Having directed a movie called “Fuel,” people often ask me, “what kind of car should I buy?” I’ll cut to the chase – if you can afford it and you’ve got a place to charge it and it works for your commute, get an electric car. Granted, you’ll have to deal with range anxiety, plug in anxiety, and safety anxiety. But do the research and you’ll learn they really are just that – anxieties. Today’s electric vehicles (EV’s for short) are capable road warriors that have more stringent safety standards than their gasoline counterparts, can often be plugged into any standard household plug, and offer great range. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available…
The Nissan Leaf is a 100% electric four-door sedan with a range of 115 miles per charge. At $35,200 for the base model, the car isn’t cheap, but a $7,500 federal tax rebate helps alleviate sticker shock. The inside of the car is roomy enough for five adults and some luggage. Settle into the drivers seat, close the door and you feel like you’re in a tank – a test drive in this machine should quiet most safety concerns. Luckily, the car has quick acceleration. The interior bristles with accessories that help the driver find charging stations and monitor the car’s power consumption.
The Mitsubishi I is a testament to good things coming in small packages. The car retails for $29,125 with a top speed of 81mph and a 62-mile per charge range. The $7,500 federal tax rebate also applies, making it priced to compete with entry-level gas-guzzlers. Granted, the car isn’t a speed demon, its range is curt, and its accessories are Spartan, but it drives surprisingly like a full sized sedan and comfortably seats four adults with luggage. The car comes with a 120 volt charger which takes 22 hours to fully charge, or for an additional cost, you can purchase the 240 volt charger which tops the car off in 7 hours.
CODA is the only EV company based in Los Angeles with a car largely assembled in the US. Its first model is aimed at urban jungle dwellers who need practicality and price. The four-door sedan retails for $37,250, has a 125-mile range, a top speed of 85mph and can be fully charged in 6 hours. (Again, the $7,500 federal tax rebate applies). The CODA is a direct competitor to the Leaf in almost every respect, beating the Nissan on range and perhaps inconspicuousness. The CODA is the only EV that looks like a “normal” car.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from inconspicuous sits the Tesla S (the long awaited big brother to the two door Tesla sports car). The S is aimed at the luxury market with a 17-inch 3-G connected touchscreen, 5 seats, 110mph top speed, 160-300 mile range and a starting price of – are you ready? – $57,400 (it costs an additional $20k to get the 300mile range). The car is indeed luxurious and, while Tesla is taking orders now, cars won’t ship until late this year.
On the horizon are more exciting consumer-friendly grocery getters. Of particular interest will be the upcoming RAV4 Electric, a completely re-engineered mini-SUV with good old Toyota reliability combined with a Tesla drivetrain. I’ll update this blog as well as my Facebook page and Twitter after my first test drive!