Electric Cars Are Coming, Believe It Or Not, Nissan Leaf Driver Says

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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After 13,000 miles behind the wheel of an all-electric Nissan Leaf, I have a few observations to pass along to those of you still tethered to your least favorite gas station.

Here's the main one: Driving electric is the future, and the future is now.

There has been lots of ink spilled these past months on the perils of electric cars. Congress and the media have blasted the Chevy Volt and the supposed fire dangers its battery poses.

Critics have gleefully pronounced the Volt a dud: Too much government subsidy for little return, nothing more than a rich man's driving diversion.

I have driven the Volt, and I can honestly say I believe it to be a fine piece of machinery. For anyone driving less than 50 miles a day, the Volt is a huge gas saver.

Drive more than 50 miles in a Volt, and the gas engine powers the electric motor. Range anxiety? Doesn't exist.

The electric-car critics are quick to point out the trivial first year sales of the Volt and Leaf. But compare those sales to the first year that the Prius--the first mass-market hybrid--went on sale, and electric cars have suddenly done better.

Recently, an electric-car study funded by two major oil companies found the public's appetite for electric quite wanting. Why wouldn't the public be apprehensive about the future of electric? 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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The answer: Endless stories about lack of value, overpricing, range anxiety (the fear of running out of juice), and the fear of so-far non-existent fires.

It's surprising that any sane person would ever take the plunge and drive electric.

Since most people who bash electric cars have never driven a Nissan Leaf, or a Chevy Volt, or a Tesla Roadster or a Fisker Karma, they don't really know what they're talking about.

They haven't experienced the joy of a nearly silent drive, or the pleasure of plugging in on arriving home and having a "full tank" come morning.

They haven't experienced the enormous savings in gasoline costs.

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

In time, the electric car will do for driving what the iPhone has done for communication -- make it cool. 

If you're a single-car household and you drive more than 100 miles a day, then electric might not be right for you, right now.  But if you're part of a two-car family, one of each is perfect.

You may not believe it, but it won't be long before the two of you are fighting for the keys to the electric car each morning.

You'll see.

Author Bill Schwartz has written several articles about owning a Nissan Leaf for this site, most recently a review of charging location apps, "How Far Left On My Leaf?" and an account of being turned away for recharging by a Nissan dealer in California.


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