Nissan LEAF: competition for the Chevy Volt
By now many have heard about the Chevy Volt, expected to be the first mainstream plug-in offered to consumers. The Volt claims a 230 MPG city driving efficiency; the LEAF (Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car), Nissan’s answer to the Volt expects to get 367 MPG, or about 60 percent better fuel efficiency.
The Volt is expected achieve fuel efficiencies four times greater than the Toyota Prius (48 mpg on the highway, 51 mpg in the city). The Prius starts at $22,000 and is currently the most efficient vehicle sold in America.
It is unclear however, how both the Volt and LEAF derived the mileage rating, since the EPA, in association with the auto industry, is only now developing a rating system for plug-in hybrids.
Michelle Krebs of edmunds.com questions whether drivers can expect 230 mpg from the Volt since fuel efficiency also depends on driving style.
“Volt drivers who cruise sensibly on smooth roads without much cargo and who avoid exceeding 20 or 30 miles between charges might fill up only rarely.” Said Krebs, “but for most people, it is not realistic to expect that kind of mileage in real-world driving”.
The LEAF will be marketed in the United States, Europe, and Japan, beginning in autumn 2010 and is expected to cost somewhere between $25,000 and $33,000.
The Chevy Volt is expected to sell for $40,000. However, GM has said government tax credits of up to $7,500 and the savings on fuel could make it more affordable, especially at 230 mpg.
The Volt is a gasoline/electric hybrid and runs up to 40 miles on electric power before the gasoline engine must be started to recharge the battery while it operates. The Volt has a total range of 300 miles and recharging should cost about 40 cents a day, at about 5 cents per kilowatt hour. The Volt will have software allowing it to be programmed to charge during off-peak electrical use hours.
The LEAF runs only on a lithium ion battery and can travel at top speeds of 90 MPH for up to 100 miles before a recharge is necessary. The battery can be charged to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes with a special quick charger.
Both vehicles can be recharged from a standard home outlet.
Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co. and Daimler AG are developing plug-ins and electric cars, and Toyota Motor Corp. is working on a plug-in version of its gas-electric hybrid system.
Another option, the Tesla Roadster is a sports car with a range of 224 miles, and is priced at $100,000. Tesla Motors is working on an electric family sedan that will be priced considerably less.