Electric cars, hybrids, and related vehicles


Yeah the range anxiety is an issue. My car gets roughly 100km… after the low fuel warning light comes on.

I love the look of the new Volt but i still think the manufacturers have missed the mark. Chevrolet insists it is an electric car but its really a plug in hybrid. After the battery runs out it is a regular car with full performance and range. So when the battery is on, you’re hauling around a full size engine. When the battery is dead you’re hauling around a full EV. The engine also directly drives the wheels so you are carrying around a transmission, alternator, radiator and everything else.


Comes across a bit negative, I’m actually considering the Volt myself, just saying that I would trade more range with less gas horsepower.


I don’t run the heater much, but it is a heat pump heater, which is supposed to use less energy. I do use the heated seats and heated steering wheel. The heated seats are very nice.

You also need to drive these cars differently. Slower is better. Brake as little as possible. Drive in the economy mode that regenerates the battery by gently braking when coasting. The trick is to anticipate stops early enough to coast to a near stop and brake very little. Of course you might irritate drivers behind you so you have to pick your moments.

You’ll also feel better if you can trickle-charge it overnight at home so it’s near full-charge in the morning if you need to put 50+ miles a day on it. I don’t have that yet but we will get it put in soon. Trickle-charging is not fast. I’m not even sure it will go from 0 to 100% in 8 hours. It might take 12. However, most of the time you won’t be close to 0 when you plug in at night. To get a level 2 charger (the 4 hour charger) would cost anywhere from $400 to maybe $800, plus paying someone to install it. I don’t see any huge benefit from it right now. If we ever trade in our gas-powered car and have two EVs it would probably be worth investing in one.

I love the car but the range is significant limitation. We don’t need that much range, however. I may only get 60 miles of range when it’s really cold out. I haven’t had it long enough to really figure it out, but the other day I used up 60% of the charge and got about 36 miles out of that. I did use the defrost for a good 10 minutes as well.

They are increasing the range every year or two. Nissan has hinted at a 150-200 mile range for the Leaf by 2018. It’s hard to know when to buy or lease these cars. We got a great deal so we went ahead and purchased, but I may very well trade it in on a new one in a couple of years to get one with more range. The dealer has a program where we can keep the same car payment when we trade in.


Good information, thanks. We have free charging at work, so most of it would be done there. They also subsidize the cost of installing a 240v charging station at home.
My understanding of the Volt was the gas engine was simply a generator to recharge the batteries, hence no additional legacy overhead i.e. Radiator, transmission, etc?


You need a radiator for cooling the engine regardless, and the main electric motor, the generator/secondary motor, the gas motor, and the drive wheels are all connected through a gearbox and three clutches, one for each motor. 2016 Volts drive the wheels with the gas engine most of the times the gas engine is on. Older Volts use the gas engine primarily as a generator, only connecting it to the drive wheels in a couple of high-torque situations.


So putting the question of range aside, i imagine that maintenance costs overall would be lower on the Leaf vs the Volt given that the Leaf is purely electric?


Yes, in theory. No transmission. No radiator. No water pump. No fans and belts – go out and drive for an hour, pull over, put your hand on the hood and no heat at all. No emissions so no filters, no exhaust, no muffler, and in Missouri at least no emission test. No oil changes. Brakes and tires should be similar to gas-powered cars. And of course no gasoline costs.

I say in theory because these are so new there’s not a lot of history behind them. The big question is battery life. The batteries are super expensive right now, much more than the cost of a motor replacement in a gas-powered car, something like $5000. Nissan has a new program where you can lease a battery for $100 per month if you need one, but I believe that’s more to allay fears than it has actually been needed, as far as I can tell from my research. I got an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery. If the charging capacity drops below 9 bars, I think it is, they have to make good on it.

I hope to trade it in in a few years anyway for a new Leaf with a longer range. That’s the plan, at least. I also hope that battery costs come down if more EVs and hybrids are sold. I saw that Porsche will introduce one in a few years and Hyundai is showing a new hybrid at an upcoming auto show.


My 2013 Volt has been to the dealer twice in the last 3 years for oil changes and tire rotations. I imagine that is more than you would see for the Leaf, but not really that much more. You’re probably still going to rotate the tires (and I probably should have been doing that more often). The Volt tracks oil life and gives you a % left before you have to get an oil change (since it it proportional to the gasoline engine use rather than strict mileage).


I think it depends as much how you use it. My 2013 Volt is mostly a commuting car, so my day to day use is within battery range, and it is pretty much just an electric (I think my current stat is 228 MPG, but of course that just reflects the portion of electric vs gasoline - I think I get ~37 mpg when running pure gas). On the other hand, when I take long trips or have to do lots of errands in addition to the commute, it is a gasoline driven car. While the official electric range was 37 or 38 miles on electric, I get about 44 or 45 miles per charge in the summer, and 36-38 in the winter (this is for middle atlantic climate, so I would imagine more of a drop off if I was in, for example, Canada).

One point is that the electric drive is running the car the whole time - the gas powered engine is more of a little lawn mower engine that runs to charge the battery which drives the car.


Thanks, that’s exactly what i wanted to know, i’m not sure I’m ready to make the full leap to electric, given our climate and the distance I travel every day. The Volt seems a reasonable compromise that permits me to do my commute electric only 99% of the time, and gives me the range when I really need it.


The Volt seems like a terrific car to me. I went with a Leaf because we got a great deal and because we are only using it for driving around town, and I like the idea of being fully electric and not worrying about any kind of maintenance associated with a gas engine. I would be happy if our other car was a Volt for longer drives.

This stuff is still very new. I think we will see significant improvements in the next ten years.


Indeed, it’s already come a long way in models like the Leaf. I think the next decade will be the main one for electric cars, they sort of came along a bit too early, with not enough ease-of-use infrastructure in place for most people, but once the climate talks in Paris have been resolved, i expect to see a much stronger push to support public transition away from CO2 producing vehicles (especially with the issues of those dirty diesel engines (VW etc)) to electric, and with the new ranges upcoming many more folk might make the switch. I know i’m certainly one very likely too.


You need to couple more EVs with solar-powered charging stations to really do it right. Right now the charge I get in my Leaf undoubtedly comes from burning coal. More of it needs to come from alternative sources.


yes that too :) We have the tech right now, to do it right, and make a huge difference to global warming, we just don’t have the clear insight needed in government (and the balls to stand up to Big Oil lobby’s) to take advantage of something everyone would benefit from right into the future. Really this needs a Kennedy too the moon moment. I just don’t think the biggest american corporations would allow it to happen.


Not sure i put this link out in this thread before, but it’s a uk youtube show all about electric cars and driving them etc, worth a gander if you are interested in that kind of thing, or are an owner on the look out for more info etc:


‘Chevrolet’s Bolt is an electric vehicle for the masses—and we’ve driven it’:

Sounds very interesting indeed, 200 miles is pretty damn good, as is the price!


Forget your stupid electric cars, I’m getting a 1-person autonomous drone! And I’m gonna fly to work. Yeah, this will definitely work.

You know it’s going to be safe because they gave their word that it will be!


The Bolt is not a bad looking car and certainly looks roomy, I could see myself driving one.


Same price as a honda accord, after the tax rebate. Lacks the Tesla supercharger network, though, so you really need to fit your travels into 200 miles at a clip.


Not too difficult for most people.

Also, the Bolt has the benefit of being able to rely on Chevy dealerships around the country (thousands) for service, and I would assume charging stations.