According to a spokesperson, that cost-per-mile figure assumes you can travel 100 miles on a full charge -- which is not always the case. It's also not clear whether it accounts for the eventual deterioration of the battery's ability to hold a full charge. A recent test by Consumer Reports estimated the actual electricity costs to be 3.7 cents per mile, which would push the total charging costs to $3,700.
There is one final factor that we could not include in the calculation, and that's the cost of maintenance. Electric cars have considerably fewer moving parts than gas-powered vehicles, and therefore fewer things that needs fixing and replacing. There's no need for oil changes, no need to replace spark plugs, no need to service the muffler. While Nissan declined to provide specific estimates on maintenance savings, another company does: Ford, gearing up to release an all-electric version of its Focus, estimates that it will cost $1,200 less in lifetime maintenance costs than the gas-powered Focus over the course of 10 years and 150,000 miles.
Of course, the Leaf has been on the road for only a few months, so it's impossible at this point to say what sort of battery deterioration and maintenance costs that its owners will see over several years of use. Still, this preliminary calculation suggests that Nissan has succeeded in delivering a cost-effective electric car.
Money may be the biggest concern of the average American consumer, but it's not the be-all and end-all of the decision on which car to buy. Performance matters, too, and in this respect there are important questions about the viability of electric cars. The biggest concern is range.
"A 100-mile range is not optimum," says John O'Dell of Edmunds Green Car Advisor. "Most people in the industry think 300 (miles) would be."
But we're not there yet, and even Nissan's official 100-mile estimate is generous. Indeed, the company's website acknowledges that the range will vary wildly depending on weather and driving conditions. When driving on the highway in the summer, for instance, you'll get only about 70 miles on a full charge due to the drain on the battery from the car's air conditioning.
Winter driving taxes the battery even more. Whereas a gas car uses excess heat from the engine to heat the interior, electric cars rely on battery power for heat. When Consumer Reports tested the Leaf in cold weather, it averaged just 65 miles on a full charge.
If you live in an area where public charging stations are prevalent, that's not so much of a problem, as long as you don't mind having to stop every hour or so to recharge. But right now, charging stations are as rare as electric cars themselves, so unless public charging stations have reached sufficient penetration in your area, you face the prospect of running out of juice and having to call a tow truck. With an effective range of just 65 miles in the winter, that means you can't drive much more than 30 miles from your home before you have to turn back.
"If I have a gas car and I want to go somewhere, I know there will be gasoline on the way," says O'Dell, who is waiting for his pre-ordered Leaf to arrive. "I need a national infrastructure of charging stations to make it more than a second car."
That infrastructure is starting to grow, but as of now "it's in its infancy," says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the Green Car Journal and GreenCar.com. The result, he says, is that electric cars make sense for only a particular subset of Americans -- for instance, those who commute relatively short distances and people who live in areas with good charger penetration. He also predicts that most families will want an electric only as a second car.
"An electric car is a great addition to the garage, but you wouldn't want it to be your only car," says Cogan. "We all want a car that can go as far as we want, and that desire isn't going to go away any time soon."
The early demand for electric vehicles has certainly been encouraging, with Nissan barely able to keep up with demand for the Leaf. But most experts agree that we're not at the point where the average American is going to be purchasing a Leaf or a Volt as a primary vehicle.
"Early adopters tend to buy them for reasons other than economic ones -- because they're environmentally friendly, or for the fashionable aspects of owning new technology," says Jesse Toprak, a vice president of TrueCar.com. "Those consumers are enough to purchase the first several thousand . . . but they aren't mass consumers."
Getting "mass consumers" to buy in will depend on the growth of a national charging infrastructure, as well as improvements in battery technology to give the cars a more reasonable range. And it also will have to continue to make sense economically -- which will stop being the case if the federal tax incentives disappear.
Like all things in Washington, the future of the tax incentives is a matter of considerable uncertainty. Toprak is "assuming those incentives will be renewed," while Cogan is skeptical that such pricey incentives to encourage electric car ownership will continue, given mounting concern over the federal budget deficit.
Incentives or not, it's going to take some time for electric cars to achieve any significant market share. Cogan notes that it took a decade for hybrids to get up to their current 2.5% market penetration. So while he's optimistic about the long-term prospects for electric cars in the United States, he's not as gung-ho as Obama was in the State of the Union address.
"That's ludicrous -- it's not achievable," Cogan says of the president's goal of 1 million electric cars by 2015. "Overly optimistic would be understating the case."
This article was reported by Matt Brownell for MainStreet.
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"Unrest in the Arab world" isn't driving up the oil prices, its the speculators dirving up the prices. We need MORE government regulation. Especially in this area!
You forgot the biggest problem. The replacement cost of the batteries, we don't all trade our cars in every year.
All batteries have a lifetime. No one ever talks about the cost. I'll bet it is substantial.
Fuel is a world commodity. So when oil is up, the value of the rest of the fuels tends to go up with it.
Unless we are gathering solar power, we are pretty much doing the same old thing but in a different way with the advent of electric cars.
The electric car will never be affordable to the average American family, not even as an in town vehicle. This is my first and main concern. Who can afford $32,000 or even $19,000, for a around town car only, even a a second car? It would be like driving your golf card to the Grocery Store. And if the battery ran low, where can I charge it at this time? Think of the cost of financing one.
The second concern I have is in the length of time these batteries will last. When checking with the manufactures on the life of the batteries, they stated that they would last the length of the cars life, which after a long pause they estimated to be (8) years. 8 years?? I am driving a 1994 Ranger XLT, 4 cylinder. (going on seventeen years) I only get 22 mpg at this time (which I was happy with). When these manufacturers were again asked the estimated cost of the batteries, they hemmed and hawed and finally stated that they could not give even an estimate of the cost because there is no data, because they have not been in use long enough to answer that question. I guess it will depend on how many are sold and how much profit they can add on to their original cost. No way no how would I ever think of owning one, with that kind of information.
I love the BS in the article. Nissan timidly refused to acknowledge the $5000 cost to replace the battery pack every 3-5 years, because it would destroy this carefuly constructed piece of propaganda.
Another artfully constructed morcel of misinformation is that Nissan can barely keep-up with the deman? What demand? They sold total of 19 Leafs in December of 2010. Just thought you should know.
Call a solar installer in your area, and they can run the numbers for you for the capital expense, local and federal incentives and buy back power rates from your electrical provider. Then call Chevy, and give them your expected mileage. That will give your expected consumption. The rest is just math.
What's nice about the buyback system is while your car is at work, your solar installation is pumping power in, spinning your meter backward. When you plug the car in at night, and your panel is not generating, you get power back from the grid. The grid is not a battey, but it serves the same purpose as far as your bill is concerned..
Finaly, depending on where you live, get a Charge Point card. You can see the local filling stations. Many are free. Our mal in the area has a dozen stations, and to promote the technology, the cost is currently free. This will change eventualy, but free for now. try mychargepoint dot net
I own a Ford Explorer, which I've had for 13 years, and it has 200,000 miles on it. I love it, it's been a great car, and never needed repair. I paid about 45K for it way back then, but it turned out to be a good investment.
Now, let's say I would purchase the same car today and drive it until 2024 (13 years). I get 17 MPG, and let's say over the next 13 years gas averages 4 dollars per gal. (my guess is that it's going to be WAY more than that in the future, but let's be conservative...
200,000 mi / 17 mpg = 11,765 gal of gas at 4 dollars = $47,000 in fuel.
So my next car will be a Tesla S series. Even though the car will run betweeen 50 and 60K, the "fuel" cost will be about 1/6th at $4.00 per galon, and will drop proportionaly as gas goes up.
The electric vehicle then is MUCH cheaper to own. I spend 75 bucks a week on fuel today. Equivilent electricity would be less than 12 bucks where I live. When I ran the numbers, the answer to the question "Can I afford this car", became simple. I can't afford to NOT have an electric car.
Further to my earlier post. The figures published by the California Energy Commission describe our energy growth of demand to be about 6%, while our development of new sources is about 1.5% "Peaking" power load fulfillment is way below the required capacity
Enter D S M That stands for Demand Side Management. It looks like this : as the inefficiencies of the infrastructure cost us about 300% (meaning it takes about 3 KW generated to deliver 1 KW at the use point) by reducing the load at the use point(s) we can exponentially save at the rate of 3 to 1. This means reducing our demand has a marvelous effect of reducing the load development significantly. I don't get how increasing the load by charging all electric vehicles works to help us at all, because every KW of increase of charging all electric cars increases the development of energy requirement by 3 KW - in an already short supply system
Yes, you have quoted a common figure prepared and delivered by - power plant producers
I have libraries of statistics and the 6.5% loss is in there - but largely disputed. Time Magazine just recently, in an energy themed issue, talked specifically about the 3 - being generated (as opposed to - efficiency of generation, which I agree - is abysmal), 2- to disburse, and 1 - resulting delivery ratio. Frankly it is picking nits, but that's o.k. At least there is an awareness. And - at any rate your numbers and the ones I used still say roughly the same thing - 3 to produce and 1 delivered, therefore every KW saved in usage is triple saved in non required production, both in facilities and in production capacity out the delivery door
Something fun for you to figure - if the production efficiency is added to this equation, let's say 33% and the delivery after production is truly about 3 to 1 - what is the resulting actual loss ?
--- and therefore - isn't it really, really fun to recognize how much coal burning we would save from each exponentially effective KW not consumed ? ! ? I certainly concur with the precept that energy conservation, either through non-use or efficiency of use, is far and away the most cost and other effective direction
The net message - electric cars are dirty and increasing a low efficient load
Thanks for caring and for your input
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