Nissan announced the introduction of their electric vehicle. It's called the Leaf (derived, possibly, from Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car) which sounds environmentally friendly. Since it is all electric, it claims no exhaust emissions. On the other hand, what about the increased electric demand to charge it? Won't that create an increase in emissions from coal and oil fired power plants?
The Leaf claims a range of 100 miles on a full charge. That is adequate for a commuter car. There are no commercial charging stations yet. A full charge at home will take about 8 hours. You will have to have a charging "dock" installed at a cost of about $2200 with that cost offset by maybe a third by tax credits. The car itself will cost you a little over $32,780, I am sure that is for the basic model, any "frills" will jack that up. That price is supposed to be reduced by more tax credits of up to $7500.
The batteries will last about 5 to 10 years before they need to be replaced. I could find no estimate of what that will cost. Nissan has announced an 8 year warranty on the batteries.
Excited yet? Well, unless you live in certain states, you will have to wait. The rollout for Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Tennessee is supposed to take place in December, with others coming in by the end of Spring but still not all states.
When the charging stations finally get set up, you will be able to charge the vehicle's batteries to 80% capacity in about 30 minutes. Think about that... Any trip over 50 miles (round trip in excess of 100) will require at least one 30 minute stopover for re-charge.
Its primary competition will be the Chevrolet Volt. It costs about $8500 more, has a shorter electric only range (40 miles) but has a gas powered generator which will charge the batteries and increase the range by 300 more miles.
Personally, I don't think these are ready for prime time yet. I am looking for an under $20,000 all electric vehicle with a 50-100 mile range and includes the charging dock installation. And it needs a big enough trunk to hold my golf clubs.
The technology is not ready for me yet. And I still want to know what happens when people all over the country plug these in in the evening. More brownouts? And what happens to the old batteries? My bet is you won't be able to replace them yourself, there will be all kinds of rules involving the disposal of the worn out batteries, and the cost will be so high you will think seriously about buying a new car (think, "planned obsolescence"). And, of course, you will still need a conventional vehicle to take those family trips across country to reunions and family vacations.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago