Quote Of The Day: Ask The Man Who Owns One Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
quote of the day ask the man who owns one edition

Felix Kramer, an entrepreneur and plug-in car activist, is almost certainly the first person in the world to own both a Nissan Leaf and a Chevrolet Volt… which, at least in theory, makes him the perfect person to compare the real-world ownership experiences of these two highly-hyped vehicles ( and once again prove the uselessness of “automotive journalism”). Though he demurs that he “hasn’t had much chance to really compare them,” he tells The Solar Home and Business Journal that

It’s quite obvious to me that for two-car families, it’s no problem in any way for the second vehicle to be an all-electric because that’s the car used for local driving. There’s an enormous market of tens of millions for all-electric vehicles despite Americans’ so-called range anxiety.

Cars are sold as giving you freedom. People go into a dealer and say about an all-electric car, “Oh, I have to plug it in. What if I want to drive it across the country someday? I won’t buy this car.” That mentality is very deeply seated, and that’s part of the reason that the plug-in hybrids could be the primary platform for plug-in vehicles for the next decade or two.

In the meantime, people who get a plug-in hybrid as their second vehicle may find themselves asking, “Why did I pay for this engine, I’m just driving it electrically.” In our family, the Leaf will be the car my wife and I will pick first every day when we’re in the Bay Area. When we’re both driving or we want to travel beyond the range of the Leaf, we’ll take the Volt.

And this, straight from the horses mouth, is why we’ve been bearish on the Volt: if you want an EV, chances are you can afford another car that will get better long-distance efficiency than a Volt. After all, the farther you drive the Volt, the worse its efficiency becomes until it reaches an unimpressive ~35 MPG or thereabouts. A Leaf for commuting and (say) a Prius for long distances would be considerably cheaper and, depending on the lengths of the long-distance trips, more efficient. As a fan of plug-ins, Kramer is clearly geeked about his Volt, but it seems clear that the inherent compromise of the EREV drivetrain concept keep it from mastering either zero-emissions commuting or efficient long-distance cruising. Jack of all trades, as the saying goes, master of none.

Join the conversation
4 of 47 comments
  • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Feb 15, 2011
    Cars are sold as giving you freedom. As long as the power stays on you do. This winter my power went out twice. A few years ago, it went out for seven days, thanks to a bad ice storm. So, let me get this straight. If you live when it gets too cold, the electric car won't be able to hold it's charge for long. If I live where it doesn't get too cold, I get ice storms that take out my source of electricity to recharge the electric car. Why do I want an electric car when there are so many better, more freer, more environmental alternatives?

    • See 1 previous
    • VanillaDude VanillaDude on Feb 15, 2011

      Or when a first responder gets electrocuted by an electric car. In a crisis, you can find gasoline. In a crisis, you cannot usually find electricity unless you have a 20 mile long electric cord. In the 1970s the oil prices didn't stop gas from coming to the corner, the government did. If you were willing to pay the price of gas, you could buy it. Hawaii just came off a regulation that prevented gas from being sold over a certain price, forcing gas to not be available on a couple islands in a couple of remote places. Gas rationing is a government response, and a poor one. Ask Jimmy Carter how well it all worked for him. He's a big government fan.

  • DC Bruce DC Bruce on Feb 15, 2011

    Of course our author lives in California, a mild climate ideal for EVs. But what he does kinda makes sense (if one disregards the horrible economics). In any two-car family, there is probably at least one person (and maybe two) who follows a very predictable M-F use pattern of driving to work, parking at work and driving home in the evening. Assuming all that's within the EV's range (and assuming he has the necessary juice to fully charge the battery overnight), the EV makes some sense. What makes less sense is the Volt as the second car. As a gasoline car, the Volt is not too great . . . a Prius would be much better as well as cheaper to buy. And, with it's limited electric range, using the Volt as an EV doesn't save that much money, compared to a thrifty gasoline vehicle or a Prius-type hybrid. OTOH, as the only family car, the Volt makes some sense if the majority of use is going to be within it's EV range.

  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil