Brief news by Ryan Maue
The recent oil price shock likely hasn’t figured into the February sales numbers at GM or Nissan, which announced their electric vehicle sales numbers for the month. Actually, there wasn’t an announcement, but you can find the information buried in a PDF file:
GM “delivered” 281 Volts in February, which is a function of the extremely slow nationwide roll-out of the newfangled buggy. This is clearly the window of opportunity with the much higher gas prices to take advantage (of) consumers who may spring the cash for an electric car. Then, they can watch their new PG&E Smart Meter spin wildly in delight. Either way, it’s very early in the game.
Indeed, with gasoline prices soaring past $4 a gallon in California and elsewhere, the demand for the Volt and Nissan Leaf should continue to soar. Coupled with generous government subsidies provided by Uncle Sam, a new Volt may provide quite a charge to the US economy, or not. With the announcement of Ipad 2.0 yesterday by Steve Jobs, early adopters will be lining up again to buy a thinner, better version of favorite toy. It’s early in the game for the Volt, Leaf, and other electric buggies, but when supply ramps up to meet the burgeoning demand, we can expect the marketplace to expand with many more options. However, until then, outfits like Consumer Reports aren’t exactly enthused with the efficiency of the Volt of the Leaf, considering the sticker.
It gets worse. CR figures the cost of recharging the Volt would work out to about 5.7 cents a mile for electric mode and 10 cents a mile for gas. Yet a Toyota Prius, which gets about 50 miles a gallon, would cost 6.8 cents a mile to operate. A Prius costs half as much as a Volt.CR seems to feel a little better about the all-electric Leaf. It borrowed one from Nissan while it awaits delivery of its own. The $35,270 electric car had its range severely restricted by the cold weather that has gripped the East, much like the Volt. The range has been averaging 65 miles, not the 100 miles that Nissan bills. Plus the mileage gauge isn’t that accurate in the cold when electric heaters gobble up kilowatts. Instead of the 36 miles of range that the car said it had, one tester got 19.
Yet CR said other than range, it liked a lot of things about the Leaf. It accelerated rapidly and climbed hills well. It said it would be a good second car in urban area if it is in “a temperate climate.” Guess that rules out the Northeast, Midwest, deserts and a bunch of other places.