Friday, October 21, 2011

Electric cars vs Gas cars

While hanging out at the University Center on Monday, many curious on-lookers could not help but notice the shiny, silver Nissans lined up in the UC drop-off lane, ready for a test drive.
It was more like a test convoy, as the cars would pull out, make their drive around the campus one behind the other, and come back about 15 minutes later.
What some test-drivers might not have noticed offhand was the car model’s name: the Nissan Leaf. How many of those test-drivers knew that the Leaf is an electric car? Not a hybrid — all electric. This is not the Chevy Volt, which can run on gas or electrical power. This is a Nissan Leaf.
So, how much is change worth? Let’s use three points of comparison: price, power and range.
If you said, way too expensive for me and my student loans, that’s up for debate, but the actual price is around $27,700.
What about the Daimler Smart Fortwo Electric Drive? What about the car that more or less resembles the “Urkelmobile,” or BMW 300 Isetta, but without the goofy front opening? According to, the 250 available Fortwo Electric Drive units require a 48-month lease at $599 per month. That is a grand total of $28,752.

The DeLorean Motor Company of Humble — which created the car from “Back to the Future” — is back in business, and when the calendar reaches 2013, we are in for some serious shock. The DMC-12, slated to cost about $90,000 is shockingly awesome.

Now compare these prices to a 2012 gas model. The Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback 2LZ runs at $19,580. That is around $8,000 less than the Leaf, $10,000 less than the Smart electric drive and over $80,000 less than the DMC-12. Even when taking into account the $7,500 tax credit given to buyers of electric vehicles, the Sonic is still cheaper. The advantage goes to the Sonic 2LZ.
In addition to the price, horsepower is another point of contention in buying an electric car. Americans love their horsepower. One problem many have had for so long about electric cars is the lack of horses under the hood.
Nissan leaves this particular stat out on the Leaf’s website, but upon further research, it pulls only 107 horses.
Not too impressive, but definitely more powerful than the Fortwo Electric Drive, which putters out at 40 horsepower.
Both of these vehicles are out-matched by the cheaper Sonic 2LZ, which pulls 138 horsepower. Even the Sonic gets outclassed by the DMC-12, which has 260 horsepower.

Then there is a matter of range — how far a single charge or tank of gas can go. Nissan says the Leaf can go 100 miles between charges. Better than the Fortwo Electric Drive’s 84-mile range, and even outclassing the DMC-12’s 70-mile range. This is where the Sonic 2LZ and other gas vehicles shine. The Sonic gets 25 mpg in the city, and 35 mpg on the highway for a maximum range of 427 miles. The advantage goes to the Sonic 2LZ, though we all know gas is not friendly to the environment, and at around $3.25 per gallon, not very friendly on the wallet either.

Gas-electric hybrids have been on the market for years now, and the prices of those cars are finally getting reasonable. It is hard to imagine how much General Motor’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, debuting in 2015, will cost.

In giving a demonstration to the environmentally-conscious college crowd, it’s important to note that it will be years before many on campus can truly afford these gas-free cars.
The power of these cars, with the exception of the DMC-12, is very weak.
The consumer can go a lot further on a tank of gas than they could on a single charge. One would have to power up several times just to get the same range as a tank of gas.
Electric cars are a viable option if one is traveling in the city with no traffic, but for longer commutes and rush-hour traffic, stick with gas — in the end, you’ll save yourself a few pennies, too.


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