Two new electric cars are scheduled to hit dealerships this fall. The much-anticipated Chevy Volt is expected to be available in November and the Nissan Leaf will go on sale in December. But before you get all charged-up to go electric, there’s a lot to consider.
Douglas Stansfield was so eager to own an electric car, he converted his 2003 Hyundai Tiburon. Stansfield can go 20 miles on a charge, so he plans his trips carefully."Overall, I use it for my local travel back and forth to the doctor’s office, to the dentist’s office, to the kids’ school," he told Consumer Reports.Electric cars' limited driving range is a key consideration.The Chevy Volt can go 40 miles on a charge, but it also has a small gas engine that can go another 300 miles on a full tank.The Nissan Leaf, powered solely by an electric battery, has a 100-mile range before it has to be plugged in.But driving isn't the only thing that's going to drain the battery. Conditions here in the northwest, especially during the winter, will tax electric cars because headlights, windshield wipers and heaters all use electricity--so do air conditioning and playing the radio. As a result, how far you can actually go on a charge will vary.Recharge time is another important consideration. On a regular household 110-volt outlet, the Chevy Volt takes about 10-hours to recharge. The Nissan Leaf's larger battery needs about 16-hours. You can cut down the recharge time on electric vehicles by installing a 220-volt circuit in your home, but that could cost about $2,000, according to Consumer Reports.Then, of course, there's the cost of the vehicles themselves. The Chevy Volt will sell for around $41,000. The Nissan Leaf will cost about $33,600. There is, however, a $7,500 federal tax credit available for both."Electric cars hold a lot of promise,” Consumer Reports’ Jake Fisher said. “Clearly, two big pluses are the ability to reduce gasoline consumption and run cleaner cars. But there’s a lot to consider before you know they’re right for you."The Volt and the Leaf are just the first of many electric cars due out soon. Within the next year and a half, Ford, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota will all introduce new electric vehicles.