GM’s Volt and Nissan’s Leaf are America’s first two mass-produced electric vehicles (EV). Now that these two vehicles are available, Americans with an interest in green have some difficult choices to make. These cars are not just competing with each other, they will also have to compete with as many as three dozen plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles that are expected to reach market by mid-decade.
Chevrolet calls the Volt an extended-range electric vehicle. GM had planned to build 10,00 Volts in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012, however, GM said that it is stepping up production of the Volt to meet “huge demand.” South Korea’s LG Chem is supplying General Motors GM.UL with batteries for the Volt. The Volt was named 2011 Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal.
Nissan’s 2011 Leaf, is a compact, five-seat battery car. As many as 10,000 potential buyers took a look at the Leaf during the first four stops of a 23-city tour. The battery pack is assembled by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) – a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Energy Devices. The Nissan LEAF was named 2011 European Car of the Year.
Nissan’s marketing campaign for the Leaf is called, “The Drive Electric” tour, it has blended traditional advertising with social and event marketing. Nissan even set up a website for those showing early interest in the Leaf. Patrons could pay a refundable $99 deposit to reserve a test drive but Nissan was forced to end that preliminary reservation process because it claimed it had quickly received 20,000 deposits.
Nissan’s battery car has an estimated range of about 100 miles per charge. Although the vast majority of Americans drive less than 100 miles a day, but even so, it remains to be seen whether “range anxiety” will prove to be an issue.
The Volt is doing its own national tour using the tagline “More Car than Electric.” The Volt can travel roughly 40 miles purely on its electric motor, that is enough to satisfy about 70 percent of American commuters, according to federal data. After 40 miles, the Volt’s fuel efficient 1.4-liter gasoline engine kicks in. The GM Volt’s wheels are powered by electric motors and the gas engine will assist the electric motor and provide a direct mechanical boost.
Without factoring the gas cost, the estimated annual charging cost for the Volt is $601. As a fully electric vehicle, the Leaf incurs no additional gas cost. The EPA calculates that the annual cost to recharge the Leaf would be $561.
Due to pent-up demand among environmentalists and early adopters, there should be no difficulty selling all the 2011 Volts and Leafs. However, it remains to be seen whether demand will build beyond these two groups.
Nissan is offering the Leaf for $32,780, whereas the Chevrolet Volt will cost over $41,000. Both are being offered, on lease, for $350 a month.
The US government is offering a $7,500 tax credit, and more than a dozen states have announced incentives of their own, ranging from the elimination of sales tax for the purchase in Washington state to a $6,000 tax break in Colorado.
Some communities are offering additional rebates, while several employers are offering up to $5,000 in assistance. With all the incentives, in some locations the Leaf might go for as little as $12,280.
The head to head battle for American electric vehicle supremacy is already pretty hot and sure to get hotter. Industry executives say the coming months will be critical to building acceptance for these vehicles. However there are concerns about the rivalry that could develop. “It could wind up looking like two politicians cutting each other down in public,” said an unnamed senior GM executive on the Volt program. In the end, the public could wind up mistrusting both.
Bitter conflict between the two brands would not be good for the green car market, nor is it necessary. Each car can find its own audience. The Leaf is for those who do not travel more than 100 miles per trip, while the Volt is for those who need the extra range, and can afford the higher sticker price.
Volt Wins Green Car of the Year
EPA’s New Mileage Estimates for the Volt and the Leaf
The Chevrolet Volt Versus the Nissan Leaf
Video: Chevrolet Volt Test Drive
Video: Chevrolet Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf
Video Trailer: Revenge of the Electric Car
Competition in the 2011 Greener Car Market
House Lawmakers Oppose New Car Ratings
America’s New Car Ratings: Consumer Concerns and Marketing
US Government’s New Car Ratings
Improving Battery Technology Key to Greener Cars
Innovative Business Models are Driving the Auto Sector
Electric Vehicles Need New Business Models
Greening Vehicle Fleets
Competition in the Green Vehicle Market
Germany and the Global Competition for EV Supremacy
Volkswagen’s Dirty Automotive Brands
Porsche and Audi`s Greener Vehicles
Volkswagen’s Greener Vehicles
European Greener Cars
Electric Vehicles Combat Global Warming
Electric Vehicles Combat Smog
Electric Vehicle Bill Passes Energy Committee
Governments and the Growth of EVs
Government Investment Fuels Greener Vehicles
Private Public Cooperation Behind SA Joule
Greener Commercial Transport Vehicles
Electric Vehicles Will Drive Demand for Lithium
Electric Vehicle Battery Technology Obstacles and Solutions
American Electric Vehicle Strategy
Beneficiaries of Chinese Government Investment in Electric Vehicles
Chinese Government Investment in Electric Vehicles
Beneficiaries of US Government Investment in Electric Vehicles
Government Investment Fuels Greener Vehicles
GM Breakthrough Reduces Emissions
Toyota and Tesla Making Electric Sedan
Toyota’s Greener Vehicles
Honda’s CR-Z and Second Generation Hybrids
Honda’s Greener Vehicles
GM’s Greener Vehicles
Ford’s Greener Vehicles
Korean (Hyundai & Kia) Greener Cars
Nissan’s Greener Vehicles
Jaguar XJ: A Greener Luxury Car
E-Range: World’s First Fully Electric 4×4
The FIAT 500 is Coming to America
The Winners of the UK’s What Car? Green Awards 2010