Monday 20 December 2010

Should I buy an electric car?

I have a largely unreasonable yearning for a cool new electric car.

I'd think I'd be a reasonable candidate. The majority of our car trips are down to Ithaca and back, which is about 10 miles each way, so a car with a 50 mile range would be quite adequate. We have half price power at night when I'd be recharging it. We have another car (well, three, actually, including my wife's 1995 pickup, but we'd rationalize) for longer trips.

There's now a standard charger called a J1772, so the charger installation is the same for any of them.

So here's what I think the near term options are. I think the Leaf looks most attractive.

Chevy Volt
Available: next year, maybe
Dealer: local
Size: compact
Power train: motor, motor/generator, gas engine, with complex tranmission
to connect them all, makes me worry about reliability
Range: 35 mi electric, unlimited on gas
Price: $41K
Maker: GM, assembled in Michigan

Nissan Leaf
Available: late next year
Dealer: local, presumably
Size: compact
Power train: motor
Range: 73 mi
Price: $33K
Maker: Nissan, assembled in Tennessee

Smart Electric
Available: 2012, probably
Dealer: Albany or Buffalo (3 hrs away)
Size: mini
Power train: motor
Range: 60 mi
Price: unknown, gas version is $15K
Maker: Daimler, probably assembled in France

Wheego Whip Life
Available: next month, allegedly
Dealer: local
Size: mini
Power train: motor
Range: 75 mi
Price: $35K
Maker: Wheego Electric Cars, a startup, assembled in California using body and chassis from Shuanghuan Noble in China

Tesla Roadster
Available: now
Dealer: in NYC (six hours away) or maybe Toronto (four hours)
Size: sports car
Power train: motor, 2-speed tranny if they can make it work
Range: ?
Price: $109K, ouch
Maker: Tesla Motors

Tesla Model S
Available: next year, perhaps
Dealer: in NYC or Toronto
Size: compact
Power train: motor
Range: 150 mi, 250 w/ extra battery
Price: $57K
Maker: Tesla Motors

Hard to find out much about it, but not for sale in NY any time soon

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