Could free access to a 240-volt and DC fast charging network persuade consumers to buy a battery-electric vehicle? One Nissan dealer in the Houston area says the free charging deal has tripled his LEAF sales. “Our floor traffic and Internet leads have picked up significantly,” added Christopher Goodwin, general manager of Baker Nissan North.
A couple weeks ago, we reported on the challenges facing electric car owners who live in condominiums, apartments, and other multi-unit dwellings (MUD). There are numerous examples of progressive property managers taking the lead on installing EV charging stations for their residents. As laudable as those model projects are, the reality for most EV-driving renters is more complicated and difficult, as I discovered in the past few weeks while house hunting in Silicon Valley.
The Cadillac ELR extended-range electric luxury vehicle is popping up in dealerships nationwide now. But before you head out to your closest Caddy dealer to take a test drive, make sure it is one of the stores that has chosen to carry the electric vehicle.
Owners complain about Tesla-derived parts availability, sporadic servicing, and a big stonewall for out-of-staters.
The Nissan LEAF is by far the most popular EV in the world. It is a well-equipped, all-electric hatchback that seats five adults and commonly travels about 80 miles on a single charge. The LEAF is available to test-drive and purchase at Nissan dealerships throughout the United States.
The Chevy Volt is a well-equipped, five-door, four-seat hatchback that operates as an electric car for its first 38 miles after a full charge and then uses gas to extend its range. It burns no gasoline during those first miles after a charge, drawing energy from a lithium ion battery pack. When the battery is depleted, a 1.4-liter engine kicks in to power a generator that sustains the battery charge enough to give the car another 340 or so miles of range.
The Ford C-Max Energi is a compelling alternative to the other leading plug-in hybrids—the Chevy Volt and Plug-in Prius. It offers 21 miles of all-electric driving, 620 miles of total range, and an attractive price. American consumers will need to get accustomed to the body style, a small "activity" vehicle.
The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s 4.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack provides 11 or more all-electric miles after a full charge. As a result, drivers with short commutes commonly get more than 100 miles per gallon. But EV purists might be disappointed with how often the gas engine comes on.
The stylish yet quirky BMW i3 is the lightest EV on the market. It uses a liquid-cooled 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to deliver 90-plus miles of range. The i3 is also available with a small gas engine that essentially doubles the range. A 170-horsepower electric motor drives the rear wheels.
The Ford Fusion Energi offers a robust plug-in electric system in an ultra-popular roomy full-size sedan platform. The model offers the equivalent of about 100 miles per gallon, without compromising style or passenger space. After its battery is depleted, the Fusion Energi still delivers 43 miles per gallon.
The 2014 Spark EV is the all electric version of Chevy's five-door urban mini-car. The powerful motor, quick acceleration, and short wheelbase, make it an exhilarating drive. At an estimated 119 MPGe, it is the most efficient electric car on sale today. The Spark EV is GM’s first all electric car since the EV1, and it’s the first electric car on the market to support the SAE Combo Fast Charging system.
The Fiat 500e is every bit as cute as the gas-powered Fiat 500. It uses a 24 kilowatt-hour liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, providing an estimated 80 miles of range under typical driving conditions. The Fiat 500e is widely considered a "compliance" car produced only in small numbers to meet California regulations.
New to EVs? Start here
What Is An Electric Car?
Before we get going, let's establish basic definitions.
A Quick Guide to Plug-in Hybrids
Some plug-in cars have back-up engines to extend driving range.
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Federal and Local Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Eight Factors Determining Total Cost of Ownership of an Electric Car
EVs get bad rap as expensive. Until you look at TCO.
Quick Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
Electric Car Utility Rate Plans: Top Five Rules
With the right utility plan, electric fuel can be dirt cheap.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Eight Rules of Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.