Sunday, May 1, 2011

I want an electric car

why can't I buy one?

The Nissan Leaf is advertised EVERYWHERE. On tv, in magazines, on the internet, it's hard to get away from. The Nissan Leaf is an all electric car that is reasonably cheap ($25K or so after rebates) and seats four. But try to buy one. Go ahead. They opened up a US pre-order signup process over a year ago (only open to certain geographic areas), and it was instantly over-subscribed and they cut it off at 20,000 vehicles. They were supposed to ship in 2010. By January of 2011 they had shipped around 60 cars. Worldwide.

Nevermind the madness of spending money to advertise a car you can't ship (those pre-orders all include a deposit, the people are serious), why is this taking so long? (I know the earthquake in Japan has delayed this further, but these cars were supposed to have shipped prior to the earthquake)

I don't need public charging stations, I'm not waiting for any silver bullet. What they are offering we could use, right now. We have a minivan. It averages 18.1 MPG, and our average use is 71.1 miles per day. This is not speculative, it is hard data from the last three years, calculated by my iphone and the trusty MPG app. If you do the math, we spend over $500 per month for my wife's van, and if you look at the mileage, we average 70 miles per day, right in the sweet spot for an electric vehicle (generally they go 90-100 miles per charge).

So the Leaf isn't shipping. What else is out there? Well, the Ford Focus electric has gotten a lot of attention, but there is no shipping date. What about now? I'm tired of spending this money on gas right now... The only other choice that even claims to be shipping in 2011 is the BMW ActiveE. The problem is there is no firm date, and it looks like limited availability and a two year lease with a pretty hefty up front charge.


At the end of the day, there simply aren't any options available for a family of four looking for a fully electric car. There are a lot of vehicles announced, but none of them you can actually purchase. The closest thing is the Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid, but it's not a pure electric and it's rather expensive for what it is.

If the motoring press is to be believed, 2012 and 2013 should bring a lot more choice in this area. In the meantime, we are stuck paying an escalating percent of my paycheck for gas, with no relief in sight.

Choice is good. Bring on the electric car.


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