoming more and more common-place, but it’s near-useless for touring.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        protomech….

        Good analysis.
        But I disagree with your response to #2. The Germans (e.g. BMW and VW) are cooking up ICE’s that can easily get 60 mpg highway, if not more. And example is the VW XL1, which is an ICE hybrid that gets a real 100 mpg. Link — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_1-litre_car

        Ironically, JD Powers just released a statement for why EV sales are so poor:
        1) Styling;
        2) Price.
        …and none of what I listed was even mentioned! So, what do I know?

        I daresay that Tesla S has now solved the styling thing, and so now the other factors would have to be resolved in time: as in, 10-20 years.

        But, that still leaves “vroom”. Where is the REAL fire eating vroom going to come from? (^_^)..

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        VW had the Lupo 3L a few years ago. 3L per 100km or about 78 mpg. That’s with the Euro Cycle, however, so not sure how it translates to EPA.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Lupo#Lupo_3L

        The feat was managed with a 1.2L diesel (shared with the Audi A2 3L), along with things like aero improvements, weight savings through lighter materials, low rolling resistance tires, start/stop, and a few other things.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Thanks, corntrollio…

        I guess what I am saying (and you have listed) is that there is still a long way to go with ICE-based cars, even using gasoline or diesel. But you can only imaging the gains that can come from the use of CNG or Hydrogen. And, actually, Audi has now developed a process to make CNG from H2 recovered by electrolysis of sea water, and CO2 harvested from the atmosphere! Kind of a global cooling method. So, that should take care of all of this CO2 nonsense.

        See link: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/01/audi-developing-synthetic-fuel-for-automobiles/?intcmp=features

        Mr Reuss recently said on “Autonews Now” (today, in fact) that he sees EV’s having perfect operation in all temperatures and a range of 300 miles. My view: unless we have batteries with 10-fold greater charge density and 1/2 their current cost, you won’t be able to overcome price problems and low-tempertraure physics issues, such as with driving your EV in Minnesota in January at -20 deg F. What will the range be then, with seat heaters, defrosters, and cabin heat on, as in FULL ON?

        Furthermore, 300 miles under good conditions?? If you looked at a Honda Fit and the salesman said, “Oh, it’s only good for 300 miles between fill-ups”. Would you buy it as your only car? Nowadays, ICE cars can typically go 400-500 miles on a tank. Even my old 1996 Dodge RAM with 3.55 diff and 5-speed manual can do 450 miles without my even worrying, —- even in January in Minnesota.

        So, let’s compare apples to apples, and not let Mr Reuss try to move the bar downward….

        ————–

  • avatar
    magicboy2

    I would never own a vehicle that turns into a paperweight if I have to go more than 80 miles.

    “But how often do you really drive more than 80 miles in a day!”

    True, not often. But on the few times a year that I do, I don’t appreciate my $30,000 transportation device becoming useless to me. And one weekend of renting a car is enough to erase all the gas savings you got with the EV that month, not to mention the logistics of getting to and from a rental location.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      And remember, that is probably 80 miles @ 55mph. Without the radio/heater/accessories/lights on. Not at 10 degrees out. Not at 100f out. Not with 2 people in the car. Not uphill…

      TRUE ranges should be advertised as worst case or at least have an array of typical ranges shown.

      AND fwiw: It’s 35 miles ea. way to work with no place to charge. I’ve asked the local city garage about charging and they’ve said they are working on it but charging will be ~ $1/hour…!!

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Vehicle electrification is inevitable. “Resistance is futile.”

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      doctor olds…..

      Partial electrification already exists in hybrids, and that’s the current point of optimum use, IMHO.
      Complete electrification may have to await far better battery technology, temperature insensitivity, and dramatic infrastructure changes: maybe 20-30 years from now?

      ———–

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        People keep saying that, but I test drove a LEAF at a dealer located between a cornfield and a movie theater.

        I liked it a lot, too, and both my needs and the rest of my household fleet are in line with LEAF ownership. The biggest hurdle for me personally seems to be the fact that I’ve never bought a new car in my life.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I would put more credence into hydrogen than the current EV setup. Unless the EV is generating its own power somehow, it will always rely on a grid. So in addition to road infrastructure, you now have to invest heavily in grid infrastructure to accommodate the load, not to mention the issues with batteries.

      Hydrogen from what I’ve read would refuel in a similar fashion as gasoline powered cars do now and eliminate the need for a battery, but the initial start up costs for refueling stations and hydrogen cars is very high.

      http://edition.cnn dot com/2012/11/25/business/eco-hydrogen-fuel-cell-cars/index.html

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        28-Cars-Later…

        You have hit my “hot button”. I fully agree. In fact, I have ridden the Hydrogen Horse so much on TTAC that I beginning to get sores where I don’t need them!

        ———–

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        The problems with hydrogen dwarf the problems with battery-electric. For starters, you can get electricity from a huge variety of sources, many of which are renewable and non-polluting. Here in Oregon, less than half our electricity comes from fossil fuels, and the historical trend is toward greener electricity. Meanwhile, 99% of all industrial hydrogen comes from petroleum refineries. Theoretically, it’s possible to create hydrogen by electrolysis, but it’s terribly inefficient.

        Second, we have spent a century building a reliable infrastructure for delivering electricity but hydrogen is where gasoline was in the 1890s. Then there’s the question of how you carry the hydrogen with you. Sure, hydrogen is energy-dense in terms of joules per kilogram but you have to compress it to amazingly high pressures in order to fit a useful amount of it into a space smaller than the trunk of a car, like 10,000 psi. And there goes your efficiency again. *poof*.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sbunny8….

        We have explored the hydrogen issues rather thoroughly on TTAC in the past. Here are some findings:

        1) We would need to get away from cracking H2 from petroleum: that solves nothing.
        2) H2 generation from electrolysis is thermally inefficient, which doesn’t matter much when the source of energy for the process is essentially free, as in wind-power. Israel does this even now.
        3) The use of H2 in the form of CNG already has a distribution network, to some degree.
        4) Note that CNG is 80% hydrogen on an atomic basis, and the best way to get H2 into CNG is the new Audi process, referenced above, but linked again here:

        http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/10/01/audi-developing-synthetic-fuel-for-automobiles/?intcmp=features

        5) CNG or LNG have far higher energy densities than CH2 or LH2, as has already been demonstrated, so conventional car ranges and temperature independence that we are used to now can be maintained.
        6) H2 used directly in ICE applications has already been demonstrated with BMW’s “Hydrogen 7″ concept vehicles; and there are busses right now running around Munich with ICE hydrogen engines.

        So, with each passing year, H2 is rapidly becoming more realistic in either fuel-cell applications or direct ICE use, especially with its potential conversion to CNG. The question is: are we going to be there too, or will this be one more technology that the Germans will develop and exploit? And then, of course, GM will be left wondering once again,10-15 years from now, why it’s the #4 automaker in the world….

        —————–

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @NGOM: You state that your argument is pro-hydrogen, but its really pro-CNG.

        And if we’re really going to use natural gas, then it’s easier to just tribe CNG cars.

        I *like* EVs and want to own one. But CNG allows us to kick the can of economic, peak oil, and climate problems halfway down the road – so its probably a winner in the medium term.

        Hydrogen is either an EV battery chemistry that isn’t competing well, or an extra step in burning CNG. Both are improvements over oil, but we don’t have to pick one over the other. We can do it all and let the market sort it out – but only if we balance or remove the energy subsidies that are in place. Vehicles that run on all of these fuels are already available for retail sale in the USA, bit the selection and infrastructure is limited.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Luke42…

        My comments applied to both, with an example furnished for each.

        But you are right: the quickest way to “store” hydrogen in the most “condensed” state is to convert it into methane, in whatever form is most convenient.

        Making methane, as a synthetic fuel that comes from sea water and the CO2 in the atmosphere, is not “kick(ing) the can of economic, peak oil, and climate problems halfway down the road”. That can be a permanent solution: a future, long term motor fuel. And it is one that need not turn a car into a transportation appliance: it may still preserve some nice, satisfying, fun traditional things like “vroom” and manual transmissions. EV’s typically do not offer that.

        But if H2 can eventually be “farmed”, and used by itself more directly, so much the better….

        My test criteria for a decent sedan/coupe in the future are:
        1) 500 mile range, at:
        …a) -20 deg F in Minnesota in January;
        …b) +110 deg F in Tucson in August;
        2) 15-year vehicle lifetime (minimum) before ANY major component replacement, while vehicle performs at factory capabilities;
        3) 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds;
        4) 60-0 braking in less than 120 feet;
        5) Cornering in greater than 0.85g;
        6) Price less than $40K….

        Can you find me an EV that can meet all of those criteria?

        ———-

  • avatar
    niky

    Charging infrastructure was going to solve that, but it’s a chicken-or-egg thing at this point.

    EVs are fantastic to drive. Torque everywhere, and the handling benefits of having your entire drivetrain and battery pack below your feet or bum.

    Sadly, without a major breakthrough in battery prices, it’s not happening. Higher capacity batteries would be nice, but such super batteries would carry a super price tag, and we’d be back at square one.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      niky…

      “Torque everywhere, and the handling benefits of having your entire drivetrain and battery pack below your feet or bum.”

      The only EV I know that has any performance credibility at all is the original Tesla Roadster. See Link.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0mU6DIZWlQ

      (Of course, the Tesla has almost 100% greater price! And, the Tesla is more of a race car too, with heavy steering and actullay poorer brakes. If they wanted to get a better comparison at $130K, the ICE car should have been a Porsche 911 Carrera S or GT3. Why choose a Boxster?)

      Things like the Leaf or iMEV are like 1950′s Buick’s: good for a straight line, but don’t you dare try to turn them quickly!

      —————–

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The weight is a problem, but then, a lot of cars that aren’t bare-bones Elises with interiors that scream “kit car” (don’t get me wrong, the Elise/Exige is on my “Holy Grail” list) are pretty heavy.

        Case in point: drove the iMIEV a few months ago. Fantastic little car. Drove better than any other modern supermini I’ve laid hands on.

        Unfortunately, it costs nearly three times to four times (depending on your local taxes) as much… but still, it’s a very good car.

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        From the first day I drove my 2012 Mitsubishi i Miev, I noted that it was nimble and responsive. It handles better than my 94 Honda Civic. The iMiev is more upright than the Civic, which makes it easier on my back. And yet it has a low center of gravity because the batteries are underneath the cabin. It has a shape similar to the Smart car but not as stubby-looking, and it has a usable back seat.

        After tax incentives, we spent about $22,000 for the i Miev compared to we seriously considered spending $16,000 for a Fiat 500. So, we paid an extra $6,000 for it being electric. Over the life of the car, we expect to save three times that much in fuel cost.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        I test drove a Leaf and thought it handled better than the Versa or Sentra. I know that’s not saying much, but compared to a ’50s Buick it’s awesome.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Until the technology advances to the point that an EV is as capable as your average ICE powered car, they will remain a niche product. When your battery powered car can do 400 miles at 70 mph, be recharged in under 10 minutes at any service station, be at least as large as a Camry, and cost within 5% of a Camry’s price, you’ll see large- scale adoption. Until then there are too many trade- offs for regular folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Maybe for you! Not for me.

      The LEAF already meets my needs as far as a second car. I already own the conventional minivan that is the LEAF’s ideal compliment. Both my wife and I work, so we need two cars – but we don’t need two minivans. The LEAF is perfect to get one of us to work, while the other does kid-hauling duty.

      The biggest hurdle is that I’m comfortable trading around 8 year old used cars, but have never plopped down new car money.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Yes, the honeymoon is over. Now it remains to be seen if the marriage can last, overcoming the inevitable obstacles in any new relationship, or if it will end in divorce. Either both parties adapt, adjust and grow together, or they go their separate ways.

  • avatar
    prabirmehta

    My current commuter car is a BMW X5 that gets 15 mpg. My drive to work is 32 miles round trip in bumper to bumper traffic. My guess is that I spend $250/month commuting not including maintenance costs. A Leaf would be ideal as a 3rd vehicle to be used only for commuting if I could get a lease + electricity at $200/month.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My friend who leased one was in a similar situation – he has a Nissan Titan, which is also ~15mpg. He doesn’t commute, but he runs around a lot – work at home (in the sticks way out of town) self employed guy with 12yo sporty kid. He got a Leaf on the $199/m lease deal and figures he basically gets to drive a cool new car around for the same amount he was paying to run the Titan. He kept the truck for those occasions where the Leaf won’t do the job.

      I think the key is the cheap lease deals – no WAY would I buy one at this stage until the long-term ownership costs are nailed down, but the lease deals are getting cheap enough to be interesting.

      One unmentioned downside – get home late and tired and forget to plug the thing in and you will be driving something else the next day. He’s managed to do that a couple times.

      • 0 avatar
        Banger

        My situation exactly, krhodes1. Except my truck is a Ranger that seldom gets less than 25 mpg and my job is not at home. I drive ~35 miles a day according to my tracking on Fuelly.com.

        When the time comes for me to get another vehicle (and as my wife is wanting a two-child family, I fear that day is coming soon since the Ranger can’t haul two babies!) I’ll be very tempted to look into a LEAF for day-to-day driving. When I need to haul, I’ll use the Ranger. And when we need to go to the nearest city for supplies at the weekend, we’ll take my wife’s cube.

        You’re absolutely right: the cheap lease deals are the key. If they can do something about the cost of installing the charger, that’s the other part of the equation. Right now it’s about $2,000 according to my research. For an extra lease payment or some nominal amount of $500 or less, I’d install one at home and go for a LEAF. At $2,000, it makes the decision to buy (and especially lease) a bit tougher. After all, when the lease is up, are you going to leave a useless $2,000 charger sitting in your driveway? Perhaps they could work out a deal where you lease the charger too?

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      prabirmehta…

      If you’re considering stepping down from an X5(!) to a Leaf, then your not comparing apples to apples. You could just as well lease a 2013 Honda Civic or buy one outright for $22K. See link:
      http://www.automobilemag.com/am/2013/honda/civic/

      If you bought it, then you’d get almost 40 real mpg, and have less than $100/month of fuel cost (32* 22 workdays / 40, * $3.50 =~ $65).

      And you’d have something really reliable, with similar interior space, and ALSO temperature-independent.

      ——–

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    I’ve been saying this since before the Tesla roadster was launched: the problem with EVs is that they don’t scale well. Adding range means adding more battery, and the cost of a battery is a linear function of its size. Adding range in an ICE car is trivial: just make the gas tank larger, at almost no extra cost. Electric golf carts are practical; electric SUVs are not.

    It’s the same reason elephants can’t climb walls while spiders can. It’s a scale problem governed by the laws of physics, which are known to be resistant to change.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Unfortunately, this is one of those topics for which the discussion suffers because of the nomenclature.

    The problem isn’t with electric vehicles per se, as it is with battery-powered vehicles. Electric motors have outstanding characteristics (high thermal efficiency, no torque curve), but the batteries attached to them are heavy, bulky, and slow to recharge, all while having limited capacity.

    To make the EV viable, the batteries have to either be replaced or else radically altered so that their deficiencies are fixed. For over a century, no one has been thus far to fix the battery problem in a satisfactory manner. The government’s error has been its focus on increasing vehicle supply, when its efforts should have been committed instead to fixing the power storage problem.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Pch101…

      Exactly. Very astute. As mentioned above, if a battery can be developed that has 10 times the current charge density, is temperature independent, shows 1/2 the cost, and lasts 15 years, then we may be talking reality for battery powered, so-called “electric” vehicles that can go 500 miles at -20 deg F.

      ————–

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      I agree wholeheartedly, unfortunately, those solutions aren’t easy and aren’t cheap. Same with solar. We’ve gotten close enough to the limits that further development will see us spending more research money for less improvement.

      What we really need is to accept that EVs will not be like traditional ICE cars. Period. When sold at realistic prices, they will either be as safe and as convenient as ICE or have as much range as an ICE car. Not both. If the technology develops further in thye next few decades, so be it… but for now, it might be better to change the ruls to suit EVs, not to try shoving that square down a round hole.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Your argument assumes a premise that I share, but many readers of this do not: that EVs are desirable.

        The ones I’ve driven have knocked my socks off in terms of NVH, and I’m a green geek, so I think today’s EVs solve a lot of problems. But some people are just happy with the status quo and wish it could be maintained forever…. And maybe it can be for the rest of THEIR lives, but probably not the rest of my life and certainly not the rest of my son’s life….

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Electric and hybrid vehicles have taken the place of niche vehicles.
    Gone are small volume cars and trucks. Automakers just don’t have the capactiy to make EVs and still be able to produce wagons and small pickups.
    Or at least that’s what it seems like. It’s probably more plausible that sales losers like EVs and full size hybrids help CAFE numbers and improve the image of the company that the cars TTAC vistors really want wouldn’t.

  • avatar
    chas404

    $30k to $35k for a base model front wheel drive Nissan with a nice leather interior????

    I like the idea of of pushing technology but I don’t want to be the one to (over)pay for it (either directly or as a taxpayer).

    These cars make no sense either economically or environmentally. I will add the caveat of “yet” so I don’t get flamed into the 22nd century.

    Maybe if you want to be cool and have funky new tech and get the cheapy lease it’s OK. Otherwise a 40mpg $18K econo car and a Katskins leather kit makes a lot more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      “$30k to $35k for a base model front wheel drive Nissan with a nice leather interior????”

      Dont forget that price also includes the fuel for the next 12 years.. trust me, dont add up how much that is going to cost you.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Not the worst idea as a second car for those of us who have a short commute–assuming your spouse has a real car for weekends and long distance drives.

    I could probably get away with one of these for my 15 mile round trip daily commute. But then I really don’t give a crap about saving 15 miles’ worth of gas, either.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “I could probably get away with one of these for my 15 mile round trip daily commute. But then I really don’t give a crap about saving 15 miles’ worth of gas, either.”

      My thoughts exactly. When I changed jobs a while ago, my commute was cut in half, saved $7 a day in tolls and am now able to commute with the wife to work.

      This was the perfect excuse to commute in a much more fun car that gets worse mileage than the one it replaced while still saving money.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      I guess it all comes down to priorities.

      What if you were about to join a gym for $80 per month but you found out something disturbing about the owner of the business (use your imagination). Then suppose you found out there’s another gym around the corner who is owned by a friend of yours and it’s only $75 per month but there’s a $99 sign-up fee.

      Would you base your decision solely on the money? Would you say “I really don’t give a crap about saving $5″ ? Or would you decide to spend your money somewhere that makes you feel good inside?

      People seem quite willing to pay twice as much for something just because they enjoy it (like Starbuck’s coffee, for example) but as soon as you mention the idea that something is good for the environment, makes the world a better place for our children, even if it costs LESS money, people criticize the concept by saying the small savings isn’t worth it.

      I make choices all the time which cost more than the standard choice, like free-trade chocolate, locally baked organic bread, free-range chicken, milk without hormones in it. The one thing in my life that actually costs LESS money than the conventional alternative is my electric car.

      average ICE car:
      insurance, 10 cents per mile
      depreciation, 10 cents per mile
      repairs, 15 cents per mile
      fuel, 20 cents per mile
      total 55 cents per mile over the life of the car

      my Mitsubishi i Miev:
      insurance, 10 cents per mile (same)
      depreciation, 14 cents per mile (4 cents higher)
      repairs, 10 cents per mile (5 cents lower)
      fuel, 2 cents per mile (18 cents lower)
      total 36 cents per mile over the life of the car
      and that includes buying a new battery pack at 100,000 miles.

      So I’m saving 19 cents per mile. But, you know what… I’d be willing to actually pay MORE per mile for my electric car. Why not, I already do that with the other life choices I make! I’m glad to have at least one that actually saves me money.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sbunny8…

        Good analysis. That is exactly the type of thinking that is one (just one) consideration everyone should make.

        But, you said it yourself: “Would you base your decision solely on the money? Would you say “I really don’t give a crap about saving $5″ ? Or would you decide to spend your money somewhere that makes you feel good inside? People seem quite willing to pay twice as much for something just because they enjoy it (like Starbuck’s coffee, for example)….”

        So, why would I pay $65K for BMW Z4? I could certainly get from Point A to Pint B less expensively in a transportation appliance, couldn’t I? So, the Z4 must be giving me something that I enjoy, and can even estimate financially, in grins-per-mile. So, let’s do your analysis over again from the opposite point of view:

        non-average ICE car (BMW Z4):
        insurance, 10 cents per mile
        depreciation, 10 cents per mile
        repairs, 0 cents per mile (5 years: there have been none)
        fuel, 20 cents per mile
        good cornering/handling, – 7 cents per mile
        good top end acceleration, – 5 cents per mile
        good braking, – 6 cents per mile
        good esthetic value, -4 cents per mile
        convertible roadster joy, – 5 cents per mile
        Total: 13 cents per mile over the life of the car.

        Now, let’s review your Mitsubishi iMev:
        insurance, 10 cents per mile (same)
        depreciation, 14 cents per mile (4 cents higher)
        repairs, 10 cents per mile (10 cents higher)
        fuel, 2 cents per mile (18 cents lower)
        total 36 cents per mile over the life of the car
        and that includes buying a new battery pack at 100,000 miles

        So, in terms of net driving experience, the iMev would cost me an irritating 2.5X as much, because of its detrimental characteristics.

        —————–

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        I see what you mean about the enjoyment factor NMGOM. I’m sure you’d agree that different people will have vastly different answers about what makes them happy.

        I disagree with you saying your BMW has $0 in repairs over the life of the car. I believe you that you haven’t had to replace anything that’s broken (yet). And even if you’re lucky enough to avoid major repairs until the day you sell the car off to the next owner, it’s extremely likely that EVENTUALLY the car will need some repairs. From the day it leaves the factory until the day it winds up in the crusher 15 years later, somebody somewhere will end up paying for something to be fixed.

        However, I’m willing to bet that you already have paid several hundred dollars for oil changes, tune-ups, and tires. I included those items under the heading of “repairs”.

        You’re absolutely right that most rational people would consider (A) how much it costs (B) how much will I enjoy it, and (C) does it make my life easier or harder. Weigh all three things together and make a choice. I’m aware that when it comes to EVs most people think they won’t enjoy it (but I enjoy mine) and they think it will make their lives harder and it will cost more money but my number show that EVs costs LESS money over the life span of the car and the inconvenience of plugging it in twice a week doesn’t bother me because I commute less than 2 miles to work.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        sbunny8….

        “I disagree with you saying your BMW has $0 in repairs over the life of the car. I believe you that you haven’t had to replace anything that’s broken (yet).”

        Yup. You’re right. I had momentarily forgotten that you were doing “Life-of-the-Car” estimates, not 5-years. But you did say “repairs”, not “maintenance”. Nonetheless, If we go 10-years out (Ave car age here = 11.8 years), I could anticipate perhaps $10K overall repairs (knowing BMW), and my maintenance costs are about $200 per year (oil change, filters, brake fluid every two years, wiper blades, and that’s about it.)

        If I travel only 50K sports-car miles in 10 years, that equals (((10*200) + 10000)*100)/50000 = 20 cents per mile. (BTW: both $200/year routine maintenance, and $10,000 in ten years for repairs are way toward the top end, given the experience of others!)

        So, to revise your estimate – - – - -
        non-average ICE car (BMW Z4):
        insurance, 10 cents per mile
        depreciation, 10 cents per mile
        repairs and maintenance, 20 cents per mile
        fuel, 20 cents per mile
        good cornering/handling, – 7 cents per mile
        good top end acceleration, – 5 cents per mile
        good braking, – 6 cents per mile
        good esthetic value, -4 cents per mile
        convertible roadster joy, – 5 cents per mile
        Total: 33 cents per mile over the life of the car.

        So, you got 36 cents/mile over the life of your EV car, and I got 33 cents per mile over the life of my pricey sports car. Seems about a horse apiece financially, while I am having one helluva great driving experience! (^_^)…

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        sbunny8

        NMGOM, If you paid $65K for the BMW Z4, it’s hard to believe that your depreciation is only 20 cents per mile. Are you saying that when it has 50,000 miles on it you think it will only have depreciated $.20×50,000=$10,000? You expect you’ll be able to sell it for $55K? Sounds awfully optimistic to me.

        On the other hand, if it has a resale value of $35K ten years later when you’ve put 50,000 miles on it, then it will have depreciated 60 cents per mile, not 20. 20 is for an average car and BMWs are not “average”, especially when we’re talking about price.

        But that still isn’t the life of the car, that’s just 10 years out. If look way into the future, how many miles will the car have on the odometer when it finally gives up the ghost and goes to the junkyard? 100K? 150K? 200K? And how much money will the junkyard give you for it? Let’s be realistic and say 180K on the odometer and the junkyard pays $2,000 for it. Then total depreciation is $63K over 180K miles, which is 35 cents per mile.

        Also, I’m not crazy about using money to quantify feelings. It implies that they are facts rather than opinions. Let’s use letter grades: A=excellent, B=good, C=fair, D=poor, F=unacceptable.

        Usefulness: Your BMW gets you from point A to point B. It doesn’t have a lot of cargo space but that’s not a big problem in your life.
        Cost: Your BMW costs you 85 cents per mile and you can afford it.
        insurance 10 cents per mile
        depreciation 35 cents per mile
        repairs + maintenance 20 cents per mile
        fuel 20 cents per mile
        Enjoyment: Your BMW has good cornering/handling, top end acceleration, braking, esthetic value, “convertible roadster joy”, and “one helluva great driving experience”.

        I suspect your opinion of these factors might be…
        Usefulness: A-
        Cost ($.85/mi): C-
        Enjoyment: A+
        overall score: A

        And I totally understand that you might look at my 2012 electric car and evaluate it like this…
        Usefulness: D-
        Cost ($.35/mi): A+
        Enjoyment: F
        overall score: C-

        But someone else might look at the exact same facts about the exact same cars and have completely different opinions. For example, my opinion of the $65K BMW is:
        Usefulness: C-
        Cost ($.85/mi): F (There’s no way I could afford the monthly payments.)
        Enjoyment: B+
        overall score: C

        And my opinion of my $23K 2012 Mitsubishi i Miev electric car is:
        Usefulness: B+
        Cost ($.35/mi): A+
        Enjoyment: A-
        overall score: A-

        It’s all about what’s important to the individual person. A person who places a high value on acceleration and “roadster joy” won’t be happy with an EV like mine (but might enjoy the Tesla). A person who places a high value on energy efficiency and low operating cost would love my 2012 i Miev. It’s almost as efficient as a bicycle, and way more comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @ sbunny8

        One other thing to point out about “non-average” cars – their lifecycle can be MUCH longer. It is entirely possible that NMGONs Z4 may end up like my Triumph Spitfire. It is 37 years old and still going strong. It is also currently worth roughly 3X what it cost new back in ’74. It has had a fair bit of money spent on it over the years, but amortized over 37 years and counting, who cares? Chances are my car will NEVER end up in a scrapyard. Maybe your electric will last that long too, but it seems unlikely.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    pch101:
    Your comment nails it down completely. The Achilles heel is the BATTERY!

    Solve the problem of cost/weight/inconvenience/useful-range/chemical-nastiness/durability and the EVs would literally fly off the shelves.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know if the technology is advanced enough yet to solve those issues, as most are tradeoffs between them.

  • avatar
    sco

    Great, now I’ve just wasted another 2 hours trying to figure out if an EV makes sense for me ..and surprisingly, it might. 45 mile commute each way with free level 2 charging station at work. Current car (Xb)gets 33 mpg, my electric rate in CA is higher than the natl ave, guessing 20 cents/kWhr. I spend roughly $200/month on gas at $4/gallon and electricity might cost $50/month assuming I charge at both ends. I save $150/month on gas making the $19000 Leaf S effectively cost $200/month insted of $350/month (5 yr loan, 3%). Plus I get to drive in the carpool lane and eliminate oil changes,etc. Wow, this MIGHT actually work for me but only because 1) i live in a very temperate climate 2) i have free charging on one end 3)my state incentivizes me with car pool usage and tax beaks on the purchase and 4)economy is my #1 concern. In the absence of all 4, I agree, the market for these things is very limited.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      I would say the fact that you have a 90 miles commute each day puts you in a more limited group.

      Yikes. I’m sure there’s a reason…but have you ever considered moving closer to work?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @sco: Your post caught my eye because I traded a wonderful 05 xB for my (leased) Leaf.

      I live in western PA, and use a Level 2 charger at home only. My electricity cost is $0.055/kwH (cheap). Even so, and with only a 9-mile commute, I’m saving $100/month on gasoline.

      Climate excursions away from 70F will eat into the range, assuming you use the climate control. At 30 F here, I’m seeing about half of the displayed range. If you can charge at work, you’ll be golden.

      I really like the Leaf, but if you have a 45-mile commute the S won’t work for you if you plan to use cruise control (S doesn’t have it – yuk). You’ll want the SV at least; I have the SL which includes the solar panel, etc.

      Speed eats into the range also. The range seems to correspond to 45 mph; 55 or 65 makes a big reduction in range.

      Ascending a 1-mile hill can burn 10 miles of range (it’s terrifying to watch), but you regain much of it on the other side while you descend. You get used to this after a while.

      Range anxiety doesn’t really happen if you work within the car’s limits, which takes a month or two to understand.

      I’m philosophically opposed to subsidies, but not to proud to take them when available. This made my car very affordable, to the point that my trade, the rebates, and the gas savings paid for my 3-year lease, so there is no risk for me.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You sound like the perfect candidate for an EV especially since you can charge at work – if I were in your situation, I would seriously have to consider one. Heck, just the ability to drive solo (legally) in the carpool lane would cinch it for me (“Shut up, just shut up, you had me at ‘carpool’”)!

      I have a friend in the Seattle area who has a Leaf with over 25K miles on it now (it’s his DD). He has not had the battery degradation problem that some in warmer climates have experienced.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      the ability to get in the car pool lane will probably save you an hour a day of crawling along.. but make sure that charger at work is available, last thing you want is another co-worker getting the same idea. Nissan is in the process of installing 600 fast chargers at their dealerships (concentrated in the release States, Iowa need not apply), a 5-10 minute boost from one would be plenty for you.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    A used one would be a good train station car for many people. But not a new one at that price.

    If we can solve the range issues, an electric powertrain would be awesome for certain applications — torque at 0 rpm = nice acceleration.

    I thought the original Tesla roadster would show people that electric doesn’t have to mean ecoweenie, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      They don’t have to be “ecoweenie”, but there’s just no way to get around the pathetic cost/energy density issue. Either you approach it in the ecoweenie mode, and potentially eke out a modicum of pratical useability, or you throw boatloads of money at it, and make it an insanely expensive high tech toy. There’s no “normal car for normal people” middle ground, and there’s no particular evidence that there ever will be.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This price drop is another reason I’m glad I leased instead of purchased; I don’t have to worry about resale value. If I really love the car after 3 years, maybe I can negotiate a lower buyout price.

  • avatar
    sco

    Well, fascinating. Yes I would love to live near my workplace in San Francisco but I am not a gazillionaire and so I live as close as I can afford (40 miles).

    As far as range, the SF climate is generally around 65F so I would rarely if ever use the AC or have range-limiting climate issues. My communte tends to have plenty of stop and go also so I have little need for cruise control. This also tends to limit my speed to roughly 55 mph (on good days). I do have plenty of hills on my route however, not short and pretty steep which gives me some pause. I think maybe renting an EV (if possible) for a few days might be a good idea to get some real world values. Lease would be a good way to go but not with the 25K miles I put on each year.
    So G-slippy, no more Scion Xb photo next to your name, I miss it!

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      The Volt would be best if you could plug in at work.

      45 mile trip.
      38 on EV
      7 on gas

      double that for the round trip if you can plug in at work

      14 miles a day on gas @ 35mpg your round trip would use less than half a gallon of gas per day.

      Your cost would be that gas plus electricity.

      Getting the price of the Volt down would make that the practical choice, even if its priced higher than a pure EV.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I think you’d be an ideal candidate for an EV. But as I said in another post, nobody should buy an EV thinking their round-trip commute will be covered by the advertised range. Also consider other errands you’d have to make during the day; they add up.

      If you can charge at work, great. If you change jobs, though, your car could become a handicap. Fortunately, CA is much more EV-friendly than PA. I wouldn’t want to depend on having a charger at the end of my commute; I did that once in bad weather and had to drive home all Apollo 13-like because I didn’t get as many electrons as I expected. It wasn’t fun.

      We have lots of steep hills in the Pittsburgh area, and it works out fine for me. Don’t let that deter you. Downhill regeneration returns most of what the hills take away.

      Heaven help me, sunridge’s case for the Volt is pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Thanks gslippy. I also appreciate the past (and hopefully future) updates on life with an EV that you provide. I might buy one myself (or more likely a PHEV) in the next few years.

      I have never argued the Volt saves anyone a penny in overall cost. It doesn’t when you factor in its price.

      Daily commutes under 55 miles or so OR round trip or 100 miles if you can plug in at work (rare) the Volt comes out ahead on the calulator on fuel/electricity operating costs everytime…even against a conventional Prius.

      But, its the purchase price that kills the comparison overall. If GM or anyone else can get the price down to still be profitable and win the overall price comparison against most vehicles on the market, I believe PHEV’s will win over the market of compact cars.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The problem with EVs is their limited range and long recharging times. That makes them extra vehicles. You still need something powered by a fossil fuel for the times when an EV won’t suffice. It’s hard enough to justify the price premium for a hybrid or a diesel. Dropping $30k plus into an EV is insane. You will never save enough to recover the purchase price.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      Why should the fuel savings be enough to recover the purchase price? Are you saying you think an electric car should be FREE?

      The average ICE costs 55 cents per mile, including depreciation (purchase price minus resale value), insurance, fuel, and repairs. If the EV costs less than 55 cents per mile then you’re saving money.

      But then again, who said saving money is the only reason to buy an EV? How about because you just decide you LIKE it and you WANT one? Isn’t that why most people choose one car over another car? Don’t people often choose to actually pay MORE money per mile just to drive a car that they enjoy owning?

      I really like my 100% electric Mitsubishi i. The seat is comfortable, it has all the power I need and it’s smooth and quiet. I feel good about getting my fuel from mostly renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric. I like being able to fit into short parking spaces. The fact that my total cost of ownership is only about 35 cents per mile is icing on the cake.

  • avatar
    mrcool1122

    As someone who actually owns an EV as my sole car, I just wanna be the positive voice… I love my Tesla Model S. I can go from LA to San Diego and back no problem. I plug it in at night at home and I don’t have to really think about battery range, in my normal everyday commuting.

    People like to complain about lack of infrastructure. That’s not gonna happen overnight, and the entire country is not gonna provide a huge network of charging stations before people start buying these. You have to increase the number of these on the road, and then that stuff will start popping up. Business owners in my neighborhood have seen me tootling around, and stopped to talk to me about whether they should install stations at their business. It’s happening.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Now that I have a Leaf, I really want a Model S (and I don’t mean the Leaf S)! But that price….

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      I am happy for you – really! I would love to have your car – BUT – I can’t afford it. I need to drop a replacement engine in my 1997 Civic so I can go from my (winter) 20mpg in my LeSabre up to the mid-upper 30s.

      A lot more people would be driving EVs if the prices were lower.

      But as to the answer to the original question above – I think the EV honeymoon was actually over by 1920! Once Kettering invented the electric starter, it was all over . . .

  • avatar
    fozone

    The Leaf is becoming a pretty common sight here in Portland, OR. And in a city like this one, it makes complete sense.

    The city is small, with few commutes longer than 10-15 miles each way, even for the close-in suburbs. The weather is moderate. And charging points are starting to pop up around the city.

    A price drop in this environment will almost certainly foster improved market share here. But I can’t think of many other cities in the US that share Portland’s unique characteristics. I’d think twice about using a Leaf in, say, Green Bay when its -30 outside.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      After almost 4 months, I’ve yet to see another Leaf on the road here in western PA.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      An EV makes perfect sense for me here in Eugene, OR. My daily commute is 1.7 miles each way and my wife’s commute is 6 miles. Almost everyone I know has similar commutes, short enough to ride a bicycle when the weather is warm. Rarely do I ever drive more than 20 miles in a single day, even including multiple trips to the bank and the grocery store. The temp almost never gets below 20 F, and we have a dozen EV charging stations all over town, some of them free.

  • avatar
    TW4

    BEV’s don’t have a relationship that lasts b/c the people in charge have the wrong vision. They pitch a silly lifestyle where EVs have a practical range of 100 miles per day b/c no one needs to drive farther than 100 miles per day. Businesses and public facilities all have charging stations b/c they are activists who support EV lifestyle, though it is inferior to plug-in hybrid or hybrid transportation. This vision of BEV existence is a pointless manifestation conjured by daydreaming malcontents.

    The vision that makes sense is a BEV that makes 50-100 miles per charge, and can be rapidly recharged on a special infrastructure (probably utilizing existing gasoline stations) or slow charged at home. BEVs would be cheap, and they would have all of the benefits of electric vehicles and few drawbacks. Cumbersome, expensive, slow-charging BEVs are not necessary to advance battery technology. Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and consumer electronics (possibly government R&D) are capable of pulling the development plow, until the right battery tech is finally developed.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    The fundamental challenge to the electric vehicle is that it must hold 100% of its energy source or you could call it it’s fuel-within itself. It is something akin to a rocket, the entire energy bottle is self-contained. Pitting a battery against an internal combustion motor is like pitting a rocket against a turbojet. The internal combustion motor and it turbojet get approximately 2/3 of its fuel from that which is outside of the vehicle and is not carried on board. That would be the oxygen in the air. No rocket powered commercial aircraft out there for a good reason.

  • avatar
    volt4obama

    Good news that the price dropped. Also, the SV and Sl models now come with a 6.6 volt built in charger. That cuts charging time by half if you have a 30 amp home charging station.

    I leased my 2012 SL back in August for $185 per month, tax included, no money down. Bought plug-in charging station for $800. I can sell EVSE if I don’t keep an electric car. So far, I love it and save $200 per month on gas versus my Volvo. Spouse has fossil fuel carbon emitting vehicle. I have a useful range of about 70 miles. In cold weather it drops to about 60. Have not seen really cold performance yet as temps haven’t dropped below 10F where I live, mostly in low 40′s.
    Car is comfortable, fast off the line, handles just okay. No sports car. I have no range anxiety. I feel good about my tax money not going towards wars over oil, and subsidized drilling on public lands.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    “This year’s NAIAS featured the Tesla Model X, which received far less fanfare than one would expect”

    I’m surprised by this as well considering how many different sweet spots this thing seems to inhabit. I want to blame the embedded automotive press – most of them still seem to regard Tesla as a company imitating an automaker and EVs in general as mild curiosities.

  • avatar
    tnk479

    I live in an urban area and none of the condo buildings have plugs or any space where we could install charging stations. None of the office building parking garages have anything either.

    I think you’d have to have a home with a garage and have more than one vehicle for these to make any sense.

  • avatar
    Nigel Shiftright

    Many of the cost analyses up-thread are based on an optimistic view of future electricity prices – a view which may not be sustainable given the current political campaigns against coal generated power and against fracking for natural gas.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      My cost analysis was entirely done in 2012 dollars using 2012 prices. Put it another way, it assumes that the cost of gasoline will rise with inflation and the cost of electricity will also rise with inflation.

      Gasoline costs about ten times as much per mile right now. Sure, that could change in the future, maybe some day gasoline will only cost five times as much, but then again, it could shift the other way and gasoline could cost twenty times as much. Under all three scenarios, the EV is cheaper.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Interesting how the Volt made the 10 worst list (it’s actually a pretty decent driver) while the Leaf, i-MiEV and Prius-C (one of the worst drivers) did not.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    I wasn’t aware that the honeymoon had begun.

  • avatar
    amca

    I think the future of the electric car is at the higher end of the market. Witness the new Cadillac ELR (fetching little thing, ain’t she?): stylish as all get out, and electric.

    Face it: electrics are a fashion statement at this point. So they oughta be fashionable. A drab little Leaf doesn’t make much of a statement. And the aesthetic statement it does make: eeewww.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    It’s all about price. With cheap fossil fuels ICE is a much better deal for the consumer – it’s high energy density means fast refuelling and long range. It’s the superior product..

    If ICE cars had very high operating costs though we would suck it up and buy the inferior electric with their crappy range and slow refueling times.

    There is nothing ‘new’ about electric cars. its the same old technology with the same old problems. We had electric cars at the turn of the twentieth century but people went with the incredibly unreliable ICE engines at the time because of the range and fast refuelling times.

    Some things just dont’ seem to change.

    • 0 avatar
      sbunny8

      CelticPete, I find it surprising that the only factors your mention are operating cost, range, and refueling time. It seems to me that the most important thing about any vehicle is the question “Does it get you from point A to point B?”. You also completely ignore the issue of carbon footprint. It’s certainly true that some people don’t care about things like energy efficiency, but that doesn’t mean everyone shares this lack of concern.

      My 2012 Mitsubishi i Miev electric car goes about 60 miles on $1.50 worth of electricity, and over half of that comes from renewable sources like solar, wind, and hydro. IMHO, this more than makes up for the tiny inconvenience of having to plug it in at night.

      If, like me, you live in a town which is only 10 miles from one side to the other, then a range of 60 miles or 600 miles or 6000 miles is pretty much irrelevant. Anything over 20 miles is more range than I need on a daily basis. On the rare occasions (a couple times a year) when I go out of town, I have plenty of choices, like taking the train, or renting an ICE, or planning the route carefully so I can stop at high-speed charging stations (where I can get an 80% charge in under 20 minutes).

      Someone who lives in a large sprawling city and commutes 70 miles each way to work would have a completely different set of requirements. But those people are a small minority.

      You say things don’t seem to change. I see two things which HAVE changed in the last couple years: #1 Lithium Ion batteries have come way down in price, making EVs more practical than the old ones which had big heavy flooded lead-acid batteries. #2 There are charging stations popping up all over the place — thousands of them in Oregon, California and Washington.


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